As a mom, I am always very aware of Diego’s health. That’s why when I noticed a rash on his legs and arms, I made sure to figure out exactly what was going on. At first, I thought it was toddler eczema. However, after visiting a doctor, we found out that while he does deal with a little bit of eczema, the problem was simply that he has extremely sensitive skin.
However, I know toddler eczema is something that many toddlers deal with, so from one mama to another, I reached out to Dr. Romine of Camelback Dermatology to have her answer some common questions regarding toddler eczema and here’s what she had to say…
(P.S. I’m also sharing my favorite products and other things that have helped IMMENSELY with Diego’s sensitive skin at the bottom!)
What is Eczema? how is it different than sensitive skin?
Eczema is irritated skin caused by an overreaction of your immune system in response to certain triggers. This results in a breakdown of your skin’s barrier allowing bacteria and viruses to invade. Because of this, those with eczema also develop secondary skin infections. Sensitive skin, on the other hand, can include a lot of different skin conditions including eczema, severe allergies, or rosacea.
What are eczema symptoms to look for in your toddler?
Symptoms of eczema can include chronic, dry, itchy skin and the development of a red, scaly rash. There is often also widespread tiny bumps over the skin surface especially in the creases of elbows and knees.
What causes eczema?
While the cause of eczema is not known, it is believed that if you have:
- a family history of eczema
- have conditions such as asthma or allergies
- and live in a more populated city
you may be more susceptible to developing eczema. What we do know is that eczema is triggered by certain things including:
- animal dander
- cleaning products
- the development of a cold
The key is finding the trigger(s) and taking steps to avoid these triggers.
Where on the body can eczema occur?
Eczema often appears classically in the elbow crease and legs behind the knees. However, it can appear anywhere on the body.
What is the best eczema immediate treatment for toddlers until getting into a doctor?
Because of the barrier disruption and increased colonization with bacteria that is very common in eczema, the best early treatment is using gentle skin care in an attempt to repair the barrier. Washing your toddler’s entire skin surface with an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory wash (my personal favorite is CLn wash) is a very important first and possibly even curative step.
Years ago, we, Dermatologists, would recommend a bleach bath in order to prevent skin infections from developing during an eczema flare. While anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, this treatment was cumbersome and could not be used above the neck. CLn wash, which you can purchase online or at your Dermatologist’s office, is now replacing bleach baths and can be used safely on the entire body (avoiding eyes of course). It contains a derivative of bleach, sodium hypochlorite, which is why it remains both anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory but will not bleach skin or clothing. In addition, it has been scientifically proven to, reduce itching, reduce the chance of staph infection, and reduce the usage of steroids, which is a common treatment option.
Is there anything we can do to prevent eczema?
If your child has eczema, you have to become a detective! Find out what is triggering the eczema flare and then take steps to avoid that trigger. Maintenance of a strong skin barrier with consistent use of gentle skin care is a must. This includes the use of cooler water and CLn wash followed by a thick white fragrance-free moisturizing cream.
What can parents do to keep eczema flare-ups to a minimum? Anything to avoid?
You must practice gentle skin care which means:
- No dyes or perfumes in your laundry detergent
- No dryer sheets
- Washing with gentle cleansers
- Moisturizing skin with a thick, white, unscented cream.
Heat can also cause eczema flares so it is important to keep shower or bath water temperatures cool to lukewarm. Wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing and avoiding fabrics like polyester, wool, or nylon can also help prevent an eczema flare. If you believe your child’s eczema is flared by a food, make sure to consult with your board-certified Dermatologist. This step is necessary as removing a food from your child’s diet for the long-term may lead to other health problems so help from your board-certified Dermatologist and a dietician is essential.
Is there anything unexpected about eczema parents should know?
It is so important to keep your child’s eczema under control as persistent itching can become a distraction and, eventually, a habit. Not only will your child’s sleep patterns be disrupted (which means yours’ will be as well) but children with eczema may develop learning disabilities. A study analysis from the National Survey of Children’s Health and the National Health Interview Survey found that children with eczema have a higher chance of developing a speech disorder. And, while more information is still needed, studies are showing that children with eczema have around a 5% higher incidence rate of developing ADHD. While this may sound scary, there are simple, everyday changes you can make to help manage and prevent eczema flares. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has great resources for parents of children with eczema. I’ve included their link here, so make sure to take advantage of the information and helpful tips! You can also find a board-certified Dermatologist near you to partner with for professional help here.
My Favorite Toddler Eczema Treatments
1. Change Clothing
For Diego, a major cause of his sensitive skin and eczema is harsh clothing rubbing his skin. To avoid this, I focus on dressing him in organic, cotton clothing that will not cause irritation. When he does wear jeans to school, I always take them off the minute he gets home. (This is also great to prevent him from bringing school germs home, haha!) Here are some amazing organic, cotton clothing items and brands. I also love Lark Adventurewear! Their clothing is made from cotton and bamboo and helps with UV protection and keeping the kids cool.
2. Store-Bought Eczema Creams and Lotions
As far as eczema lotions and eczema creams go, I had a few recommended to me by the doc that has helped soothed a lot of Diego’s symptoms. The brand is CeraVe and both their Hydrating Cleansing Bar and Moisturizing Cream have been super helpful in fighting this.
3. Natural Toddler Eczema Treatment
I have not tried many homemade and natural remedies for Diego’s sensitive skin and eczema (other than switching the types of clothes he wears) but the National Eczema Association has a few great articles discussing this topic.
This article talks about the different kinds of alternative eczema treatments. Two eczema treatments they mention are using virgin coconut oil (I like this one from Garden of Life) and virgin sunflower seed oil.
This article also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular bathing routine to help calm eczema as well as including probiotics in one’s diet. Probiotics are already a regular part of Diego’s diet. My favorite children’s probiotics are Culturelle Probiotics Kids.
I hope this information gives you some more insight into toddler eczema, as well as eczema in general! If you have any tips for dealing with toddler eczema, I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments below, or on my Instagram.
Special thanks to Dr. Romine for taking time to answer my questions!
@CallMeLore | #CallMeLore