Skin Health Series – Functions of Skin – Dry, Hot/Cold and Collagen

Verallo Rowell on EczemaBlues

Dr Verallo Rowell shares about your skin and health in this series – Love having her at EczemaBlues!

This is the 2nd part of the much-awaited Skin Health series, where I get to work with Dr Verallo-Rowell again (we last worked on Sensitive Skin Product Series in 2012). The series is inspired by my conversation with Dr Verallo Rowell’s daughter, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics) in Singapore when she mentioned her mom identified underlying health problems after seeing the skin of her friends. Dr Verallo Rowell is a renowned dermatologist, dermatopathologist and dermatology/laser surgeon who has authored of over 150 articles that have appeared in dermatology journals and meeting publications, and two books on skin and health. Read more on her here.

Understanding Skin and Health – Functions of Skin

The skin has a few important functions, (i) it protects the body from foreign particle, bacteria and it prevents moisture loss, (ii) the skin regulates body temperature, and (iii) the skin gives us a sense of touch.   We understand that in atopic dermatitis, the immune cells in the skin mistook a (harmless) allergen to be harmful, resulting in skin inflammation.

MarcieMom: Does dry skin indicate possibility of eczema and other skin or health issues?

Will a person’s diet, lifestyle, smoking, drinking (caffeine or alcohol) affects the dryness of skin?

Dr Verallo-Rowell: People with the inherited form of eczema called atopic dermatitis almost always have dry skin but not all people with dry skin have skin or other health issues. Some people just have Congenital Dry Skin while others have Acquired Dry Skin from environmental agents such as too much hot water and strong detergents use; friction from clothing; frequent air travel, pollution, exposure to chemicals at work or play, or frequently staying in highly air-conditioned rooms.

Yes definitely – the diet is very important because what we eat forms the structure of our cells, in particular the lipid bi-layer of our cells where a balance of saturated and unsaturated oils, short and long chain fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6 oils or transfats can contribute to inflammation at the molecular level to eventually manifest itself as skin dryness. Smoking is a strong oxidizing agent. Many studies have now shown it to therefore show much faster aging changes including dryness, wrinkles, toughening of the texture of skin. Too much alcohol affects the liver and caffeine dehydrates.

MarcieMom: We know that an infected skin patch feels warm to touch. Are there health conditions that affect how cold or hot our skin feels or cause a change in how cold or hot an object feels to us?

Dr Verallo-Rowell: Our skin when compared with skin of others in the same room or under the same environmental circumstances may feel hotter to touch when: febrile from any cause usually infections; in hyperthyroid persons; in rosacea ; when perspiring heavily. The opposite – feel colder to touch may occur in anemic, cachectic, hypothyroid people, or very sedentary people or anyone with lowered metabolism.

A change in how cold or hot an object feels to a person is affected primarily by the condition of the peripheral nerves. One sees this in Hansen’s disease, diabetic neuropathy, metal poisoning, and any other form of neuropathy affecting the peripheral nerves.

MarcieMom: The dermis contains collagen fibers that maintain the elasticity of the skin. In the subcutis, there are fat cells, nerve cells and blood vessels. There are many products that are marketed as containing collagen, be it to be consumed or applied on skin. How does the collagen from a drink find itself to the skin? And how does the collagen on a skincare product ‘dig’ itself to the collagen fibers of skin? Will it bind with the existing collagen fibers? Are they even the same collagen?

Dr Verallo-Rowell: Collagen are coarser fibers in the dermis that give skin its bulk or structure. Elasticity of the skin is given to it by the elastic fibers. The ingredients in the above products are soluble forms of collagen meant to add bulk, or elastin, meant to give elasticity.  These ingredients are usually from animal or plant proteins with similar bulk forming effects though more likely just texturizing or moisturizing effects. They are extracts that blend into the formulation and not the collagen fibers or fibrils themselves.  Many years ago collagen from cows (called Xyderm or Xyplast) were popular fillers that were what we used to inject into the skin. The molecules of collagen are too large to penetrate the skin and its barriers by topical application.

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr Verallo-Rowell, it is a reminder for me to eat healthily and also understand how our skin interacts with the environment!

SOMEONE Manages Son’s Eczema during Summer

Christy on Eczema BluesThis is a 2013 series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Christy, who shares how she manages her son’s eczema which flares up during summer. Christy blogs at UpliftingFamilies and is passionate about helping families with their parenting struggles.

