My son had a very mild case of eczema when he was a baby. When he started school, it flared up. He had some on his hand and a few other patches that we couldn’t seem to clear up. Our teachers were amazing and let him use his own soap in the classroom, but he still had some patches. After trying many different products and creams, our doctor referred us to Dr Lindsey Craw at the hospital. I can’t say enough amazing things about her, but I have to say a few. One, she is on time! That doesn’t happen too often. It was great – and the follow up apt was the same (so it wasn’t a fluke). Two, she didn’t make me feel bad for not treating it the right way. I was not offering a bath every day because I thought that would dry out his skin.
There were a few things that I misunderstood about treating and caring for eczema (whether you can see it or not). After our appointment, in talking with other families, I realized they were doing some of the same things I was doing (like not offering a bath every day). I reached out to Dr Craw and asked if she would weigh in on a few to the top questions – and here are her answers:
Should a child with eczema have a bath or shower every day? If yes; for how long?
The recommendation is for a child with eczema to bathe or shower every day for 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water with a gentle non-soap cleanser. Hot water will dry out the skin and should be avoided.
Let’s talk about medicated cream… do we need to put anything overtop of it?
Yes. The medicated cream/ointment should be applied to affected areas with eczema and a moisturizer formulated for eczema-prone skin should be applied afterwards to the entire body.
TIP! The National Eczema Association has a list of products on their website.
*we do not endorse a particular brand of cleanser or moisturizer
Can I stop using the medicated cream when it has cleared up?
Yes. After a patch of eczema has cleared to completely smooth skin, the medicated cream does not need to be applied to that patch any longer. The medicated creams should be re-started at the first sign of a new patch of eczema.
Do I need to continue with the moisturizer even if there are no visible spots of eczema?
Yes. The barrier function of the skin in many eczema patients is impaired. Routine moisturization repairs the barrier function of the skin, preventing water from leaving the skin and preventing irritants and allergens from entering the skin. Routine moisturization will help to prevent flares of eczema which will decrease how often the medicated creams are required.
Are there certain materials that we should use or avoid?
In general, natural fibres such as cotton, bamboo and silk will be the least irritating to the skin. Many children will tolerate synthetic materials such as polar fleece. Every child will have different tolerances for different fabrics. In general, hypoallergenic, fragrance free laundry detergent and fabric softener should be used as fragrance can be a trigger for eczema.
When should we request to see a dermatologist?
Patients with eczema, especially if mild, can be managed by their family doctor or pediatrician. Patients with more severe eczema may require a referral to a skin specialist. A family doctor or paediatrician may opt to refer patients with eczema, not responding to the medicated creams they have prescribed, to a skin specialist.
BIO: Dr Craw has a website and Facebook page for her cosmetic dermatology. To see her for your child you will need to have your doctor fax a referral to 289-715-2213.