What's in Your Eczema Toolkit?
Do you have a child with eczema? Parents of eczema children are the primary caregiver when treating eczema in children and toddlers.
Knowledge is power; that’s certainly true when it comes to eczema! The more you know, the better equipped you will be to limit exposure to eczema triggers and minimize the symptoms. Alongside up-to-date knowledge, preparation is half the battle when it comes to successfully treating baby, toddler and child eczema. Being ready with your own personalized “Eczema Toolkit” can go a long way to treat and prevent eczema flares. Here are essential tips and tricks that should be in your eczema toolkit.
Take lukewarm baths and showers, using mild soap or a non-soap cleanser. It’s ideal to take a lukewarm bath at night before bed followed immediately by a round of full body moisturizing. Hot water can strip dry skin of essential oils, so a lukewarm bath is best. We recommend bathing at night because it washes off the day and all the eczema triggers. Bathing at night also prepares the skin for emollient therapy which is essential for eczema.
Gently pat your or your child’s skin dry with a soft towel and avoid rubbing. Apply moisturizer within 3 minutes after bathing to “lock in” the moisture.
Choose soaps and bathing products that have been given approval by the National Eczema Association. The National Eczema Association has a list of products given their Seal of Acceptance. Vaniply is a wonderful eczema emollient and skin protectant given the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
Bleach baths can reduce skin bacteria, redness, itchiness, and skin scaling. Bleach baths are wonderful for children with eczema that suffer from frequent skin infections. Use ¼ cup of bleach for a half bath (approximately 75 liters) of lukewarm water. Mix the bleach and the water well before placing your child or toddler in the bath. Soak them for 5-10 minutes. Do not submerge their head; only soak the child from the neck down or specifically soak the affected areas. Rinse the skin with clean, warm water. Gently pat the skin dry with a soft, cotton towel. Do not rub skin, lightly pat. Leave the skin slightly moist. Moisturize immediately while the skin is still damp. Follow any prescribed moisturizing and prescription directions from your physician or child's physician. Most allergists and dermatologists recommend Vaniply. Repeat bleach baths 2–3 times a week. Consider applying eczema clothing/clothes over the emollient, or combining the treatment with the above-mentioned Wet Wrap Therapy. Read more about bleach baths here: http://www.adrescuewear.com/blog/bleach-baths-for...
Many eczema sufferers report a decrease in itching, inflammation and redness from salt bathing. Choose your salt—table salt, sea salt or Epsom salt—and add 1 cup to a half bath of lukewarm water, and a 1/8 cup for a baby bath. Soak your baby or toddler toddler in the warm salt bath for 10-20 minutes. Remove the child from the tub and pat dry - do not rub. Immediately apply an eczema emollient. Dress the child in eczema clothing. Eczema clothing/clothes stop the itch and keeps emollients in place for effective treatment. Eczema clothing also lessens the mess of heavy eczema emollients, keeping them in place for maximum absorption.
Read more about salt baths: http://www.adrescuewear.com/blog/salt-baths-for-t...
Topical Skincare & Treatments
Moisturizers and Emollients
Keeping your baby or toddler’s skin moisturized will help to protect the skin barrier. Choose a fragrance-free emollient or ointment like Vaniply. Apply the emollient/ointment several times a day, and particularly after washing or bathing your toddler, while their skin is still moist. Emollients and ointments are superior to creams and lotions. Creams and lotions are water based and don't protect the skin like emollients or ointments. Emollients and ointments are messy so applying eczema clothing over the emollients/ointments can be very helpful with stopping the itch, especially at bedtime. Eczema clothing/clothes made out of TENCEL® fiber is the best option as TENCEL® has been proven to be beneficial for eczema and sensitive skin. TENCEL® is more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen.
Creams contain a blend of oil and water, allowing them to combine the moisturizing nature of ointments with the light, cool feel of a lotion. However, creams often contain stabilizers and preservatives that some eczema sufferers may find irritating to the skin. Be cautious when choosing a cream and read the ingredients carefully.
Most creams, lotions, and ointments fall under the category of emollients. These helpful compounds work in three ways; providing an oily layer to help your skin hold onto valuable water, minimize friction, and help to repair surface skin cells. Types of emollients will vary greatly based on their oil-to-water ratio; the higher the oil content, the greasier the end product. Consider reading this article on how coconut oil offers great results for eczema sufferers at http://www.adrescuewear.com/blog/dr-frank-lichten...
