Saying (or shouting) “Stop Scratching!” to your eczema child

Scratching Head at Night

Pause for a moment and think how many times you have said “Stop Scratching!” today. I used to keep saying that to my baby girl Marcie until I read that it is not the best way to get her to stop scratching. There’s little research done in this area available online, but supposedly, asking your child to stop doing something is less effective than rewarding him/her for not doing it. Also, it can annoy/upset your child to be told consistently to stop doing something that they can’t control. My own guess is that they are smart enough to know that scratching gets our attention and even do it more when throwing tantrum.

Here are a few tactics for teaching our children not to scratch that I read online, some which I use:

1.      Get your child to hold the itchy part tightly (supposed to help relieve some itch, but I don’t practise it as my baby is too young and likely result in her to focus more on the itchy part)

2.      Distract the child (that’s what I do all the time, check my post on keeping fingers busy, coloring and I also learn sign language with my baby. Sometimes, at night, when she scratches while trying to fall asleep, asking her to show me a sign works)

3.      Set up a reward chart with stickers to reward not scratching

4.      Try wearing eczema clothing (I haven’t tried this but a parent have recommended to me)

5.      Cut nails short (I haven’t cut Marcie’s nails for more than half a year cos she “files” them herself)

Of course, the eczema needs to be treated, do read my tips and Marcie’s doctor’s skincare tips.

What is most important to me is to stop remarking to my hubby that it is his bad gene and also to banish the words “bad skin”. I noticed that my baby scratches even when alone, as scratching feels good, so I am also very careful not to imply she’s doing it on purpose.

I have drawn a picture book (published as e-book, “A to Z Animals are not scratching!” to teach young children not to scratch and also starting a support group for moms (and dads) who need people to understand what we are going through (and hopefully, we can reduce the inadvertent “Stop Scratching!” to our children!).

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17 thoughts on “Saying (or shouting) “Stop Scratching!” to your eczema child

  1. I’m guilty of telling my toddler to stop scratching. Sometimes I think it’s just a habit of his now, so asking him to stop will make him realize he’s doing it. But maybe that’s silly. We tried the reward chart and it didn’t work for us. But, we used the distraction techniques and of course when he’s really itchy we cannot let him sleep without the ScratchMeNots or Kumfy Cotton clothing to cover his hands. There were many times he’d have to cover his hands during the day too, but thankfully those days have passed.

  2. I know! Until now I still can’t stop saying stop scratching, especially when my husband is busy (physically or deep in thoughts!) and I want to get my housework done.. and there Marcie is scratching and we can’t let her keep scratching. Thankfully, she doesn’t scratch as hard though when we neglect to actively distract her, there’s still patches of red scratch marks, usually along the diaper line.

  3. I was told by NC nurse Lim from KK to put the moisturizer / Calendula cream in the fridge, when my boy scratch, or during hot days, I applied the cream straight from the fridge, it cools him down and stops the itch. Hope it helps.

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  8. I used to say “STOP IT” but never works. She always scratch her cheek when I leave her alone for house works. Agree with you, now she understands she gets attention from scratching. Last weekend, I cleaned my kitchen. I have done my job (hooray!!). Her cheek was bleeding badly when I returned to her. (It made my heart broken). I promised (but not for the first or last time) it won’t happen again. Now, I started searching (before deciding cost effectiveness) learning materials to distract her.

    • TV? or lots of craft to do? I always have to check on her every 10 mins or so, just to make sure she’s not scratching, or peeling, or too close to TV!

      Ended up buying lots of activity books!
      Mei

  9. Yes, Mei. You may think I am careless. I focus a lot on washing dishes and settling down things in the kitchen where we recently moved in.

    I want to ask suggestion from you. Her right cheek has very thin skin after flare-up. For the first time flare up, the skin broke and it is the very first and frequent site for following flare ups. What do you recommend to do?

    • Hi Tun,

      Oh! In no way I meant you are careless! Fully understand, we relocated from overseas to Singapore, then from Singapore mom’s home to my own when baby was one-month old, was on my own most of the time during the day, it’s not possible to check all the time on the baby! (I’m re-reading my comment above and I meant I always have to check on my baby)

      As for skin of cheek, if there’s active eczema flares all the time, you may want to check with pediatric dermatologist to get a medication similar to protopic that is non-steroidal and doesn’t thin skin, see http://eczemablues.com/2012/07/protopic-is-a-non-steroid-cream-better-for-your-child/

      Take care!
      Mei

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  11. I love your blogg, it’s been very useful, thanks for sharing your experiences. We’re currently going through a hand, foot and mouth outbreak with antibiotics and a severe rash in my 17 month old. Your information and experience was a comfort.

    A few months ago I attended an eczema workshop for parents. The nurse running it told me to gently take his hand and teach him to tap the itchy area he was trying to scratch. Lately he has started tapping his arms, it’s not so easy in the neck creases, but it beats scratching!

    • Thanks Catherine for dropping by! And yes, tapping beats scratching! And your 17 month old is doing great for changing to tapping, mine is 4+ and still don’t quite tap. Sometimes she replaces with finger biting, which is worse cos she’s been having infection from mouth bacteria at her fingers!
      Hope the eczema improves for your son, take care!
      Mei

  12. Thank you for developing your blog! My son is only 3 months old, and he keeps scratching around his eyes. Doctor prescribed Atopiclair for his eczema (which is amazing on his skin folds), but I am afraid to put it around his eyes. Instead, I put vitamin E oil on his eyelids to help ease the dry skin. I can’t tell him “don’t scratch” cos he can’t understand it yet and I can’t reward him yet, either! How can I help soothe his itchy eyelids? :(

    • I know the eyelid is a difficult place! I clean my child’s with lukewarm cotton pad and moisturize a little if really dry. Sometimes I bring her swimming, just to kill staph bacteria and have a fun cooling time. Other times, we entice with reward stickers and whatever tricks, carrots and sticks we can think of.

      Not sure if you’d find something that help here
      http://eczemablues.com/tag/eyelid/

      Hugs,
      Mei

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