Marcie Mom: Hi Christy, thanks so much for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema history, when did he get eczema and what triggers a flare-up?

Christy: When my son was around two years old, I noticed one day that the back of his knees were red.  I took him to the doctor because I didn’t know what was going on.  The doctor said it was eczema and gave us some medicine to treat it.  It seems as if summer heat, increased sweating, and swimming pools (chlorine) causes him to get a flare up.  The best treatment we used was a thin layer of cortisone and then cover it with moisterel lotion, or a prescription steroid cream.

Marcie Mom: Share with us how his skin changes as he grows older – did it improve? 

Christy: The doctor said most people typically outgrow it; however, my son is 12 years old and still gets flare ups in the summer time.  I feel if he would pre-treat his skin every day that it would greatly improve his skin but he is a typical boy and forgets.

Marcie Mom: How does summer affect his eczema and does the family need to accommodate to his condition during summer?

Christy: My son doesn’t really seem too bothered by his flare ups.  Occasionally, they will start bleeding.  I just have to remind him to use his eczema cream on his arms and legs.  We haven’t ever skipped an outing or anything due to his eczema but he does have to carry his prescription cream with him. 

Marcie Mom: One final question – I read from your blog that each of your 3 children has some special needs. Did managing eczema for your son make it harder to manage the other two children?

Christy: His eczema hasn’t made it harder to manage with my other two kids.  He was the youngest when he was first diagnosed and I would make a habit to put cream on his legs twice a day, usually during a diaper change.  Now that he is older, I just have to remind him to put on his eczema cream. 

Marcie Mom: Thanks Christy for taking time to share your personal story and it is good to know that eczema can be managed well!

SOMEONE has Thyroid Cancer and Manages Eczema

Gibz shares her experience managing eczema, result of her thyroid treatment

Gibz shares her experience managing eczema, result of her thyroid treatment

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Gibz, to share how she manages her eczema, a side effect of the treatment for her thyroid cancer. Gibz is a lovely young lady, and works full-time and blogs to share and encourage others.

Marcie Mom: Hi Gibz, thank you so much for for taking part in my blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’ and I’m so glad to have jumped into your twitter chat and got to know you. Before that, I had no idea that eczema is a side effect from thyroid treatment. Do share with us your medical conditions, and in particular, when skin rashes first appear?

Gibz: I had thyroid cancer so I have to take thyroxine daily to stop me becoming hypothyroid. I’m also hypoparathyroid which means I can’t manage my blood calcium levels; this was a complication of the cancer treatment. Skin rashes first appeared after I had my thyroid removed and started my thyroxine and calcium pills.

Marcie Mom: How did your skin react during the treatment? Do certain drugs trigger a rash and is that a side effect you knew before it happened?

Gibz: My skin became really dry during certain points in the treatment, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. As time went on my skin got worse and I started getting rashes. Skin rashes appear when my thyroxine dose is changed, whenever you go on a new dose your body needs around 8 weeks to adjust, and in that time everything goes a bit crazy! I knew dry skin was a side effect but I didn’t realise eczema could be triggered by it.

Marcie Mom: You have reached out to others via your blog, and I saw that your best friend is also a cancer survivor. Is skin rash common in cancer treatment?

Gibz: I don’t think she’s had any problems; it’s not something we’ve talked about! That depends on the treatment you have, with some treatments it’s probably very common, I don’t think it’s common during thyroid cancer treatment but I could be wrong.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what advice would you give to another who suffers eczema as a result of treatment or another medical condition?

Gibz: Talk to your doctor about it, chances are you shouldn’t be getting that kind of reaction and they might be able to give you different tablets or a new dose that will suit your body better. If they can’t do that they should be able to help you control your eczema.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Gibz for taking time to share your journey with us, I really enjoy connecting with you and it added another dimension to my understanding of eczema.

SOMEONE has Eczema and manages Occupation as Massage Therapist

Massage Therapist - Paola Bassanese

Massage Therapist – Paola Bassanese

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Paola Bassanese, who has had eczema since her childhood years and whose work as a massage therapist requires frequent hand-washing. Paola is the founder of Energya, an award-winning massage therapy practice based in Central London.

