Eczema is a common problem that affects many children under the age of five and can sometimes continue into adulthood. Knowing how to control skin irritation is the best way to prevent your child’s discomfort.
Preventing irritation in your child’s environment
Bath time is an important step in preventing eczema symptoms. It’s best to have a routine so that your child will cooperate with your efforts.
Keep the water temperature warm, but not hot. Water that is too hot will dry the skin. Bubble bath and fun-colored soaps can also be irritating. Make baths as short as possible to prevent drying. If you have an older child who likes to play in the tub, let them have their time first and wash them while the water is draining. This will reduce the amount of time the cleansers are in contact with their skin.
As soon as the child is out of the bath they should be patted dry and lotion should be applied immediately. Aveeno has a line of lotions and other products that are fragrance free and ideal for sensitive skin. Expensive eczema creams and lotions aren’t necessary if you follow a good bath time routine. Massaging the lotion into the skin as opposed to simply rubbing it on will also stimulate blood flow to the top layers of skin. Make this time with your child special. This skin to skin contact is not only therapeutic for your child, but a great bonding time as well.
Winter is the worst time of year for children with eczema. Dry outside air and indoor heat irritates the skin more than in other seasons. For this reason you shouldn’t bathe your child daily in the winter unless absolutely necessary.
Prevention is key to controlling eczema, but it can only go so far. You should be prepared for a flare up at any time. Hydrocortisone cream can be prescribed by a doctor for severe symptoms. But for moderate eczema an over the counter 1% or 2% hydrocortisone cream can be bought at any drugstore or grocer. Keep a tube in your child’s bag or at their school for convenience. Apply the cream only to affected areas as needed or before your child’s regular lotion regimen. However, hydrocortisone shouldn’t be used for prolonged periods (more than four days at a time) since it’s absorbed into the child’s skin and overuse can result in systemic toxicity.
Eczema is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful skin disorder. But knowledge and education can help keep your child’s skin healthy and rash-free.
For more information on eczema visit the Nebraska Medical Center’s website.