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Prior to becoming a mama, I anticipated having to handle earaches and scraped knees and—cringe—stomach bugs. But it never occurred to me that skin issues would be something I'd be analyzing and attempting to treat 24/7. My sweet, 7-year-old daughter is plagued with eczema on her hands all winter long (true story: I douse her fingers in Aquaphor nightly and have her sleep with socks on her hands!), and in the summer, when she's in chlorinated pools nonstop, the itchy eczema flares up all over her belly. And then it will dissipate, and then it flares up again. It's. The. Worst.
To help me navigate this perpetual conundrum, I reached out to renowned New York City-based dermatologist and "Skin Rules" author Dr. Debra Jaliman for some expert advice on how to treat eczema in kids.
First, there's some good news: "Anything that makes your child uncomfortable is concerning, but parents should know that the many kids will grow out of it," she explained. "The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which seems to be passed down in families. One in 10 kids will develop eczema."
If your biggest pain point of the summer is eczema, you're not alone, mama! Dr. Jaliman says implementing a few easy practices can alleviate the inflammation ASAP.
Here are Dr. Jaliman's 10 tips to treat eczema in kids.
1. Shower kids daily
Preferably at night to wash off all that sweat and dirt—with lukewarm to cool water. For bigger kids, showers are preferred over baths to avoid them sitting in water for too long.
2. Pat skin dry instead of rubbing
"Always apply a fragrance-free, hydrating moisturizer right after the shower or bath to seal in the moisture. Some parents use cleansers and lotions with fragrances added and this can only irritate the skin of the child."
3. Use a humidifier
A humidifier in your kiddo's room to keep the air hydrated (especially if you're in a dry climate).
4. Choose fabrics wisely
Avoid clothing with synthetic fibers like nylon or polyester. "Cotton is always the fabric of choice because it allows the skin to breathe," she advises. "Silk is also a great fabric option. It's lightweight and lets a child's skin breathe… it's also naturally anti-microbial."
Products that actually treat eczema in kids
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A version of this story was published October 7, 2021. It has been updated.