Marcie Mom: Hi Paola, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’ and for returning to my blog (the first interview with you was on massage for eczema). Let’s start with you sharing the severity of your eczema, whether it particularly affects your hands and what would trigger your eczema flares?

Paola: Hi Mei, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experience. My eczema is somewhat stress related and can also be triggered by external factors like contact with irritating substances, cold weather and wrong food choices. My eczema is often contact dermatisis and it appears solely on my hands causing cracking in the skin and bleeding.

The random fashion of my eczema flare ups make it difficult to prevent the reoccurence of eczema so my key strategy is to keep stress at bay. This is particularly important because if I am stressed and get eczema I can’t work and being self-employed I need to stay healthy to be able to treat my clients and to run  my business.

My worst eczema flare ups were when I worked in offices and my hands were bleeding and painful when I tried to type or move my fingers. In my first year as a massage therapist when I set up my practice after leaving a well paid office job my stress levels were very high and I had to manage my condition while trying to gain clients. Saying it was a difficult time is an understatement!

Marcie Mom: I haven’t had many massages before, and I think even for those who do, we may not be aware of the chemicals that we come into contact with, and therefore, a massage therapist would also be in contact with. Can you share some of these chemicals in the more common types of massages and whether they cause eczema rashes for you?

Paola: Chemicals don’t tend to be used in the massage industry in general and scent-free natural oils are often used. During the consultation form with a new client the therapist asks if there’s any allergies and will act accordingly. However, in salon and spas offering for example manicures and pedicures therapists are in daily contact with chemicals.

Aromatherapy oils (which I don’t use because of my eczema) can irritate the skin even if they are organic. These oils contain natural chemicals so when they come into contact with the skin they can cause reactions even after years of safe use.

Marcie Mom: Definitely there’s a lot of hand-washing and sanitizing involved in your work, how has it affected you?

Paola: I have become more aware of the types of soaps and detergents I use. I have to wash my hands constantly between clients and I only use mild soaps that don’t strip the skin from its own protection barrier. I then moisturise with creams I have tested that don’t give me an allergic or comedogenic reaction; however every so often I need to change the cream I use as over time I become either over-sensitive or it stops being effective.

Marcie Mom: One final question – you made amazing progress, and was awarded by the Chamber of Commerce for running your business in UK and raising the profile of your Italy hometown, Trieste. You must have known from the onset of your massage therapist career that hand-washing would be an issue, yet you persisted and even set up your own practice and won numerous awards. How did you manage this part of your job, and what advice would you give to others who have eczema and want to pursue an occupation they love (say massage therapist, nursing, dentist) that requires hand-washing?

Paola: Thank you Mei for the compliment. Well, looking back at my life I would say that my worst cases of eczema happened when I felt extremely stressed and did not have control over my work environment. So in that sense it doesn’t matter what job I was doing or what country I was in: it was all to do with mental attitude. Yes, of course contact with allergens and chemicals triggered some reactions but I was at my worst when I felt that my life was going nowhere and I needed more positive challenges and projects.

I would advise anyone who suffers from eczema and chooses a profession that requires frequent hand-washing to look at all these factors:

– Nutrition. Do you have any food allergies or sensitivities? Can you make some changes to your diet to reduce the intake of inflammatory foods?

– Stress. How stressed are you and what can you do to reduce your stress levels? Take time for yoruself and practice forms of relaxation like yoga and meditation

– Products. Do your research and look for cleaning products that are tested against allergies and apply barrier cream when you can.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Paola for taking time to share your journey with us, managing eczema and an occupation that has frequent hand-washing, and going on to be so successful in massage therapy is indeed inspiring!

Does Fast Food Cause Eczema?

And you'll run faster as you choose healthier options!

And you’ll run faster as you choose healthier options!

The short answer is we don’t know, but get your kids away from fast food.

Apart from the risk of obesity, a recent study of more than 500,000 children in over 50 countries showed a linkage between fast food and chronic illnesses, namely severe asthma, hay fever and eczema. For kids who eat fast food 3 times or more a week, there’s a 30 percent increased risk in severity of the above conditions.  There’s no causal relationship, but signal a link between fast food and eczema. This study was widely reported because it covered a large number of participants and across countries, however, there are limitations which NHS (UK) pointed out. Professor Hywel Williams, one of the co-authors of the study, mentioned in an NIH interview that three or more weekly servings of fruit reduced the severity of symptoms in 11 percent among teens and 14 percent among children. Fast foods is defined as burgers, while eczema is an itchy rash in the past 12 months with symptoms defined as severe if sleep disturbance was reported at least once per week.

