Doctor Q&A

Friday Feature – Eczema Q&A with Dr. B

Dr. Christopher Bridgett is Hon. Clinical Senior Lecturer Imperial College at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital London. He is a psychiatrist with a special interest of using behavioural interventions to help people with atopic eczema, co-author of The Combined Approach at

Q&A with Dr Christopher Bridgett on Childhood Eczema and Habitual Scratching

This was originally a series of Friday Q&As in 2012 which had since been combined into one informative post.

Bedtime Routine for Eczema Kids

Marcie Mom: I set up a bedtime routine of reading books, singing songs, turning off all the lights and playing baby christian songs. We also pray for good night’s sleep! How does routine help a child’s behaviour and how can it help the child’s eczema?

Dr B: Your routine enables learning the desired consequence – a good nights sleep – if all the pieces of the sequence follow each other frequently enough, including the consequence of falling asleep. It’s best to move on from reading, and singing songs, to turning off the lights and saying prayers only when the signs of sleep arriving soon are quite clear!

When you think the child will sleep OK without the routine, it may be tempting to make some short cuts. I suggest that this would be a mistake! If on the other hand, a child is especially fraught, and therefore wakeful, it is best to go slowly along the routine, reading more stories, singing more songs, before the lights are turned off, and good night kisses are given.

Routine usually enables most of us to cope with everyday life. Generally following an established and happy routine means less stress, and changes in routine are usually stressful. And less stress means calmer skin, and less scratching… sounds good for eczema, I think!

Stress Control for Eczema Family

MarcieMom: Parents taking care of eczema children experience high stress levels, apparently as high as parents taking care of children with kidney illness. I’ve also read that stress can be passed onto babies, is there a chance that the stress that parents of newborn feel may worsen the eczema of the baby?

Without making parents even more stressed (that they are passing on the stress!), are there any tips for them to manage their own stress or to prevent stressing their child inadvertently?

Dr B: The causation of atopic eczema is multifactorial – there is no one factor, there are many, and they can be divided up into those that we have to accept, and those that we can do something about. First we need to draw up the list that applies in a particular case – stress is usually there on the list, and stress is usually a factor we can do something about!

Stress and frustration directly affects the skin – the skin is very sensitive to our emotions, and we all tend to scratch more when stressed and frustrated, and scratching soon becomes habitual – which is the cause of chronic eczema. There is no doubt that stress can be part of family life; kids become how they are through their parents, don’t they?

Marcie Mom: Most parents of eczema children have no time for themselves, let alone exercise. Obviously, we know exercise is good for us but how does exercise affect our psychological well-bring?

Dr B: Great question! We seem to live in stressful times. Under stress the body releases hormones like adrenaline, that facilitate fighting, or fleeing! In modern times we can’t do either usually, so it’s important to have a regular physical outlet. A healthy mind in a healthy body.

Marcie Mom: Also, parents of eczema child tend to have less couple time and higher stress in marriage. What simple and practical advice would you give them?

Dr B: The first step is the one you have already taken: recognize the problem. Coping always begins with confronting reality. Next how it leaves you feeling needs expression – don’t bottle it up, let it out, talk about it, understand it and think it through.

Then consider getting and accepting help – problems shared are problems halved. Experiment with new ways of doing things. Don’t take the situation for granted – there is usually a way of changing arrangements for the better. 

Steroid Side Effects

Marcie Mom: Some child’s skin turn brown where it frequently itches, being scratched and steroid creams have been applied. Some parents think it’s the steroid cream that causes the change in skin colour but I’ve read that the brown patch is caused by cells in skin (‘melanocytes’) releasing extra pigments from scratching. Which is true? Particularly it’s important to dispel any misperception of steroid when the risk of under-treatment due to steroid phobia is real.

Dr BBoth are true!

In the first case, yes steroid creams will change the colour of skin – they very slowly reduce the pigmentation, lightening the colour of the skin. The anti-inflammatory effect of the steroid reduces the activity of all skin cells, including the pigment cells – the “melanocytes”.

In the second case, cellular activity in skin is stimulated by habitual scratching, and this affects all cells, including the pigment cells – the “melanocytes”. So habitual scratching causes the skin to thicken up – lichenification – and colour up – hyperpigmentation. Both are characteristic of chronic atopic eczema.

