Eczema is a frustrating skin condition that many children have. Eczema causes dry, red, itchy skin that gets better or worse no matter what you do! During an eczema flare, almost anything will worsen the eczema, including scratching. Of all the things that we can offer, the most important step in controlling your child’s eczema is hydration; adding back the moisture your child’s dry, sensitive skin needs. Hydrate and moisturize is your mantra.
5 Rules of thumb:
- Bathe one to two times (during a flare) daily; soak in a tub of warm water for 10 – 15 minutes using a mild soap or cleanser like Cetaphil Cleanser. If the water burns, add oatmeal powder or baking soda
- Within five minutes of exiting tub; pat dry and apply moisturizer to wet skin
- Moisturize frequently. Use a moisturizer that does not have a pump; that means it is thick. We like Eucerin, Aquaphor and Cetaphil. Beware of fragrances, coloring, anti-itch additives, aloe, food or plant additives, especially during a flare. For infants, I suggest creating a new routine by pairing diaper changes with application of the moisturizer all over the body, which assures frequent applications.
- Use an oral antihistamine like Benadryl or Zyrtec in order stop the itch/scratch/itch cycle. Do not use Benadryl cream because it may irritate your child’s skin, and you may accidentally overdose your child because you don’t know how much is absorbed.
- If the above doesn’t work, consider adding a steroid cream like hydrocortisone 1% twice daily prior to moisturizing. It is important to use steroids for the least amount of time necessary. Do not use them for longer than 2 weeks because of side effects like skin thinning, bleaching, easy bruising and stretch marks.
If all else fails, consider bleach baths or wet wraps to be discussed in my next blog.