Eczema is a chronic skin disorder. It is also a common problem affecting at least 1 in 5 children, but that doesn’t make dealing with it any easier. The dry, very itchy patches are uncomfortable, can cause infections, and can disrupt the sleep of everyone in your home. After living through this condition with my daughter, the following tips may help you treat your little one.
Ways to soothe so you can snooze
Restore moisture – Eczema affects each child differently, but overall the lack of moisture is a problem. Without a protective moisture barrier, the skin is easily irritated and can flare up in a nasty rash.
Bathe daily with coconut oil: Oatmeal baths and Epsom salt baths are other possibilities, but we have found coconut oil to be the most soothing.
Use a soap-free body wash: Skip soap and bubble baths if you want to ease your child’s discomfort.
Apply moisturizer: Thick creams are often more effective than fluid lotions.
Use a humidifier: Running a humidifier in your home, or at least in the child’s bedroom, will help add moisture to the dry winter air and in turn soothe skin.
Special care for sensitive skin – Eczema makes the skin very sensitive to touch. Reduce irritation by choosing only the softest, natural fibers.
Clothing choices matter: Cotton undershirts, soft sweatshirt material, and other loose fabrics are ideal. Minimize the use of fasteners; buttons and zippers, when eczema flares up.
Manicures matter: Keep your child’s fingernails short and clean to prevent infections from scratching. Make sure your child’s nails, and yours as well, are without sharp edges to avoid accidentally snagging tender skin.
Keep cool and comfortable: Even if your child is wearing the softest material, if they are too hot or too cold, eczema can flare-up. A damp t-shirt or washcloth is a quick way to help soothe an over-heated, itchy child.
Seek professional help – A physician may prescribe medication to help reduce inflammation. For example, a topical steroid cream can dramatically reduce symptoms.
Treat infections: If the rash is extra red, oozing yellow pus or your child is not responding to any of your efforts to soothe it is important to see a doctor.
Check for food allergies: Sometimes when eczema does not respond to treatment, an undiagnosed allergy could be to blame. Your doctor will be able to help determine which food is causing the allergy.
Follow routines: While even the most secure set of bedtime routines will not clear up an eczema flare-up, they can be a soothing way to help make the transition to a good night’s sleep. Dim the lights and sing a song, gently pat a non-itchy back or read stories as part of your child’s everyday routine.
Eczema typically clears up before your child becomes an adult, but that is no comfort to a sleep-deprived mom and an uncomfortable child. Whatever you do, try to get the sleep you need so that you can calmly and effectively deal with your child’s condition.