Top Tips on where to start
We have done the research for you, where to start and what to avoid.
It can take a lot of trial and error to find
your babies/toddlers “triggers”; the things that cause eczema and or further
irritate and cause those frustrating flare ups.
Some of these triggers you can control/change
in your direct environment. They are pretty easy to do so start now, you never
know it may help! Eczema causes and triggers are very specific to each
individual so some or all of our suggestions may not work for you, but they
worked for us and have done for many others so we wanted to share with you.
Eczema is not
contagious – it’s largely genetic and environmental. A child is more likely to get eczema if there is a family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever. Many people do grow out of eczema, there is hope! Get to your GP (family doctor) and request for testing to be done. We had standard and specialised skin prick testing done along with hair testing from Allergenics. You can also request for blood testing (RAST test) to be done for allergies. Talk to your GP (we went with both traditional and holistic doctors) about adding Zinc drops, Vitamin D3 and possibly magnesium supplements to your child's diet. (not via multivitamin please as they have other additives that can trigger flare ups as we found out with our boys).
Probiotics: (we believe are VERY important!)
* Introduce Probiotics to your diet (if breastfeeding) or to the child's diet.
What we have found is that refrigerated probiotics perform better than shelf
stable, but it really is personal preference, you need to start healing their
gut - probiotics is a great place to start. Please read our section on
probiotics for further detail and make sure they contain the following strains:
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
Start a food Diary - record all foods and liquids consumed and any other activities that are not in your usual daily routine. (as this alters their exposure to new allergins).
Get to your
Laundry & Clothing:
all soaps, detergents & fragrance if possible from items that come
into contact with your child. Keep products used as natural as possible.
your Laundry detergent(s) for the whole family not just the
- Sometimes a change in laundry
detergent can bring remarkable changes to your little ones skin. Choose
perfume free, fragrance free and chemical free if possible. We used Baking soda at one point!
- Resist using fabric softener as you
want to try to reduce the residue that detergents and softeners leave on
fabrics – these are major skin irritants.
- Prior to using your new sensitive
detergent or water softener run your washing
machine through a full cycle with white vinegar to get rid of soap residue
trial and error and purchasing many “sensitive” laundry products that
didn’t help, we found the best thing to use were Bio Washballs no need to use detergent at all!! (NOT the ones with pellets of detergent inside of them)– It is great not to have to wash soap
residue off our hands after hanging out the washing. Clothes are clean,
residue free and fragrance free. Later when Toni's son’s skin became less
sensitive with age she purchased essential oils and put a few drops into
the ball for a light scent. Another alternative is to use Bicarbonate of
soda in your washing – the bonus is, it’s also a great stain remover. Soap nuts are great also.
- Wash the entire family’s clothes in
the same sensitive detergent (or preferred none...) to make sure no residue and perfumes are rubbing off
your clothing onto your wee ones skin.
- Make sure towels and bedding are
washed the same as above and wash them frequently to get rid of dead skin
cells and to kill dust mites (their feces are a common irritant for Eczema
and Allergy sufferers).
- Hang clothes INSIDE on an airier if
Pollens are a trigger for your child, as allergens may get onto clothing if hung
outside – especially on windy days.
Notes: It can take a few washes to get
detergent residue out of clothing.
Clothing & Linen:
* Wear “smooth” fabrics against the skin, no
- If the flare ups are occurring on
particular points on their body i.e. the shoulders, around the neck, down
their sides – turn their clothes inside out so the seams are flat. Bam |+|
Boo are slowly releasing their "sweet seams" range with flat seams!.
Make sure you purchase clothing that is as soft as you can find/afford.
Avoid ribbed fabrics (most commonly used for singlet’s and trims). Go for
smooth, soft, bamboo and organic cotton fabrics and choose Nickel free
domes (as ours are!) to help with contact eczema.
- Remove any tags down the sides of
the clothing that may irritate or from the back of the neck if required.
- Wool is a known irritant for eczema
sufferers, do not use close to the skin. Same goes for Polyester.
- Be wary of mittens and fold over
sleeves on garments that are NOT made from super soft fabrics such as
Bamboo, silk or Organic Cotton – you could find waking to your wee one having
rubbed their face raw.
- Be careful of “over dressing” – Both
of us must confess to being over dressers of our babies – frightened of
them getting cold, we unknowingly had overdressed them as they were
naturally hot babies, this most definitely made their eczema worse. Keep
their bedrooms cool, not hot.
