If there's one thing I get asked about a lot, it's what things I have picked up during our journey to getting Callum to a point where he's not constantly in and out of hospital.
We're still working on that one, I guess you could say it's a 'work in progress', but there have most definitely been a number of situations we've been through that have resulted in me changing the way we do things. With instant results!
It doesn't seem like much at the time, but when you can look back over things objectively, you start to see a pattern forming. It's being able to pre-empt that pattern, to beat it, so that you don't get the same reaction, that gives you the little wins.
Simple when you think of it like that, much harder to put into practice when you're trudging through what can only be described as living hell!
My top tips and tricks to be aware of:
- DON’T 'wash' the skin too often. Eczema will be exacerbated by excess cleaning of the skin, and it is much better to leave it to rest and wash/ bathe every other day - where possible. Obviously if Callum were to get grubby from playing in the garden, then a gentle wash would suffice, but not to actively bathe every day is of huge benefit!
- Think about how you bathe your child. Do they sit in a bath? Are they using a prescribed ointment for the bath? If not, are you adding bubbles? Anything with perfume will cause irritation to the skin. Using normal shampoo? Don’t! It will cause irritation all the way down the back, and then your child will be sat in it – which is why their bums and legs look worse than the rest of their body! Moisturisers such as Cetraben can be applied as normal immediately prior to bathing – and can then be used as soap. Simply gently lather up, and then rinse off!
- When taking your child out of the bath, don’t rub dry with a towel. It will immediately irritate the skin. Simply pat dry, but remember, as the skin dries, it will cause it to feel sore/ itchy so keep them comfortable and calm as much as possible.
- DON’T be frightened of using topical steroids!! When applying topical steroids (such as hydrocortisone, eumovate, trimovate, elocon etc) the general rule is to use 1 fingertip (your fingertip – the length of the first 3rd of finger) per limb, so 1 for each arm, 1 for each leg, 1 for the back, 1 for the tummy, and if appropriate, 1 for the face – some topical steroids are advised not to be used for the face due to strength. If you have applied it properly, the skin should be left tacky/sticky. If you don’t do this, it won’t be able to penetrate and sink into the skin to start working. You need to then wait 20 minutes before applying moisturiser, otherwise you’ll simply wipe the topical steroid off the skin and there will be no benefit!
- The benefit of creaming at least 2-3 times a day is huge!! Keeping the skin nicely hydrated will keep it supple, moist and less likely to crack/ dry out - which is when infected eczema is more likely to occur. It's also important to mention that over moisturising will result in blocked pores, so don't go overboard!
- We’re coming to summer time, so hang our washing out in the garden. Atopic children are more likely to suffer with hayfever as well as eczema, asthma and other allergies. If you hang your washing up outside, it will have pollen on it – one of the main causes of itchiness for allergic/ eczema prone children! By all means hang up the rest of the families washing outside, but keep the washing for your atopic child drying inside to protect it from allergens as much as possible. Clothes left to dry outside are more often than not rougher in texture once they’ve dried, which is also likely to cause major discomfort. Bed sheets go from being nice soft cotton, to the equivalent of sandpaper for sufferers. As soon as I figured this out, the difference for Callum was incredible! No more seriously bloodied sheets every morning from where he’d been scratching himself stupid!
I have many more tips and tricks should you be interested.
If you try my tips and tricks above, let me know how you get on, and whether they make as much of a difference for you as it has for us!
Fingers crossed they do!