I also come across other interesting reports relating to trans fat (abundant in fast food) and coke, and eczema.

Dr David L Katz replied to a Q&A on Oprah.com to reduce intake of saturated or trans fat, as well as foods related to inflammation. He also suggested increasing omega-3s that can help increase anti-inflammatory hormones in the body. He pointed out flaxseed oil, which I’ve been giving my toddler Marcie. Also, margarine contains trans fat, and Lahey Hospital had a good write-up on how you can reduce your trans fat intake here. For those of us who are celebrating Chinese New Year, you’d be aware (and beware) as many of these commercial cookies have been prepared with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and one piece of bak-kwa is 300 calories!

Dr Jeff Benabio in his video “Can Drinking Diet Soda Cause a Drink?” said that people severely allergic to formaldehyde can also be allergic to diet soda, as diet soda contained aspartame which after ingestion, created formaldehyde. Specifically, aspartame is hydrolysed to methanol, which is metabolized to formaldehyde then to formate.

For readers of this blog, you’d know I’ve been blogging about eating anti-inflammation food and staying away from inflammatory sugar and trans fat, in the link below:

Interview series with nutritionist Julie Daniluk on various anti-inflammatory foods, such as shiitake mushroom.

Interview series with Dr Sears L.E.A.N. on boosting immune system of children, via consuming more fruits and vegetables.

Interview series with nutritionist Toby Amidor on eczema kids’ nutrition, and this post covered antioxidants while this one covered inflammatory foods.

So, in conclusion, there’s no doubt that fast food, which are high in trans fat and mostly fried, are to be avoided. I’ve been cooking healthy food for my family daily, and you’d be amazed at how fast you can whip out a meal once you’re used to it, faster than fast food!

Friday Dr Q&A with Dr Liew – Managing Allergy & Eczema at Childcare

Dr Liew Woei Kang

Marcie, who inspired MarcieMom to start this blog, doesn’t have any allergy and thus, this blog has been focused on eczema. Recognizing that there are many parents whose child also have allergy, MarcieMom invites Dr Liew Woei Kang, Paediatrician with special interest in Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology to share more about managing allergy for eczema children.

More about Dr Liew: Dr. Liew practices at the SBCC Baby & Child Clinic and is also a visiting consultant to KK Hospital. He was also awarded several research grants from the National Medical Research Council, Singhealth Foundation and KKH Research centre to pursue clinical research in paediatric anaphylaxis, drug allergy, primary immunodeficiencies and Kawasaki disease. He is also the President of Singapore’s Asthma & Allergy Association which is currently administering the very first eczema fund (initiated by MarcieMom’s donation) for low income patients in Singapore.

MarcieMom: Suppose a child who has an allergy has to have alternative care-giver, say at child care centre. What would you recommend a parent to do and is there any initiative already taken in Singapore to increase awareness of allergy?

Dr Liew: Your allergist should be able to advice what the caregivers be taught. Written action plans for eczema are useful for daily skin care instructions, whilst food allergy/anaphylaxis action plans provide information on treatment in emergencies. There is continued public education regarding allergic conditions via hospitals and societies like AAA.

MarcieMom: For Food Allergy – How should a parent besides obviously telling the teachers/ care-givers of the allergy, help to make it easier for the school to prevent contact with the food? In there a need to warrant 0% contact, for instance, the whole school shouldn’t even bring the food in?

Dr Liew: After a diagnosis of food allergy, it would be important to relay the importance of food avoidance and emergency care plans with the care-givers. Written food allergy/anaphylaxis plans are useful. The degree of strict avoidance varies accordingly to the food allergen and severity of allergic reaction. It would be better to discuss specific advice with your allergist.

MarcieMom: For Non-Food Allergy – What are the common non-food allergens? And if it’s dust mite, how can a parent tell the school to keep the dust mite level low since house dust mite is something that can’t be totally eliminated? And if it’s dog droppings allergy, should a parent not even sign up a child care centre where teachers or even classmates have dogs at home? For common skin allergen like soaps and detergents, should a parent go as far as to monitor what detergent the child care centre or caregiver is using? (And the bigger question is – how can a child care centre with 70+ kids cope with so ‘many requests’ of a parent?)

