Caring for Your Little One’s Eczema

Written by: Grace Federighi

I am a mom and know first hand about eczema problems.  My son presented with eczema before he was 12 months old.  Working in Marketing for Advanced Dermatology gives me an advantage to help my son. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom I’ve accumulated professionally and personally.

Eczema is an inflammation of the skin and with it comes dry, red, scaly patches that often itch. There are many types of eczema and the causes are diverse and include heredity, irritation, allergy, dryness and excessive sweat.  There are treatments that address eczema including anti-inflammatory creams, moisturizers, avoiding things that make it worse, and occasionally oral anti-histamines or anti-inflammatory medications. Some forms of eczema are chronic and can only be controlled, not cured.

Dr. Amy Taub, Chicago-area dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Northwestern has a proven philosophy for treating eczema. Here are the three key principals:

  1. 1) Protect and enhance the skin barrier
  2. 2) Treat active disease quickly and aggressively
  3. 3) Avoid things that make it worse

To protect the area and reduce the severity of eczema, try a low dose of nonprescription hydrocortisone cream.  A .5% to 1% topical will not be too strong for your child. If you do not want to use a steroid, ask your dermatologist about Hylatopic Plus cream.

To keep eczema under control, use Avene TriXera Emollient Bath and apply Avene TriXera Emollient Balm. You may also use Eucerin Cream, Aquaphor or Cerave Cream, but Dr. Taub believes these don’t have as much healing power as the Avene brand, which is made from spring water in France where people with eczema come from the world over to treat their skin. 

People with eczema have a higher count of bacteria on their skin and this is now believed to be a very large factor in flare ups.  If your child, like mine, has eczema, Dr. Taub recommends giving bleach baths 1-2 times per week (1/2 cup of bleach to full bathtub of tepid water which is 40 Gallons, or scale down proportionately- keep out of eyes, mouth), or use Auristat, a prescription gel with a very light and non-irritating form of bleach daily.  

Treat this active skin disease quickly and aggressively.  Have prescription products available for flares along with suitable ones for general use.  A schedule of using products every day and then weaning off slowly is a good way to prevent flares.  Call your dermatologist if the skin is not responding or if the flare is out of control and see them at least once a year to keep prescriptions up to date.

Finally, it is critical to avoid irritants:  

  • Use a fragrance free shampoo and conditioner (e.g., Free and Clear),
  • Use fragrance free laundry detergents and fabric softeners (gentle ones like Dreft are often loaded with fragrance so read the label carefully)
  • Use a non-irritating liquid cleanser (e.g., Avene Trixera Emollient Cleansing Gel). 
  • Avoid bubble baths which include lots of fragrance and alcohol containing products
  • Do not hand wash too much, and avoid harsh soaps.
  • And finally, wash sweat (another irritant) off your skin with plain tepid water as soon as you can after heat or exercise.

Want to try these products for yourself?  Skinfo is giving away Avene TriXera Emollient Bath & Avene Tolerance Extreme Soothing Cream to one NPN winner.  Email before Oct. 1st and tell us about your little one's skin.  NPN Parent Perk: NPN readers save 15 percent off of Balm with code NPNBALM (expires 10/31).  For more information, please visit Dr. Amy Taub’s websites and for products mentioned above.  

Posted on September 16, 2011 at 8:29 PM