Cradle Cap

MarcieMom: Some eczema babies also get cradle cap, and the cradle cap shampoo has to be used to massage the scalp and wash off the cradle cap. What’s the difference between cradle cap shampoo and normal baby shampoo?

Dr B: Aha! I think I can answer this… Yes, they are different. Cradle cap is seborrheic dermatitis of the new born and infants – it is usually harmless, and can clear on its own, without any special treatment. The regular baby shampoo will help reduce the rash, but specially formulated cradle cap shampoo is stronger – it may have salicylic acid in it for example. If the special shampoo is used, please make sure it is suitable for the age of the child!

Marcie Mom: I’ve also read that brushing a newborn hair helps to keep cradle cap away. Is that true? What does brushing hair do to the scalp?

Dr B: Yes, brushing the hair helps tidy things up, until the cradle capclears. With cradle cap there is excess sebum being produced. Sebum is the natural oil of the skin. Sebum is good for the skin and hair, in moderation – for example, it gives insulation against water loss. When birds preen they are spreading oil over their feathers, and that is what brushing the hair does – see how it shines! 

Swimming for Eczema Children

Marcie Mom: Some parents are very skeptical of bring their eczema child to swimming but my baby’s doctor recommended it. Just 10-15 minutes 3 times a week and wash off pool water and moisturize immediately. Will that also be your recommendation? Swimming is so fun and I hate to see eczema children being kept off it!

Dr BSwimming is fun and good exercise – it also saves lives! So it’s good to say that swimming and atopic eczema usually go together just fine. The problem is caused by the water – it washes off a layer of the skin’s protection and leaves it very porous to water loss afterwards: a thin application of moisturizer before swimming protects against this. Make sure the application is thin though – no need to prepare for cross-channel swimming – see

Otherwise, the chemicals in the water of a swimming pool are disinfectants – chlorine, & bromine for example – they can be good for the skin, as their antibacterial effect is anti-inflammatory. However these additives can irritate too, so your procedure is a good one!


MarcieMom: Moisturizing is important to maintain the skin barrier, particularly when eczema child has a weaker skin barrier that allows for more allergens to penetrate. The recommended guideline is about 500ml per week, that’s a lot and some children simply squirm when parents try to apply the moisturizer. What do you suggest parents can do to get their children to like being moisturized? Or even better, moisturize themselves!

Dr B: The use of a moisturizer – also called an emollient – is central to the care of atopic eczema.  The way it is used is very important – much more important than which one is used. Sometimes the better ones are the cheapest – and the best one is the one that is liked and used properly!

With children, as with adults, there are four key words to remember:

Thinly, Gently, Quickly and Often

and with the child it is very important to get it done quickly, and on afterwards to do something fun together, so that fun becomes the focus, not the moisturizing!

Getting the child to do their own moisturizing needs careful consideration: left to their own devices there is a good chance it will not get done properly – perhaps age and temperament come into it. 

Reactive Skin Reactive Mind?

Marcie Mom: It is mentioned in this article a comment by Sophie Worobec MD at University of Illinois that eczema children are “very bright” as the skin and the brain develop at the same time, so “very reactive skin and very reactive mind”. What do you think of this statement?

There seems to be an association between ADHD and eczema children. And have you seen more cases of ADHD for eczema patients?

Dr B: That there seems to be a close relationship between the skin and the mind is often referred to, and the development of the skin and the brain from the ectoderm of the early embryo is seen as relevant to this relationship – I sometimes say the brain can be called a specialized part of the skin!

But in reality the whole body is closely integrated. All the separate parts are interdependent through shared characteristics, and the overall function is enabled by circulating hormones and by the nervous system links between brain and body.

Both ADHD and atopic eczema are relatively common conditions. The recent reports of an association need to be treated with caution. I have no personal clinical experience of this reported association.

Tensed Baby

Marcie Mom: My baby has taken to tensing her stomach and legs in positions such as doing leg raisers or push-ups. My husband and I think it’s related to her being swaddled too much when young (we had to swaddle her due to scratching, sometimes looping a cloth around her limps cos the scratching was so bad). Do you think it is possible that she has learnt to use tensing to ease her itch and will this impact her psychologically? We certainly hope we haven’t made her gone bonkers!

