Nothing compares to picking a new pet to bring home. Whether it’s a dog or cat, you will always remember this special day. That said, choosing a family pet is a big decision, especially if your child has atopic eczema. Keep in mind that a pet could be living in your home for at least 10 years. The last thing you want is for Fido to aggravate the symptoms of your son or daughter and make them uncomfortable in any way. In this post, we will look at everything you should know about children with eczema and furry friends.
In this article from Everyday Health, skin care expert Tolly Epstein explains that “it’s possible owning a pet early in a child’s life may discourage the development of allergy and eczema.” Epstein goes on to say that this is especially true in the case of dogs, where studies have shown that early ownership may protect against developing the skin condition. Let’s also touch on the other side of the argument. Pet dander is one of the primary triggers that makes the rash in eczema even worse.
Epstein’s research, recently published in The Journal of Pediatrics, concluded that dog ownership among young children who tested positive for dog allergies significantly decreased the risk of developing eczema. In contrast, the opposite was true for children who tested positive for cat allergies and lived with cats.
Here’s how the study was done. Researchers looked at more than 600 kids living in Cincinnati who were considered at high risk of developing allergies. From birth, these children were given skin prick tests every year for allergens such as food, pollen, as well as dog and cat dander. The experts found that infants who lived with dogs and tested positive for such allergies had a lower risk of developing eczema at age 4 than kids with allergies who didn’t live with dogs. Interestingly, children without a dog were four times more likely to develop eczema.
Cat ownership is a bit different when it comes to children with eczema. The same study concluded that children who owned a cat before age 1 and tested positive for cat allergies were a whopping 13 times more likely to develop the condition by age 4. Kids who didn’t have cat allergies but lived with cats didn’t have a greater risk of eczema.
What can we do with this information? Note that there’s plenty of research that needs to be done around the impact of pets on children with eczema. If you believe your child’s symptoms are being triggered by the family pet, there are steps that can be taken. Here are some suggestions from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:
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