Marcie’s Mom Top 10 Eczema Tips
People often ask me how I manage Marcie’s eczema. Marcie has eczema from 2 weeks old and she still gets rashes/scratches on and off. So I can’t profess to have ‘cured’ her eczema, just able to manage to the level that our family is enjoying our time together (as opposed to constantly stopping her scratch/ losing sleep). What I do profess is that I believe in my heart that I am doing what is right for her, being confident rather than guilty or fearful.
1. Most important, Moisturize. Moisturizing keeps the skin from being dry, which leads to scratching, which in turn leads to inflammation, scars and more. I apply for Marcie about every alternate diaper change and definitely within 3 minutes after shower. Be generous with it, slather it on.
2. Apply steroid sparingly, but apply. Steroid cream/lotion causes skin thinning thus it’s not recommended for heavy use. Marcie is prescribed a 0.1% Elomet cream for application twice a day. I use it only when the eczema rash doesn’t go away after 2 days. Usually, after applying 2-3 times, the rash will disappear.
3. Know the triggers in order to control them. I strongly urge you to bring your child for an allergy test. Knowing what are/are not the triggers will remove a great deal of stress and unnecessary treatment. Marcie was given a skin prick test at 7 month old as I got paranoid guessing what food triggered her eczema. Turned out she isn’t allergic to anything – not dust mites, dog’s hair, egg or milk. Her condition is intrinsic and the trigger is mainly hot weather, whenever she starts to sweat.
4. See a specialist and stick to one you can trust. Tell someone of your kid’s eczema condition and chances are they will recommend you a doctor they know or that their friend knows. It is very tempting to switch doctors to find a quick solution especially when taking care of your kid is so stressful. I brought Marcie to see 4 doctors who are not specialist and then decided to find a specialist in a child clinic and stuck with the same doctor.
5. Follow through on the treatment from that specialist. Marcie’s condition is intrinsic and severe; at 7 month old, she was prescribed oral steroid course which I worried about the side effects. The steroid course was one time for 3 weeks with reducing dosage. Her specialist reassured me that it’s 100% safe and I am thankful that I have followed through rather than given up halfway (It is easy to give up due to fear of all that it is written on steroids and also rashes started appearing once the dosage was reduced). The oral steroid course really helped her skin and subsequent rashes became manageable.
Next 5 tips on daily care
6. Use bath oil, not soap. Marcie uses oatmeal bath oil and soaked in it for about 10-15 minutes while playing with her bath toys! Bath oil leaves a layer of oil that keeps the skin from drying. Do not shower with hot water.
7. Pat dry, not rub after shower. Again, to retain moisture and keep the skin from drying.
8. Wear light cotton clothes. Think cool. Baby doesn’t need to wear more or thicker clothes compared to adults.
9. Wash off detergent thoroughly from the clothes. It is good to invest in a washing machine. We spent S$1300 to buy a washing machine with steam wash and allergy cycle. Baby’s clothes are washed separately from adult’s and the allergy+steam function gives me comfort that my baby clothes are rid of dust mites and has no chemical residue.
10. Keep nails smooth and short. Jagged nails cause the most damage when scratching, wear mittens if your baby is willing.
Taking care of a child with eczema takes lots of efforts. I sleep with my baby so that she doesn’t get to scratch at night, which also means that I don’t get to sleep well. It is all worth it though when I see how beautiful my baby is and that her eczema is under control.
Update 2017: The above was written when I first started this blog in 2011, but the principles of skincare for eczema kids remained unchanged. Do refer to the drop-down list on menu bar, Eczema Tips, the interviews done with various Featured Guests, the search box (at top right) and keyword tags (at bottom right) to find what you need.