Perhaps the greatest gift you can give your child, not to mention yourself, is a feeling of control over this condition. Like Superman or Wonder Woman, your child can be the boss of eczema with a good plan. Sit down with your little itchy scratcher and together make a plan for how your Super Team will vanquish the worst parts of eczema. I'm providing a sample, but if your child feels that every doctor's visit should be followed by a trip to the ice cream store, make sure you write that down, too!
1. Start with a visit to the doctor.
- Be prepared to answer questions about your family's medical history. Recall the first time you noticed eczema symptoms in your child, and if the flare-ups seem to be predictable in any way, like being more common in winter than in summer. Also, be prepared to discuss all the allergies or sensitivities that you may have noticed in your child. Prepare a list of medications that your little one is currently taking. You should also list medications that have been tried previously, but have not helped your child's eczema.
- Bring a list of questions, both yours and your child's, to ask the doctor. Some good questions might be: "Is medication appropriate?" "What medical options are there?" "Is one kind of soap or detergent better for people with eczema?"
- Let the doctor know that you and your child intend to stay active in your control of eczema and you'll be checking in regularly with him or her.
- Remember, while children often outgrow eczema, there is no cure; so all members of the team have to be prepared to stay on top of it. It's not something to be diagnosed once and never checked again.
2. Clean out your child's closet.
- All sorts of irritating and rough clothing can trigger eczema, as my daughter let me know from the time she could slip out of a shirt alone. Some kids are sensitive to wool, latex, or the polyester thread used in tags. Cut out all labels and try to buy clothes without exposed elastic. As for spandex, leave it in the '70s where it belongs.
- Just as we mothers always suspected, cotton clothes are the best, in all seasons. Layer clothing in colder weather so that your child stays warm, but doesn't feel like she's wearing a sauna suit. Just remember, for safety reasons, children's pajamas must be flame retardant, so if you pick all-cotton loungewear for them to sleep in, it will not have that protection.
- Ruffles and tight waistbands can also aggravate sensitive skin.
3. Make some simple changes to your child's room.
- Turn down the thermostat to a comfortable level in wintertime and add another cotton blanket to the bed. Overheated rooms can be overly dry and over-dry rooms can cause kids to have itchy skin.
- Consider moving the stuffed animal collection to the playroom or into storage (just keeping the most precious ones around). Stuffed animals hold massive amounts of dust that can be a trigger.
- Invest in a humidifier. Hey, if supermodels can't live without them, why should your little angel? It's that dry skin thing again.