Guest Post by Mem and Maeve
For many children, the winter months result in an increase in dry skin and a surge in their eczema flare ups. Generally speaking, Miss 3’s eczema is much worse in summer – she suffers from hot eczema. However as she gets older, her eczema seems to be more persistent and is lingering into the cooler months.
For children with eczema, their skin barrier does not work as well as it should. This means that their skin is unable to hold in moisture and dries out much faster, becoming itchy and irritable. Whilst eczema is not curable, symptom management can significantly minimise the impact it has on your child’s everyday life.
Here are 7 easy tips for helping your sensitive skinned little one get through the winter with minimal discomfort:
Wet Wrapping involves moisturising your child’s skin and wrapping affected areas with wet bandages. When Miss 3’s sleep is disrupted due to her relentless scratching, wet wrapping is my first go to treatment. It is the ABSOLUTE best method for reducing the itch, thereby preventing further damage and allowing your baby’s skin time to heal. It also helps everyone to get some precious sleep!
Keep their nails short
It sounds like a no-brainer but it is something that is easily forgotten. Many times I have failed to check, then BAM! I look, only to find my daughter has claws! Keep ‘em short to minimise skin damage, reduce the risk of infection and promote healing of the skin.
I literally carry little tubs and tubes of moisturiser everywhere. I have them in the nappy bag, in my handbag, in my glove box, next to my bed and hers - EVERYWHERE. I know you’ve probably heard this a million times, but regular moisturising is key. Beg, bribe, do whatever works to get your child to sit still at least twice a day to be moisturised. When Miss 3 was younger, it was a simple part of our routine each morning and after her evening bath. Now I use any distraction possible, sometimes even sneaking in to moisturise her once she’s asleep!
The right clothing
100% organic cotton clothing is the best option for little ones with sensitive skin. Making sure they are comfortable is important- watch out for rough seams and edges, or scratchy labels, as they may further irritate the skin. Choose clothing that allows the skin to breathe, is soft and loose fitting, to minimise the risk of flare ups. Avoid rough fabrics like wool, which are known to further irritate the skin.
Scratch protective eczema clothing made a massive difference in our lives, and we still use it for Miss 3 today. The attached mittens in this specialised clothing help prevent scratching, thereby reducing the risk of further skin damage and allowing the skin time to heal.
The right bedding
100% hypoallergenic bedding is a must. Miss 3 has a nasty dust mite allergy, which only exacerbates her itch at night. To combat this, she has a dust mite cover on her mattress and her pillow. I also make sure her linen is washed in hot water each week. If your little one is still in a sleeping bag, the same rule applies.
Check our range of organic cotton and bamboo bedding for the family - our favourites are Elkie + Ark and Ettitude.
Heat is the most common trigger for eczema. My little eczema lady gets overheated so quickly, and as soon as she starts to feel warm, she starts to scratch. Our immunologist has always advised us to “heat the room not the child”. Sometimes that is easier said than done. I tend to have an urge to rug my girls up like snug little bugs, especially before I send them off to bed. I am slowly learning to resist! Overdressing can exacerbate eczema symptoms, one to two layers of cotton clothing is usually sufficient. We live in a cool climate without central heating, so I have invested in a ceramic heater. I use it to heat the bedroom before I tuck my daughter into bed at night. The heater is also set to come on when the room drops below a certain temperature. This means I don’t have to pile on the blankets, sticking to just her cotton pyjamas and a hypoallergenic doona.
Natural Remedies (and antihistamines)
Sig's note: As with everything prevention is the best cure. While there are so many topical treatments out there, it is also important to address the underlying problem, specifically: diet and lifestyle factors that were causing/contributing to the eczema to begin with.
Some natural ways to help manage eczema include:
- Coconut oil - yep the miracle oil (It is one of the things that would absolutely be on my list in a you-are-going-to-an-island-and-can-only-bring-five-things type situation. )
- Magnesium Baths/oils - the detoxing effects of magnesium can be helpful in skin healing.
- Essential oils - I've used successfully a combination of pure lavender, tea-tree and geranium essential oils, diluted with coconut oil and applied topically on the area.
- Probiotics - A good quality probiotic isone supplement that seems to make a noticeable difference with skin health (if the problem is diet/gut related)
However, while I always try my best to keep Miss 3’s eczema under control, no matter how vigilant I am - using the right detergents, avoiding known allergens, keeping her well hydrated, moisturising daily - these measures don't always provide a cure. Instead, they can help reduce the severity and frequency of flare ups.
Whilst antihistamine medications are not always successful in reducing eczema itch, they may help relieve the itchy symptoms of an allergic reaction. Minimising known triggers is important for reducing symptoms and allowing your little one to have a peaceful night’s sleep.
I hope you find these tips and tricks help you and your little one get through the winter with minimal discomfort.
Love & happiness,
The Mem & Maeve team
Mem & Maeve is an Australian online store specialising in products for babies and children with allergies. The inspiration behind our store is our own children, some of who are living with food allergies, sensitivities, eczema, and asthma. Over the years we have found it difficult to source hypoallergenic products for our girls that were both affordable and fashionable. Here at Mem & Maeve it is our mission to provide you with products that are allergy friendly while still appealing to a modern aesthetic.
**Disclaimer: Information provided in this post is only based on experience and should not replace the advice you have been given from a medical professional and if you are at all worried about your child, take them to see your family doctor.
How can using a symptom tracker help my child?
When you're a first time mum (or even a more experience one!) - there are times when you have no idea what is wrong with your child. There are symptoms after symptoms and you know they are having a reaction to something - but can't figure it out.
Mem and Maeve have created a free downloadable Symptom Tracker that allows you to create a detailed running record of your observations and child’s symptoms, information all in the one place that you can then take to your health care professional to help narrow down the list of possible triggers.
Download it here.