Naturally, your first thought will be to reach for products that are designed to soothe the symptoms of dry, itchy skin. But when it comes to preventing skin irritations, you may only be scratching the surface.
Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions affecting babies and children. In fact, eczema will affect 1 in 5 children in the UK at some stage in their life. The tell-tale signs can appear at any age, with almost 80% of cases occurring before a child reaches their 5th birthday. Although, you might be surprised to know that it’s most common during the first 12 months of a baby’s life. The condition may improve or stay with them throughout their life. It can also appear in adults, who had no signs of eczema whatsoever as a child.
Look Out for the Signs
The main symptom of eczema is intensive itching, so the first sign you might notice is your little one scratching. It could be their face, arms, legs or body that’s affected. Or the creases in their wrists, elbow, knees and ankles. The skin will look red, dry, inflamed or scabby and feel hot to the touch. If it’s weepy or crusty, that may also be a sign that it’s infected. Whatever the symptoms, make an appointment with your GP immediately to get an accurate diagnosis.
Moisturisation is Key
Treating eczema will always focus on keeping your little one’s skin hydrated, so emollients like creams, lotions, gels and ointments will be a must. The NHS advises that these should be fragrance free. Use them twice a day, every day, for bathing, washing and moisturising. Smooth the emollients over the skin in a gentle, downward motion, taking care not to rub any delicate patches. Should you see any signs of irritation whatsoever, stop using the emollient immediately and find an alternative product.
Living with Eczema
Whether the symptoms are mild, moderate or severe, eczema can be incredibly difficult to live with. Not just for the child who faces incessant itching, but also for the parents who have to search high and low for products that will reduce the risk of flare ups and be kinder to skin.
Babies, toddlers and children may have problems sleeping. This can affect the quantity and quality of their sleep, which can impair their development, or make it difficult for older children to concentrate at school. Keep their bedrooms cool and calm with crisp cotton sheets and light cotton sleepwear that will soothe itchy skin and give it time to repair.
Scratching can also make the problem worse, keep nails short and clean and try cotton or silk scratch mittens for babies and children.
A Word about Washing
The NHS advises to try and identify and avoid anything that irritates the skin or make the problem worse – with washing detergent being one of the first considerations.
Naturally, every parent wants only the cleanest, freshest clothes to touch their baby’s skin. But it’s worth knowing that while many sensitive laundry products were designed with baby in mind, some still contain fragrances that can be a major irritant that causes hives, rashes, dry patches and discomfort in sensitive skin. That’s a hidden danger because traces of fragrances can cause an eczema flare-up, however much care you take to avoid the obvious triggers.
Top 10 Eczema Triggers
- Perfumed detergents, soaps and shampoos
- Heat or temperature changes
- Chemicals like chlorine in swimming pools
- Prickly fabrics like wool, synthetics like polyester and nylon
- Food sensitivities and allergies
- Dust mites, pollen, animal fur, hair or feathers
- Drool and saliva
- Skin infections
- Sun and sweat
Surcare has been championing fragrance free washing for 30 years, promising to contain no unnecessary nasties that could irritate the skin. With 0% fragrances, 0% enzymes, 0% dyes and 0% acids, Surcare promises just this. The range is Dermatologically Approved and proudly carries the Allergy UK Seal of Approval. And don’t worry, your laundry will still be just as fresh and clean!
Surcare can be found in the household aisle in most major retailers.
*Please note that no effective laundry product can be guaranteed suitable for everyone with serious skin conditions. Please consult your doctor for advice.