11 Ways We Manage Eczema

Eczema is an old family friend. She used to visit me when I was a kid, and now she enjoys random pop-up visits with my daughter.

Her stays are way too leisurely and she tends to complicate almost every fun summer activity that I plan. She’s long outgrown her welcome, but sadly, she’s taken up a permanent residence with us until further notice.

Dry humor aside (pun intended), can you relate to this?

We have literally battled painful eczema breakouts since my daughter was 6 months old. At first, I thought it was a rash or something else, but no amount of creams or ointments seemed to work.

Our pediatrician was able to confirm that it was eczema and we suddenly had a whole slew of remedies to start trying, many of which did not help. Additionally, several months later, my daughter was also diagnosed with her food allergies.

Is Eczema Related to Food Allergies?

I’ve talked to many pediatricians, allergists, and a few ER doctors over the years. Every single one of them has a differing opinion on whether or not my daughter’s eczema is related to food allergies.

Some of the doctors swear food allergies and eczema are unrelated and others say there are strong correlations. Honestly, I have no answers, just our own experience.

My kiddo’s WORST bout of eczema was right before her food allergies were diagnosed.

When the eczema first showed up, I had started noticing that her skin was quite red all over. A few days later, it was patchy and dry. I was slathering her in Aquaphor, trying to keep her skin covered, but to no avail.

Eventually, she had raised skin, bleeding dry patches, and oozing sores. It was incredibly painful for her and I was desperate to figure out how to provide her relief.

After we found out about her allergies, we stopped eating those foods and cleared the house of any possible exposure. Her skin made drastic improvements. Lauren will also tell you that her son had angry red eczema patches shortly before his food allergies were diagnosed.

Recently, my daughter reacted to fresh strawberries completely out of the blue. We are again in the process of waiting to get in to see our allergist, who suspects that her reaction might have something to do with pollen.

Not even 4 hours after consuming the strawberries, my daughter’s skin was dry, raised, and angry. It took us over 2 weeks to get it under control. For my daughter, it feels like food and her eczema are somehow connected but again, I’m not a medical professional.

For others, eczema could be completely disconnected from food.

An Important Note:

This does not mean that your child is guaranteed to have food allergies if they have eczema or vise versa. If you are concerned about either of these medical conditions, please reach out to a pediatrician, allergist, or dermatologist.

Summer-time Eczema

Without a doubt, eczema is just a royal pain in the butt to deal with. I hate watching my daughter squirm nonstop and scratch her itchy skin through her clothes.

The summer and winter seasons for us are particularly tough. The winter is typically quite dry here in Colorado, but we can counter that with humidifiers and lotion routines.

The summer season is the one that continually proves to be challenging because her skin is exposed to the environment more, she sweats more, and most sunscreen brands enflame her skin.

There are times when the eczema is so bad that when I finally get one section of my daughter’s skin healed, its not even a full 12 hours before that sweet girl has another patch somewhere.

It can disrupt her sleep, cause scaring after intense scratching, and serious mood swings. My daughter is now at an age where she can start to put words to how she feels. One sentiment that she voices quite often is, “My eczema make me so frustrated.”

And I don’t blame her for feeling that way one bit.

With summer approaching, my husband and I have begun stockpiling products and reviewing our eczema routines to hopefully keep my daughter’s discomfort at a minimum.

I hope some of these ideas and tips prove helpful to you if you or someone you love struggles with eczema!

11 Tips for Maintaining a Great Eczema Routine

Reminder: I’m not an allergist or dermatologist. This is a compilation of advice from our allergist and pediatrician. Some of the tips are things I created to work for us or I picked up from another momma. These things work for my child’s particular medical needs. Always seek professional medical advice before trying these with your own child.

1. Moisturize Skin Consistently

Our first allergist advised a Petroleum product (Aquaphor or Vasaline) be put on our daughter multiple times a day in order to keep her skin protected. However, it never seemed to help except to cut back on the itchiness some.

Eventually, a steroid cream was prescribed and that seemed to really help clear up most of our daughter’s issues. However, it didn’t help in the day-to-day management of keeping the eczema breakouts at bay and her skin moisturized.

The best advice we have received came from our second allergist. After running him through our daily schedule of trying to keep our daughter’s eczema under control, he suggested we change up the routine a bit since it didn’t seem to be working for her.

He advised that it might be better to find a non-petroleum based lotion for our daughter to use consistently during the day and only use the petroleum based moisturizer for periods of sleeping.