Ointments are greasier than lotions, moisturizers, and creams, which help to preserve the water content in the skin. Ointments are most effective on the driest, thickest skin, they generally do not contain preservatives, however should not be used on weeping eczema. Here is a great article on the best emollients with the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance. http://www.adrescuewear.com/blog/top-rated-eczema-creams-and-emollients-from-the-national-eczema-association/ Ointments and emollients work the best for eczema but are also messy. Applying eczema clothing over ointments and emollients is the best way to address this issue. These specialty eczema garments keep the necessary treatment in place, but also provide soothing relief during treatment for excellent results. Visit www.adrescuewear.com for more information on eczema garments for soothing and treating.
Lotions contain more water than creams and moisturizers and are light on the skin. They are ideal for applying over hairier parts of the skin or under delicate clothing, where creams, emollients, and ointments may be too thick.
There are over-the-counter steroid creams available that are used to reduce inflammation and redness. However, overuse of steroid cream can cause its own share of problems like weakening of the skin and topical steroid addiction. Trying the above tips can help you manage eczema without topical steroids or decrease the need for topical steroids. Studies of wet wrap therapy show a decrease in the need for topical steroids and a 75% decrease in eczema symptoms.
Be careful to avoid eczema triggers including dry skin, irritants like scratchy clothing and non-eczema skincare products and detergents, stress, heat and sweat, and allergens. The good news is that most children outgrow their eczema before they grow to be school aged.
Wet Wrap Therapy
This is a simple and effective way to treat eczema, particularly in toddlers. Studies report a decrease in eczema symptoms by 75% if done correctly. Start by soaking your child in a lukewarm tub for 10-20 minutes. Then, pat your child dry with a clean towel and immediately apply any eczema medication prescribed by your child's doctor to the affected areas, then generous amounts of ointment all over the skin while it’s still damp. Immediately dress your child in damp specialty eczema wraps. This damp layer seals in the moisture, calms the itch and repairs the skin barrier. It also brings down inflammation and decreases the staph bacteria found on the skin. Follow the layer of damp eczema wraps with a dry wrap or dry cotton clothing. Leave your child in these layers for at least 2 hours. Read more about Wet Wrap Therapy here: http://www.adrescuewear.com/blog/wet-wraps-for-ec...
Oral Treatment & Prevention
These are helpful microorganisms that are introduced into the body for their beneficial qualities. Good gut health promotes healthier skin and reduced eczema symptoms. Here is a great article on gut health and eczema at http://www.adrescuewear.com/blog/your-gut-and-ecz...
New research is on the horizon that Vitamin D can really help the symptoms of eczema. This is an easy way to help your child’s eczema without any side effects. Talk to your pharmacist about Vitamin D drops and the proper dosing for your child. For more information on child eczema and Vitamin D read this article http://www.adrescuewear.com/blog/vitamin-d-may-he...
Maintaining properly hydrated skin at all times is a key to eczema management that should become part of your regular lifestyle. In addition to topical moisturizers, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated from the inside out.
Pick the right clothing & fabrics for your eczema. Wool and synthetics are very irritating to your sensitive skin and especially to eczema. If these are currently part of your wardrobe, make a closet purge part of your New Year’s resolution. Fashion is not worth an eczema break out. Tencel® is the very best fabric for eczema but 100% cotton is also soft and breathable. Always avoid rough, scratchy fibers and tight clothing. In addition to clothing, remember to choose plain lyocell sheets or 100% cotton sheets and bedding that isn't too heavy. Visit http://www.adrescuewear.com/products/ for a selection of excellent and often life-changing clothing items specifically designed for eczema sufferers.
Use a humidifier, especially in dry or cold weather. If you don’t already have one, consider getting one during the spring and summer when they are less expensive than in the winter.
Keep your fingernails short to help keep scratching from breaking the skin. Drink plenty of water to help your skin stay hydrated from the inside out. Avoid sweating, and if you do sweat, rinse off as soon as possible to avoid letting the sweat dry on your skin. It’s also generally better to avoid swings in temperature, which can irritate your skin. Avoid perfume in any form, including soaps, detergents, and cleansers.
Do you have additional tips and tricks that are part of your Eczema Toolkit? We’d like to hear about what works for you!