The itching has woken him up in the middle of the night again. I offer him a cool wet towel to put on the worst spots but tonight it seems like his whole body is prickling with unseen pins.
He is still scratching even as he drifts off to sleep. He keeps scratching on and off for the rest of the night. He is asleep, unaware that he is clawing at his skin, unaware that he is driving me insane.
I know he can’t help it.
I know he wants to stop scratching.
I know this is just a bad patch.
I know his eczema is mild compared to many others.
But eczema is a horrible, heartbreaking, sore, uncomfortable, unsightly, crazy thing and I intend to wage war on it.
Ten Ways to Cope with Childhood Eczema
I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, and what works for us may not work for you, but if you or your child suffers from eczema you’ll know how horrible it can be.
For the last few months we’ve been waging war on my five year old’s eczema. Many people have helped us with their suggestions and ideas, so today I am returning the favour and sharing some of the things we’ve been doing to help us cope with childhood eczema.
Look for triggers.
An eczema flare up can be caused by allergies, or illness, or stress, and if you can work out what the trigger is for your child you can avoid it, or at least plan for it. We’ve not been able to find an allergy related trigger for our boy, but his eczema is definitely a lot worse during winter so we plan for that.
Don’t let your child get too hot.
Over heating is the worst for kids with eczema. It makes them a hundred times more itchy, and often happens in bed at night and interrupts sleep. Use light, cotton PJs and lighter bedding if this is a problem.
Cut fingernails short!
This won’t stop the itching, or the scratching, but super short, smooth fingernails do a lot less damage to skin, which can help you avoid broken, sore, skin and infections.
Find a moisturiser that works for your child.
There are lots of different moisterisers that are specifically designed for eczema but you might need to try a few before you find one that works for your child. We were using a paraffin based moisteriser for a long time which was good, but lately we’ve switched to plain old coconut oil which is working great for us right now.
Moisterise a lot.
The more I moisturise my boy’s worst spots the less itchy he is and the quicker any broken skin heals. We moisturise morning and night as he is getting dressed and undressed, and during the day on any particularly bad spots if we can. It’s often a huge pain in the bum to have to oil him up all the time but it works wonders during a flare up, so it’s worth the effort.
Use a prescribed cream.
Talk to your doctor about using a prescribed cream and how and when to apply it. They can show you how much to use and they usually suggest that you apply it first, wait a few minutes, and then moisturise. We’d been doing it wrong for a while and saw a big difference when we changed the system.
Cool and wet helps.
Cool wet face washers can help to dampen down the itch and help healing. For particularly bad spots apply your creams then add a wet tubular bandage with a dry one over the top.
Avoid soap and detergents.
Avoid soap and soap-based products like the plague, avoid anything with perfume too. If you are washing your child’s hair do it over a basin or in the shower to lessen the amount of shampoo that comes in contact with the skin. Look for a laundry detergent for sensitive skin, you may have to try a few before you find the best one for your child.
I know it seems counter-intuitive but baths can actually dry out your child’s skin, so bathing less often can help eczema. Keep baths warm not hot, and only wash them when they stink or are visibly dirty. A quick shower is often a better alternative, or a wash down with a warm washer.
Think about supplements.
There are lots of different supplements suggested to help in the treatment of eczema. I haven’t read any medical evidence that any of them help, but as long as they don’t harm then I figure it’s worth a try. We’ve tried a few different things and currently use vitamin E and a probitoic supplement. I can’t say for sure that they help but when we are strict with adding them to his food I feel they do make a difference.
Here’s a bonus tip – go see your doctor.
For a long time I thought ‘oh it’s just a bit of eczema, he’ll grow out of it, nothing to worry about’ but so far he has not grown out of it, and he has significant flare ups, and having a chat to our doctor about how best to treat it was very worthwhile. So check in with your doctor, then you’ll have the best information and you can work on ways to cope day to day.
Do you have a child with eczema?
How do you manage the itching and scratching on a day to day basis?
Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked well for your family?
I’d love to hear them – leave a comment below and share your ideas so we can all wage war on the itch together!