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By Dr. Peter Lio (bio below)
1. Stop the Itch-Scratch Cycle
One of my favorite techniques to help a child stop scratching is to do a “Skin Reset”. The idea is that if the itch-scratch cycle is getting out of control, you can hit the “reset” button by doing the following:
- Give a short bath or shower in lukewarm water. Learn about natural bathing suggestions in Finding Eczema Relief: Bleach Bath Alternatives.
- Gently pat dry and then immediately apply their medication (if necessary) followed by a liberal amount of moisturizer.
This is a powerful way to help wash off any allergens and irritants that may be worsening things, helps to super-hydrate the skin.
ScratchMeNot flip mitten sleeves are also a helpful tool for parents managing eczema in children. These scratch mittens for babies with eczema aid in preventing children up to 6 years old from scratching their skin. I recommend ScratchMeNot for nighttime use as they could potentially affect motor development if used too often during the day.
2. Use Wet Wraps Like A Pro
Wet wraps can be tough and a lot of work. A good tip is to remember “local” wraps. If it’s just elbows and knees, you can take an old (but clean!) cotton sock and cut off the toe part so you have a tube-shape. Or try WrapESoothe bands for children and adults made of cooling eucalyptus fiber. You can then apply the medication to the area, get the tube or sleeve damp, and apply that to the local areas. This makes it far less messy and difficult and feels great. A big part of the wet wrap is the cooling sensation from the evaporation and this works just as well locally. Try Cotton Comfort pjs as the dry layer.
For more information, check out What Is Wet Wrap Therapy?
3. Empower Children With Eczema
I think that eczema can really hurt someone’s self esteem, so we need to call upon families, friends, teachers and community leaders to help us support them and send positive feedback and messages their way. Talking with teachers at the start of the school year about the eczema and, in some cases, maybe even doing a presentation to the class about eczema, can really help with some of the teasing and exclusion that can happen with some peers. Read about Students Who Suffer From Child Eczema Have Lowered Self Esteem due to Bullying and Tools for School. There is a great Tools for Schools guide there for you to read up on.
To remind your child how amazing and strong they are and that eczema does not define him, watch The Eczema Song together.
4. Don’t Tackle Eczema Alone, Find Support
This is a huge issue–eczema affects more than just the patient and often the entire family suffers along. Support groups may sound hokey, but are an incredible resource to help deal with this and maintaining sanity. The National Eczema Association has amazing resources and a support group network around the country. Getting involved can help in so many ways, and by meeting others in the same situation, both families realize that they are not alone!
Bio: Dr. Peter Lio is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology and Pediatrics at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center and very passionate about finding safe treatments that work for eczema. Dr. Lio received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, completed his internship at Boston Children’s Hospital and his dermatology training at Harvard. He has had formal training in acupuncture under Kiiko Matsumoto and David Euler, and has held a long interest in alternative medicines. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Eczema Association. His clinical office is located at Medical Dermatology Associates of Chicago.