Dr B: No, I do not think so! Probably what your baby is doing is “within normal limits” and is not due to swaddling, or to itching – and will have no psychological significance at all.

Marcie Mom: That’s comforting to know. Here’s another ‘crazy’ question from me. I frequently use finger food like biscuits (but only vitamin fortified, non-sugary, suitable for babies) to distract from my baby from scratching. My husband thinks I’m turning her into a glutton and soon she’ll have compulsive behaviour to keep eating. Is that true? 

Dr B: The importance of neutral/helpful alternative behaviours to scratching is fundamental to habit reversal – the new behaviour should not risk substituting a new problem for the old problem. I do not think what you describe is likely to lead to compulsive behaviour, but using eating as a habit reversal tactic does seem to encourage habitual snacking, and that may not be what you want to do?

Parental Guilt

Marcie Mom: Some parents have feedback that they feel guilty that they have either passed on the ‘bad gene’ or haven’t noticed their child scratching. What advice would you give to parents to cope with the guilt, which of course, isn’t justified!

Dr B: Both awareness of genetic inheritance, and coping with achild’s scratching are common human experiences and, as “facts of life”, need keeping in proportion. Some of us are more prone to self-blame than others. I think self-blame regarding genetic predisposition is quite unjustified. Failing to supervise a child’s scratching behaviour may be something to review. Sharing experiences in real time with others, and over the internet should be really helpful: great that you have this site!

Stop Scratching Eczema

Marcie Mom: 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: Follow The Combined Approach to atopic eczema …. usehabit reversal behaviour modification to treat habitual scratching, together with optimal conventional treatment. To rescue a young child from chronic eczema please refer to Chapter 5 of our book“Atopic Skin Disease” – available to consult at

Guest Interview

Protecting Precious Skin of Eczema Child

Nikki, founder of SnugglePaws with her son Louis

@Marcie Mom met @SnugglePaws over twitter and invited Nikki Paquette, the founder of Snuggle Paws, to share about her mompreneur journey. Snuggle Paws is a company based in Kent, UK that designs and sells clothing suited for eczema children, protecting their precious skin and allowing the skin to heal.
Marcie Mom: Nikki, it’s good to finally have a one-on-one chat with you. I’m really interested to find out why you’d decided to make your son, Louis, his own eczema clothing and how did you go about doing it? Did the effort of designing, finding the right material and getting it sewn appear daunting in the beginning?

Nikki: When Louis developed eczema he was only two or three months old (you forget the actual time – although it should be imprinted on my memory) and I was quite unaware how to deal with it, the length of time he would have it and all the frustrations that go with trying to stop a young baby scratching and making the eczema worse.

It didn’t matter whether he was asleep or awake, the scratching was continuous and created secondary infections which then also had to be dealt with. I felt that if I could keep the fingers covered, because you know how quickly their nails grow, this would be helpful.

When you purchase the first sizes of sleepsuits, the hands are kept covered but I found that after a few months the sleepsuits had hands that could escape and therefore scratch.  I decided to make mittens that I then sewed onto tops or sleepsuits but the stitching was never strong enough after a few washes and just came away.  Also seams and labels on garments also caused aggravation.

As I am a Fashion Designer by profession, working mostly on childrens’ wear for the large retailers here in the UK, I had the advantage of knowing about clothing, garment make up, fabrics etc, so decided that I would have a try at making a prototype garment that would help.

Marcie Mom: How did making a few pieces for your son turn into a business? Did someone encourage you or did you meet up with a good manufacturer that made you decide you could make thousands more for other eczema children?

Nikki: There were several attempts until I was satisfied and this is where the covered hand concept for ages up to 5/6 years came in.  Although there were other people who had been successfully manufacturing for a long time, because the hands and feet were totally enclosed on my garments I was able to obtain a trademark for my patterns.

The design with flat seams, labels that pulled off, poppers that were environmentally friendly all came together because of my working knowledge. However, this was not as easy as it sounds, it took a long time to get it right and it had to be fun and bright and therefore the names for the garments with the logos had to be designed.  So it was not a quick fix, or an easy journey to make.

