From breastfeeding to sleep training and everything in between, parents have a lot to learn on the job when raising a child. When my son was 1 month old, my husband and I took him to our pediatrician because he had tiny red bumps on his face, arms, legs, and back that seemed to irritate him. The appointment was quick because she diagnosed him with eczema almost immediately.
I’m familiar with eczema because I’ve dealt with some level of eczema since I was a kid. I mostly just considered it an annoying skin condition, but now that my son has it too, I’ve decided to dig a bit deeper into the causes and healing remedies for it.
The spectrum for eczema is wide, meaning that a child could have a very mild case that they grow out of or they could have a more severe case that requires seeing a dermatologist. Like most things, the severity and treatment of your child’s specific case of eczema can vary, and it’s always best to start with your child’s healthcare provider.
My son is 17 months old, and my husband and I are still monitoring his eczema week-to-week. We are working closely with his pediatrician to find out what triggers him to have an eczema flare-up and what remedies seem to calm everything back down. While we don’t have clear, definitive answers to our son’s specific eczema case yet, we have found a few ways to soothe and lessen his eczema symptoms.
1. Keep skin as cool and dry as possible
Keeping our son’s eczema under control has been the hardest in the summer. Not only because of the sun exposure (we’ll get to that in a minute) but also because of all the water play. We are getting a lot of use out of blow-up pools, water tables, and sprinklers this summer. Unfortunately, keeping a kid in a wet swimsuit for long periods can quickly lead to an eczema flare-up. Excessive moisture, whether from swimming or an overly wet diaper, is one of the key things to pay attention to when regulating an eczema outbreak.
So, how do we tackle nighttime diapers or water play days? By keeping the wetness minimal.
For water play, we limit his time to a max of 30 minutes before we take off the swimsuit, dry him off, and change him into clean, dry clothes. Truthfully, this is tough because he could play in the water all day if we let him. But we’ve seen what happens when we let it go on a bit longer, so we try to distract him with another fun activity.
When it comes to wet diapers, especially through the night, we’ve had to do a lot of trial and error to find our solution. Not only were the wet diapers creating moisture in private areas, but if he leaked through to his clothes, it could cause a breakout on his legs, stomach, or back. Thankfully, we found a diaper that has truly solved our issue completely because it is extremely absorbent and he no longer wakes up with wet clothes.
2. Limit sun exposure
The sun is another major culprit of eczema breakouts. While vitamin D is good for many things, for people who deal with skin inflammation like eczema, their exposure to the sun should be minimal. Again, it is best to keep the skin cool and dry. This is especially important for any creases of the body like the elbows, underarms, or behind the knees—sweat can easily gather there which adds to the issue.
Of course, it’s summertime, and kids want to be outside as often as possible. My husband and I try to take him to our backyard once the sun has passed and we have more shade than direct sun, take breaks inside, keep him hydrated, and of course, always put on sunscreen.
Another great option is to use a tent or teepee in the backyard or at the park. It gives them a place to hang out with some shade while still enjoying the great outdoors.
3. Look into dietary changes
We are still working very closely with our pediatrician to figure out if certain foods are inflaming our son’s eczema. While this may not be the case for everyone’s situation, we have noticed fewer symptoms when we’ve limited or completely removed dairy from his diet. Even I had to limit my dairy intake while breastfeeding him and saw a difference then too.
Of course, talk to your pediatrician before making any dietary changes. If my son didn’t have any eczema issues, he’d be enjoying cheese and yogurt just like other kids. But the few times we’ve removed dairy from his diet we have noticed that he has far fewer eczema breakouts overall.
Here are a few of my favorite non-dairy favorite grocery items for you to consider.
4. Use soaps, lotions, and detergents with fewer ingredients
Some baby products just smell so good, but unfortunately, products with fragrances and extra ingredients can be irritants to the skin. While there are different types of sensitive skin, it’s particularly important to use products with the cleanest ingredients on kids with eczema to limit inflammation in the skin.
Thankfully, the baby product industry has done a good job of creating a wide variety of affordable products. Here are some I’ve been using for my son:
5. Wash blankets, stuffed animals, and bedding in hot water
At our last wellness appointment with our pediatrician, we showed her a few places where our son’s eczema flared up. Since we are still eliminating dairy, she said his environment could also be causing the inflammation. She suggested blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals could house dust and dander that could cause an allergy.
While it’s unrealistic to throw all of those items away, she did recommend washing the items weekly in the hottest water possible using a clean laundry detergent. Kids like to drag their blankets and stuffed animals all over the house and sometimes even outside. Because of that, you never know what those items have picked up.
If your kiddo is dealing with eczema, I feel for you as a mom who is going through it too. It is so hard to see our kids feeling uncomfortable and itchy. All we want to do is make it stop. While there is not a one-size-fits-all remedy on how to get rid of eczema, I hope these tips will help you and your little one a bit more.