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Best Tips for dealing with Eczema in Babies & Kids
Eczema in babies and kids is becoming increasingly more common. I am not sure why this is happening but I am constantly seeing moms posting on social media asking for advice on what they can do to relieve their poor babies itching and tips for dealing with eczema.
Over the past 13 months I have become quite knowledgeable about all things eczema. My son was 5 months old when he suddenly developed a small round scaly patch on his back. My sister is the one who noticed it one night around Christmas. Of course as we always did, we took to mom groups with a picture asking what they thought it could be. To our surprise, the general consensus was that it was most likely ring worm! So off to the doctors we went where we were told it *probably* wasn’t ring worm but just dry skin from the cold winter air.
This clearly was not the case…we watched this “rash” spread over my poor babies back over the course of the next 7 months. We tried EVERYTHING we could think of that may provide some kind of relief for the itching. Little T would scratch so much at night that he would bleed through his pajamas. It even began to spread to his face. Eventually we were told it was atopic dermatitis (read: eczema!)
What is Eczema?
So…what is eczema and why does it happen? Well according to Google, it is ‘a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed, with blisters that cause itching and bleeding, sometimes resulting from a reaction to irritation (eczematous dermatitis) but more typically having no obvious external cause.’ Let me repeat that…HAVING NO OBVIOUS EXTERNAL CAUSE. This is sooo frustrating for parents! If we don’t know what caused it then how are we supposed to get rid of it??
Eczema Flare Ups
There are a lot of unknowns still when it comes to eczema. Some people think that eczema is caused by certain foods, others think it is caused in part by genetics, others by things such as laundry detergent and soaps. My son’s eczema got so bad that I ended up looking at every possible cause and started making some major changes.
There can be so many reasons why a ‘flare up’ happens. My son’s first showed up in the dead of winter so of course everyone assumed it was cold weather related. We bought cream after cream trying to keep his skin moisturized. Trip after trip to the doctors office. Scouring the internet to find a way to get rid of this awful rash. I started to feel like a terrible mother and became obsessed with finding a solution.
Best Tips to help with eczema flare ups
SO…here is a list of all the things that could possibly be causing your child’s eczema flare ups and a list of recommendations on how to help. *Please remember that I am not a doctor, nor a healthcare professional and if your child’s eczema is not going away or worsens in any way then you should take him/her to a doctor right away*
Certain foods may trigger an eczema flare up. Here are the most common ones that you may wish to avoid giving your child or avoid eating yourself if you are breastfeeding.
- dairy and eggs
- gluten and wheat
- citrus fruits
- certain nuts
- certain spices such as vanilla, cinnamon and clove
Researchers also say that just like there are foods that can cause flare ups, there are also some that can help flare ups. Here are some anti inflammatory foods that you may want to add into your diet or your little ones diet:
- fish high in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines
- colourful fruits such as apples and cherries
- colourful vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli
- probiotics such as yogurt, miso soup and tempeh
- fermented drinks such as kombucha and kefir
Soaps and Detergents
This is often the first thing parents think to change when an irritation first shows up. We hadn’t been using baby detergent when T’s eczema first showed up but the first thing we did was buy hypoallergenic, dye free baby laundry detergent.
- This was our favourite and we’ve heard from many other parents that it has worked very well for them too. We still use it now.
- I have also recently learned that dryer sheets can be a major irritant so we have stopped using those as well.
- Baby soap – we received so many different soaps at our baby shower and unfortunately we had to stop using them as they were basically all scented or contained things we did not want on little T’s skin. We spoke to a public health nurse who suffers from eczema herself and she told us about this Dove product. We bought it the same day and I will never use anything else on T’s skin again! It is hypoallergenic, pH neutral, tear free, fragrance free, dye free, sulphate free, paraben free, and no phthalates. It was developed for sensitive skin and is opthamologist, dermatologist and pediatrician tested. Also the pump bottle lasts forever!! We use this as shampoo AND body wash.
Creams and Lotions
When we (finally) got in to see the dermatologist about T’s eczema we had to fill out some paper work. One of the questions was “what have you used to try and help your irritation?” I literally did not have enough room on the page for all the creams and home remedies we had tried.
Things that I was told or read about that may help:
- coconut oil
- 100% pure shea butter
- Jamaican olive oil
- Aveeno for babies
- Aveeno for eczema with colloidal oatmeal
- Krill oil
- oatmeal baths
- lukewarm baths every day with no soap (limited to 10-15 minutes)
- breast milk directly on the rash
- hydrocortisone cream (we have prescriptions for two different ones, neither of which worked)
- Bioderma Atoderm Intesive Balm
- Ihsles paste
- Glaxal base
- Cliniderm lotion
- Penaten cream
- Pate D’Ihle
- Fucidin (prescription)
What actually WORKED for us
Eventually we got a referral to a dermatologist and got our appointment 3 months out. We still hadn’t found anything that was helping a whole lot at this point…just temporary minor fixes for the itch but the rashes had never actually gone away. Then I decided to try THIS…which I had had in my house all along because I use it on my very dry hands in the winter and also on my lips. This moisturizing salve was the only thing that even came close to getting rid of the flare ups! I used it for the 3 months while awaiting our appointment and T’s skin went from bright red and inflamed to (somewhat) normal colour and no longer itchy.
When we finally got in to see the dermatologist and told him about our miracle cream he (surprisingly) knew what it was and had good things to say about it! However, he determined that T’s eczema was more on the severe end and prescribed Protopic instead. This has been a godsend! T’s eczema is gone from his face completely and his back is so so so much better. We use it day and night whether he has a flare up or not. His skin colour is back to normal and its very rare that he wakes up scratching. This cream is quite pricey ($243 for 90ml) but so worth it. If you cannot afford the Protopic or just cant get a prescription for it I do highly recommend the moisturizing salve as I mentioned above. It can be found at Home Hardware and TSC Stores.
Because T’s flare ups were mostly contained to his back, that the only place I use the Protopic now. For the rest of his body I use CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion for normal to dry skin especially after baths. This was also recommended to us by our dermatologist and seems to work quite well with keeping his skin from drying out.
Other tips from our dermatologist
- Limit wooly type fabrics which may irritate the skin more
- Avoid over bundling in winter as over heating can irritate as well
- Don’t keep wet clothes on the skin..example wet socks or mitts or wet bathing suits in the summer
- Bathe every day or every other day in luke warm water…do not use soap each time as it can be drying if used too often
- Bleach baths…this sounds… crazy! And when the dermatologist first said it I laughed in his face.
However…. his reasoning makes sense. Its similar to a swimming pool…by putting just a little bit of bleach (about 1/4 cup for a full tub of water) it kills the bacteria on the skin and reduces itching, redness and scaling. The key is to rinse well and moisturize like crazy when you get out!
***Please never put bleach directly on your child’s skin and please make sure the bath is fully drawn before putting your child in the water*** Limit the bath to about 10-15 minutes and rinse with tap water. Once done pat dry with a towel and apply your moisturizer. We were told to do this once per week during flare ups but we only had to do it two or three times before the Protopic rid T of his flare ups almost altogether.
- Last tip…Benadryl can be wonderful for helping with the itch. Our dermatologist recommended we give it at bedtime to help T (and the rest of us) get some much needed rest.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Eczema
- Eczema can be a lifelong struggle but it is manageable! It is about consistency and prevention. We apply T’s moisturizers morning and night whether he has flare ups or not. It keeps the skin barrier moisturized and itching at bay!
- Please let me know if any of these tips worked for you and your little ones! 🙂