I tried to get the items manufactured in the UK but again it was not easy, mainly due to costs.  It took some time to find a manufacturer outside the UK and after several attempts, looking at costs, freight, minimum garment numbers we found our present manufacturer with whom we have an excellent relationship.

I had to persevere with the business because I thought it was a good idea, it worked for me and if that helped me, there were one in five children being born with eczema, all going through the same agonies as we were and they needed help too. No-one says it will stop a child scratching (absolutely impossible) but if it helps avoid the agony of clearing up secondary infections time after time, because the fingers are not touching the skin or open scabs, this must be of some help.

Marcie Mom: I read that SnugglePaws clothing are made from Okeo-tex standard 100; tell us a little more about this standard and whether it is a common standard in children clothing.
Marcie Mom: Thanks Nikki, I really appreciate you taking time for this interview. I’m going to head to your store and get some SnugglePaws for my baby Marcie, who has been sleeping in her own cot (instead of on me!) for two weeks. p.s. to readers of, I asked Nikki for the interview so that parents can have another option, particularly to deal with children scratching at night. I did not receive any money from Nikki or SnugglePaws for this interview.
Support Group

When Innovation is born from Adversity – Eczema Moms make baby clothing

Have you seen those rompers that has a mitten over the long sleeve to reduce damage from baby scratching? Recently, I keep coming across parents recommending such clothing as it worked for their children. So, I googled and the interesting thing is almost all of the companies that retail these clothing were started by moms desperate to find a solution for their babies scratching at night. That, to me, is quite inspiring, making something good out of managing eczema, which we all know is something we don’t wish on any child (AND it is the moms!). Below are some of the price comparisons (I haven’t bought any for my baby, so I can’t comment on the product; I also don’t get paid for this post).

Clothing with the ‘sewn-on mittens’

Pink Firefly from

US$19.95 – made in USA, 96% Bamboo, Cotton, Silk & 4% Lycra

Pounds 30 for a Poplin Sleepsuit – (can’t find made where, company based in UK) 100% cotton with 47th Element Silver Technology (according to their site, silver can prevent secondary infection and remove bacteria overgrowth). Clothes made with mid weight cotton, not too warm nor too thin to be scratched through. Tear-off labels on outside and no seams inside.

Pounds 7.50 for sleeves to be worn over normal clothes – (can’t find made where, company based in UK)

Has dual layer: inner layer cotton move with baby’s fingers while outer silk layer stays stationary with skin

Pounds 17.99 for a full suit romper – (can’t find made where, company based in UK)

Uses Okeo-tex 100 cotton which reduces chances of allergy from dyes

Clothing using bamboo

Quite a few online shops selling organic baby clothing uses bamboo as the main material, citing that bamboo is hypo-allergenic, soft, breathable and thermal regulating. Also supposed to be 3-4 times more sweat absorbent than cotton and that since bamboo is not prone to pests, no pesticide is sprayed on bamboo and that there is anti-fungal property.

As a guideline, avoid wool and synthetic fibre. Wash new clothes to remove chemicals from manufacturing. If you are currently tying mittens on your baby, well.., one of the site wrote that it’s not recommended as it is the hand/eye coordination practice time for baby development and squashing the fingers together, make them even hotter and itchier and and the knot may lead to skin damage if baby uses it for scratching. Also, that it creates stress.. that I think is quite hard to avoid!

Support Group

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)

Read this A to Z compilation of distraction from scratching eczema tips. 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!).

Support Group

Colouring Page that cost 40 singapore dollars

ABC Coloring Page

It almost felt like we paid 40 dollars for a coloring kid’s menu as the food was bad. Marcie’s eczema is triggered by heat and so we have limited restaurants to go to on a crowded weekend (and even more limited as we wanted to get fish for her). The poached cod fish in chicken broth was dry and tough while the danish fish and chips was way too salty to feed a young toddler. The only saving grace – Marcie loves to color the kid’s menu and was occupied the whole time without scratching.

That got me thinking that coloring page is incredibly useful to bring out over meals, even more so for an eczema child who needs to be distracted from scratching. I bought a box of crayons for Marcie and downloaded an ABC coloring page for her. Here is a compilation of A to Z Distraction tips for your eczema child.