What we do during an active eczema breakout:
  • Early Morning: moisturize skin with a non-petroleum based product (full body coverage)
  • Mid-morning: check skin condition and reapply lotion if needed
  • Afternoon/Nap-time: apply prescribed steroid cream (but not on open sores) on problem spots and apply a petroleum based lotion on top (allergist recommended Vanicream brand) – also wet wrap skin before sleeping during nap
  • Mid-afternoon: check skin condition and reapply the non-petroleum lotion if needed
  • Evening: take a bath and then apply steroid cream again on active eczema patches and apply petroleum based lotion on top of steroid while gently rubbing lotion over entire body (followed by full body wet wraps to seal in moisture)

This particular routine ended up working beautifully for us! We actually used a Vasaline brand lotion instead of the Vanicream lotion and it worked very well (allergist approved it). We struggled for a long time to find a non-petroleum based lotion that was safe for us to use. My husband and I now special order that lotion.

It is also important to note that our allergist did eventually decide not to have us use the steroid cream any longer. Instead, he called in a prescription for steroid ointment that was petroleum based. So we started using that at nap-time and at night with wet wrapping when she had an active breakout.

I never knew that a steroid ointment was an option, so that might be something you can ask your allergist about for your own child.

Now, when my daughter’s skin is doing well, we use the petroleum based Vasaline lotion on her skin 3 times a day and always wet wrap her skin at night.

Again: I’m not an allergist or dermatologist. These procedures work for my child’s particular medical needs. Always seek professional medical advice before trying new strategies with your own child.

2. Take a Daily Bath

When we first started the eczema journey, our first pediatrician told us to give our daughter a bath every other day to avoid drying out her skin. But after that pediatrician retired, the new doctor told us that we were given outdated medical advice and suggested we give our daughter a daily bath right before bedtime.

Our allergist also confirmed that he would like us to bathe our child every night. So we have followed that advice to the best of our ability (some nights it just doesn’t happen because, well, life happens).

We also make sure that we:
  • don’t use any extra bath products (bubble bath/water coloring/etc)
  • are careful about bathroom cleaning products (we only use a combination of white vinegar and Dawn dish soap to scrub our tubs and tile)
  • use an allergy safe soap/shampoo
  • only use lukewarm water
  • use a low pressure sprayer to rinse soap off skin
  • delicately pat her skin dry, never rubbing it dry

Once, during a particularly stressful ER visit, the doctor on duty commented that my daughter’s eczema seemed worse than he was used to seeing in most kids. He really questioned my husband and I on how we were managing it and suggested we put bleach in our daughter’s bath water each night.

This didn’t feel right in my gut.

There is a lot of great data around the effectiveness of using bleach water to treat eczema if done correctly. However, after discussing it with our allergist at the time, we decided that using bleach just was not something that our family was comfortable doing, and our allergist fully supported that decision.

If a medical doctor gives you advice that causes you to take pause, trust your mom gut and don’t hesitate to reach out to a few other medical providers for a second opinion.

3. Wet Wrap Skin Every Night

If you don’t know what “wet wrapping” is, you aren’t alone! Our first allergist didn’t actually suggest it until we were a few weeks into battling another tough eczema flareup.

Wet wrapping is when you soak a fabric in water and then wrap it around your child’s skin after having applied a moisturizer. There are many different ways that people go about this.

Here are a few ideas:

  • skin hugging pajamas (soak thoroughly and put on your child after moisturizing, then put a dry pair of pajamas over the wet set)
  • wet adult socks (preferably long ones) and put on arms and legs
  • cut up an old towel into strips, wet through (don’t wring out much), wrap around limbs, and secure with butterfly clips (put large pjs on over the wet towels)
  • purchase nighttime soothing eczema pants/shirts for children on Amazon

We also make sure that our daughter’s mattress has a plastic cover to protect it from water. I lay a towel down on top of her fitted sheet and then we lay another towel on top of our daughter after she gets into bed. Then the rest of her sheets and blankets go on.

Her room is kept between 72 & 74 degrees to keep her from getting chilled since she’s always wrapped in wet fabric. This system is currently working for us, but we know we will most likely need to make adjustments as time goes on.

4. Protect Skin During the Day

Though the summer is hot, we’ve learned the hard way that our daughter cannot wear shorts and skirts. A combination of sweat and daily sunscreen application causes her legs to break out worse than any other part of her body. Instead, she wears lightweight leggings daily for protection from the sun.

We are still in the process of trying out sunscreens that don’t irritate her skin. Lauren’s family loves the Blue Lizard sunscreen brand.

Allergic Living has a fantastic list of sunscreens for people that have allergies. Check it out HERE.

5. Exfoliate Skin

Our allergist also told us to purchase baby washcloths and gently exfoliate our daughter’s skin in the bathtub.

