Someone with Eczema Baby Managed Returning to Work

Kelly shares on how she managed returning to work!

Kelly shares on how she managed returning to work!

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Kelly who will be sharing on returning to work, at about the time when her son with eczema was six-month old. Kelly is the founder of Bamboo Bubby, and is a return guest of my blog, see here for her interview on the bamboo bubby sleeping bags.

Marcie Mom: Hi Kelly, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema, when did he started to have eczema and how was it at 6-month old and now?

Kelly: Thanks for the opportunity to share my experiences Mei! My son was around 6 months old when we finally found a doctor who put the word eczema to his dry, red and irritated skin and who referred us to a specialist eczema clinic. It wasn’t however something that just started overnight. I remember starting to search pharmacy shelves when he was two weeks old looking for a cream that would take away some of the dryness and irritation. We had also need numerous doctors over this time too who were quite blasé about it and would tell us to just use sorbolene (which made it worse!). I think we tried every other cream known to man in that time too as well as trying every type of formula in the hope of finding one that he would drink, because we thought he was just a ‘difficult drinker’ who fought every single feed, often pushing his bottles out of our hands so hard they’d fly across the room!

It wasn’t until our eczema clinic appointment and after a round of allergy tests showed up an intolerance to cow milk protein, that the link between his milk refusal and his eczema became clear for us. We then went through a process of trying soy formula (this was the worst his skin had ever been), then a couple of prescription ones (which he outright refused) before we tried a goats milk one as a last resort and the change was instant from the first bottle. For the first time in his short little life, he drank a whole bottle instead of us forcing 10mls at a time into him. So we just kept giving him this and after a month or so his skin improved A LOT! We were of course also layering moisturizers on him after every nappy change as the eczema was all over his body, but especially bad on his cheeks, stomach, back and legs.

Now, at 3 years old, he still gets eczema flareups, but we know what to do to control and manage it now. Flareups are now usually caused by sickness, fatigue or seasonal allergies.

Marcie Mom: What were your son’s triggers and were they easy for you to communicate to your caregiver?

Kelly: I think we were very lucky that we discovered his trigger not long after I returned to work and he started at our local childcare centre. They were fantastic about accommodating to his needs and being in the baby room, we took all his milk bottles each day anyway. Our Child Care Centre though is required to have policies and procedures in place to meet local and other legislative requirements, meaning they have a Healthy Eating Policy plus several around medication management. So, once we had a written management plan from the doctor that stated his trigger and that he needed moisturizers applied in a certain way after every nappy change it was a very easy process to communicate his needs. They have a very organized system of keeping track of all the babies various different needs and they did a really wonderful job of ensuring he was looked after in this regard.

Marcie Mom: What was the eczema skin care routine you were using, and was it difficult to get the caregiver to understand and be committed to the same routine?

Kelly: Of course there is probably no one else in the world who would do for your child exactly the same as you would yourself, because that’s what we do as parents for our children, often going above and beyond to feel we’ve done everything and the best possible job! However for us, obtaining the GP Management Plan really was the key to ensure the centre provided as close to what we were doing as possible with the regular application of various moisturizers and to make sure his trigger food was avoided.

The aspect I found the most difficult to deal with though, was the sleep routine (or lack of) that our baby desperately needed, yet due to the eczema and milk intolerance we’d never had a chance to establish at home before then throwing child care into the mix! It was around this time that I made my first sleeping bag for him, which helped the caregivers to know that he wouldn’t be damaging his skin while sleeping.

Marcie Mom: One final question – every mom needs to let go, at some point, of our newborn and especially difficult if the child requires special care. Was there a moment that tugged, pulled or pierced your heart when returning to work?

Kelly: I think there was more than a single moment! For me the hardest part was actually knowing in my heart that returning to work was not the best thing for our family, but that it was unfortunately a financial necessity.

I honestly never contemplated just how difficult it is to manage a condition like eczema on top of my own post-natally triggered condition AND return to work with the stress that this brings too, however I believe that having to ‘do it all’ has strengthened who we are as people and what we now know we can cope with. When I look back over the past three years, I’m now grateful for it all. I’ve learnt a lot about juggling of work, baby, household and about the importance of focusing only on doing what is important and necessary – everything else can wait and does get there eventually – it just takes longer than it used to.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Kelly for sharing your journey on returning to work, we all go through it at different degree and different stages in our life, HUGS!

