When my son was diagnosed with eczema, I got really scared. It was mild, but we didn’t know (still don’t) what was the cause, so it was hard to figure it out how to control it. According to the National Eczema Association, it usually starts within the first 5 years of life. (It affects about 20% of children, in some form.) Eczema flares occur when the skin is very dry, it comes in contact with irritating substances or allergic triggers, or when the skin is infected. In our case we didn’t know what was the trigger, not even after 2 different skin tests. So, I had to dig a bit and find help myself.
The most important thing is, we need to avoid the skin going dry and therefore itchy. With some changes, my son is eczema free for the last 8 months! Here’s the list of things which helped me:
- Ditch all your branded baby toiletries (from bubble bath to talcum powder!) and switch to fragrance free, colour free and hypoallergenic products. Sometimes the cheapest non-branded supermarket or chemist products are the best. From 12-18 months onwards soap made with goats milk proved to be good too. Avoid other soap, bath oil, sponge or cloth usage.
- Give your child a bath every day, but the water should be lukewarm. Bath time shouldn’t be longer than 10 minutes. You can skip using bath products every other day, babies and toddlers are not getting too dirty, unless they were rolling in mud.
- Switch to reusable nappies or eco nappies, which aren’t coloured, fragranced or bleached – this could be very irritating for sensitive skin. Unfortunately, there’s very few of them on the market, I use Naty Eco Nappies and washable ones combined.
- Wash baby clothing separately. At least for the first year or 18 months. (Buy only 100% cotton clothing only.) Use washing nuts (well, they work for me!) or non-bio basic washing powder and no fabric conditioner at all. This applies to not only the baby laundry but all laundry in the household. Fabric softeners coat the garment with a thin layer of chemicals, thus your skin is in contact with them all the time. Also, it tends to build up in your washing machine, making no sense to separate the laundry, so just get rid of it. (In my desperation I even tried Ecozone Ecoballs too. I not only almost ruined my washing machine with the balls releasing the pellets – and I used them according what the leaflet said – but basically I could have used golf balls too, as they are essentially washing with pure water.) For stain remover I suggest Ecover Stain Remover
- Use an ointment. Ointments have the greatest oil content and they normally don’t cause burning sensation when applied, unlike lotions and creams (because of the added preservatives). I also tried to switch to bee’s wax based ointment for flares, Purepotions Skin Salvation Intensive Moisturising Ointment worked well for me, read my review about it here: Purepotions Ointment Review
- Limit steroid cream usage, only use it when flare ups are nasty red, itchy and only on affected skin. Use the mildest possible steroid cream. When using it, never apply it more than 2x a day. Stop using it immediately when flares are gone. Some children are not bothered having flares and they are not itching either. In this case you don’t need to use it, it will just look bad.
- Limited direct sunshine helps. Late afternoon sunbath can do really good. Give the little one Vitamin D supplement too.
- Don’t give up. It’s heartbreaking at times and requires some changes, but it can be controlled. Fortunately, in most kids eczema becomes less severe with time.
Remember, never self diagnose. Consult your doctor or a specialist!