Dr Liew: The most common environmental allergen is house dust mites in Singapore. House dust mite avoidance measures are useful to reduce the levels of protein, but results variable. I would not recommend schools to implement house dust mite avoidance measures as they are time-consuming and difficult to implement in the long term. Dog sensitisation is usually to the hair epithelia, rather than poo, and is not common in Singapore. Irritants like harsh soaps and detergents should be avoided in children with eczema and dry skin. It may be helpful to provide the school with your child’s soap substitute and moisturisers, and get the teachers assistance for application.

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr Liew! Next friday, we’ll learn more on recognizing allergic reactions.

Dr SEARS L.E.A.N. Series: Raising Healthy Kids by Boosting Immune System

Image from www.drsearslean.com

This is a fortnightly series focused on raising healthy children, following the advice on DrSearsLean.com. Marcie Mom came across Dr Sears’ Lifestyle-Exercise-Attitude-Nutrition approach for healthy families and found it to be practical and fun to follow. However, parents of eczema children may have reservation on certain healthy tips such as bringing their child for swimming (‘Lifestyle’) or eating fruits and vegetables (‘Nutrition’). This series examine if there’s truly a need to restrict eczema children from following the LEAN tips and take note of DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation at the end of each post!

Choosing A Healthy Food

Boosting our immune system is important, particularly for both parents and children with eczema because the lack of sleep can lower our immunity. As recommended on DrSearsLean.com’s Nutrition Tips page, we should choose healthy food that contain the following eight immune system boosters, namely vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, bioflavonoids, zinc, garlic, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Out of these eight immunity boosters, parents may find that zinc and essential fatty acids are often recommended for children with eczema.

Get Healthy Eating Food, not Supplement

There’s some research that points to zinc and omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce skin rashes in adults and also that eczema children appear to be deficient in essential fatty acids which results in a lower production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins that can help fight skin infection. However, research is not conclusive as clinical trials have also been conducted with no significant impact on eczema. Parents should incorporate the immune system booster food into the child’s diet rather than in supplement as excessive intake of say, zinc can inhibit immune function. The RNI (reference nutrient intake) for zinc is 4mg per day for a six month-old and 5mg for a toddler. Zinc-rich foods include beans, chickpeas, beef, turkey and spinach while omega-3 rich foods are salmon, tuna and sardines.

DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation

To improve your child’s skin from the inside out, add these nutrients to his or her diet:

  • Fruits and vegetables can help improve allergic and inflammatory diseases like eczema. If you have a picky eater who avoids fruits and veggies, you may consider giving them a whole food supplement to help boost their immune system. I personally have been taking a whole food supplement called Juice Plus for the past 15 years and it is the only whole food supplement I recommend to my patients. You can learn more about my view on whole food and omega-3 supplements at http://www.drsearslean.com/resources/healthy-tips/nutrition/supplements/
  • An omega-3 supplement provides beneficial fats to help the skin stay healthy. Good sources of Omega-3s are avocados, salmon, tuna, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds.
  • Probiotics taken in liquid, powder, or pill form can help decrease food allergies.

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr. Sears for being with us throughout the whole series. I’ve been so glad and delighted to hear your advice which definitely gives me the confidence to raise a healthy child, despite her eczema.

Dr SEARS L.E.A.N. Series: Raising Healthy Kids through Healthy Drinks

Image from www.drsearslean.com

This is a fortnightly series focused on raising healthy children, following the advice on DrSearsLean.com. Marcie Mom came across Dr Sears’ Lifestyle-Exercise-Attitude-Nutrition approach for healthy families and found it to be practical and fun to follow. However, parents of eczema children may have reservation on certain healthy tips such as bringing their child for swimming (‘Lifestyle’) or eating fruits and vegetables (‘Nutrition’). This series examine if there’s truly a need to restrict eczema children from following the LEAN tips and take note of DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation at the end of each post!