SOMEONE manages Bathing and After-Bath Skin Care

Read on Julie sharing how she manages bathing and after-bath skin care

Read on Julie sharing how she manages bathing and after-bath skin care

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Julie C., a married mom, who has had eczema since she was 5 years old and shares how she manages her baths and after-bath skin care. Marcie Mom: Hi Julie, thanks for agreeing to be part of this series! You were sharing with me that your eczema may not be apparent to many, had it been more severe in your childhood?

Julie: Yes, as a child I had very visible eczema patches on my face, arms, and legs. Not only was the eczema painful but the other kids teased me about it. My parents tried to help, but none of the remedies recommended by our doctors worked. Unfortunately, it continued into my teenage years and made it difficult to date. Today, I get lots of compliments about how beautiful my skin is.

Marcie Mom: Were there any difficulties you had managing your bath and the after-bath skin care? And how have you finally figured out a routine that works for your skin?

Julie: Yes, there were. Many soaps and shower gels would burn. Many lotions would burn and make things worse – especially on my face.

For bathing, I use a mild soap which is safe for the face too. If I am having a flare up, plain warm water works best for me until the flare up passes. Sometimes when I feel a flare up coming on, I am able to use a liquid antihistamine to stop it.

As an adult, I’ve come to realize my eczema definitely has environmental triggers; however, for me, stress is big a trigger too. To manage stress, I exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep.

Just by doing a little observation and research, I learned what my environmental eczema triggers are, how to avoid them, and what to do if I accidentally come in contact with them.

One big environmental trigger is clothing. People with eczema may want to avoid red clothing. The red dyes seem to be a trigger. Also, be careful about what you wash your clothes with. Your laundry detergent doesn’t ever completely rinse out of your clothing and it could be contributing to your flare ups. The same thing applies to liquid fabric softeners.

Certain foods can lead to flare ups too. For example, there is a certain brand of spaghetti sauce which causes flare ups for me and my niece.

Marcie Mom: What about cosmetics? Any allergies to any cosmetics and what do you do to minimize any potential eczema flares, especially on the face?

Julie: I don’t have a need for foundation, but I do wear lipstick and it can be hit and miss. Most of the pricier brands seems to be safe; however, I once got an eczema break out on my lips from a specific shade in a brand I frequently use!

Marcie Mom: One final question – do you have a favorite facial mask for your face?

Julie: My facial regimen is surprisingly simple.

No facial masks at this point. For washing I use: a mild soap, sometimes I only wash my face with plain warm water, and sometimes I use a rice scrub for sensitive skin to exfoliate. (Warning: Never exfoliate when you’re in the middle of a flare up!) I always use my hands to wash my face – never a cloth or a sponge. I do not dry my face either. After cleansing, while my face is still wet / damp, I apply a very mild moisturizing lotion or a dot of petroleum jelly.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Julie for taking time to share this with me, and many other ladies out there will surely be able to identify with your routine!

Doctor Claudia Video – Eczema: Scratching the Surface

Doctor Claudia Aguirre's Video on Eczema: Scratching the Surface

Doctor Claudia Aguirre’s Video on Eczema: Scratching the Surface

Dr. Claudia Aguirre is a neuro-scientist and a skin industry expert at The International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica. She is passionate about skincare, frequently lectures worldwide, and is an editorial contributor to global trade and consumer media. You can find her at twitter.com/doctorclaudia.

Marcie Mom: In the video, Doctor Claudia explained atopic dermatitis and that elevated IgE (immunoglobulin E) triggered allergic response in certain people. There is no single cause of eczema identified, and no cure for the condition. It is instead a multi-factorial condition characterized by defective epidermal barrier that is more alkaline and has more enzyme activity that reduces the connectivity of the skin layers. Filaggrin is a protein that aids in the formation of skin layers (do watch the video to see the animated filaggrin) and converts to natural moisturizing factors. Dry skin lacks this normal functioning filaggrin gene, and has been linked to atopic diseases such as eczema, asthma and allergies.

Marcie Mom: Dr Claudia, in the video you mention that sweat is an irritant for many with eczema. Can you explain how the chemicals in our sweat can cause the allergic reaction? Shouldn’t our skin be used to our sweat?

