One of the hardest parts of motherhood is feeling helpless while your child is in pain. One of my first experiences with this helplessness was when my son Henry developed eczema when he was only a few months old. At first I thought it was just a bad case of cradle cap. He was scratching his head a lot so I would put socks on his hands to keep him from scratching himself. It wasn’t long before my mother-in-law told me it looked a lot like her eldest son’s eczema when he was a baby.
If you’re not familiar with the term eczema, it is a medical condition where patches of skin are red, dry, raised, and extremely itchy. It can cover someone’s entire body or be limited to certain areas (usually the back of the knees, hands, and elbows.) The cause of eczema can vary greatly, from allergies to certain foods to nothing that can be tested from a medical standpoint. Unfortunately my little Henry has it all over his body. He has been tested for various allergies and all the tests have come up negative. He sees a dermatologist regularly and uses prescribed medicated creams to keep his eczema in control. However, there are various other products we use on top of the prescriptions. (These can be used with or without prescriptions.)
If your child is suffering with eczema please consult with a doctor to discuss treatment options. Here are some of the most helpful tips I have for treating eczema that I have learned through trial and error and from advice from doctors and people who have dealt with similar issues. There are affiliate links that provide me a commission if purchased. All of these are products that I ACTUALLY use on a regular basis and HIGHLY recommend to anyone struggling to control their child’s eczema.
-Avoid water–at least during a bad flare.
Whenever I bring Henry in to the dermatologist and his skin looks BAD they tell me to avoid bathing him or getting his skin wet for at least a week. (Not exactly what a mother of a dirty two year old wants to hear!) Water dries skin out even more so its best to avoid it as long as possible. Use a wet wash cloth to wipe off food or dirt when needed. Baby wipes are the enemy–they tend to dry skin out more, especially if there’s any kind of fragrance.
When you are back to bathing your child I highly recommend these Bubble Podz. They make big bubbles that kids love (like your normal bubble bath) but without the irritating formula. It won’t dry their skin out like other bubble bath products. These are the only product I use in the bath for Henry.
This seems kind of unimportant, but it is crucial in treating severe eczema. Henry did not sleep through the night before he was a year old because he woke up scratching so much. By using long sleeved and footed PJ’s you are minimizing the amount of scratching they can do at night, which keeps it from getting worse. (Scratching just makes the skin break open and possibly get infected and more itchy.) When I first brought Henry to the dermatologist they told me to keep as much skin covered as possible at night to stop the scratching. Once I did this and started his new medications, he started sleeping through the night for the first time ever.
-Keep fingernails short.
Scratching is pretty much inevitable when your child has eczema. Keeping their nails short is essential so that they cannot break the skin, which can cause infection and make their skin worse.
You’ve probably used this before because it is commonly used to treat bug bites and other allergies. I put this one on before any other lotion, but just on spots with eczema patches.
This is my favorite lotion. There are a million different products out there but I love how this is thick and hydrating without being sticky. It really absorbs into the skin well. I also love the container because it’s so easy to get the lotion out and I don’t waste a drop.
When Henry is having a really bad flare his feet tend to be the worst affected area. After putting on the hydrocortisone and Aveeno I put vaseline on his feet just to lock the moisture in over night. When he wakes up his feet are nice and soft.
When I am not using the Aveeno lotion, I am using Coconut oil. It’s a little messier but it gets results. It does not stain clothing. Whenever I use this on Henry at night he wakes up with much softer skin and has never had a bad reaction. (And it smells great too!)
This seemed counterintuitive to me, but it is another thing my dermatologist recommended. If their skin is super itchy and the creams are not giving them enough relief, put wet cloths on the affected areas. (I’ve used long socks on Henry’s arms. I just cut a hole on the ends so his hands could poke out.) After you put the wet cloth on cover it with a dry one. (I used another sock.) This helps locks in moisture and the coolness calms their itching. I’ll never forget a night when Henry’s skin was particularly bad. I was trying to get him to bed and he was crying and crying. I finally did a wet wrap and he calmed down almost immediately.
I hope at least a few of these suggestions are helpful for you. Does your child have eczema? What products work best for you?