Eczema & Is There A Link To That Daily Bath?
In the distant past, people (however wealthy) did not make a habit of having regular baths or showers. It was only in the middle of the twentieth century that bathrooms and shower rooms started to become so popular and now, over sixty years later, most in the Western world would not dream of going without their daily shower. In the same way, babies and children are bathed just about every day of their young lives - often for the sake of routine, a source of entertainment before bedtime and with the hope that they will be calm and relaxed to settle down to sleep.
But have we gone too far in this quest for perfect cleanliness?
Skin conditions are on the rise and especially eczema. Some parents of children with eczema have made the connection between a nightly bath and the appearance of rough, itchy patches of skin on their bodies.
Parents of children with eczema make these suggestions
- Bathing only once a week in lukewarm water with no soap but using Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream three times a day.
- Bathing every other day in a lukewarm oatmeal bath and on alternate days, using Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash with oatmeal.
- Bathing children when they’re dirty - usually meaning about 2 to 3 baths a week. One bath each week is for washing hair and body with natural soap/shampoo while the other 1 to 2 baths are just with oatmeal milk or herbal bath bombs not only to clean their skin but to nourish it at the same time.
Two of the main problems with frequent bathing of children
1. It is drying to the skin.
2. It decreases the natural bacteria count.
If you are giving your children daily baths with a soap that is not mild nor gentle and water that is too hot, many of the natural oils in the skin are eliminated. This is especially harmful for those who suffer from eczema because their skin easily becomes too dry. The skin can become too clean. It needs to stay at a certain pH level in order to protect itself and the body from infections.
Washing too often removes much of the surface bacteria that keeps the skin's pH constant. It is obvious that we do need cleanliness to prevent infection and death, especially in hospitals and surgical theaters.
But should we be applying those same rules to our healthy children in their every day life? As for smothering them in hand sanitizers at every opportunity, even the FDA has recently discovered that antibacterial products are no more effective than regular soap and water. This will not please that profitable industry that spends a lot of time, money and energy in advertising the importance of killing all germs wherever they may be.
If you decide that it is in your own child's interest to forgo the daily bath, what can you do instead on non bath days to fill in that routine half hour and ensure a relaxing bedtime?
Here are some suggestions
1. A bedtime massage will be enjoyed by young children and is good both for their skin and their mood. Use a natural oil, cream or lotion to massage into the skin before putting on their night clothes.
2. A bedtime chat or a bedtime story.
3. Finally, if your child is 4 years and over, put a couple of drops of Sleep Aid Formula on a damp washcloth and place it next to their bed. The vapors will slowly release into the air, gently and safely, as they sleep.
What is eczema?
This chronic itchy skin condition usually starts within the first five years of life, most often in the first six months, typically lasting into childhood and even adolescence. There are times when the skin appears only mildly affected while, during other periods, it is moderately to severely affected.
Eczema tends to be more common in families that have a history of eczema, hay fever and asthma - all a part of what is called the “atopic triad.” While children with eczema are more likely to develop allergies or asthma, one does not cause the other.
Apart from the bathing suggestions above, and more information in earlier posts on diet and moisturizing, using our own H-Eczema Formula as directed will work gently with your child's body to heal his or her symptoms without the adverse effects that other harsh eczema remedies (containing chemicals and other harmful ingredients) can bring.
Complementary and alternative treatments. (n.d.)
nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/complementary-and-alternative/ (Accessed July 20, 2021).
eczema.org/contact (Accessed July 20, 2021).
Nummular dermatitis. (n.d.).
aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/nummular-dermatitis (Accessed July 20, 2021).
Oakley A, et al. (2016). Allergic contact dermatitis. (n.d.).
dermnetnz.org/topics/allergic-contact-dermatitis/ (Accessed July 20, 2021).