- Use anti-dust mite covers on
mattresses, pillows and duvets. See links here: http://www.bamandboo.co.nz/category-s/1851.htm
- Air mattresses, pillows and other
bedding in direct sunlight regularly if possible (keeping in mind exposure
to pollen outdoors if this is a trigger).
Bath Time/Bed Time
* Create a
calming bath time/bedtime routine with plenty of hydration, avoiding soaps
& bath washes that dry skin out. Do not over wash or over dress.
Baths help remove old creams, dead skin and prepare
the skin for re-hydration.
- Stop using body washes, soaps,
shampoos and talc’s on your wee one now! We all love a delicious smelling
baby/toddler, but most of them have Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and perfumes in them
to make them nice and foamy – a nightmare for sensitive skin.
- Bath your child in lukewarm to warm
water – do not make it hot as this tends to irritate the eczema. If your
child has angry or infected eczema your doctor may suggest adding
antiseptic wash (low concentration) to the bath or antibiotics, both of
which need to be discussed with your doctor.
- We have tried the following with
varied success but they may work for you…
- # Aqueous Cream (prescribed by
doctor) in the bath (check ingredients list) this is a soap substitute, we found this does not help eczema at all and sometimes aggravated it -
although be careful not to confuse it with the eczema presenting itself
due to the warm bath.
- # Pinetarsol in the bath, this has
an interesting smell.. we did not find this helped much for our boys, but
others have found it is very useful for chicken pox and itchy rashes.
- # Ground oats dissolved directly in
the bath, wrapped in a muslin or strained though the water, we found this
was not helpful for angry eczema, but helped sooth mild patches. Do not use if your child has open wounds, you do not want to increase the risk of staph infection.
products that contain Petroleum and avoid nut oils e.g. Almond Oil if your
child has a nut allergy.
- What products worked for us in the
bath? Epsom salts and Pure Fiji Bath soak followed by the Pure Fiji body
- Avoid Cot
mobiles that gather dust as it falls onto the child while they sleep. Soft
toys are another culprit – either wash frequently, pop in the freezer to
kill dust mites or remove… sorry!
Keep your eczema
child in a routine as much as possible so they benefit from as much sleep as
possible. We know it is the ultimate trial - getting an itchy, overtired child
to sleep, but the more they sleep, the better their body can regenerate cells
and heal their wee bodies. Talk to a sleep consultant that will work with your
needs and parenting style, if you need help - it is worth it.
wrapping: Bam|+|Boo are not experienced in Wet wrapping technique – but
there is plenty of information readily available in New Zealand to aid you
with this if appropriate. Or visit www.itchykids.org.nz for
useful information. Please see your doctor or hospital for advice.
So remember, a
luke warm bath, pat dry, apply creams with clean hands (if using medicated
creams, apply first) then add moisture – do all this straight after exiting the
bath to keep the skin lovely and hydrated. It’s great if bedtime clothing can
be footed and mitted to avoid scratching, keep nails short and clean to aid in
Please see our
other articles. Water filters and Eczema . Research has
been done on water filters containing vitamin c or charcoal (for shower heads,
bath taps etc) and their positive effect for eczema sufferers.
It is also very important that your child consumes filtered water - no point in
putting water into their system that is overloaded with chemicals.
Keep skin hydrated – the more you hydrate the less you need to use steroid
Spray and wipes, cleaners and carpet cleaners etc.
- Make sure
if you use spray and wipes in the kitchen, you spray into the cloth, not
in the air and make sure after the surface is cleaned, you wipe down with
water to remove any residue. The residue left on tables, high chairs and
equipment that comes in contact with your child’s skin can irritate and
cause eczema flair ups, rashes and hives (all of which we have
experienced) Please use natural alternatives where possible. (We are sure
you don’t need advice on how to clean, but white vinegar, lemons and
baking soda are all amazing cleaning products, please visit the following
website of Wendyl Nissan's for great natural alternative recipes and
- Avoid the use of automatic insect
deterrents/killers and automatic room fragrance dispensers, these all land
on carpets, couches and surfaces that your child will come into direct
insect repellants, please stay away from the chemical sprays on your wee
ones, we prefer to use the Pure Fiji repellent (click here to buy)
– plus it smells divine!
- Wet dust
as often as possible - dry dusting only shifts the dust into the air!
- Vacuum as
often as possible to remove dust, dead skin (which mites feed of) and pet
- * Vacuum
and wet dust often. Air bedding frequently and keep pets outside. Air soft
toys (or remove all together) or put in the freezer to kill the dust
Diet – Allergies or intolerance to foods. We suggest you a skin prick test done, Hair test or Kinesiology testing (which ever suits your lifestyle) to see if your child has any food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. By ruling this out, or finding out (whichever the case may be) it will be very helpful on your journey to beginning the healing process from the inside.
