How To Help Young Children with Eczema
The biggest problem with eczema in young children is dryness.
And the secret is to keep moisturizing.
One of the worst discomforts that comes with eczema in children is the itchiness and how this makes them want to scratch - and to keep on scratching until the skin bleeds. At times the itch can become almost unbearable causing a child to want to scratch constantly (especially at night) and thereby interfering with their sleep.
Atopic eczema in young children
If a child has moderate to severe atopic eczema, they may have red patches of skin (inflammation) and scratch until their skin bleeds. However, since the skin is very dry, it can also crack and bleed of its own accord. Any cracked, raw or bleeding areas are especially vulnerable to infection.
Eczema is the name given to a group of conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated. Sadly, it is all too common in young children with some 20% being affected.
And adding to parents' concern is the fact that all the toxic chemicals and other environmental issues are mostly why this figure is set to rise worldwide (particularly in industrialized countries) causing itchiness, pain and other discomfort so that our young children's quality of life is affected.
Eczema will often start in young babies
Baby eczema is a condition that is chronic and needs to be managed carefully because it can flare up regularly. Parents need to be careful about what is applied to baby skin while remembering that the skin is the largest organ and everything gets absorbed firstly into the skin and then into the blood stream.
There are ways to help babies and young children in a more natural way
- A change of diet from one that is full of processed, convenience foods, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, artificial additives and colorings to a natural whole foods one (organic where possible) is the first important step to take. We know that this cannot be achieved overnight and especially if a child has already developed less then healthy tastes.
- At the same time, it can be very helpful to change your child’s diet to a gluten-free one. This could be the ultimate solution.
- Milk and other dairy products can irritate the immune system in many children so think about changing to non dairy such as coconut oil in place of butter and almond or rice milk instead of regular milk. Do not use soy milk with its estrogen because this can itself cause skin problems.
- The virgin coconut oil mentioned is also helpful to nourish and moisturize dry eczema skin as well as to consume with its high fatty acids and high lauric acid content.
- Provide breast milk for as long as possible for your baby but, in between, drinking water from a safe, filtered source with no fluoride will help to keep the skin hydrated and the immune system strong.
- Additional supplementing with zinc, B complex and fish oils can help your child’s dry, itchy skin from the inside out.
- Vitamin D comes up again and again but research tells us that the lower the vitamin D level, the worse the eczema. If your child has eczema, start giving them vitamin D3, about 1,000 IU for every 25 pounds of body weight in line with the recommendations by the Vitamin D Council.
- Environmental issues can play a huge role in worsening eczema symptoms. These can be ones that you have no control over such as extremes of weather – heat, dryness, cold, wind – or it can be toxins in the home such as cleaning products, artificial fragrances and many more.
- Fabrics such as wool (even though this is a natural product) or synthetic items can cause aggravation too. Apart from wool, work on changing to an "all natural" home.
- Keeping your young child's skin moisturized can be an ongoing battle but there are two bathing routines which work well for children: 1. Use warm water that has been slightly infused with bentonite clay. 2. Add 2 cups of colloidal oatmeal (such as Aveeno) to the bath tub with lukewarm water, and even use oatmeal as a soap substitute by wrapping some colloidal oatmeal in a handkerchief before placing a rubber band around the top, wetting it, wringing it out and using as you would a normal washcloth.
- After any bathing, just pat the skin dry without any rubbing and add a natural lotion while the skin is still damp to conserve the moisture.
- Here is just such a natural lotion which you can make at home. You will need: ½ cup distilled water; ½ cup oil (almond, grapeseed or olive oil); 1 tablespoon lecithin; 6 to 8 drops geranium oil plus some Vitamin E oil (as this is a good antioxidant). Mix all these ingredients in a blender to form a thick creamy lotion which can be diluted with a little water if necessary. Store in a container ready for daily use.
- Essential oils are a very natural way to moisturize and treat a young skin and H-Eczema Formula is such an essential oils formula that is safe, gentle and successful to use for children of all ages.
Because any skin rejuvenation goes through a twenty eight day cycle, it may well take a few weeks to effect a noticeable improvement in your child’s skin. But don't become disheartened – especially if the condition gets worse first because of the elimination of toxins.
Perseverance is key.
Why does eczema occur so frequently in babies and young children?
- The skin of a child with eczema reacts abnormally to irritants, foods, dust, mites, pollen and other allergens.
- The skin also becomes vulnerable to bacterial infections.
- The skin of babies and young children is extra sensitive and therefore any treatment involving over the counter or prescription medications – ointments and creams, topical steroids and antibiotics – should be avoided because as well as being toxic, they come with their own set of unwanted side effects.
- This epidemic of eczema in general, and in babies in particular, may be as a result of our all too recent obsessive concern with keeping ourselves and our homes free of germs. The media and advertising have made us feel guilty about any possible presence of germs so all those household and personal cleaning agents filled with chemicals and toxins are adding to the toxic load.
- In addition, there is the “hygiene hypothesis” which says that by protecting children from exposure to dirt and germs, and by preventing disease from taking its full course in childhood, we are actually destroying the immune system’s ability to respond appropriately to infection and other stimuli.
There is a thin line we have to walk between on (a) sensible hygiene and (b) obsessive measures toward cleanliness, killing germs and suppressing illness.
Different children can be affected in different ways
Atopic eczema usually appears during the first few months of life, often starting on the face and scalp. It can be present on any area of the body but, in Caucasian children, it usually affects the skin creases, neck, back of knees and inside of elbows. There may also be roundish, small shaped areas of eczema, known as ‘discoid eczema’.
However, children from Asian, African or Afro-Caribbean families often have different patterns. These include eczema around the front of the knees and the back of the elbows (called the ‘reverse flexural pattern’) as well as in the creases. A papular pattern, which appears as fine bumps over the chest and tummy, is also common.
Now and in the future
We know that having a young child with eczema can take a lot of dedication, time and effort to minimize the discomfort but, by the age of three years, the number of children with baby eczema is halved while the majority of children will completely outgrow eczema by the time they reach their teen years. So there is some good news for parents.