Living with Eczema
I know many parents have little ones who suffer with eczema and they struggle to find ways to sooth their little ones. I wanted to write a blog about my own eczema journey and to talk about what worked for me.
I have suffered with eczema all my life. I do my best to hide it. I am so self-conscious and unfortunately because of this I do not have any images of my condition.
One of my earliest memories was when the back of my legs were so inflamed and scabbed over that the only way I could straighten them was by having a bath. As a child my mother was back and forth to the hospital with me finding out what the triggers were. It turned out my triggers were:
House dust mites
There were many times when our nightly routine would be a bath, creaming myself up and then being bandaged more tightly than an Egyptian Pharaoh. To this day I experience flare ups if certain things change. For example, if someone washed my clothes using anything other than Fairy Non Bio I would have a severe flare up instantly. I also must be so cautious with my make-up brands. Some brands have talcum powder which my skin reacts badly to. I tend to only use brands such as Clinique and Charlotte Tilbury. They are more expensive, but they do avoid a horrible flare up. I still remember being 14 and having a flare up and not wanting to attend school until it had calmed down.
My biggest flare up came during my pregnancy. My skin was red raw and I was in constant pain. I tried everything from red-bush tea baths, avoiding baths all together, only wearing cotton, restricting dairy intake. Nothing worked. I was in pain and I was also very very self-conscious. You would struggle to find many pictures of my during my pregnancy. The Doctors thought it would ease after birth but it did not. I ended up being on steroids for around two years on and off. The steroid creams did nothing and my mental health was deteriorating as I felt ‘disgusting.’ In the end I was referred to the Hospital where I received Phototherapy for 6 months. I have to say this was the best thing to happen. Since receiving the treatment I have had flareups but not to the extent I was suffering with.
These are not medical based so please always seek advice from your GP.
Bed sheets be washed weekly at 60 degrees. Also make sure the bed sheets are not bobbily – personally I find this really itches my skin.
Monitor the detergent that you use. If your child has recently been diagnosed with eczema monitor what detergent, you use. The National Eczema Organisation recommends ECOS Free & Clear laundry detergent. Personally, I have not tried this and I am too scared to change my brand and risk a flare up.
Keep their nails short and not sharp at the edges as often you scratch when asleep.
Avoid bubble bath and strong shampoos and conditioners. I personally can only use Aveeno Bath wash but I have heard great things about Child’s Farm.
Keep your house clear from dust. If I touch something dusty again I start itching.
Some people react to food. Seek advice from your Doctor as to whether they think their could be a correlation because eczema flare ups and food. I have kept a food diary on and off for years and personally have not found a link but know others who have.
Keep returning to your Doctor. There is then a record of the troubles and can help build a case to see a Dermatologist or receive Phototherapy.
Monitor the creams you are being offered. I can only use Aveeno moisturiser. My grandmother is allergic to Paraffin which is often in many creams. This is very rare but if you think something is wrong seek advice from your Doctor.
Try and avoid shouting at your children to not scratch. Explain the reasons as to why they should rub. Distract them. Check whether they are too hot and try and cool them down. Run cold water over them. To this day I hate when people tell me not to scratch, often reminding them of how they felt when they had chickenpox.
I find bathing every other day or just showering can help when I am experiencing a flare up. I think it helps my skin build up the moisture it lacks. I would recommend trying this where possible.
Soft clothes. I am so fussy on the fabrics that I wear - anything that is woolen makes me itch. Ask your child how the clothes feel. Soft cotton is often recommended and I would agree. I also can’t wear my clothes if they go bobbily. If you child is complaining about the clothes being itchy they are probably right.
Let the skin breath. If you have a baby I would recommend keeping them in their cotton vests at home when it is warm and keeping them cool. My eczema doesn’t cope well in heat.
The NHS has detailed advice page where you can see the variety of treatments available.