Becoming a parent is tough enough without the stress of eczema.
Although this unpleasant condition is quite common among babies and small children (around one in five children in the UK have eczema), when you see it in your own little one it can be so distressing.
When my youngest was born I knew very little about eczema and how to treat it. Now 20 months later I feel like a bit of an expert, having been through a lot of GP appointments and treatment plans trying to find a way to make her better.
Her eczema was worse on the backs of her knees, tops of her feet, at her elbows and on her face, particularly her cheeks.
I pictured a baby with peachy skin, so seeing it marred by an angry red rash was heartbreaking. It kept her up at night and sometimes she would scratch so hard her skin would bleed.
But here we are 20 months on, and her skin is that peachy colour I had pictured. Even the stubborn patches that refused to go have cleared up. Although she still has outbreaks, it no longer upsets me quite so much, because I know what her skin needs to help it fight back.
This week is National Eczema Week, so I thought I would share with you my top tips for treating this nasty skin condition.
Find a moisturiser that works for you and use it every morning, at every nappy change and after every bath.
We love Oilatum Junior Cream, which has been developed for children and babies. It forms a protective film which moisturises, soothes, softens and rehydrates the skin. My daughter’s skin feels beautifully moisturised after using it.
2. Find a bathing routine that works
I had to bathe my two children separately during the first year of my youngest’s life, because I couldn’t use bubble baths with her (and my eldest couldn’t cope without bubbles in her bath!).
I found bathing her every other day and using a soothing treatment in the water was key. I used either Oilatum Junior Bath Additive, which turns the bath a lovely milky colour and helps ensure the water isn’t drying out your baby’s skin, or I sometimes used oats! I would pop some oats into a pair of tights, tie a knot and then chuck it into the bath. This made the water almost creamy!
Immediately after bathing I would apply a generous amount of moisturiser everywhere, and I tried not to let the baths go on for too long so as not to dry out her skin.
3. Consult a doctor
Some patches of stubborn eczema need a little extra help to go away. We used some steroid cream on the really bad patches and then our normal moisturiser to control it once these flare-ups had calmed down.
A doctor may also discuss whether a food or other allergy is triggering the eczema.
We did cut dairy and various other items out of my daughter’s diet to see if this made a difference and it never did. For us it was a matter of keeping her skin moisturised and waiting for her to grow out of it.
4. Use scratch mitts
My daughter suffered terribly with the itchiness. Even though I tried to keep her nails short, she still managed to break the skin as she was scratching so much.
I found some scratch mitts that she couldn’t remove herself and put these on her overnight.
5. Keep that skin moisturised
Even though the worst of the eczema has cleared up, I stick to a bathing and moisturising routine that works for us.
I do allow my daughter to have bubble baths, but I make sure she isn’t in there too long and I moisturise her the second I’ve towel dried her skin.
If her skin is feeling a little dry in places, I will moisturise those areas during nappy changes for a couple of days. Otherwise I moisturise her skin once a day and we haven’t seen a nasty eczema outbreak in several months.
6. Check your washing detergent
This can impact on eczema-prone skin, so pick a detergent that is specifically for sensitive skin.
Your child may react to detergents used on bed sheets and their clothes, so make sure you use a sensitive one on any fabrics they will come into contact with.
You may find you need to try a few brands before finding the right one.
7. It WILL get better
Some days it might feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. You are moisturising at every opportunity and yet the rash just will not go away.
Know that it will get better and you are doing your absolute best to help your child.
Does your child have eczema? What products or tips have helped you?
This is a collaborative post with Oilatum.