Dr Claudia: Well an irritant reaction is not the same as an allergic reaction. I explained that sweat can be irritating to eczema skin, as this epidermal barrier may not be fully functional. This is an interesting question though, as we are still understanding the chemical composition of sweat (be that eccrine or apocrine). In general, sweat is composed of water, minerals (like sodium and magnesium), lactate, ammonia and various amino acids. It could be one of these compounds, the combination of them, the changing pH of the skin, or even the sweat’s water content that can cause the itching and stinging sensations to some people with Eczema.  Digging deeper, I found an interesting study that suggested the amino acid composition of sweat is similar to the composition of the protein profilaggrin (which is later converted to filaggrin). This is interesting because scientists can study filaggrin by using human sweat as a potential chemical model. In the end, sweat can make eczema skin uncomfortable, so I suggest bringing a cool damp towel to your workout, or maybe spritzing a hydrating spray, instead of rubbing or scratching this sensitive skin.

MarcieMom: Stress is also a common trigger for eczema and suggestion such as aromatherapy is mentioned in the video. Out of curiosity, does the aroma work the same way as fragrance in skin care products, which is to be avoided? Or is there a specific type of aromatherapy for those with eczema?

Dr Claudia: No, aroma in skin care products varies widely. What you want to avoid are synthetic fragrances which can cause an irritant or allergenic reaction in the skin. Some people use perfume for years before they get a skin reaction. Aromatherapy typically employs essential oils, which are natural compounds. However these can be quite potent, so a trained professional with a background in aromatherapy should be consulted before any treatment. The act of breathing deeply alone can also reduce stress. To find out more ways of reducing stress check out the latest webisode: http://youtu.be/EAcFAUd9-6Q

MarcieMom: In the video, you also recommended water-free barrier repairing products and oatmeal compress. Is water to be avoided in skin care due to preservatives being required if there is a high water content or is it because the eczema skin ‘loses’ the more liquid product easily? As for oatmeal compress, do explain to us (I’m using oatmeal bath oil, but not sure how an oatmeal compress works).

Dr Claudia: Great question. I suppose it could be both. Paraben alternatives are preservatives that have a greater potential of being irritating than parabens. So ‘paraben-free’ formulations may actually be more irritating. The amount of water lost to a skin care product from the skin is most likely negligible, so I recommend anhydrous barrier-repairing products because they contain silicones to protect skin. Our skin has a lipid (oil) layer, so you want to replenish those oils to ensure a properly working barrier. Colloidal oatmeal is a wonderful ingredient for eczema skin. There are many scientific studies on oats and dermatitis – and this should be your eczema skin’s best friend. Look for clinical colloidal oatmeal for best results. The compress is basically a wet wrap. This is used to lock in moisture and keep the actives on the skin. On wet skin, apply oat or other active ingredient, follow with a damp gauze and cover with dry wraps. This dry covering could be pajamas (good for kids), or other dry covering. Alternatively, a colloidal oatmeal masque is a really nice add-on to a skin treatment for hydrating and soothing skin.

Marcie Mom: Vitamin D has been mentioned much to boost immunity and for the skin. How exactly can one with eczema get vitamin D, and what’s your recommended minutes of sun exposure for those with eczema?

Doctor Claudia: Everyone has different needs, so there is no single recommended amount of sun exposure. I advise those wanting to know to consult with a dermatologist trained in a bit of photobiology. Or you could ask a scientist (they are hard to find!). At a recent conference I met Prof. Brian Diffey, an expert in this field. In a recent paper, he concluded “Messages concerning sun exposure should remain focused on the detrimental effects of excessive sun exposure and should avoid giving specific advice on what might be ‘optimal’ sun exposure. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/722853

Vitamin D is an essential hormone and we all need a good dose of it. So speak to a dietician or doctor to find which vitamin D supplements are good for you and be sun smart!

Marcie Mom: Thanks Doctor Claudia, your explanation is so helpful, as even though we can’t cure eczema – it doesn’t hurt to understand more of it in order to manage it confidently. I’m looking forward to more of your videos!

SOMEONE has Eczema and managed Beach Holidays

Selena shares on beach holidays with her child with eczema!

Selena shares on beach holidays with her child with eczema!

