Atopic eczema in children

Estimated Duration: 
1 hour

Eczema (atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis) is an itchy inflammatory skin disease most commonly seen in children. It is characterised by itchy, inflamed, dry, scaling, and crusted skin.  If the condition becomes chronic lichenification (thickening) and hyperpigmentation of the skin are seen.

Eczematous skin has reduced skin barrier function, cutaneous inflammation with increased susceptibility to irritants, and higher rates of Staphylococcus aureus colonisation. 

Eczema affects approximately 20% of children and the severity of eczema is worse in Māori and Pacific children.

It is not common for atopic eczema to present before the age of four months but infants may suffer from infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis or other rashes prior to this. Atopic eczema is often worst between the ages of two and four but it generally improves after this and may clear by the teenage years.

Children with eczema will usually experience recurrent flares with periods of remission. The recurrent flares of eczema can have a significant impact on a child’s sleep, focus at school and social interactions. This is particularly significant for young Māori and Pacific children where poorer access to effective, sustained eczema management may contribute to morbidity. It is therefore important these factors are addressed when managing chronic eczema.

Following completion of this short course you will;

  • Know how to advise about and prescribe emollients appropriately.
  • Know how to advise about and prescribe topical corticosteroids appropriately.
  • Be aware of strategies to manage itch.
  • Know how to recognise eczema herpeticum.
  • Know when to refer patients with eczema.


Once you have completed this short course and quiz, please click 'submit' where you will be taken to the results page. From here you can print your certificate for 1 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hour.


Content created and updated by Dr Karen Falloon MBChB, FRNZCGP, PhD, Senior lecturer Goodfellow Unit in 2018, and revised by Dr Grace Lee, FRNZCGP, MBCHB, BSc, DipTravMed in 2020.

The material is presented by the Goodfellow Unit (GFU), an accredited continuing medical education/ continuing professional development (CME/CPD) provider for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and functions under a tripartite agreement between the Goodfellow Foundation, the College and the University of Auckland. The Unit is located within the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care and within the School of Population Health.


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