Dealing with my older daughter's extreme eczema has been one of the most frustrating parts of being a mom. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent fanning her legs or blowing on her face because her skin hurts so much. It absolutely breaks my heart to see her in so my pain. Luckily, through a lot of trial and error, we have found the tricks that really work and keep her eczema under control. Here are the things that matter the most when it comes to helping her skin.
Bathing and Moisturizing — Use warm (not hot) water in showers and baths, and do not scrub skin. I usually use the soft side of a surgical sponge and clean my daughter's body very lightly if I can help it. Avoid using any harsh cleansers and cleansers with fragrance. If your eczema is flaring up, you will want to avoid washing it at all. Do not towel off after a bath, instead apply moisturizers immediately to seal in the moisture. Apply moisturizer in downward motions, don't use circles. Moisturize even when you aren't experiencing a flare up to prevent future flare ups.
In my daughter's skin care, we use several different types of baths. These are the ones we use the most.
- Bleach baths: Add 1 cup of bleach to a full bathtub and soak for 10-15 minutes. A bleach bath helps kill the bacteria that can be living in the affected portions of skin.
- Baking Soda: When the eczema is causing severe itching, a baking soda bath can give a lot of relief. Simply sprinkle baking soda in a warm bathtub and soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Oatmeal Baths: We do a lot of oatmeal baths in our house. They seem to be very good at soothing my daughter's skin. Buy natural, plain oatmeal at the store and then grind it in a food processor until it is very fine. Sprinkle over the bottom of the bathtub and mix in.
Laundry and Clothing — Changing our laundry routine is hands down the best thing we have done for our daughter's eczema. We wash EVERYTHING in a free and clear detergent. It is important to wash everything and not just clothes in the free and clear detergent, so a loved one with eczema isn't exposed to laundry chemicals on sheets, towels or even your clothes. Make sure to use a free and clear dryer sheet as well.
Stay away from fleece and flannel clothing, especially during flare ups. Fleece and flannel clothing have the tendency to stick to flare ups and make them itch more or bleed. Avoid any itchy fibers because they will exacerbate the eczema when rub against.
Food and Hydration — If you have eczema and you haven't already been tested for food allergies, you should be. They often go hand in hand. We discovered after testing that my daughter had a bad egg allergy. As we eliminated egg from her diet she had fewer flare ups.
One of the best ways to combat eczema is from the inside out, Make sure to stay very hydrated, which will in turn hopefully prevent scaly patches.
Air — Run humidifiers all year long, but especially in the drier months. Consider your sources of dander in your house. Keep your pets clean and groomed. I would actually LOVE to one day replace all our carpets with hardwoods to prevent as much dander as possible.
Sun Protection — Sun protection has been a continuous concern in our house. Many sunscreens irritate my daughter's extremely sensitive skin, but not using anything isn't an option. There have been many times she has cried while I applied her sunscreen. Luckily we have found things that help. We try to limit sun exposure when the sun's rays are the strongest, which is usually between 10am and 2pm, but that isn't always possible because we LOVE to spend time at the splash pad and we actually have season passes to our local water park.
I recommend using a rash guard and board shorts instead of small swim suits when possible, and to use one of the five Neutrogena sunscreen products that have been awarded The National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance.
For general application we love Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen because it is a Broad Spectrum SPF 60 + (Broad Spectrum means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays), it is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, and 100% naturally sourced. It is fantastic on my daughter's sensitive skin and I have even used it to protect flare ups without any tears. We make sure to apply at least 15 minutes before going in the sun and reapply every hour and fifteen minutes with great success.
For her face we use Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunscreen. It is also a broad spectrum 60+ SPF that comes in a stick and is absolutely perfect for applying to face and ears without getting anything into the eyes. It is also 100% naturally sourced and won't run into eyes. I personally use the Neutrogena Pure and Free Liquid for my face because it layers under my makeup so well.
Although 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, only 20% of people use a sunscreen daily. Problems with skin cancer run in my husband's family so I am careful to apply and reapply sunscreen when we are outside. I love that I have a sunscreen that not only protects my children, but doesn't aggravate our daughter's eczema either. Try the sunscreen out for yourself and then write Neutrogena website about your experience.
You can find more about the protects that have been given the Seal of Acceptance here.