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. 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."
How to treat eczema in kids
If you're 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.
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."
As for the products that actually alleviate your child's symptoms, Dr. Jaliman recommends these:
Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm
Why Dr. Jaliman loves it: "This balm/lotion temporarily protects and helps to relieve skin irritations and itching that is caused by eczema or rashes. The oatmeal soothes and protects the skin, while the glycerin helps to seal the water in the skin and keeps it hydrated. Lotions are good for daytime and creams and balms are better for nighttime."
TruBaby Eczema Soothing Hair and Body Wash
Why Dr. Jaliman loves it: "This is fragrance-free and paraben-free. It has aloe, which is cooling and soothes the skin and it's anti-inflammatory, so it gets rid of redness and helps with irritation (making it great for those who have sensitive skin!). It also comprises calendula and chamomile, which are both great, gentle ingredients for a little one with eczema. Chamomile is wonderful for conditions such as dry skin and eczema because of its anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties."
Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm
Why Dr. Jaliman loves it: "The colloidal oatmeal has been known to reduce inflammation and also will help ease the itchiness and irritation from eczema," she says, adding that it's meant for nighttime. "The dimethicone will also help provide a barrier to the skin. It is a skin protectant and acts as a water repellent by forming a protective barrier on the skin."
Eucerin Baby body lotion
Why Dr. Jaliman loves it: "It contains panthenol, which acts as a skin protectant with anti-inflammatory properties. This can help improve skin's hydration. It's also got shea butter, which is a natural moisturizer... it will help children with eczema because of its high oil content and fatty acids. Shea butter is loaded with vitamins!"
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