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Selena Bluntzer, whose 4-year-old daughter has had eczema since she was 3 months old and share how she manages beach holidays with her family. Selena blogs at AmazingandAtopic.com on her daughter’s multiple food allergies, asthma and eczema.

Marcie Mom: Hi Selena, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Can you share with us the severity of your daughter’s eczema and what are her triggers?

Selena: I would characterize my daughter’s eczema as mild to moderate.  It’s contained to mostly her hands, yet it flares on her legs, arms and torso, when she ingests an aggravating trigger (food or medication).  In the past, she has had some more severe bouts with staph infections, but things are better, now.  It has definitely improved with age and/or the fact that we’ve learned to control her triggers.  Her biggest triggers are her multiple food allergies.  She is also affected by the weather and I also believe stress affects her, as well.

Marcie Mom: Let’s talk holidays! Is a beach holiday something your family does often? And did you have any worries about how your daughter’s eczema and asthma would change on a beach holiday?

Selena: We live about 3 hours from the beach.  We’ve taken our daughter to the beach 3 times and she is 4 years old.  The first time we took her, we didn’t know about her food allergies, and didn’t know very much about managing her eczema.  We were certainly wondering how the change in environment would affect things.  After learning of her food allergies and asthma, we also needed to figure out how to pack for such a trip.

Marcie Mom: Share with us the preparations that you need to take, from planning the length of car drive, how often to stop and moisturize (or just do so in the car), what to pack – for her skin, and change of clothes? (I always pack three sets of clothes for a day holiday, to keep my daughter fresh and not trigger eczema flare.)

Selena: I guess I will cover our latest trip, for which we were probably the best prepared.  We typically plan to leave very early in the morning, stay one night and leave the following afternoon.  Since we’re dealing with food allergies, eczema and asthma, we always have to pack for all 3 conditions.

For the food allergy issue, we had to pack enough food to feed her for the duration of the trip.  She has multiple food allergies and we cannot count on being able to find safe foods when we travel, nor do we take the risk of letting her eat at restaurants.  We packed her favorite shelf-stable goodies and some perishable items in a large cooler, packed with plenty of ice.  (One time, we stopped for gas and were stranded for a couple of hours when our car battery died.  Most tow trucks do NOT have a place for a child car seat, and it took a while before someone could get our battery “jumped”, so we could get to the shop for a replacement.  It’s always good to have extra allergy-safe snacks on hand, because we can’t just pick up anything at the convenience store, with my daughter’s multiple food allergies.)  We had to pack her antihistamines and epinephrine auto-injectors (EAIs).  We took multiple sets of EAIs with us, because we did not know how far away emergency help would be, should it be needed.  I bought a waterproof carrier so we could take them down to the waterfront.

For her asthma, we packed her rescue inhaler (she was not on a daily medication, at the time), her nebulizer and medications.  We also had a power inverter so we could run the nebulizer inside the car, in case we needed to stop for any unexpected, sudden asthma attacks and were not near an electrical outlet (http://www.amazingandatopic.com/2012/01/reactive-airwayasthma-gear.html).

For her eczema, we packed her ointments, lotions, allergy-safe sunblock, SunSmarties UPF clothing, including water shoes to protect her feet from the hot sand and a hat to protect her scalp ( http://www.amazingandatopic.com/2012/06/upf-50-clothing-great-for-eczematic.html), and hydrocortisone and steroid ointments, for any serious outbreaks/spots.  For the car trip, I dressed her in thin, light clothing, and did the moisturizing before getting in the car.  The drive is just under 3 hours, so we only needed to do so once.  We changed clothes after every activity, and I basically packed two outfits for every activity/part of the day, in case she needed a fresh set.

For our next trip, I plan to take a freshly washed set of sheets with us, for lining the hotel bed.  She didn’t seem irritated by the sheets, or anything, but it just seems like a good idea, since you never know about bed bugs and such.

Marcie Mom: One final question – how did your daughter like the beach and did she swim in the beach water and play with the sand?

Selena: She loved it!  She loved playing in the water and didn’t want to get out, when it was time to go inside.  She really enjoyed digging in the sand and making sand castles.  I was worried, at first, about how that would affect her skin, but it turned out that it was like having a sea salt scrub spa treatment!  Her skin looked amazing at the end of our trip!  I thought she might have been troubled by the high salt content in her open splits on her fingers, but she was having too much fun to even care and never said a thing about it!  I was really impressed.  Now, I will say that I had to prep her skin with lots of Aquaphor ointment, beforehand, to protect it, because we went out once without it and it did get irritated, but as long as I remembered to do that each time, her skin came out looking renewed and fresh.  My husband and I have discussed taking more frequent trips to the beach, just based on the wonderful effect the beach had on her skin, aside from the enormous amount of fun she had!

