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If you are a regular reader of the blog you might have read my articles on eczema in the past. Two of my four children have suffered with eczema over the years, which at times has been so bad it has been quite distressing.
Eczema is a dry skin condition. It is a highly individual condition which varies from person to person and comes in many different forms. One person’s experience is unlikely to be the same as the next. It is not contagious but can run in families.
A mild case of eczema might mean that the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. In more severe cases however, there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Constant scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and also leaves it open to infection. Eczema can be very distressing for families.
Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children. Those who “grow out” of their eczema during early childhood may see it recur again in later life.
In the UK, one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema. In addition to this many parents believe that their children have ‘sensitive skin’.
Like many aspects of parenting, dealing with eczema has become a bit of a trial and error situation over the years. Often you can find that something might work for a while, but then appear to stop working. Or, you may find that during a flare up your usual methods of eczema treatment and control just do not have the same impact.
Here are a few of the things I have found helpful during a flare up.
Bandages soaked in coconut oil
A few years ago, one of the children had a really bad flare up of eczema which came on so fast, that I actually questioned whether it was something else and ended up in the car in the middle of the night paying a trip to out of hours with my little one.
The way he described it at the time was that someone was burning his skin. The only thing that helped was when I melted cold pressed coconut oil, soaked those soft, stretchy bandages in the the oil and wrapped them around his arms and legs.
Sometimes it is the burning sensation from the skin and the actual heat coming off the skin from excessive scratching that is the most distressing. In these situations sometimes the most comforting thing can be to apply a cold compress to the site.
A hand towel, tea towel, flannel or muslin cloth are all useful items here.
Thick layer of cream
As eczema is a dry skin condition, sometimes you can apply your normal cream and it simply disappears as if you never even applied it. It’s like the skin is so thirsty it just drinks all the cream you put on the skin before it’s had a chance to make an impact.
When eczema flare ups have been really bad, I’ve found that applying a really thick layer of cream at bedtime can help to reduce night time itching. Literally applying way more than you normally would, just in the hope that it takes longer to soak in and they can at least get some sleep without getting into the nasty itch and scratch cycle.
Try a new product
For years the only products I have bought for the children’s skin are Childs Farm. If you are a regular reader of the blog you will know how much I rate their cream for eczema control and how, for years we haven’t been able to use anything else on one of the children.
For years and years I have deliberately bought them all the same skincare products, so I wasn’t worried about other products getting on the skin of the two with eczema.
I was recently sent some products from the Baby Dove range and decided to cautiously try them out. The derma care range has been accepted by the National Eczema Association and is made with 100% skin natural nutrients, so I was hopeful we might be ok with this. We patch tested the products, then left it a day and then used them again. We’ve now been using them about three weeks and so far so good. The cream is very thick and leaves a lovely thick coating on the skin and the moisturising wash is really creamy. It does feel like a step forward that we now have two products we can use on their skin.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
One of the things I do notice with the children is how much worse their eczema is if they haven’t been drinking well, in particular, drinking enough water.
There is also a real improvement in the skin about three days after we up the water intake and make a real conscious effort to take more water on.
On the real desperate days, when things have been so bad that nothing has seemed to stop the itch and soreness, I have given Piriton which works to ease the irritation. I’ve used this alongside the bandages and coconut oil when thing have been particularly bad.
Do you have any of your own tips or suggestions to share?