Below are the links to find some nice coloring page printables for your child.

Woojr – Nice design, easy to print (that’s where I got the ABC coloring page) – There’s A to Z animal on each page

Educationalcoloringpages – Great selection to learn ABCs, 123, shapes and colors!

Below are pictures of Marcie’s first coloring experience with crayons and eventually, everything ended up thrown on the floor!

Marcie opening crayon box

Marcie choosing her crayon

Marcie coloring her ABCs (actually Marcie Mom did most of the coloring!)

Support Group

Top 10 Cooling Places to go with your child in Singapore

Having fun at Sentosa

We all love a good weekend outing and I’m sure if you are parenting a child with eczema, you would have figured that the stress level can hit sky high if your child is scratching.

First and foremost, you would have to figure out what triggers your child’s itch. For my baby Marcie, it’s the heat and sweat and Marcie’s doctor has told us to keep her fresh all the time. So a cooling place, well ventilated, preferably air conditioned is my top priority. After bringing Marcie out from one month old till now, 17 month old, here are my top 10 cooling places to go.

1. IMM – Apart from free parking for the 1st 3 hours, the place is huge enough that even on a weekend, the crowd has not ‘crowded out’ the cool air. There are also bookstore, toy stores and children stores with children rides around the mall. The latest addition is a 7-meter tall tree house playground at level 3. Fish & Co and Café Cartel have aircon that is cooling enough and also serve kids meal.

2. Libraries – Here you have to try out which library is cooling enough. For me, Bukit Banjang and Jurong West libraries have strong aircon but Jurong East’s aircon is too warm plus the children section in the basement have quite stale air. One drawback of libraries is that there is no diaper changing area.

3. Tanglin Mall – This mall is not crowded and have many children stores plus an organic shop that also sells baby food. Marcie could even eat in the food court as it is well air-conditioned. From Tanglin mall, you can walk to Forum the Shopping Mall which also has many children stores and Toys R Us.

4. Ikea – Though crowded over the weekend, Ikea has shopping trolleys that have child safety belts. Marcie loves sitting in the trolley so even if it is crowded, she can be distracted enough not to scratch. The dining area is always crowded but fortunately, there is a mini playground to keep Marcie busy.

5. Vivocity – Marcie loves the fountain and we let her play in it once. There is a baby changing area inside the female toilet, located very near to the entrance facing the fountain. The food court is far too stuffy and warm, don’t venture there if your baby itches when hot.

For outdoor places, it really depends on the weather. So far, we have brought Marcie to the following places where she didn’t scratch much.

6. Singapore Zoo – We went on a rainy Saturday and though it’s crowded, Marcie was attracted to the animals and the show and didn’t scratch.

7. Sentosa

Playing with the mist at Sentosa

We went on a crowded flower festival event over the Chinese New Year. It turned out well as we took a break in the air-conditioned visitor centre plus let Marcie play with the mist that comes out from the ground. The climb up to the cable car station is torturous though with throngs of people wanting to go up the escalators.

8. Qian Hu Fish Farm – This is cooling since the fish need a cool environment. Everywhere is sheltered and your child will likely be amazed with the range of fish. Some will even follow your finger on the tank and it’s quite fun for Marcie! The canteen can get fairly warm on a hot day though, so don’t plan your meals there.

9. Hay Diaries Goat’s Farm – The goat farm has milking time in the morning when the goats will be brought up a ramp to the milking area where the staff will pump the milk. It’s fascinating to watch and it’s also sheltered with a ceiling fan. Feeding of goats is no longer allowed but you can still walk around to view the goats from a distance.

10. Jacob Ballas Children Garden – There is a little fountain for children to play but it’s not shaded. Though suitable for kids who can walk and climb very well (there is a tree top house), I suggest giving this a miss on a hot day.

Eczema Facts

Why Scratching Feels So Good but is So Bad for your child

Is baby scratching happily?

Scratching. Maybe my baby knows this word better than Daddy or Mommy.

Since about a month old, Marcie started to be able to scratch her head and soon it’s her face, hands, legs and body. Scratching is like a reflex and a relief to itch and studies are still being carried out to understand the science behind it. So far, it seems that by scratching, the nerves trigger the body to release endorphins that makes your baby feels good and block off pain information. Also, scratching damages the itch nerves which take from seconds to hours to be repaired.

