It’s no surprise that babies and children with eczema can be irritable and grumpy, what with having to contend with a challenging combination of painful, itchy skin and a lack of sleep. In this article, Claudia Talsma – Leading skincare expert for dry/problematic skin – shares simple and practical tips on what you can do as a parent of a child with eczema to get your happy baby back.
Give your child a sense of control
Parenting can be tough; being the parent of a child with a chronic condition such as eczema can be that bit harder. The home becomes a battleground with daily fights over getting dressed, applying cream, bed-time … the list goes on!
Involving your child in their skincare routine can help; here’s how:
- If your child can communicate, find out if their refusal to apply cream is because it stings or is too hot or cold. Try a gentler product, warm the cream in your hands or cool in the fridge.
- Instead of telling your child “Put your clothes on now” or “It’s time to put your cream on”, say “Do you want to put your socks or vest on first?” or “Would you like cream on your arm or leg first?”. This leaves no question that the cream is going on but gives your child some control.
- Decant the cream into smaller, sterilised containers that your child has decorated with stickers. Allow them to choose which pot to use. Or name the cream after your child’s favourite cartoon or television character.
- Remember, communication is a two-way street and only 7% is verbal – think about the tone of your voice and body language too. If you’re tense, your child will pick up on it.
Make your home eczema-safe
It’s likely that you have already made these changes, however here’s a quick check list:
- Remove as much allergy and eczema aggravating dust in your home by damp dusting, using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and washing soft toys weekly.
- Use anti-allergy bedding & cotton sheets.
- A cool-mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom can counteract heat and dryness.
- Use non-biological washing powder or liquid and rinse clothes well.
Everyday chemicals in the home may be triggering your child’s flare ups – cut down on harsh cleaning products by making your own.
Dressing your baby during the winter months
Dressing your child in natural, organic fabrics such as cotton, hemp and bamboo will keep them cool and dry. Bamboo is also a natural antibacterial; an excellent choice if your little one’s skin is prone to infection. If it cold then try to add a wool jumper over the top of a cotton shirt.
Eczema can flare up in the winter months so you need to nourish and moisturise their skin more. Do try and get outside though, studies show that children living in low sunlight areas are more likely to suffer with eczema and allergies, so get them outside to soak up some vitamin D just remember to wrap them up nice and warm.
Out and about
You have some control over minimising triggers inside the home, but what about when your child is out in the big wide world? Here are some common concerns and what to consider:
Sitting in a car seat for a long period of time can make your little one hot and sweaty; the perfect recipe for an eczema flare up. Try dressing your child for the car journey rather than the destination, in the fabrics mentioned above. Remember to use sunlight shades in the windows and take regular breaks to cool down and re-hydrate.
Chlorine in swimming pools can either trigger eczema, or in some cases make it better by removing bacteria from the skin. Try searching for an ozone filtered or saltwater pool in your area to see if chlorine-free pools work better for your child.
Use a barrier system to protect against chlorine. Cover your kid with a thick layer of cream and invest in an all-in-one suit.
After swimming, wash off the chlorine in the shower and moisturise well. Keep your little one’s hands busy by rewarding them with their favourite snack and re-hydrate to replace fluids lost from heat and exertion.
Heal skin from inside out
Add the following foods to your child’s diet to repair skin and calm the immune system. If you’re breastfeeding, including these foods in your diet will help your baby too!
Brightly coloured fruit & vegetables – packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that work to repair damaged skin cells and build stronger, healthier cells.
Wholegrains – try alternating grains; quinoa porridge or buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, corn/millet pasta for lunch and brown rice for supper. These gluten-free grains are excellent sources of skin-building B vitamins.
Oily fish – such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats that moisturise skin from the inside and can help combat itch.
Organic yoghurt – full of probiotics or ‘friendly bacteria’ that support digestive function and regulate the immune system.
Quercetin rich foods – this plant compound combats itching with its natural anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine effects. Good sources include apples, red onions, red grapes, raspberries, cranberries & blueberries.
Water – if you struggle to get your kids to drink enough water, remember that water-rich foods count too; include plenty of iceberg lettuce, cucumber, watermelon and tomatoes.
Make time for yourself
Eczema is a condition that can seriously affect your child’s quality of life and that of the rest of the family too. Research suggests that mothers of children with moderate to severe eczema experience the same levels of stress as mothers of children with severe developmental and physical problems.
Feelings of guilt, anger and frustration are normal. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone! Make sure you have support from people who take your child’s condition seriously. Is there another parent of a child with eczema at your school who you could meet for coffee to share advice or just vent? Online forums can be a useful source of support for some. Make sure to find time to do whatever it is that helps you to relax, whether that’s yoga, meditation, listening to music or catching up with your favourite show when the kids are in bed.
When times are hard, take a deep breath and focus on getting through one day at a time. Often the best thing you can do is snuggle with your child on the sofa; cuddles reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase immune-boosting and bonding hormone oxytocin.
The good news is that by making these small changes, you can improve the health and happiness of the whole family.
Did this article resonate with you? Which of the tips will you be trying today? Do you have any tips of your own to share? Please leave your comments and questions below.
We’ve teamed up with Bioskin Junior with a chance to win the entire range of Bioskin Junior skincare for babies and children worth £54, perfect for children and babies prone to dry and sensitive skin during the winter months.