By Malika Datt Sadani
As adults, dry and itchy skin can cause great discomfort, soreness and irritation; one can then only imagine the dismay of young children with sensitive skin who suffer from atopic dermatitis or eczema as it is known. One in five children suffer from eczema and my daughter was one of them. While the exact cause of eczema is not known, it may be linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritant. As such, eczema is not contagious and symptoms differ in every age group. Infants with eczema will often present rashes on the skin and cheeks which cause itchiness. Continuous rubbing and scratching may lead to skin infections. Symptoms in children may present themselves as rashes on the neck, wrists, ankles, elbows or knees. In severe conditions, rashes may become bumpy, lighten or darken in colour and develop a permanent itch.
Having cared for a child with the condition myself, I empathise with the struggle that many parents undergo and the agony of watching your own little one with intense inflammation.
As parents, it is essential to be appropriately informed about the condition and the various options available in the market. Parents must keep an eye out as children are more susceptible to rashes and side-effects than grown-ups are, and all they can do is bawl and bear with it.
In fact, with the change of season around the corner, heavy monsoons soon to transition to dry and cold winters, it is important to take care of one’s skin. A daily cleanse and moisturising routine with a healthy diet can control symptoms and ease parenting dilemmas that moms and dads of eczema-prone children face.
Below are six simple solutions for parents of children with extremely dry, sensitive and eczema-prone skin:
1. Minimise irritants and allergens across soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants, pets, pollen and more. Maximise caution, when it comes to the environment in which you raise your child. Not just at home, but at school and at play. Some things may not be in your control, but communicating with teachers at school and those who engage with your child on a day-to-day basis can help with carving out a healthy atmosphere that does not aggravate symptoms.
2. Keeping the skin’s moisture intact is key to controlling eczema. Damaged skin can make it harder to retain moisture, making it more sensitive to irritants, which leads to dry, itchy skin. Moisturisation is important for protecting the skin barrier and to control eczema. It is recommended to keep skin moisturised and applying moisturiser all over within three minutes of bathing will help lock in moisture.
3. Maintain hygiene and cleanliness, from keeping fingernails short and regular hair trims to managing timely changes and washes. Choose clothes that feel soft on sensitive skin and while you’re at it, add some prints and colours to excite him or her about the special selections in the wardrobe.
4. Avoid extreme temperatures. We are accustomed to our low-temperature air-conditioners at home and when commuting in public transport with windows rolled down, we risk exposure to hot air and pollution. Perspiration as well can increase the urge to itch. Striking a balance on these fronts is important. It may seem like a trivial matter, but taking care of the small things can go a long way in healing your child.
5. We have all heard about the necessity of a balanced diet. In fact, many adults now subscribe to nutritionists and maintain a calorie-count as well. Ironically, we all know it but still, tend to neglect the apparent. Eczema flare-ups can be caused by dairy products, eggs, meat, seeds, wheat, and yet other food items. Parents must curate a diet chart suited to their child’s unique needs because in this case, a one-size-fits-all approach will not be effective.
6. Stress can aggravate symptoms of eczema in some kids. It is important to communicate with your child about their skin condition so that they are aware and if possible, identify what aggravates it so that they can be better prepared to deal with it.
As it is always said, you can never be prepared enough to be a parent, and there will always be something that could have been done better! Parenting does not come with a manual, for sure, but we can continue to improve and learn as we go along. One in five children have eczema, and we have a long way to go when it comes to creating awareness; let’s spread the word and bring more light into the lives of those little ones who light up our worlds.
(The writer is CEO, Moms Co.)
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