May 13th – 19th is Eczema Awareness Week, and to coincide with this amazing initiative, we wanted to provide some useful information about managing your child’s eczema, including which products are the best to use when treating children with eczema. Eczema is actually very common amongst Australians, with the Eczema Association of Australia revealing that one in three are affected by this skin condition during some period in their lives.
We asked Cheryl Talent, President of the Eczema Association of Australasia (who personally suffers from eczema), to answer our questions and give us more insight on the best way to manage your child’s eczema.
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What causes eczema?
According to Cheryl, “most people with eczema have a genetic predisposition which means a family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever.” She explained that with children, if one parent has eczema they have a 50% chance of developing it. If both parents have it, children can have an 80% chance of developing eczema. “However, you can also come into contact with something you react to and develop eczema as an allergic reaction.,” she says. “It is hopeful that ongoing research will eventually give an exact cause as to why people develop this debilitating skin condition.” If you suffer from eczema, you may notice that you’re more sensitive to other allergens such as food and the environment.
What is the difference between child and adult eczema?
“Often babies develop eczema when the inbuilt maternal protection they are born with wears off and, coincidentally, they start teething which often makes saliva and urine quite acidic and can burn their sensitive skin.” explains Cheryl. Combine this with the onset of crawling and walking, and they will encounter all sorts of allergens that can cause reactions. With adult eczema, Cheryl says that it’s more triggered by lifestyle and environment factors. Stress can be a trigger for eczema and can exacerbate a flare up.
What is the best way to manage your child’s eczema?
Cheryl explains that there is not one overall treatment for all sufferers of eczema, however, good management is key. “This includes using topical treatments such as steroid creams to reduce inflammation and keeping the skin barrier hydrated with a good quality moisturiser. Knowing your triggers and working to avoid them can also be helpful.” she says.
What skincare products do you recommend for child eczema?
“Changing to daily use of soap-free products including those for washing hair, body and clothes, as well as frequent application of moisturiser to rehydrate skin will hopefully get a handle on the itching.” advises Cheryl. Stick to hypoallergenic products that are specifically designed for sensitive skin.
She emphasises that the upcoming winter season is a particularly difficult time for sufferers of eczema due to the drier air which causes our skin to dry out. “We often advise people at this time of the year to significantly up their use of moisturiser and maybe switch from a lotion to a cream or from a cream to an ointment for longer-lasting moisturisation.”
How do we tend to child’s inflamed skin?
“Winter is a great time of year to make an appointment with your health professional or specialist and review your eczema management plan or look at treatment options – you may need to use a stronger steroid cream for a short period of time to get a flare under control.” she says.
What effective ingredients should parents look for in moisturiser and skincare to manage child eczema?
Cheryl suggests trying colloidal oatmeal which is a natural anti-inflammatory and assists with itchy, inflamed skin. When applied topically, it can help to attract moisture to the skin to form a protective barrier.” She advises that although there are a plenty of products with colloidal oatmeal available, you should always do a patch test first and leave for 24 hours to make sure it’s suitable for your child’s skin.
Is there any way to lessen or prevent eczema?
With the number of children who suffer from eczema rising, it’s important to look at ways we can lessen or prevent flare-ups from occurring in the first place. Cheryl says that the rapid increase of sufferers can be linked to lifestyle, nutritional, hygiene and genetic factors. So, what can we do? “New studies have found that pregnant women who take probiotics can reduce their child’s risk of developing eczema.”
Do you have any products or tips that you swear by for treating eczema?