Eczema Tips

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.Β  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,Β the interviews done with various Featured Guests, the search box (at top right) and keyword tags (at bottom right) to find what you need.

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  1. Is it any help to anyone if I tell them that I had a child who had eczema that caused her problems as a toddler. Now she has grown up although she still has to be careful what make up and shampoo she uses, but she has a beautiful skin. None of the medical people would say she would grow out of it and get better as she got older but she did.

  2. Thanks Charmaine for taking time to write this comment! I’m so glad, I can feel your liveliness that your son’s eczema is finally manageable! And your thank you to me is just what I needed now, running a little out of steam.. πŸ™ Btw, I’m not on FB, so help me spread my blog? xoxo Mei

  3. Hi mums! just wanted to say, hang in there! esp to tracy. my one year old has had really severe eczema since he was 3 weeks old. when he was about 5 months old, we did a blood test (coz his back was too spotchy to do skin prick test) and found out he was allergic to egg whites. I was still breastfeeding then so i tried to avoid eggs but his eczema persisted. we did skin prick on him when he was around 7 months – turned out he was allergic to almost everything from peanuts to cow’s milk to white rice! so i stopped bf-ing coz i figured i can’t avoid ALL food, and we only fed him white porridge (coz where got chinese don’t eat rice one?!) and started cow’s milk formula. his eczema got a little better but still had persistent lesions (one was the size of 50cents coin!) on his arms and legs. we moisturised like crazy, use steroids when necessary, and gave him zyrtec to help with the itch. we also wrapped him up – long sleeves, long pants, socks, socks on his hands coz he figured out how to pull off mittens; and got air con in our room. We were getting so frustrated seeing him always covered in “wounds”. finally, at the persistent advice of our pd, we switched to soy milk formula and viola! eczema cleared up by a lot! i also felt swimming helped a little so at persistent advice of our pd, we tried wet wraps. we resisted initially coz my in-laws didn’t approve but things got to a stage where i was desperate so just heck care and tried. i did it in the day though. and left the wet layer on him for only about 1 plus hour. after just one time, i could see the difference. i think it may also work if you just used whatever long sleeve/footed pants that you have at home since the idea is to keep the skin wet to encourage better absorption of the moisturizer. tubifast is tight so maybe the effect is better, but it does cost quite a bit. my baby’s a lot better now – actually, i would say he has cleared up 95% – i think due to the switch to soy milk formula and a few times of wet wraps. and we are still feeding him white rice! so skin prick may not be that good an indicator after all. we tested for carrots at that time and the test came back negative, but whenever he eats carrots he will get a flare-up.
    @mei – thanks for setting up this blog. ur tips have been most helpful!

    1. Hi, may i know if your kif fell sick or catch cold after doing wet wraps? My boy’s body is covered with eczema, like a red lobster, rough, warm.. Pity him so much.. Im gving myself this week, if no improvement, want to change his milk to soy or Nan ha..

      1. Hi Pinkshadow,
        I’ll ask Charmaine and see if she can reply to this thread. On your question, I’ve heard many moms ask and quite a few replied there’s no catching cold. It’s up to your child’s preference on the temperature of water to soak the wrap in (except hot). As the next layer on top of the wet is dry, and the material is thin, it’s not the same as being soaked in rain.
        May want to book appointment with pediatric specialist? My personal experience is that milk didn’t help, and it wouldn’t if it isn’t an allergic reaction to milk (mine tested to be not allergic to anything).
        Take care,
        Mei

      2. Hi pinkshadow! No my kid didn’t fall Ill from the wet wrap. But we usually did it in the afternoons when it is hot since my in laws were also worried he would catch a cold. Btw sleeping in air conditioning at night helped my son’s condition too. Certainly worth changing formula if u suspect allergy to cow’s milk – u could try the HA one although we just stuck to isomil. My son, who is 2.5 yrs old now, is still on isomil.

  4. Hi Lush,

    How about asking for an earlier appointment with Prof Hugo?

    Also, once a week steroid is definitely ok! Up to twice/day is ok and sparingly. Check the potency of the steroid http://eczemablues.com/2011/04/is-steroid-cream-safe/ and I think it’s ok so long as you’re not using a high potency on eyelids or face or areas where skin is thinner.

    I’ve not heard about Zaditen, so no comment. But I do think it’s better to see a specialist than a pd if you’re really concerned with the skin condition.

    Take care,
    Mei

  5. Hi everyone, im here to update ever since I did the skin prick for my daughter about 2mths ago. She is now 8mths. Her skin does not seem to improve even though we have removed all eggs fr the house. It flared up again on her face (all over!) and scalp. It makes me so sad. I have been using steriod once a week but am worried that it would be too often for such a young girl.
    My PD (not the skin specialist) prescribed Zaditen for her. She asked her to take it everyday, cannot stop, for a month. It is an oral medication to reduce allergic reaction. I’m not sure if I should do that? Letting a 8mth old take oral medication for 1 full mth sounds really potent.

