Eczema affects one in five children. So what can you do to help your child’s eczema? It is usually a multifactorial problem and an approach which addresses both food and environmental triggers is often the most successful in dealing with it. There are several measures you can take from without and within to help prevent or reduce the symptoms
WITHOUT- It is important to protect the delicate skin barrier at all costs, keeping it soft and supple. Firstly by using high plant oil based skincare products (emollients) which provide protective fats around the skin cells helping to prevent water loss and also reduce friction with can aggravate dry skin. Secondly by avoiding products and ingredients which can irritate the skin and exacerbate the condition by allowing allergens to penetrate.
Avoid soap and any body wash products containing SLS, which is a known skin irritant. This is also found in aqueous creams and, although often recommended, they should not be used on eczema prone skin for this reason. Skincare for the bath should be neutral PH, contain oil and only the gentlest surfactants. It also makes sense to say no to scents as fragrance ingredients can trigger reactions. Avoid baby wipes containing alcohol and detergents which will strip the skin of its natural moisture.
This care should be extended to products used to clean clothes, towels and bedding and a double rinse is recommended. Reduce exposure to environmental factors such as house dust mites by using protective bedding and choosing floorboards and leather seating over carpets and material upholstery. Protecting the skin barrier by following the guidelines above will also help to prevent dust mite exposure to the skin.
Following recent research comparing the effects of olive and sunflower oil on the skin barrier the International Association of Infant Massage advises that “any oil with high oleic acid content, ie olive oil, should not be used on a baby’s skin as it could affect the infant’s immature skin barrier. The study suggested that olive oil “has the potential to promote the development of, and exacerbate existing, atopic dermatitis” Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier:implications for neonatal skin care. Danby SG, Alenezi T, Sultan A, Lavender T, Chittock J, Brown K, Cork MJ
WITHIN – If there is a family history of eczema try taking probiotics while pregnant which can help reduce the chances of your baby being susceptible to atopic eczema when born. Fish oils high in Omega 3 taken during the third trimester are also beneficial and essential fats such EPA, DHA and GLA should be include in a child’s diet once they are on solids (breast milk or fortified formula can provide these before). Be especially vigilant when weaning as food allergies and intolerances can be triggers with dairy, eggs and citrus often being the main culprits. If you remove dairy from the diet make sure you to include other sources of calcium, fats and fat soluble vitamins.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at nomnomskincare.com