Call 0800 766 733

FREE delivery on orders over $100

Living with eczema

At its worst, eczema and allergies caused an open weeping wound over the entire back area of my neck, an itchy, weeping rash all over my body, sleepless nights and my skin to constantly flake off in big chunks.

The vast majority of people with eczema will, thankfully, never suffer to that degree and most won't have to deal with it into adulthood. But the things I learned from the very worst years of my life can help anyone with the condition. If you're concerned about your child's skin, take it from someone who's been through the ringer with this thing and come out the other side...

While is not curable, it is manageable.

What I've Learned from Managing Eczema

Quit Googling It

eczema search

I spent hundreds of hours Googling eczema (actually back then I was probably asking Jeeves). I was desperate for a cure and I wanted to believe the screeds of websites that claimed to have one. All I really found was reasons to distrust the medical system and to be sold on products and ideas that are, at best, based on pseudo science.

The unfortunate truth of the information age is that misinformation is often scarily more accessible and palatable than real science.

Get medical advice

doctor stethoscope

I spent thousands of dollars seeing various alternative therapists and I followed their advice religiously because they seemed so genuine in their assertion that they could cure me (and all the Googling had eroded any faith I had in doctors). While a couple of alternative treatments made a small positive difference, a lot of them caused more harm than good.

In the end, the turning point came when a doctor was able to convince me to go on a short dose of steroids as well as get real allergy tests done (not the kind that's done with crystals) and see a specialist.

Unlike Google, your family doctor will assess your child in person and, unlike a naturopath, your doctor works with properly tested meds and methods. Follow your doctor's advice and, if it doesn't work, go back for more options. You can always get a second opinion or push for a referral if you're unhappy. Alternative approaches should only be used with the full knowledge of your doctor.

Beware of allergies

Eczema is very commonly linked to allergy so, if your child has been diagnosed with eczema, you may want to consider whether an allergen could be triggering flare-ups. If you suspect allergy you can have this tested and get a referral to an allergy specialist to help manage it.

A lot of parents jump straight to restrictive diets or an elimination diet (another popular online recommendation) but that's really unnecessary unless you have good reason to suspect food allergy.

If your child is diagnosed with an allergy, first pat yourself on the back for finding out now (I didn't know until my mid-twenties!), then help them avoid the allergen. A lot of children are able to grow out of their allergies if they avoid them while they're young.

Read ingredients labels

I've been recommended and given a zillion different creams by well meaning people. It's one of those things people just love to advise on. Honestly, a lot of them end up being regifted as soon as I see the ingredients list or test them on my skin.

You see, just because something is called Eczema cream, it doesn't mean it's any good for a particular person's skin. Just as "hypo-allergenic" doesn't mean it's free of anything anyone might be allergic to and "natural ingredients" don't guarantee something is more gentle or safe.

When looking for creams;

  • In the first instance use the products prescribed by the doctor
  • Check ingredients labels for your child's known allergens
  • Beware of creams that leave your child's skin hot or sticky as that could aggravate their skin
  • Look at the expiry dates on any product you buy. Some natural products lack adequate preservatives to keep them bacteria free for a long period.
  • Finally, monitor the effect of any new product you try. If it causes a reaction get rid of it.

When it's flaring

Probably the most distressing part of eczema is dealing with a flare-up. No parent wants to see their child living with that horrible, itchy rash. Here are some things that have helped me get through:

Cool it
When the rash is looking hot and angry a cold flannel can provide instant relief. You'll want to keep your child from overheating in general too. I love wearing thin layers of cotton or merino for this reason - they're great at regulating my temperature.
No scratching
The itch with eczema is intense and scratching it makes it worse. Keep your child's fingernails short and, if they're a baby, use scratch mitts to prevent them from scratching. For older children distraction is a great tool - try to get them absorbed in doing something with their hands.
Leave it alone
It's tempting to slather that rash in every cream under the sun in an effort to make it better but, when the skin is flaring, almost anything will irritate it. Stick to using only the prescribed creams and only as often as prescribed.
Check for infection
If the skin is broken it's very susceptible to infection so check it regularly. If there's any sign of infection head to the doctor.
Leave a Reply