    Im also contemplating bringing her to chinese Tuina as I heard it’s supposed to boost one’s immune system. Really tearing my hair out on what to do next.

    My next appoint with Prof Hugo is only in early Oct.. sighh.. πŸ™

  6. Hi Jules,

    Keep moisturizing like crazy! Dr Jeff Bernadio just shared in a video the amount to moisturize (http://eczemablues.com/2012/08/reinforcing-amount-to-moisturize-eczema-child-dr-jeff-benabios-video/) & you can refer to the link I’ve provided in above comment on avoiding the top allergens in your moisturizers.
    On use of topical creams, it’s safe but I suggest
    1. read up to know the potency http://eczemablues.com/2011/04/is-steroid-cream-safe/
    2. If you’re using so much (I use about once/week, and 3 emolet tubes lasted for 2 years), you should see a good child specialist (in dermatology/allergy/immunology) and get the doc to monitor your child’s condition as you note the steroid dosage. Some Singapore docs mentioned here
    http://eczemablues.com/2011/11/recommend-your-babys-eczema-doctor-singapore/
    3.Like I mention to Tracy above, I actively use chlorhexidine to remove the staph bacteria, ow. the steroid application isn’t effective.
    http://eczemablues.com/2011/10/4-part-series-on-what-causes-your-child-eczema-staph/
    4.And please don’t be scared by websites that’s against steroids – often, they focus it as the only treatment and over-state the negatives without explaining how these ‘steroid addicts’ have been using steroids. No good doc would prescribe steroid as the only treatment, it’s always holistic – moisturizing, steroid, swimming, lifestyle, reducing stress & scratching. Pls ignore these sites and focus on positively managing the eczema, rather than fearing/being paranoid (which happened to me but the more I learnt, the more I know I needn’t be scared!)
    xoxo
    Mei

  7. Hi Marcie’s mom,
    I too am a mum with atopic little ones. I have 2 boys aged 3.5 and 2 who flare up constantly. We moisturise like crazy, have been using topical cortisone for over 2 years. We use it for when the flare ups occur and have gone through at least 20 tubes of mild (sigmacort) and stronger ones (advantan + diprosone), with the latter being the more as the eczema is widespread on their bodies. I’m hopeful they would grow out of this, even though at times i can’t really see it seeing how vicious and widespread the attacks could be. I was wondering have you seen itsan.org.au? I saw that the other day and i’m so worried abt using the topical cortisone now…what if the attacks are caused by addiction to the treatment?! Just a thought, as a parent I get paranoid about everything when it comes to the kids!

    Jules

  8. Oh dear Tracy, sorry to hear that she has so many allergies! I can only think of using chlorexidine or explore bleach bath with the specialist to see if they have a way to review the effectiveness of bleach bath for your baby.
    http://eczemablues.com/2011/10/do-you-dare-to-let-your-eczema-child-try-a-bleach-bath/
    On the ointment, if the very oily one isn’t working, you may want to consider moisturizing more often with a lotion/cream that can be absorbed faster into the skin.
    http://eczemablues.com/2012/06/combined-approach-series-topical-treatment/
    Also look at the ingredients of the ointment you’re using, best remove the top allergens listed here
    http://eczemablues.com/2012/02/sensitive-skin-product-series-what-ingredient-to-avoid/

    Hope I’ve helped somewhat, take care!
    Mei

  9. Hi. My baby’s 10 months old. She also started having eczema since she’s 2 weeks. And it never subsides longer than one day . Moisturising every diaper changing is just not enough, though I use the very oily ointment. It seems her skin dries out again in merely 5 minutes afterward. We’ve been using steroid almost everyday! Feel unsafe and concern much, but could not afford to stop using it. My baby’s skin would be all inflammated and so red and itchy very soon. We had her tested the allergens, oh, she’s allergic to so many things, eggs, cow’s milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, shrimp, fish.. Have cut all these out, but not improve much. Sometimes just feel so desperate, any suggestion is very appreciated!

  10. Prof Hugo also recommended that I bring her to swim. Since the cholrine in water is supposed to keep the germs in check. πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Mei, thanks for your reply. My girl is 6.5mths. I brought her to see Prof Hugo and did a skin prick test too, after reading your blog. πŸ™‚ It turns out that she is allergic to eggs! So since Marcie tested negative for all these, how do you keep a lid on her eczema? Her skin looks so good now. πŸ™‚

    I realised that the prick test only tests for Dust, Cows Milk, Soy Milk and Eggs. Hmmm… what about other food (nuts, seafood, berries, wheat??) I forgot to ask Prof Hugo that.. would you know since you have visited him a few times? :p

    1. Hi Lush!
      I just keep moisturizing, swimming/chlorhexidine whenever it gets a little more itchy/generalized for her, maybe on once a month basis, had to use steroid a little higher potency steroid, but usually, no need to use. Ever vigilant in ensuring no scratching.
      Yes, on skin prick test:
      Here’s Prof Hugo’s reply to why test only few items
      http://eczemablues.com/2012/03/friday-dr-qa-with-prof-hugo-skin-prick-test/
      And another PD, specializing in allergy, reply:
      http://eczemablues.com/2012/05/friday-dr-qa-with-dr-liew-allergy-tests/
      Happy you seem happier after finding out the allergen for your girl πŸ™‚
      Mei

  12. My five year old suffers from eczema and his dishidrotic eczema on his hands is so severe that it is hard for me to look at. I feel so bad for him, can you think of any treatments that has been successful for children?