Diet is a rather large can of worms. Foods may be the
cause of eczema but food exclusions need to be done under guidance.
Food allergies affect about a third of children
with eczema. The most common culprits seem to be egg, cows milk, soy, wheat,
peanuts and fish but the list can be extensive to keep trying.
Avoidance of certain foods – If you plan to
cut out particular food groups from your own or from your child’s diet, please
consult your doctor or nutritionist.
Breastfed babies: If your baby is not yet on
solids, their eczema could be caused by foods they are sensitive to or allergic
to via your breast milk.
Formula babies: They could very well have
sensitivities to the formula they are on. There are a few different options for
formulas now (prices vary!) Cows Milk based formula, Goats Milk based formula,
Soy based formula. The Neocate range (see here http://www.neocate.co.nz) of formulae is hypoallergenic, it has been based on amino acids and is 100% cows' milk protein free – worth looking into for severe
sensitivities, please see your doctor as some children qualify for funding to
receive this product on prescription.
A few of the major players in Eczema flare
Cows milk is another major cause of
Eczema. Mothers who breastfeed and have been advised to avoid it should take
If your child is on solids, be aware
of acidic fruits such as Strawberries, oranges and apples, they seem to
encourage flair ups.
A Peanut is a
legume not a nut, however, Eczema, hives and vomiting are the most common
complaints from this wee "nut"!!!
Egg is one of the most common foods
contributing to eczema in infants. Symptoms include hives around the mouth,
tummy pain & vomiting. Some react directly to egg but are ok with egg
used in items such as cakes.
There are also other paths to go down – hair
testing by Allergenics
Muscle testing to holistically assess the
body - Health and Wellness clinics
Nutritionists - T.A Inc
Eczema Management - Rough Patch
The high levels of chlorine affect many
children with eczema, the extreme drying out of the skin after exposure to
pools/water treated with chlorine is like raising a red flag to a bull. While
we do not suggest avoiding them all together (as chlorine is also known to help
kill topical bacteria which infects eczema patches) just be wary of it. Wash
the child straight away with clean water, pat dry and hydrate, hydrate,
hydrate! We found that our boys skin responded well to swimming in the ocean.
Medications, supplements and health tips:
or supplements does your child take? Could this be affecting their skin? Review
these under guidance to see if they cause flair ups.
Various brands of Children’s multivitamin supplements cause flair ups in one of
the Bam |+| Boo kids, so keep an eye out.
Tell your doctor
if you suspect a skin infection as this needs to be managed carefully, it will
be weepy, crusty and red, they will most likely also have a fungal infection,
be sure to ask– steroids & antibiotics are usually used to control it in
the first instance, then the skin needs to be kept hydrated to reduce itching
and aggravation. Many people use antihistamines to reduce itching and help with
sleep, please discuss this option with your medical professional.
Do what you can to build their immune
Probiotics, gut healing, hydration, Vitamin D3 drops, Zinc and Vitamin C - we
like the NZLF Vitamin C it is a orange paste type product with Micron-Particle
Delivery System that does not overload the system. (excessive vitamin C can
cause loose bowels).
- Avoid contact with coldsores – this
virus can cause extreme reactions.
- Keep finger nails and toe nails nice
and short to help with the scratching. You want to try your best to keep
nasty bugs that hide under fingernails away from that sensitive broken
skin. You don’t want broken skin if possible as Staphylococcus aureus that
lives on the skin gets in… causing inflammation and further itching due to
the release in histamine.
Stress can also cause flair ups, possibly the rise in body temperature?
Hormone changes? More often in adults than children, however is still
something to be aware of. Any other illness including a mild common cold
may cause a flare in eczema also.
- Flare ups are quite often out of
your control as a parent – please be kind to yourself, you are doing the
best you can.
- It is becoming rather obvious that
children with Eczema are lacking in vitamin D. We shield them from the
sun, cover them in sunscreen and clothing and their bodies to not get a
chance to soak up this amazing vitamin. This year, we are going to try
"controlled exposure" letting our children out in the morning sun for at least 10mins every day
with no shirt on to see if this helps their eczema and general health. update: Toni found this successful for her fair skinned children.
Bam|+|Boo clothing and products are not
geared to treat or claim they have healing properties, we are simply providing
funky, affordable Bamboo viscose and Organic clothing for children in fabrics suitable
for eczema sufferers.