Research shows that 1 in 5 children are suffering with eczema in the United Kingdom, with up to 80% of eczema cases presenting before the age of 5.
Eczema is actually an umbrella term for a group of conditions that cause the skin to be irritated, itchy and red. Skin conditions that fall under this umbrella are for instance Atopic Dermatitis (a chronic inflammatory condition that is a result of the immune system overreacting to certain allergens inside and outside of the body). Contact Dermatitis – when the skin responds to a certain substance in an allergic way causing red, irritated skin – and Seborrheic Dermatitis (cradle cap).
When your little one has red and inflamed skin, it is important to understand which type of skin problem they have to know how to help them.
As the symptoms of eczema are the result of the immune-system responding disproportionally to a certain substance, allergen or even an emotional state, it is, yet, impossible to cure it. However, there are many things you can do to help manage your child’s skin:
Check the ingredient list of any skincare product you use. Unfortunately, there are brands out there who market themselves as suitable for eczema prone skin, but they still have known skin irritants in them. Ingredients such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Parfum and Paraffin can be very irritating to your child’s skin as many people tend to be allergic to it. It’s vital to patch test anything you purchase and if the skin does not react within 24-48 hours, it is ok to use. With a child’s skin being 30% thinner than adult skin, some products that you use for yourself might still be unsuitable for your child due to the skin being much more sensitive.
Turn down the heat and give your child a lukewarm bath.
Hot baths can cause the skin to lose moisture faster than cooler alternatives. Bathing too often can also cause more moisture loss to the skin, causing any patches of Eczema to become more dry and irritated than it may already be. The skin has naturally occurring oils and bathing too hot and too often will strip those oils away. In hard water areas, try and add products to the bath that make the water softer, like oats, lavender oil or calendula oil.
Record how your child reacts to certain foods
It is possible that foods like peanuts, chocolate, eggs, soy, wheat and milk could be causing triggering outbreaks through allergic reaction.
Record how your child reacts to certain external factors
Cleaning products, smoke, animals, mould, chlorine, pollen and water, as these may also be triggers. If you believe any of these to be triggering flare-ups, perhaps remove them for a reasonable period of time and keep an eye on their condition to note any changes.
Keep fingernails short
Short fingernails! When the skin is itching, your child will want to scratch, pushing bacteria in the open, damaged skin. Keeping fingernails short will help to reduce any infection from spreading and prevent them from causing too much damage to the skin through constant scratching.
Avoid rough fabrics
Dress smart! Avoid scratchy and rough fabrics when dressing children. Fabrics like wool and nylon should be avoided for this very reason. Make sure the clothing allows the skin to breath and is soft and gentle, natural fabrics can be a great alternative.
Check what detergents you use as some might have quite a few irritants in them – test with different (more natural) brands to see what helps.
Keep them hydrated
Carry water with you everywhere. It’s imperative that you keep your children hydrated at all times. Moisturiser is great for hydrating the skin from the outside, but nothing hydrates your body better than a tasty cold glass of water.
Shower after swimming
Make sure they wash after swimming. Lots of children enjoy a good swim in the pool, whether it’s during lessons, on holiday or at home, but it’s important to wash the chlorine off thoroughly to avoid irritation to the skin. And moisturise straight after to hydrate the skin from all that water exposure.
Choose the right moisturiser
Find a suitable, natural moisturiser that works with your child’s skin. Salcura’s BioSkin Junior range works under the principle of homeostasis – the concept that the skin will restore its own natural balance given the right care and nutrients.
Written by Martin Schiele, co-founder of Salcura Natural Skin Therapy
Martin Schiele Jr. now runs the London-based family business and the team continues to develop new and improved, all-natural skin care products. Staying true to his father’s philosophy of helping the skin with all the power nature has to offer in conjunction with the newest and highest tech preservatives and stabilisers, allowed him to create gentle yet effective natural formulations for dry skin conditions.
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