Choosing A Healthy Drink

Parents beware that not all drinks packaged for children and have ‘vitamins’ listed on the packaging are healthy. As stated on DrSearsLean.com’s Nutrition Tips page, drinks with the main ingredient ‘high fructose corn syrup’ may result in overeating because it does not trigger a hormone, leptin, that creates fullness. Moreover, children who drink more than 12 ounces per day of concentrated juice are more likely to be overweight. For eczema children, it’s also best to avoid sugary drinks which contain caffeine (may trigger eczema), increase tooth decay while artificially flavored drinks have been linked to ADHD. For a healthy choice, plain water with lots of fruits and vegetables is best. http://www.drsearslean.com/resources/healthy-tips/nutrition/whats-in-your-childs-drink/

Water – Does Softening Water Help?

Water makes up 60% of our body and is useful for flushing out waste and toxins. There are some observations that eczema is more prevalent in areas where water is hard as the higher calcium and magnesium content may be a skin irritant. However, from a clinical trial conducted by Professor Hywel Williams and Dr Kim Thomas of the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at University of Nottingham, there is no impact of using softened water on eczema. However for parents who have found water softeners to improve their children’s eczema, they certainly can continue to do so. Skincare routine like moisturizing, showering without using harsh soap and appropriate treatment is still required.

DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation

Water is an essential nutrient. Water is to our body what oil is to a car; we can’t function without it. Like growing plants, growing kids need lots of water. Our bodies are 50 to 70 percent water, and much of that water has to be replaced every day. Water helps prevent constipation, eliminate toxins from the body, hydrate the brain, and keeps breathing passages moist and clear of mucus. As a general rule, children need around one ounce of fluid per pound of body weight per day. The majority of your fluids should be from plain water, but a small amount of fluids can also be from milk or 100% fruit juice. Drinking soda should be discouraged. Many juice drinks and all sodas are high in calories, provide no nutrients, and are usually sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which you should always avoid. Click here to learn more about why you should avoid HFCS: http://www.drsearslean.com/2011/10/the-high-fructose-corn-syrup-debate/

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr. Sears for your advice. Next interview, we’ll conclude this series by learning about how to boost our children’s immune system.

Dr SEARS L.E.A.N. Series: Raising Healthy Kids through Fun Exercise

Picture of Labrador Nature Reserve Singapore from www.comesingapore.com

This is a fortnightly series focused on raising healthy children, following the advice on DrSearsLean.com. Marcie Mom came across Dr Sears’ Lifestyle-Exercise-Attitude-Nutrition approach for healthy families and found it to be practical and fun to follow. However, parents of eczema children may have reservation on certain healthy tips such as bringing their child for swimming (‘Lifestyle’) or eating fruits and vegetables (‘Nutrition’). This series examine if there’s truly a need to restrict eczema children from following the LEAN tips and take note of DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation at the end of each post!

Indoors Fun versus Sweating it Outdoors

There are many fun activities to do indoors and some of the Exercise tips on DrSearsLean.com are ‘put together a PLAY basket’ and ‘get a pedometer’. One of the tips is ‘plan your family vacation around an outdoor activity’, such as camping which is an opportunity to get away from technology and instead, do some biking and hiking. However, outdoor exercise inadvertently comes with sun and sweat. Heat and perspiration is the number one trigger for eczema and is also the only trigger I’ve identified for my baby. The combination of heat and perspiration may set off a ‘heat rash’ as an eczema child’s skin is more vulnerable to chemicals in sweat which may irritate the skin.

Sunlight – To Block or Not?

According to a factsheet from the National Eczema Society, sun exposure is drying to the skin and may aggravate eczema for some people. Ron Sweren, M.D., a dermatologist and director of the photo-medicine unit at Johns Hopkins also said that sunlight can serve as a trigger that worsens eczema. To prevent sunburn, sunscreen lotion is a must but again, you can read here that some of the ingredients may also irritate your child’s skin. Moreover, according to Sewon Kang, M.D., director of department of dermatology at John Hopkins, increased sweating will lead to more showers taken, which again could worsen the eczema. In less common cases, there may be sunlight allergy or photosensitive eczema which further restricts exposure to sun.

However, there are also cases of eczema that improve with sunlight exposure and there’s a treatment known as phototherapy that exposes the skin to UVA1 rays that can soothe the skin without causing sunburn. Moreover, vitamin D that comes from sunlight has been shown to increase the production of skin proteins (cathelicidin) which protects against skin infection. Personally, I think it’s a fine balance; we bring our baby to the zoo, picnic and park but only on shady days and always with a hat and sunscreen lotion. You can also refer to these posts to see how much we moisturize and how we shower her. Have fun as a family, our children will grow up before we know it (and hopefully grow out of eczema before that)!

