How to Sooth an Eczema Flare-Up

If your child is prone to eczema flare-ups, you’re acutely aware of just how uncomfortable it can be. It can make them miserable during the day and interrupt their sleep (and yours) at night. If your child’s eczema is making them climb the walls and causing you to want to put your head through one, read on.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for eczema in children or adults, but there are plenty of things you can try to help ease your child’s suffering. As with any treatment protocol, always consult with your doctor before proceeding.

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Keep The Moisture In

Eczema itch is caused by acutely dry skin. For most patients, the epidermis is damaged in some way, rendering it unable to adequately retain moisture and block pathogens. The first step to soothing a current flare-up and prevent future occurrences is to moisturize at least twice a day.

Favor a baby eczema cream that’s hypoallergenic and free of harsh fragrances, dyes, and other unnecessary chemicals that can irritate the skin and worsen your child’s symptoms. It’s a good idea to apply moisturizer directly after a bath, helping to trap moisture from the bathwater against the skin.

And speaking of baths, it’s worth mentioning that standard soaps, shampoos, and similar cleansers can be hard on the skin, particularly for eczema sufferers. Leave those out of your child’s bath time and use a body wash for eczema that’s formulated to be gentle on the skin and free of damaging chemicals.

Relieve the Itch

Eczema’s characteristic itchiness is only made worse by scratching, so the first step to soothing a painful flare-up is to keep your child away from the affected area. Keep their nails clipped short. If they’re old enough to understand you, try and explain to them that scratching will only make it hurt more.

Otherwise (and additionally) try covering their hands with mittens while they sleep. We understand that Bernie Sanders has a very attractive pair you might try to replicate. Make sure they’re cotton though, as other fibers may be too rough.

Nighttime can be a particularly difficult time for children experiencing a flare-up. The pain and itchiness can make it very difficult to fall asleep. If your doctor agrees, you can use an oral antihistamine like diphenhydramine to calm the itch. These medications may not completely stop the itching, but they can relieve the compulsion to scratch and help your child fall asleep.

Checking in with your doctor in person or via a telemedicine appointment is also probably a great idea as he or she may need to prescribe a prescription topical steroid cream or a newer class of non-steroidal prescription creams that will be used at the same time as your irritant free moisturizing cream. Using the right gentle emollient together with the prescription topical medication can really help alleviate the flare and bring your child’s skin back to baseline.

Remember, eczema is, at its core, a dry skin condition, so keep your child moisturized. If you think you aren’t applying often enough, you probably aren’t. If you’re certain you are, you still may not be. Use a skin-friendly eczema cream at least twice a day. Or maybe fill a swimming pool with it and soak liberally. Expensive but effective.

Don’t actually do that.

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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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