Marcie Mom: Thanks Selena for taking time to share your journey on your daughter’s eczema and beach holiday. There are many beaches in Malaysia and Singaporean and Malaysian parents reading this may be motivated to take up your tips and head down to a beach!

SOMEONE has Eczema and managed Make-up

Erica Cheung, NYU student who has written for Huffington Post shares her make-up, beauty journey.

Erica Cheung, NYU student who has written for Huffington Post shares her make-up, beauty journey.

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Erica Cheung, who has eczema for three years and shares how she manages her make-up. I first learnt of Erica’s eczema while reading her story on Huffington Post. Erica writes for Huffington Post and a senior at NYU. 

Marcie Mom: Hi Erica, thanks for being the first guest for this new series ‘Someone has Eczema’! This blog has been focusing on expert advice for two years, and now I think it’s time to spotlight on individuals coping with eczema as our readers are already knowledgeable in eczema. How long have you had eczema, and has it affected you more during a certain stage of your life?

Erica: I’ve had eczema for three years since I was a sophomore in college. At first, I wasn’t sure what was happening to me but I couldn’t take hot showers anymore without feeling itchy and I started noticing red patches of skin on my neck. Developing eczema in my early years of college was tough not only because it was uncomfortable and unattractive, it added to the stresses I already had as a hardworking student/intern/part-time employee. I researched online about my condition and although I learned a lot about eczema, I really felt like I was one of a handful of people suffering with this condition. This is why I’m so excited about your series ‘Someone has Eczema’!

Marcie Mom: I see in this post that the Huffington Post loves your beauty wisdom. I’m someone who hasn’t put on makeup more than ten times, and one of them was on my marriage! So, can you share your make-up tips (like when you change your brush and what else? I’m clueless in this!)

Erica: As a style/beauty blogger, I love experimenting with makeup and nail polish (especially on holidays!) which is why I was really bummed when I developed eczema and realized that most of the makeup I was using irritated my skin and eyes. My advice when negotiating makeup and eczema is to find a beauty regimen that suits your skin. It really starts with having happy skin. I make sure to use a moisturizer that uses natural ingredients and is highly moisturizing but also calming. My skin is extremely dry and sensitive. It’s always great to ask your dermatologist what skin products he/she recommends and it’s very important to know what suits your skin type. I always recommend Lush’s products because they’re all natural and handmade, so it is easy to know what exactly you’re putting on your skin.

Once your skin is calm and ready for makeup, the next step is to find a good foundation. Again, I always look for natural makeup lines that use as many non-synthetic materials as possible. Two good makeup lines to look into are Tarte and Bare Essentials. Always let the person at the makeup shop know that you have eczema and that you’re looking for makeup that is nourishing and natural and that also doesn’t clump up and get cakey. Cakey foundation is our enemy.

In terms of eye makeup, I learned the hard way that mascara and black eyeliner are the two most irritating products someone with eczema can use. That is, of course, if you’re using products made from harsh ingredients like coal or synthetic formulas. I use Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes and it works like a charm without irritating my tear ducts (it also makes my lashes look amazing!) I’ve also found that Lush’s Emotional Brilliance makeup line is absolutely fantastic for eyeliner choices because they’re all-natural and can easily be washed off with water.

The only other makeup advice I can give is to make sure to remove makeup at night and use a soothing night moisturizer. In terms of scalp problems, I had a hard time finding products to soothe my scalp. Eventually what helped was taking Evening Primrose Oil and trying my hardest not to scratch. Also, natural shampoos seemed to soothe my scalp way more than other shampoos with chemicals in them (again Lush has an amazing selection). If you have any other questions about specific issues or advice please email me

Marcie Mom: For those with facial eczema, do refer to Dr Lynn Chiam’s advice on various types of rashes on face, various treatment options for facial eczema, what to do with rashes on the eyelids and rashes around the mouth and lips.

Erica, what is your skin care routine for your face? Do you moisturize and do you apply any topical treatment creams on any part of your face?

