Battling Eczema

“You do not need a butcher’s knife to kill a chicken.” -Chinese proverb

But sometimes I feel like carrying a machete to fight eczema. Personally, I don’t suffer from this, but through a certain combination of genes and environment, the skin condition passed down to my child.

eczema lotions

ScratchMeNot, surrounded by eczema lotions

Findings from population-studies done in America and England show a high prevalence of black and Asian children with eczema. Interestingly enough, East Asian parents who are recent immigrants may not actually be allergy sufferers themselves. It seems, then, that environment really does play a big role in eczema.

What is eczema? It’s an inflammatory condition of the skin. Symptoms include rashes, itchiness, scaling, and oozing. Babies can start showing signs of eczema from a few weeks of age, although it typically begins a few months after birth. Often, infants can outgrow this condition by the time they turn 2 or 3.

I hoped that would happen in my case, but it didn’t. Finally, though, it’s come under control. I’ve had an arsenal of supplies for my war against eczema. These were:

Natural

  • Jojoba oil- Liquid from the seed of a plant indigenous to southern United States and northern Mexico. Supposed to moisturize without clogging pores and promote balanced oil production in the skin. (Jojoba oil went on smoothly enough, and I have a girlfriend who swears by it. Unfortunately, it was too messy to control and seemed to increase itching for my little one.)
  • Shea butter- Loaded with lots of good vitamins. Thick and creamy, it’s a beautiful moisturizer. (Shea butter was a little too thick and smeared everywhere. It’s also not a good product for those with nut allergies.)
  • Extra virgin olive oil- An all-natural oil that is safe to use because most people are not allergic to it. Extra virgin is the purest form that can purchased. It’s been used both internally and externally for ages. (Nice moisturizer that is natural and also affordable.)
  • Oatmeal baths- Whether using prepackaged Aveeno ones or your own cylinder of rolled oats, oatmeal soothes the skin. It can be made at home by blending the oats into a very fine powder before adding it to bath water. (Interesting idea, but the kids didn’t enjoy the milky water. Plus, it left my bathtub full of oat bits and pieces, which probably ended up clogging our drain.)
  • Socks/ScratchMeNot- The cuffs of old baby socks can be cut and made into “bracelets.” These new accessories can hide dry skin from curious fingers. There’s also a fancier ScratchMeNot fabric that stretches across the back like a shrug or cardigan. The sleeves can be folded over to create mitten-like cocoons for the hands. (These work really well in the younger years. Later on, though, they want to free their hands and use them.)

Mild:

  • Eucerin/Aquaphor/Cetaphil- The first two are top-selling lotions for eczema. They both moisturize and are formulated for sensitive skin. And Cetaphil has a new line out with the National Eczema Association logo on it. (Between the top two, Eucerin worked better for me because it had a creamier consistency. Aquaphor didn’t seem to cover the area thoroughly enough. I like Cetaphil the most, though, because it covers just enough while rubbing into the skin easily.)
  • Vaseline- I have friends who love petroleum jelly for their eczema. It can seal out potential irritants. (My pediatrician doesn’t recommend it because it works as a barrier, not allowing skin to breathe and not actually moisturizing.)
  • “Natural” lotions- I’ve tried organic ones and everything-free products. Also, aloe vera concoctions. (It’s great to be wary of chemicals, but none of these products really seemed to work well.)
  • Hydrocortisone (drugstore)- Not meant to use for prolonged periods, this is a quick fix tool. It has anti-inflammatory properties that usually take away the rash in 2-3 days. (This helps with tiny itches, but for more advanced rashes, I needed something stronger.)

Harsh:

  • Chlorine bath- That’s right, you mix together a certain ratio of chlorine to bath water. It helps fight off the bacteria that can accompany eczema. (This helped squash any bacterial infections for us and also cleaned the tub! Of course, it would be my last line of defense because it is still bleach.)
  • Desonide .05%- A stronger member of the corticosteroid (think: hydrocortisone) family. It comes in both oitment and cream formulations. (The dermatologist recommended the ointment version because it stayed on better. True.)
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide Ointment .1%- An even stronger option. It comes out clear and is odorless. (Very effective, and it stopped a blooming rash in its tracks.)

Final Verdict: 1) Triamcinolone acetonide ointment for the big jobs; 2) Olive oil with an eczema cream (I like Cetaphil Restoraderm lotion) for moisturizing; 3) Here’s a bonus: Cetaphil RestoradermWash instead of usual body wash to protectively coat the skin during baths and showers

 

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Comments

  1. My youngest daughter had a severe case as well. Dr. Bronner’s soap. Since she had asthma as well, I usually reached for the peppermint, but rosemary and lavender are great for soothing the skin and have natural antibiotic properties. AUA [a eucerine based cream with a special concoction of steriods–mixed specially by the pharmacist.] Raw (from the health food store, not the Asian grocery) sesame seed oil. Aloe vera houseplant as well as a ti plant. Both are traditional remedies for skin eruptions. Pickled veggies of all varieties and miso soup. Yogurt works but my kids are Polynesian so I try to stay away from milk products. Like many things, it tends to get better as they age. Look luck. It’s no fun watching your child get all itchy.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says:

      Thanks for all the tips, Lori! Oddly enough, my older daughter gets a reaction around her mouth from miso soup.

  2. Oh dear. My mom has psoriasis and her twin had it even worse. Mom finds it’s better with sun radiation therapy and so goes into the hospital for treatment especially in spring when she expects to expose more skin. My children and I didn’t get it…thank goodness…but we use cold pressed, organic coconut oil for absolutely everything form skin moisturizer to hair treatment and have made mom use it and it has really helped her skin.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says:

      Sun radiation? I’ve never heard of that. Coconut oil sounds great–you can smell good and have soft skin!

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