Health Team

Study: Hydrocortisone creams safe for children with eczema

Posted April 25, 2011 5:39 p.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2011 6:41 p.m. EDT

Nine-year-old Blake Dixon 's eczema used to get so bad, she would scratch until she was bleeding.

“Even though my parents asked me to stop, I just ignored it. I just kept on going and going, and eventually, it started hurting me really, really bad,” she said.

To manage the problem, doctors prescribed hydrocortisone cream containing steroids, which worried her father.

“She’s a beautiful girl, and we didn’t want to do anything to harm her skin in the long run,” Randy Dixon said.

Many parents worry that steroid creams will thin the skin, but a new Australian study that looked at dozens of children found the creams are safe.

“Moderate to potent topical steroids were used in this study over a long period and had no skin-thinning,” said pediatric dermatologist Dr. Helen Shin, of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

Eczema is a common skin condition that affects one of every 10 children. It is most common in babies, and most people outgrow it by the time they are adults.

Parents should talk to a doctor before starting any treatment. Doctors warn that extreme doses of medication over a long period of time can be harmful.

“My goal is to get the patients better as quickly as possible and to get them off the medication as quickly as possible,” Shin said.

Doctors say people suffering from eczema should not scratch the rash. They should also stay away from strong soaps and detergents and apply creams after a bath to lock in moisture.

For Blake Dixon, hydrocortisone creams worked. She only deals with mild eczema from time to time.

“It’s changed my whole life. If I hadn’t had those medications, I’d still be like that now, and it’d be extremely hard for me,” she said.