Coping with childhood eczema: 5 top tips
Eczema Advice for families from the founder of Eczema Outreach Scotland.
The best treatment plan is one that you fully understand and can follow on a daily basis, from skin care maintenance to dealing with flares.
Clarity is key: Ask your healthcare professional for a clear daily schedule of treatments, with information on the purpose of each cream and explore different scenarios.
Know the basics: Emollient therapy (thick moisturisers) is your best friend when it comes to treating eczema. In the bath, avoid soap, perfume and bubbles (add toys) and when treating flares, topical steroids are effective and safe when applied appropriately (use the “fingertip unit” method).
Know your triggers and avoid them: Have you thought of keeping a record of environments or foods which exacerbate your child’s eczema? Common triggers are: house dust mite, cat hair, heat, certain foods… Remember to take photos too for your clinics.
Try different creams and garments: One size doesn’t fit all in terms of dermatology treatments. Don’t be afraid to try different types of emollient or soap substitutes on prescription. The best cream is the one your child will let you use!
Beware of miracle cures and privately sold products: Always assess the risks and benefits of a product, based on its ingredients, the trials it was subjected to and your clinicians’ advice.
Let your child take some responsibility for their own skin care.
Before 5 years of age your child may become your little helper. Some useful tools are sticker charts, distraction toys or massage techniques during treatments.
Between 5 and 12 is the time to start giving your child a more significant role in looking after their skin, especially for sleepovers or residential trips. Discuss your child’s eczema and the importance of treatments as a family to build their confidence.
Teens and young people need to take control of their own care, however it is sometimes a matter of mum and dad letting go too! Trust and guide your teen in this crucial transition period and make sure the basics are in place, including their emotional well-being, which can significantly be affected by eczema as well.
A support network is a group for people who understand what you are going through, share ideas and pick you up when things are tough.
Dealing with eczema can be isolating and frustrating. Your supporters may be:
- Family and friends who show understanding and give encouragement
- Charities such as Eczema Outreach Scotland, an organisation dedicated to support and empower families of children with eczema in Scotland. Visit www.eczemaoutreachscotland.org.uk to know more.
- A local or national support group: some meet in person and others online, such as the Eczema Outreach Scotland’s closed facebook group or open forums such as Talkhealth.
Eczema at school - set up an official healthcare plan with the teacher and head-teacher to ensure your child’s needs are met during school hours.
A few topics to discuss and agree on could be:
Skin care: does your child need their creams applied at lunch time by a member of staff?
Managing triggers and solutions in the classroom and on trips.
Emotional and learning needs: help the teacher understand that some days, your child may be tired, distracted, itchy or feeling low, because of their eczema.
Educating peers: fight bullying by raising awareness of eczema in your child’s school.
Find a GP or nurse with a special interest in dermatology near you, if you can.
Their extra knowledge and experience will be of great value. If your child’s condition is not improving or worsening, your GP should refer you to a consultant, and remember that you can also speak to a hospital dermatology nurse for advice.