A few weeks back, I was lamenting to my co-blogger Mary about my lack of focus and mild case of writer’s block (no doubt instigated by the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and that tv is not going to watch itself, now is it? ) and she suggested that I write about my daughters’ struggles with eczema. Weird enough, that same week, in a Mom-Blog-Forum, I stumbled across another mom’s plea for help and tips for her kiddo’s eczema and what to do about it…
Most of us get dry skin in the winter, hands, faces, chapped lips. Understandable, due to the cold air outside and the dry heat inside sucking the moisture right out of your body. However. Eczema is a whole different ball game. Clinically, atopic dermatitis or eczema is defined as:
“A red, itchy rash”
Yeah, that doesn’t even begin to describe it, especially when it’s your kid and that kid is downright suffering. So like any other hyper-vigillant-super-consumer, if a product told me that it worked for eczema, I bought it. I tried everything. Every oatmeal bath, every body wash, every cream, every anti-itch remedy. Little C, particularly, really struggled – to the point where she would scratch those itchy patches until they were infected. So I hit up our amazing, local pediatrician’s office, an amazing dermatologist, and an allergist (just in case, see above reference to hyper-vigillant-super-consumer).
Between those resources, Dr. Google, and my own trial and error, I put together my best 9 tips to help you manage your kid’s eczema.
1. Get thee to a dermatologist & an allergist. I am not a doctor. If over the counter creams aren’t getting the job done, do not hesitate to get a referral and get in there.
2. That dermatologist will tell you that the first rule of eczema is NOT that there is no eczema, but to first heal the skin & then keep the skin intact. The drier the skin, the more likely it will crack, which will allow irritants to invade, and the rash will escalate. Heal the skin by being hyper-vigillant about your treatment plan. Follow it to the letter. If prescribed for you, do not be afraid of steroid creams when flare-ups are intense (and seriously get prescriptions, do not let them tell you all cortisone creams are the same, because they’re not, and you want a good steroid cream). Use it as needed, heal the skin, and then go about protecting it. Also – Benadryl is a wonder drug. Seriously. If it helps, use it. Remember that the skin regenerates itself every 21-27 days and you’ll need to commit to 3 weeks of intense skin maintenance.
After seeing your doctor and getting some serious Varsity A-List Major League creams:
3. Mild temp baths (we do every other night and in the summer, we do standing rinse offs every night) with a mild soap or cleanser like Dove soap or Cetaphil. Use hands to lather & wash, not cloths or poofs. Consider adding a quarter cup of bleach (YES!! Bleach!!) to the baths when flare-ups are bad. It sounds INSANE, but it acts to clear the skin of any staph or bacteria that could invade the open skin.
4. Immediately out of the bath, treat open & inflamed patches by applying steroid cream only to open skin (my girls flare at the wrists, elbow, underarms, belly, under the butt cheeks, and backs of knees).
5. Apply a healing cream – we have a prescription for Neosalus which is what they apply to burn victims – but any good quality cream will do.
6. Seal it all up with a layer of aquaphor or some other petro-based ointment cream. I’ve also had good results with using pure coconut oil, and recently, my friend made a batch of coconut-shea body butter that’s worked like a dream. I’m planning on making a few batches of this soon!
7. Find your triggers & avoid irritation – we’ve learned that the girls’ eczema is related to outdoor seasonal allergies, itchy clothes, artificial food dyes, gluten, and HFCS. I am psycho-obsessive about avoiding Red Dye 40.
8. Layer clothing – every day is a cotton undershirt, followed by seasonal clothes. Too hot or too cold will bother them. My little one wears leggings 24-7-365. She likes to be covered and it helps to avoid scratching.
9. Hang in there. Find what works for your kid, and do the best you can. Most kids outgrow their eczema as they get older (my big girl), but unfortunately, some kids don’t (my little one shows no signs of every out-growing this).
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you and your eczema-affected kids. It’s a hard thing to manage, and it can sometimes look painful or gross, which is really sad for (moms of) little kids. But, just so you know, it’s really common, and odds are you’ll learn that a lot of kids have eczema – some worse than others. If you’ve tried anything different than me – what have you found works the best? Any tried and true remedies? Let us know in the comments!