Dr Sears L.E.A.N.’s recommendation

Eczema results from the combination of a genetic tendency toward dry, sensitive skin and a susceptibility to allergies. Although most children aren’t bothered by the day-to-day wear and tear of soaps, dirt, sweat, heat, clothing, and everything else we come into contact with, the skin of a child with eczema is hypersensitive to everyday life. It is important for you to monitor your child and identify the main trigger for developing eczema flare-ups. For some it could be heat and sweat, others are triggered by what they eat (or what mom eats if they are breastfeeding), grass, dirt, or chemicals in the environment around them. Although there is nothing you can do to change your child’s genetic susceptibility to dry, sensitive skin, there are many steps you can take to improve skin health, reduce exposure to irritants, track own allergic triggers, and minimize the impact the eczema has on your child’s day-to-day life. For more helpful tips, visit www.drsearslean.com

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr. Sears for your advice. For next two interviews, we’ll learn more about nutrition!

Dr SEARS L.E.A.N. Series: Raising Healthy Kids through Healthy Lifestyle

Image from www.haydairies.com.sg – A Goat Farm in Singapore that Marcie loves to visit!

This is a fortnightly series focused on raising healthy children, following the advice on DrSearsLean.com. Marcie Mom came across Dr Sears’ Lifestyle-Exercise-Attitude-Nutrition approach for healthy families and found it to be practical and fun to follow. However, parents of eczema children may have reservation on certain healthy tips such as bringing their child for swimming (‘Lifestyle’) or eating fruits and vegetables (‘Nutrition’). This series examine if there’s truly a need to restrict eczema children from following the LEAN tips and take note of DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation at the end of each post!

Museums, Factory Tours, Animal Farms but Swimming?

There are many fun activities to do as a family and some of the Lifestyle tips on DrSearsLean.com are playing ‘I Spy’ in a museum, learning how things are made in a factory tour and visiting an ‘exotic animal farm’. Swimming is also listed and that includes having fun with balls and slides in water parks or leisure pools.  But many parents are worried about bringing their child with eczema to the pool, fearing that the chlorine in the swimming pool water may worsen the eczema. On the contrary, my baby’s doctor actually advised swimming three times a week but not more than 10 minutes each time. Of course, there are some do’s and don’ts to follow and particular to eczema children, be sure to shower them immediately and apply generous amount of moisturizer.

Swimming – A fun way to reduce bacteria on the skin

According to a factsheet from the National Eczema Society, chlorine is generally the least likely to cause skin irritation. In another of their factsheet, it is suggested that re-creating chlorinated swimming pool with a bleach bath can have positive anti-septic effects on the skin. In particular, eczema skin is susceptible to colonization of staphylococcus aureus bacteria that can cause infection if it penetrates the skin. More than 90% of the people with eczema have staph versus less than 10% of people without eczema. Swimming is therefore a fun way to reduce this bacteria and applying steroid will then be more effective (of course, moisturizing is a must).

DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation

Chlorine and other chemicals in water can sometimes be the cause of skin irritation and contribute to eczema in a small percentage of kids. Always bathe your child in clean fresh water after swimming and avoid using regular soap. Most regular soap, whether liquid or bar soap can cause dryness. A natural soap mixed with moisturizing lotion and free of perfumes will enhance skin moisture. These can be found in any drugstore or supermarket. Also avoid scented lotions and use PABA-free suntan lotion to protect their skin. Be sure to use a generous amount of moisturizer after bathing your child. The lotion helps seal in all the moisture gained from the bath to help control your child’s eczema.

Overall, swimming is a fun way to get your kids moving more! Plus, they are learning a life-long tool. It’s much easier to learn to swim when your child is young. Getting them used to the water helps them overcome fears and could be a life-saving tool  someday! When you take your children to the pool, remember to follow some safety tips to ensure a fun trip for both you and your child. Read more at http://www.drsearslean.com/resources/healthy-tips/drsearstips/summer-safety/#Pool%20Safety

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr. Sears for your recommendation. Next interview, we’ll continue to explore more Exercise Tips!

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