The Lazy Mom's Guide to Eczema Care

Photo: stevenrwilson

It seems there are as many views on how to treat kids' eczema as there are moms. Some moms carefully catalog everything the child has eaten in order to correlate foods with flare-ups. Others see the dermatologist regularly and fill prescriptions, while others rely on over-the-counter creams marketed specifically for the skin disorder.

I'm extremely lazy, so at first I tried to avoid eczema care in the hopes that it would just go away. Or I would treat it with only the cream the doctor prescribed, and if we were out of town and didn't bring it, I would use nothing.

Unfortunately, this approach led to my daughter developing some scars from scratching her eczema patches. I didn't know about them when they happened — they only show up as pale spots when her skin tans in the summer.

(I know. Another dermatological no-no.)

Here are the steps that work for our family to prevent flare-ups, make them go away as soon as possible, and prevent eczema from taking over our lives. One caveat: Our kid's eczema is mild to moderate. If your child has severe eczema, you probably want to ignore this and do whatever your specialist tells you to do. OK, really, everyone should listen to their doctor. But this is what works for us.

1. Try to find the one worst trigger food

You could avoid large categories of food that have reputations as eczema starters — dairy, gluten, citrus. You could do the elimination diet. Maybe this is necessary for some cases, but for us I just noticed that Nutmeg's worst flare-ups came after we'd eaten sushi. At first we thought she might be sensitive to seafood, but with trial and error we realized that soy sauce was her trigger. Living soy-free is pretty easy in America — at least living free of soy protein. I know a lot of processed foods contain soy lecithin, but so far, this hasn't been a problem for her.

2. Rinse after offensive activities

You could discourage your kid from swimming in chlorinated pools or playing in brush that might irritate her skin. Or you could let her do whatever she wants and make sure she rinses off before bed. Besides, a shower or bath doubles as point three, and double-duty is a lazy mom's delight!

3. The 10-minute bath

We did see an allergy/asthma specialist just once about Nutmeg's eczema, and he gave us an instruction book with this helpful advice: Give your kid a 10-minute, warm bath or shower in the evening, followed by a pat-dry and the right moisturizer (see point four) within three minutes of getting out. If your kid needs a wash, use a cleanser with no fragrance, and make sure it all gets rinsed off.

A really good mom would make sure the kid gets this bath every night of the year. A lazy mom like me makes sure she gets one if she's been doing eczema-aggravating activities or if she's having a flare-up.

4. Use the right moisturizer

That would be fragrance-free. Something good and thick so it doesn't evaporate and take more moisture with it. We use Eucerin Aquaphor. Apply the moisturizer when the skin is still slightly damp. By age five or so, your kid can probably do the pat-dry and the moisturizer herself.

5. If necessary, a steroid cream

We have a prescription cream, but our allergist kindly let us know that if we can't find it or run out, over-the-counter Cortaid or a similar cream works just the same.

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Guest's picture

We use Cetaphil liquid soap along with Eucerin moisturizer right after the bath and then Aquaphor to conclude our moisturizing routine for our 2 yr old. I also use either Aquaphor or A&D on her cheeks and they work wonders!

Guest's picture

Good stuff. Both my 19-month old son and I have eczema. I'm learning that, for me anyways, moisturizing is the best defense. Remembering to do it after the shower (or after giving him a bath) is the toughest part.

Guest's picture

I've had eczema on my hands for years. The trigger for me is sodium lauryl sulfate. It's found in soap, shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste, dish soap, the list goes on. Since I have completely eliminated it from my life, I rarely have flare-ups. When I do, it's usually because I've been out and about shopping or on vacation and inadvertently used a product containing SLS. It's worth it to try eliminating it from your daily routine and see if it helps.