Caring for a baby or child with eczema can be challenging not only for the sufferer, but for the whole family. According to The Australasian College of Dermatologists, about 30% of Australian and New Zealand babies and children live with atopic eczema. It negatively impacts their sleep, healthy development and self-esteem; restricts activities; not to mention the broader effects on the whole family. Careful management is key, and you’ll need to take a multifaceted approach and use optimal skincare practices.
But first, let’s bust two common myths about eczema:
Myth 1: Aqueous Cream is Best
Aqueous cream is a non-greasy emollient or moisturiser, most widely prescribed for the treatment of dry skin conditions and eczema. But according to the results of a UK study published in the British Journal of Dermatology and reported on New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, aqueous cream can irritate the inflamed skin even more. When used as a leave-on emollient, it actually damages the skin’s protective structure, resulting in increased water loss through the skin, ironically making it even more prone to eczema.
Myth 2: Topical Steroid Cream Has Limited Side Effects
Topical steroid creams and ointments are still the first-line treatment for infected eczema – reducing inflammation and itchiness in the skin. But they come with their own list of potentially harmful side effects, particularly when used long-term, including: thinning of the skin, bruising, permanent stretch marks, discolouration, thin spidery veins, and causing or worsening other skin conditions [source]. The key is to use steroid creams in the lowest dose to clear the flare-up, and in a short course (less than four weeks).
MANAGEMENT OF CHILDHOOD ECZEMA
Identifying triggers is key for eczema sufferers. Here are some common irritants and how to deal with them:
- Sweat - maintain a cool indoor temperature to prevent sweating. Regularly check your child’s skin and stick to breathable natural fibre clothing (cotton/merino are ideal).
- Pet hair and dander - avoid keeping hairy pets or try to minimise direct contact with your child.
- Dust mites and mould – vacuum, vacuum, vacuum!
- Soap and perfumed cleansing agents – harsh chemicals, like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and fragrances are the most common irritants to atopic eczema in our kids. As identifying these ingredients can be time-consuming, choosing a certified natural product, like our Baby Shampoo & Body Wash, is the easiest option.
The first step to managing dry, itchy skin is actually prevention. Use a mild cleansing product and lukewarm water to bathe your child, so their skin’s natural oils aren’t stripped. Then apply moisturiser while their skin is still damp – helping lock in that precious moisture. Continue to apply moisturiser that replenishes the skin barrier consistently and liberally throughout the day. Watch this video prepared by Kids Health New Zealand on how to care for eczema using moisturisers.
It’s vital to choose a moisturiser free of harsh chemicals or fragrances that may irritate the skin, like our 100% certified natural Baby Cream. Its airless pump bottle will also stop your fingers from spreading bacteria in the product – a good practice recommended by The National Eczema Association.
If your child’s skin is very dry, consider applying our 100% certified organic Baby Massage Oil or Baby Balm three minutes prior to the cream, to lock in even more moisture, creating that lovely healthy skin barrier. Natural ingredients like calendula and sunflower oils soothe the sensitive skin and any redness.
Caring for your child suffering from eczema can be challenging, but with careful management you will help your child through, in the most natural of ways.