DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My 10-year-old daughter has very dry skin, and it seems to get worse when school starts. She develops red, itchy patches on her arms and lower legs. They usually fade away after a while, but they really bother her. What could be the cause? Should we be using lotion on these areas, or something stronger? At what point should she be seen by a dermatologist?
ANSWER: From your description, it sounds like your daughter may have a skin condition called eczema. In children, it often flares up when they go back to school in the fall. To find out if it is eczema, make an appointment with her primary care provider or a dermatologist to have her symptoms evaluated. A number of treatments and self-care steps can help ease the discomfort.
Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is common in children. Symptoms typically include dry, scaly skin with red patches that may weep. In many cases, the itching caused by eczema can be severe. Eczema symptoms tend to come and go.