Erica: I briefly mention this above. I use skin care treatments with all natural ingredients. I wash my face in the morning with water and twice a week I use a light exfoliator from Burt’s Bees. I then use a moisturizer called Celestial for sensitive skin from Lush. I only apply topical treatment creams when I flare up. If I am flaring up, I try not to put anything on my face and apply treatment creams until the flare passes (I also take a antihistamine and drink green tea). I don’t use toners because they tend to dry my skin up too much.

Marcie Mom: One final question – on the dreaded day of eczema flare, and should you fall on a day that you think you ought to have makeup on, what do you do?

Erica: I would take a strong antihistamine (I take Allegra) and then wash my face with no exfoliator at all. I would then apply my trusty moisturizer (its very important to find a moisturizer that you love that soothes your face no matter what) and go with a more natural look. Choose a bold lip (pinks, reds, oranges) and apply neutral eye shadow colors (which contain less synthetic ingredients to begin with). Curl your eyelashes but apply no mascara and go with a light eyebrow pencil. The bold brow and lip with draw attention away from the rest of your face and the eye shadow with give you an elegant but natural look. I would finish off by applying topical creams when needed and waiting for the flare to pass to apply foundation and mascara.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Erica for being my first guest and sharing your personal journey, with makeup and eczema – your sharing confirms I’m right to start this series, I’d never be able to advice anyone on make-up! (Maybe I ought to try make-up someday too, sounds fun!)

Best of 2012 MarcieMom Eczema Twitter Tips – On Triggers & Allergies

Continuing to share my Best of 2012 MarcieMom Eczema Twitter Tips! (part 1 & 2 here & here) Triggers and allergies are sometimes a mystery, you think it is, you think it isn’t, it’s tested yes, but you think it’s not.. so here you go! My best tips on triggers and allergies, with the help of doctors & experts, including a celebrity hairstylist (of Matthew McConaughey)!

3 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Stress can be passed to your child & is a potential trigger. Give yourself chill time!

Picture used in my first blog post on Jan 2011 – Turning Blues to Bliss

55 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Heat and perspiration is the number one trigger for eczema

75 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Diapers can also have allergens that trigger eczema

And helping to explain more about diapers, is non-other than The Honest Company, a company founded by Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan.

76 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Do skin prick test only when the child is in good health & did not take antihistamines for at least 3 days

And helping out in Friday Q&A is Marcie’s doctor, Prof Hugo van Bever. In this Q&A, he answered questions on the skin prick test.

Prof Hugo Van Bever

 119 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Allergy testing is more accurate from 6 month old. Also manage and monitor baby’s environment and food

124 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Six common food allergens are milk, fish, egg, soy, peanuts and what. Check with doctor and take allergy test 

Another doctor who helped out in Friday Q&A is Dr Liew Woei Kang. In this Q&A, he helped answer the common allergens in children.

Dr Liew Woei Kang

228 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Keep hair short to reduce sweat trapped in scalp

I had the privilege of knowing Kristan Serafino, a celebrity hairstylist who gave hairstyling tips to those suffering from scalp eczema in this 3-part scalp eczema series!

Kristan Serafino – Celebrity Hairstylist

Teen Eczema Q&A with Dr Lynn Chiam – Sweat & Sports

Dr Lynn Chiam, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions

This blog has covered lots on children with eczema, but as they grow older, eczema may present a different set of challenges and in a different form (for instance, due to puberty). MarcieMom is privileged to have Dr Lynn Chiam of Children & Adult Skin Hair Laser Clinic, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Medical Centre, Singapore. Dr Chiam is a mum to three young children and is expecting her 4th child at the end of the year.

More on Dr Lynn Chiam – Dr Lynn was formerly the head of paediatric dermatology at National Skin Centre, Singapore before leaving for private practice. She has vast experience in childhood atopic dermatitis and childhood birthmarks. Apart from paediatric dermatology, her other subspecialty interests include adult pigmentary conditions and laser dermatology. She has published numerous articles and has contributed articles to various magazines and newspapers. She helped set up the Eczema Support Group for both children and adults and is currently the Medical Advisor to the group.

