SOMEONE has Eczema and managed Outdoor Fun for Child

Joan Ong shares on outdoor sports for son

Joan Ong shares on outdoor sports for son

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Joan Ong, to share how she manages her son’s eczema while encouraging him to take part in outdoor sports. I first learnt of Joan’s son’s eczema when her business partner contacted me about Rise and Shine expo. Joan is one of the founding members of Rise and Shine expo, with over 12 years’ experience in event management.

Marcie Mom: Hi Joan, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! As you know, my blog has always featured expert advice, but in 2013, I just feel like encouraging my readers through sharing journeys of real persons who had to manage eczema in their daily life. Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema, was there a most severe time in his life and what are the triggers for his eczema?

Joan: Both my husband and me have mild eczema problem and I personally have asthma. As eczema is linked to asthma, it is very likely that my son’s condition is hereditary.

I don’t think my son’s condition is considered serious as compared to many kids out there but it is bad enough to make us running from doctor to doctor and paying lots of medical fees to try to get him cured. When he has flare up, his feet and hands will go very red and itchy. He will also have ring-like rashes on his face and other parts of his body.

It really makes us very sad to see our little baby’s beautiful skin covered up with eczema and the saddest thing is that all doctors will tell you that eczema cannot be cured.

Marcie Mom: My daughter’s eczema is triggered by sweat and heat, but we both know how important exercise is (read that kids are supposed to exercise for 2-3 hours a day) and how much fun they’d miss out if they didn’t do sports (or simply, have fun) outdoors. Does your son likes outdoor sports, and is there one activity he really loves, and does it lead to any eczema flares thereafter?

Joan: My son loves water and we regularly bring him out for swimming. One tip we got from a doctor is to use lots of sunblock on him so that there is a protective layer. After which, shower him in bath oil and put lots of moisturizer on him. It has seemed to work so far.

Marcie Mom: For those interested to learn more about exercise, swimming and eczema, do refer to Dr Christopher Bridgett’s advice here, Dr Sears L.E.A.N.’s advice here and Dr Lynn Chiam’s advice here. One of the activities that my daughter loves is swimming (aka playing in the pool), which we started her at 7-month old when her doctor, Prof Hugo, recommended it. I make sure to run to the shower after her swim, shower her and moisturize.

Joan, is there any routine that you practice after your son finishes his outdoor play?

Joan: We will normally time his outdoor play just before his shower and after which, the whole moisturizing routine will kick in. And if we see that he starts to flare up, we will immediately apply medical cream on him to prevent the condition will from turning worse. And this really has proven effective so far.

Marcie Mom: One final question – when would you not let your son do outdoors sports, say (a) he seems a little scratchy, (b) there’s more eczema rashes or (c) when his eczema flaring? And the real last question, do you also do outdoor sports with him? LoL do remember to apply sunscreen, for the whole family!

Joan: When his eczema is flaring, we will definitely not engage him in any outdoor sports that will cause him to sweat. There are many activities for children indoor with aircon and hence, we have lots of choices to get him active and engage in play in a social setting without the heat and the sweat.

And yes, my husband and me always do outdoor activities with him just and it is great bonding time!

Marcie Mom: Thanks Joan for taking time to share your journey with your son’s eczema and managing outdoor sports and play.

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

Image from – A Goat Farm in Singapore that Marcie loves to visit!

This is a fortnightly series focused on raising healthy children, following the advice on 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 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

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

Friday Feature – Swimming Q&A with Dr. B

Q&A with Dr Christopher Bridgett

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

Marcie Mom: It’s Friday again, and I’m heading to the pool over the weekend with my baby. Oh, that reminds me to ask you Dr B: Some parents are very sceptical 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 B: Swimming 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

Picture of Swimmer, contributed by Dr B

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! Dr B 

Do not drink pool water!

Playing in Swimming Pool

Here you see a very happy baby playing at the pool, and the next?

Fallen ill with stomach flu

That happened TWICE to my baby girl Marcie, as she always thought it’s funny to drink the pool water. Marcie has eczema and we brought her to the swimming pool from about nine months old, at the advice of her doctor. It didn’t do much good nor bad to her skin till one time when the baby pool was closed, we brought her to the 1.0m pool. Her skin improved markedly every time we brought her to the deeper pool and we thought it might be due to soaking in a deeper pool versus just standing mid-waist in the baby pool. But Marcie started getting more at ease in water and dared to walk off the pool into her daddy’s arms. That, on top of always trying to drink pool water, could have made her ill. So while it is good to go swimming with your baby, here’re the do’s and don’ts.


Check with your baby’s doctor (I’ve read that some severe eczema babies not recommended for swimming)

Check with the pool staff on how they disinfect the pool if you’re really concerned (chlorine is supposed to be the least irritating of the disinfectants, read here for an article by National Eczema Society)

Apply sunscreen lotion before swimming (choose one suitable for baby)

Shower immediately after pool and apply moisturizer generously


If your child has not recovered from cold/fever  for more than 10 days or has not recovered from stomach flu (i.e. solid stool) for more than 48 hours, don’t bring your child to the pool.

Don’t leave your child alone, drowning or water intoxication (swallowing too much water) is dangerous.

Don’t continue swimming if your child is shivering (hypothermia is a risk); bring baby out of the pool and wrap in warm towel.

Don’t swim for too long, limit to no more than 30 minutes for child below 1 year old

3 Good Skincare Tips from Prof Hugo for Marcie

Prof Hugo with Marcie







Marcie had her half-yearly check-up last Saturday at NUH’s children clinic and we are happy that her skin is considered good enough not to use steroid. Instead, we ought to follow the 3 tips from her doctor, Prof Hugo (in picture):

1. Moisturize, especially after Marcie has got in touch with water (after a bath or swimming)

2. Apply chlorhexidine before applying steroid cream to clean away the bacteria so that the steroid cream will be more effective

3. Go swimming few times a week!

Go Swimming with your baby

Marcie's First Swim

Try it if you haven’t. I was advised by allergy specialist to bring Marcie for a swim and she’s a water baby! Pool water contains chlorine which may irritate the skin. I brought Marcie for her first swim at 9 months, bathed and moisturized her immediately. There’s no problem with her skin after every swim though she caught a cold twice!



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