Eczema causes and treatment

My 2 year old has eczema… it is a nightmare to watch him suffer. What can I do?

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) is the most common skin condition in children under 5. It’s an itchy rash that gets worse when scratched or rubbed. The majority of cases develop during the first year and most often affects children with a family history of allergies.

Medical help is essential and treatment usually includes antibiotics and steroid creams for inflammation as well as antihistamines for itching which helps with sleeping at night. If a food allergy is suspected then food testing and an elimination diet is recommended. Dairy and eggs are often the most common food culprits but not always; followed by soy, wheat, peanuts and fish. A recent study shows that vitamin C can be helpful, but check with your doctor.

In the meantime here are some things you can do to alleviate your toddler’s symptoms.

1. Prevent scratching by clipping your toddler’s nails very short.

2. Reduce baths to no more than 5 minutes; avoid very hot baths. Don’t use soap on the affected area. Try using a mild cleanser (Dove or Neutrogena). Long baths causes the skin to dehydrate and prune, which disturbs the moisture layer of the skin. Avoid rubbing the skin and pat dry. Apply a doctor recommended moisturiser after the bath. (Do not use vegetable fats or oils).

3. Add a soothing colloidal oatmeal bath product to the bath water or make your own, see below.

4. During a flare-up apply cool compresses, and then moisturise.

5. Choose cotton organic clothes for softness and breathability, rather than wool or synthetics.

6. Be scrupulously hygienic to avoid the open sores from becoming infected. Ensure that any caregiver at school or otherwise is advised of the extra need for hygiene.

7. Wash clothes with a soap based product ie a non bio detergent.

8. Use a humidifier to moisturise the air in the room where he sleeps. Reduce situations which cause sweating.

Make your own oatmeal bath.
For toddlers use 1 cup oatmeal (any oats, quick or slow). For babies 1/3 cup.

Blend the oats on the highest setting in a food blender until powder fine. To test whether fine enough, stir 1 tablespoon of the fine oats into a glass of warm water. The oats should readily absorb into the water which then becomes milky and feels silky. If not, continue blending.

Sprinkle the oatmeal into the bath while the tap is still running and swirl around with your hand. Break up any clumps. Note; the oatmeal colloid will make the bath slippery, so support your child so that he doesn’t slip. Bath for 5 minutes. Pat dry with a soft towel. +27 (0)81 885 4683 

*Important : The information provided is for information purposes only. No medical diagnosis or prescription can be inferred or is implied. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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