BUT Scratching is very bad for your child


1. damages the skin barrier, making it more vulnerable to irritant

2. damages the skin cells, causing the cells to release more itch signals

3. causes inflammation and infection

Knowing that scratching is like a reflex and a relief, I stop myself from scolding Marcie for scratching but instead calmly apply my “top 10 tricks to keep baby’s fingers busy“. If you or your child suffers from habitual scratching, you may be interested in the Combined Approach series with Dr Christopher Bridgett.

Eczema Facts

What Triggers Itch?

Scratch marks on knuckles and knees

In my page on eczema tips, one of the most important step is to “know the triggers in order to control them“. I feel that this is very crucial, because it takes a lot of guesswork (and stress out) of managing your child’s eczema. I remembered that at one time when Marcie started on solids, I got soooooo paranoid that everywhere I looked, I saw potential triggers. A skin prick test eliminated a lot of what I thought might be a trigger, thus immediately reducing a lot of anxiety relating to cleaning the house and monitoring food allergy (which both Marcie tested negative to). So what are the common triggers? In order of highest probability (extracted from the book “Eczema Free for Life”):

1. Heat and Perspiration 96%. Heat is the ONE thing that I’m most afraid of. Even in an air-conditioned restaurant where not-so-cold air comes out from only certain air vents, Marcie would scratch her neck out before we even ordered the meal.  Don’t be afraid to walk into a restaurant and ‘feel the air’ and ask for the coolest seat. Sweat contains chemicals that may trigger itch, so keep your baby fresh all the time. Sudden changes in temperature or humidity may also be a trigger.

2. Wool 91%. Scratchy fabrics are to be avoided, including nylon and polyester, which may irritate the skin. Wear light cotton for your baby.

3. Stress 81%. Baby gets stressed too, so let your baby have a routine and keep her occupied with toys. I co-sleep with my baby as I feel it reduces her stress too.

4. Spicy food/ hot beverage 49%. I know this is going to be controversial – I give Marcie cold baby fruit juice from fridge. My parents and the infant care teachers freak out at this and blamed a lot of Marcie’s problems on cold drinks. But I know she’s happy and almost immediately stopped scratching and took her mind off the itch. When I’m out, I may buy her a cold drink just so she can hold the cold bottle (it works!). For the record, I read that the only negative impact of cold drinks/food is that the baby takes more energy to digest them, thus reducing the energy left for your baby’s body.

5. Alcohol 44%. Not an issue with children but don’t apply alcohol on your baby’s skin though it’s cooling when the alcohol evaporates. It may dry her skin further. Drinking alcohol is of course a no-no. It expands the blood vessels near the skin, causing the skin to be more sensitive.

6. Cold 36%. I’m not sure about this one – whether the cold triggers the itch or simply a baby with cold feels cranky and scratches.

7. Dust mite droppings 35%. Marcie is tested to be not allergic to dust mite droppings but I still steam her clothes and the bed sheet, pillow cases in hot water to kill the dust mite. (Please buy a good steam washing machine if you like to do this; boiling water yourself and soaking the clothes take too much of the little time you have).

More possible triggers below:

Soap, perfume, laundry detergent. I use soap-free bath oil for Marcie, nothing she uses is perfumed and the laundry detergent is children-friendly. Plus my washing machine has an allergy function that washes off the chemical in the detergent thoroughly.

Chlorinated water. Bathe and moisturize after swimming, check out this post.

Pet fur. Marcie is tested not allergic to dog’s and cat’s hair. Do get your baby tested too. Plus pets bring in lots of allergens from outside the house, do keep them at least out of your baby’s bedroom.

Mold. Marcie is tested not allergic to mold too. Do get your baby tested.

Saliva. This is quite a common irritant for even non-eczema children. Baby’s cheeks and areas around the mouth usually get red with rashes due to constant contact with saliva, especially when they start teething and playing with their saliva! I use cool boiled water to wipe Marcie’s face before her bedtime.