We very carefully rub the washcloth in a circular motion over my daughter’s skin while always double checking with her that we aren’t applying too much pressure.

Getting the top layer of dead skin off can be greatly beneficial in keeping the skin healthy and helps remove toxins.

He also advised that we should not use an exfoliating brush or any soaps with beads in it due to how highly sensitive her skin can react.

We were told to only exfoliate her skin once a week and skip it altogether if she had any open sores or scratch wounds.

6. Ask your Medical Team about Prescription Steroids

We have found prescription steroids to be the most controversial subject amongst all the doctors we have worked with over the years. Many have told us that they like to avoid steroid creams at all costs and others say they are fine to use as long as we only use them with active eczema attacks.

Other times, our different doctors tend to be at odds on how often we can apply the steroid or even if we can do it daily with an eczema breakout.

Our current allergist wants it applied 2-3 times daily during breakouts and says we can use it consistently for a week before taking a break. The pediatric doctor is adamantly against using it more than once a day and wants us to take a break after 3 days of use.

I won’t lie. The conflicting medical advise can feel really frustrating. My husband and I continue to have open conversations with each other and evaluate how our daughter’s skin is responding.

We listen to all medical advice and weigh it seriously. In the end, we tend to follow the advice of our allergist the most.

If you get conflicting advice like we did, we encourage you to:

  • Do your own research. Can you find any credible concerns with either of the recommendations? Do you see both recommendations in your searches?
  • Don’t be shy about asking each of the doctors, “I was actually given this advice from this doctor. Do you have any concerns with that recommendation?”
  • Trust your gut. If it seems off, trust your instincts. Never underestimate the power of Dr. Mom.

7. Help Prevent Scratching

If your child battles eczema, keeping them from scratching might really be a chore in and of itself. The scratching can disrupt sleep. If the scratching is severe, it can actually open scabs and create opportunities for infection.

Here are a few things you can do to help:

  • keep your kiddo’s nails trimmed short
  • consider keeping long socks (you can also keep them wet to provide some relief) on their hands/arms during the day
  • consider cotton gloves at night (can find on Amazon)
  • maintain a strict moisturizing schedule (discuss with your allergist)
  • consider an anti-itch medicated cream (this would have to be prescribed to you from an allergist, dermatologist, or pediatrician)

8. Pay Attention to Fabrics

For some particular reason, my daughter really struggles with fleece and corduroy fabrics. They tend to be more scratchy and usually irritate her skin. Wool can be scratchy as well.

We try to stick with softer fabrics, such as cotton, since it breathes well.

9. Check Your Laundry Detergent

Our doctor told us to switch to a fragrance free and dye free laundry detergent. This worked for Lauren’s kids.

Our daughter’s skin did not improve even after that switch, so now we actually make our own laundry detergent and it works wonderfully!

We use this 3 ingredient recipe from Simple Living Mama.

We also have stopped using fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Talk to your allergist or pediatrician and see what they suggest for your child’s particular medical needs.

10. Use a Humidifier

Many states have great humidity levels and others are quite dry. Can I get an “Amen” from the Colorado and Minnesota peeps?! Lauren has lived in both states and the air is DRY!

If you live in a low humidity area, you may want to consider installing a home humidifier or putting one in your child’s bedroom.

11. Stay Hydrated!

Drinking water is beneficial for so many reasons! Making sure your child is drinking water throughout the day will also help their skin stay hydrated and soft.

Some fun ways to encourage your child to keep drinking water:

  • earning a sticker on a chart for every cup they drink
  • putting a prize ticket in a raffle jar for every cup they drink (you can write different prize options on the back of the tickets) and they get to pull out a ticket once a week or every few days
  • having fun water bottles to drink from
  • getting to scoop ice cubes into their cups themselves (just be sure you have a safe lid to avoid choking concerns)
  • using “first this, then this” statements (example: “First drink a cup of water, then you can watch 5 minutes of TV.”)

Have a fun summer!

You are a great parent. The fact that you’re even surfing the internet and trying to find solutions for helping your child is proof that you are awesome. Keep reading, keep learning, and keep trying out new strategies (with approval from your allergist).

But don’t forget to schedule some fun summer family outings! I’m speaking from experience. I often times have felt so overwhelmed with medical issues, or the sheer anxiety of managing the things of life, that I didn’t make time for fun.

Plan beach days, pool days, park outings, camping trips, or day excursions! Do all the things that you and your kids love to do!

My genuine wish for your family is that the summer season will be filled with precious and fun memories, despite the fact that eczema might be tagging along. 🙂


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