    1. Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for leaving a comment; Marcie doesn’t have very bad hand eczema, so I’m not too familiar with it. I do chlorhexidine fairly frequently, whenever the skin looks red/ infected. If any of her eczema patch looks bad, I’d use a higher potency steroid cream, followed by Physiogel AI.

      There’s glove for bigger kids – Tubifast (also has glove) or Dermasilk, both I interviewed before, in the links below:
      http://eczemablues.com/2011/12/easy-to-use-wet-wrapping-to-keep-childs-skin-hydrated/
      http://eczemablues.com/2012/01/clothing-that-is-the-nearest-thing-to-a-second-skin-with-anti-microbial-properties/

      Take care,
      Mei

  13. Hi Lush,

    Thanks for writing to me! Is your little girl above 6 months old? She can take a skin prick test/ blood test to see if she’s indeed allergic to the foods. Marcie’s PD also suggested it’s formula milk and we switched her to hypoallergenic. But when she’s 7 month old, we got her tested and realized she’s not allergic to anything. I do recommend kids taking the allergy test so that parents won’t need to worry that it may be this/that. More info on the allergy test:
    http://eczemablues.com/2012/05/friday-dr-qa-with-dr-liew-allergy-tests/
    http://eczemablues.com/2012/05/friday-dr-qa-with-dr-liew-elimination-diet-and-allergy-test/
    http://eczemablues.com/2012/03/friday-dr-qa-with-prof-hugo-skin-prick-test/
    http://eczemablues.com/2011/04/taking-the-fear-out-of-the-skin-prick-test/

    No allergy test is 100% accurate, but I always feel it’s better to have a guideline rather than none.
    http://eczemablues.com/2011/08/is-your-eczema-child-wrongly-avoiding-a-tested-positive-food-in-spt/

    As for vaccination, I don’t think it’s related to eczema but eczema can flare when the little one is having a temperature (as a result of the vaccination).

    As for switching creams, I think that’s ok as someone also asked in one of the eczema events about this and the doc didn’t object to it. However, it’d be good to limit the brands and use those without the top allergens, For more on this:
    http://eczemablues.com/2012/02/sensitive-skin-product-series-what-ingredient-to-avoid/

    Marcie doesn’t drink milk – only fresh or UHT milk. And her eczema is diagnosed intrinsic, not due to any allergy. And yes, food is more commonly thought to be triggering the eczema than in reality. So, it’s always best to have your child tested. Once I found out that Marcie’s eczema is not caused by anything, I can feed her healthily without worrying about any food being a trigger.

    Eczema comes and goes, sometimes we think it’s this or that when it’s not.. I was very paranoid at one time when Marcie started solids. So do get allergy test and at least ‘regain’ back some peace of mind πŸ™‚

    All the best!
    Mei

  14. I’m happy to have found your blog!

    My little girl has extensive eczema and it does not seem to subside. She is still on breastmilk and my PD said I should avoid dairy, seafood, wheat, egg, berries, nuts. I have tried to avoid all but still take the occasional bread, and sometimes my food may contain traces of eggs, dairy (e.g. the bread roll that I took may have butter in it). I dont know if that is causing her ezcema.

    And I notice her eczema worsening each time I bring her for her vaccination, is this normal? Sometimes her skin is not red, but just very dry and extremely scaly (on both arms and both legs). I have tried applying California baby, Aveeno, Cetaphil, Atopiclair, Physiogel creams and natural oils such as Evening Primrose oil, Coconut oil. Doesnt seem to do much. And I switch around the creams very often, is this right?

    What milk do you feed Marcie? Is eczema linked to cow’s milk allergy since some literature tells me that food allergies is not a common cause of eczema?

    1. My little one has been havin bad eczema for a month. I used a mixture of Vaseline, coconut oil, and eczema cream (with colloidal oatmeal) and rubbed it into his skin a few times a day. It is incredibly moisturizing and after one application his skin is much softer. I also gave him an oatmeal bath. (Oats in the end of a pantyhose in the bath).

      1. Thanks for sharing! Colloidal oatmeal has been studied to help with eczema; I used it for my daughter when she was young too!
        We’ve even slipped a few times cos it’s so slippery after the oatmeal bath – a cartoon of it!
        http://eczemablues.com/2012/07/48-of-the-101-things-that-moms-with-eczema-child-do-differently-bath-oily-floor/

        Also on coconut oil, here’s a post where dermatologist helped to explain the different types of coconut oil, not the cooking type! πŸ™‚
        http://eczemablues.com/2012/03/sensitive-skin-product-series-understanding-coconut-oil/

        Thanks and have a good week ahead!
        Mei