Food. Though food is the most worrying for most parents, it is seldom the trigger. Marcie is not allergic to peanuts nor cow’s milk or egg, but the doctor’s advice is to wait till one year old to try these food. Mango is another fruit that many people balked at me for letting Marcie eat, citing that it is a ‘heaty’ food. I read somewhere later though that the area around the mango skin may cause itch, so just take care to let your baby eat the flesh inside. Mango is a very good fruit with vitamins, don’t ignore it and baby loves them with yoghurt!

Final point – do a skin prick test. Don’t guess and drive yourself crazy.

Eczema Tips

Top 10 Tricks to keep baby’s fingers busy

Keeping your baby’s fingers busy would likely be a big thing for you, as it is for me. Your baby may have already formed the habit of scratching, such as Marcie has. Marcie started scratching intensely from 3 months old and now scratches our hands, her legs or anything that is close to her. Our little relief from scratching came when she’s 8 months old, when she started to explore the world around her. I’m sure you would have your own ways to keep your baby’s fingers occupied, but here’s mine!

1. Let your baby play with cold teether

Teether with Water

Teething ring filled with water that can be placed in the fridge worked wonders for Marcie from about 5-7 months old. Besides the obvious use for biting, Marcie loves holding cold stuff. Now, at 15 months when she’s scratching say in a cafe, I’d buy a small bottled cold drink for her to hold. That can buy me enough time to feed her and myself.

2. Never mind that the magazine or tissue is torn

Babies somehow love to tear tissue paper, magazines and pamphlets. Marcie has not only torn them but also eaten quite a fair bit of her books. To date, Marcie has eaten rubber ball, phone leather straps, paper and plastic film! As much as I don’t like her biting inedible stuff, I figured that it beats scratching her scalp out.

3. Have her hammer some balls!

Hammering toy

Hammering toys are a hit for babies of about 12 months. Your baby can learn to grip the hammer, practice her hand eye co-ordination to hit the balls, get a kick watching the balls roll down and probably end up biting the balls or the hammer! Main point is it keeps your baby occupied and her fingers active.

4. Never leave the home without finger food

Banana Milk Rusks

Graduate Puffs

One item that I definitely have to bring out is biscuits. Teething rusks that your baby can hold and eat on her own will occupy her hands. Marcie’s favorite is banana flavored teething rusks, followed by small star shaped puffs and baby rice rusks. I never leave home without them.

5. Catch the Wind in the stroller

Stroller Fan

If your baby has a tendency to scratch her head in the stroller, letting her play with the stroller fan is a good idea. Marcie has destroyed one fan by pulling out and tearing the wings but I’m fine as long as she’s not scratching her head. Do peep into the stroller every now and then as you never know when your baby will wake up and start scratching.

6. Or Read a Buggy Book

Buggy Book

Your baby may like flipping the book and Marcie particularly likes this peek-a-boo book as there are felt flaps to flip up to reveal hidden kids. Of course, she chews the book too!

7. Offer a Juice Cup but Watch out for the straw chewer

Juice Straw Cup

Baby loves juice and Marcie likes it cold best. I offer about 120ml to her daily and juice is another item I never leave home without. Once she has finished her juice, ate enough of finger food, I will offer her water bottle. Sometimes, I let her play with straws but watch out that your baby doesn’t chew and swallow the plastic straw of the juice cup (which Marcie did and ate the straw up too, I suppose it feels like jelly beans?)

8. Move and Groove and Play

Chasing after a car

Trust me. It gets easier when your baby is able to crawl and walk. Having more things to do such as crawling after a toy, kicking a ball will definitely take your baby’s mind off the scratching.

9. Hit the TV

This one is not an ideal thing to do but will certainly give you some time to work in the kitchen while your baby watches the TV and hit on the ‘items’ she wants to catch from the screen. My LCD screen hasn’t broke but is always dirty with food stained hand prints.

10. Push a chair

Junior Chair

This one works too! Marcie also pushes her high chair and crawls under the table.

There may be some items listed here that you find questionable, such as biting stuff and hitting TV. You don’t have to agree with all of them as these are the tricks that I use to keep Marcie busy. To me, raising a kid with eczema involves more trade-offs and these are some that I’m willing to compromise. Have a good day with your child and enjoy your time together.