Eczema has been in our lives since Ruby was about three or four months old. It started as a little patch on her belly. Being the over reactive mother that I am, I had her straight up to the GP thinking it was something serious like meningitis or something! Felt a bit silly when I was told that it was (thankfully) nothing more than eczema. At that time, it was relatively small and it didn’t seem to be bothering her. So my GP just said to use lots of moisturising cream on it. So I did. But having never suffered from eczema myself or not knowing anyone who did, I didn’t realise that the type of creams that you used and many other factors could effect this condition further. So I went on using a well known baby brand both on her skin and in the bath (of which the public health nurse later told me can irritate eczema prone skin), gave her a bath pretty much every night, continued to use the same washing powder etc and my poor little ladies eczema just kept spreading. The main spots were now her legs (the back of her legs, under her bum, knee creases, ankles) and on her arms in the creases of her wrists and elbows, she only got it on her face the odd time. I was back and forth to my GP and I was prescribed a topical steroid cream for Ruby and a cream and bath product called Oilatum Junior. I used the steroid cream only when her skin would flare up, but I didn’t see this as a long term solution and I didn’t want to have to use it at all if possible. I also used the Oilatum products religiously, but on Ruby’s skin, I found that it had little effect.
So I started reading up on all things eczema. I looked at online in forums and websites, asked for advice, read numerous leaflets and booklets on eczema and I came to the realisation that the treatment of eczema and its triggers differ from person to person. I tried numerous types of creams and emollients, all of which others swore buy. So I gave them all a go. They worked really well for a short time and then the effects just weren’t quit as good as they had been when I first started using them. I tried Silcocks Base (both in the bath* and lathered on her skin), I still find this really good when she has flare ups if I apply really think layers of it. I’ve also tried Epaderm Ointment and although this seemed to be really moisturising, I found that it only sat on top of her skin. Every time I’d pick her up she’d nearly slip out of my hands! I tried Aqueous Cream once or twice, more as a moisturiser than in the bath, not realising that when used as a moisturiser this cream can actually make eczema worse….Oops!
So for months and months I stuck with Silcocks Base, both as a cream and bath product and used the steroid cream only if she had a flare up. In that time I became familiar with some of the triggers and kept an eye out for anything that seemed to trigger Ruby’s flare ups. Some of the common triggers for eczema can include:
- Changes in humidity
- Synthetic Clothing
- Temperature changes
- House dust mites
Not all of the triggers above effected Ruby, and they will effect everyone differently. For Ruby, a change in our detergent and omitting the use of fabric conditioner when washing her clothes (I wash all of her clothes separately to ours too) had a positive effect; and I had already stopped using soap of any kind in her baths. The heat and sweating have an awful effect on her eczema and she always flares up in the summer (I have to be careful with the type of sun cream I use too). Some people have reported an improvement in the summer months and I have been told that the sun* can be good for it, but unfortunately this isn’t the case for Ruby. I also came across some information stating that too many baths, or baths that are too hot will effect the skin. So Ruby gets a quick bath at least three times a week…more if she’s ended up in a puddle of mud or in something else as equally dirty; and I keep her bath water luke warm. This seems to have helped.
Even though I have always sworn by Silcocks base (and still do), I was still eager to try other products that came with the promise to clear up eczema. When purchasing some steroid cream from the pharmacy, the pharmacist recommended that I try the Elave sensitive products. So I brought home the Elave sensitive body wash and shampoo. Up until this point I had just used warm water to wash Ruby’s hair. These products where brilliant for her, no flare ups at all and she could finally have some bubbles in her bath! So I have been using these products for the bath up until a month or two ago. Cream wise I was still mainly using Silcocks, but I was giving MooGoo’s Irritable Skin Balm ago, this cream initially worked miracles. It completely cleared all of the redness on the back of her legs. I was then recommended to follow up with the same brands follow up cream, Soothing MSM cream, which is supposed to keep the eczema at bay. I didn’t find this cream as good and it definitely didn’t keep the eczema at bay for long. So I kept using the Irritable Skin Balm, which was working well. One of the days I decided to use the MSM cream again. The minute I put it on Ruby’s legs she started roaring crying. Her legs went raw red looking. So I whipped her up to the bath and washed off the cream. Needless to say have haven’t used the MSM cream again. I didn’t really go back to the Irritble Cream again either. So I returned to my good old reliable Silcocks Base.
At the moment I am using Child’s Farm products. The sensitive baby range – the baby shampoo, baby bubble bath and the baby moisturiser. I use the hair detangler spray which is suitable for sensitive and eczema prone skin. It smells of grapefruit and tea tree. I just spray a small amount into Ruby’s hair so that there is a nice smell as the shampoo is fragrance fee. So far, all of these products are working wonders. Her skin has completely cleared up. The fact that the products are MUCH cheaper than the other products I had been using is a plus. I will add though, that around the same time I started using these products, I had also tried a range of different nappy brands to see if they might have been irritating her skin. We’ve since settled on a new brand, so this could also be the reason for the clear up in her skin. But the Child’s Farm products definitely are’t irritating her skin.
I have found the Irish Skin Foundation website and there booklets to be of huge help. For further information on treatment and the different types of eczema head over to their site www.irishskin.ie. Here are some of their tips for managing eczema:
- Establish a daily skin routine and try to stick to it.
- Don’t stop moisturising your skin when it is clear.
- Teach your child how to apply their emollients correctly from a young age.
- Avoid soap.
- Shampoos should be clear, pH neural and fragrance free.
- Baths/showers should be lukewarm and not too long.
- Keep your moisturisers with you at all times.
- When it flares, treat it at the first sign of symptoms.
- Use topical steroids for eczema flare ups as recommended by your GP, keep track of how much you are using.
- Always keep fingernails short.
- If skin becomes wet, weepy, red and very itchy, think infection and seek medical advice.
- Wear cotton clothing where possible.
- These are are only a few tips. To read the full list head over to www.irishskin.ie
I hope this blog post was in some way helpful to anyone whose little ones are suffering from eczema. I had to do a lot of trial and error in order to fins out what worked woth Ruby, as you will probably have to do too. But at last you have a starting point with what products to try and which products to avoid.
Until the next blog.
The Irish Mammy xx
*When using emollient creams in the bath, they need to be diluted first. I used to do this by dissolving 1-2 tablespoons of the emollient into a cup/jug of warm water, stirring for a few minutes before adding it to the bath.
*Always ensure that your child wears the appropriate sun protection and covers up well in the sun.
** I have not been paid to talk about these products. All views are my own.