Marcie Mom: Sweat can be a trigger for eczema and teenagers are at a very active stage of their life. If a child’s eczema is often triggered by sweat, would you advise parents to encourage their child to take up an indoor sport? Are there certain sports that you think are better suited to eczema children? For instance, is swimming or squash or gymnastics more suitable than soccer or tennis?

If a teenager chooses to engage in a sport that’s outdoors and sweat a lot, what advice would you give him/her to manage the eczema?

Dr Lynn Chiam: Sweat and heat can be a trigger for eczema. However, it is best for a teenager with eczema to lead as normal a life as possible and participate in the sport he likes. Unless the eczema is very severe and difficult to control, I will not limit the choice of sports the teenager chooses. It is more important to know about good skin care and to apply creams correctly, which will help improve eczema, than to totally avoid certain sports.

Swimming for long periods during a bad flare of eczema is not advisable as the swimming pool water may cause more skin dryness.

I will advise that if you participate in a sport that will cause you to sweat a lot, to take a damp cloth to wipe away the sweat immediately after exercising followed by drying the skin with a dry cloth. If possible, take a shower using gentle soap shortly after the exercise and apply moisturizer immediately after bathing.

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, not Stressed Kids

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!

‘Reduce Stress in Your Life’ – Laugh More and Be Grateful

As written on DrSearsLean.com Attitude tips, leading a healthier and happier life comes from having the right attitude to life, and that includes taking steps to reduce stress, increase laughter and be grateful. There are many practical tips to follow but as parents of eczema children, it may be hard to do so; for instance, it’s hard to think positively when the eczema flares yet again for no reason. Or it can be difficult to enjoy a dvd when your child keeps scratching during the movie. Worse, repeated failed attempts to keep the eczema under control could demoralize the parent so much that it’s hard to appreciate the good even in our spouse, not to mention someone we don’t like.  The stress that families with eczema faces is considerable and a study has shown that stress levels in mothers caring for young children with eczema are equivalent to those mothers of children with severe disabilities.

Stress Triggers Eczema

While it may be more difficult to keep the stress level low in families with eczema children, it is important to do so should stress be one of the triggers of the eczema. As stated in Adnan Nasir’s book Eczema Free for Life, stress is the number three trigger and can worsen eczema by:

(i)         Stimulating hormones to be released which result in an increase in inflammatory substances the skin is allergic to

(ii)        Suppressing the immune system which results in a decrease in defense proteins to protect the skin

(iii)       Weakening the lipid skin barrier which results in dry skin that is vulnerable to irritants

Furthermore, stress can also be passed on to our children. So, whatever the situation, take deep breaths and don’t be afraid to ask for help or some chill-out time.

DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation

DrSearsLean.com has several articles relating to stress, for instance:

Reducing Holiday Stress – Tips from Just Say No to Take A Power Nap!

Time and Stress Management – Tips from Planning your day to Managing Stress, using the 4 ‘A’s – Avoid unnecessary stress, alter the situation or change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future, adapt to the stressor, or accept the things you cannot change.

9 Great Ways to Keep your Body Happy & Avoid Inflammation – Tips from Staying Lean to Taking Care of your Gums!

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr. Sears for your recommendation. Next interview, we’ll check out museums, factory tours and swimming on your Lifestyle tips!

Friday Dr Q&A with Prof Hugo – Hot Hazy Singapore

Prof Hugo Van Bever

Prof. Hugo Van Bever is the Head of National University Hospital’s Pediatric Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology Department. He is also an active member of the board APAPARI (Asian Pacific Association of Paediatric Allergy, Respirology and Immunology) and has published more than 250 papers in national and international journals. His main research interest areas are paediatric allergy and paediatric respiratory infections.

Marcie Mom: Hi, it’s sure a hot day today. Worse, it’s hazy. Something I dread because Marcie’s eczema always seem to get worse on such days. For today’s question:

I read that the sun can dry the moisture on skin. Should children with eczema avoid the sun?

Prof Hugo: Active eczema (= skin inflammation) should avoid the sun.

Marcie Mom: I noticed that whenever there’s a haze (from neighbouring countries burning forests), my baby scratches a lot more. What could be in a haze and why does it irritate my baby’s skin?

Prof Hugo: Never been proven that the haze (= a type of pollution) has effect on eczema.

Marcie Mom: Thanks! For parents looking to bring your child out, don’t forget the sunscreen. Read this post to find out what’s safe and how to apply sunscreen.

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