Friday Feature – Scratching Habit Q&A with Dr. B

Q&A with Dr Christopher Bridgett

MarcieMom (@MarcieMom) met Dr Christopher Bridgett (@ckbridgett) through Twitter – and learnt that he had a special interest of using behavioural interventions to help people with atopic eczema. DrB trained in medicine at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, then as a psychiatrist in Oxford. He now works in private practice in London. He has co-authored several publications on The Combined Approach, that proposes using habit reversal to stop habitual scratching in atopic eczema. To find out more about behavioural dermatology, click http://www.atopicskindisease.com/articles/PeterNoren to read DrB’s interview with Peter Norén MD, the Swedish dermatologist who created The Combined Approach.

Marcie Mom: Hi Dr B, today’s question should be close to your heart. Eczema babies seem to form a habit of scratching, mine even scratches my spouse or I when we’re beside her. How do you suggest parents can help to break the habit for your children (who can’t understand not to scratch nor appreciate the full negative effect of scratching)?

 Dr B: The Combined Approach to atopic eczema incorporates habit reversal for habitual scratching into optimal conventional treatment. The programme for the younger child – which requires the involvement of the parents – is set out in Chapter 5 of the book “Atopic Skin Disease”, and is supported by the booklet “Live Without Eczema – For the younger child”. This is all available on www.atopicskindisease.com.

Parents with eczema child, contributed by Dr B

Marcie Mom: Thanks Dr B. I often allow my baby to play with her buggy book and sometimes chews on it (and swallows bits of the corner). How bad is eating some paper? I’d rather risk her eating some paper than scratching her neck out. Is that a very wrong attitude to have?

Dr B: All babies chew on anything that comes to hand – and mouth – during teething. It seems harmless, though it may need some supervision, as it could get “out of hand”. Providing a safe object to chew on, and removing everything unsuitable, seems sensible: thank goodness they grow out of it as the milk teeth all come through. DrB

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