“DON’T SCRATCH!” I dread to think how many times I said that to my daughter when she was a toddler. Of course, there was no way she could have stopped scratching even if she had wanted to. As anyone who has had eczema knows, the urge to scratch is intense and so telling someone not to scratch is particularly unhelpful as it can stress them out even more.
But watching your little one scratch until they bleed is super stressful for any parent, let alone a sleep-deprived, end-of her-tether one and I was determined to find some way to distract her.
My first stop was our very helpful eczema nurse. She taught us the ‘pat pat’ method. So instead of scratching her skin I had to teach Miss T to pat her skin gently where the itch was. This helped when I was nearby, but as soon as I was more than an arm’s length from her, she would return to her scratching. I soon realised that I would need to try and prevent the itch before it really got fired up.
Keeping cool was a big factor in reducing the eczema itch. Miss T was dressed for summer all year round in thin layers of pure cotton, long sleeved T-shirts and leggings.
Although we tried wet wrapping with tubifast and bandages, Miss T used to hate it and we would both end up getting upset. I wish the wet wrap suits had been available then as this would have been a far quicker and easier way to cool the itch and much less stressful for us both.
Keep nails short
I did try my best to keep Miss T’s nails as short as possible. However I do remember one occasion when she was two years old and we were visiting a very senior dermatologist, who already thought I was bonkers for making changes to her diet and using natural creams. He had just reminded me again to keep her nails short and I (very indignantly) replied that OF COURSE I kept her nails short. With that Miss T scraped her nails across the consulting room chair making it obvious that those little nails were definitely NOT short! (I blame the fact that her super healthy diet must have been making her nails grow very quickly!)
Keeping hands occupied
Buggy time used to be incredibly difficult and I spent a fortune on all sorts of different toys to string across the pushchair in the hope that she would play with them rather than scratch. It was around this time that I discovered ScratchMeNots. They made a huge difference and I could finally get from A to B without stopping a hundred times to try and distract Miss T from her scratching.
Steer clear of polyester
Another factor that I feel really helped Miss T’s eczema was staying away from man-made materials. She only ever wears 100% cotton or bamboo clothing which allows her skin to breathe and stops it overheating and getting itchy. We have been very lucky in that her school uniform is made from cotton rather than the 100% polyester that most school children have to wear. Luckily there are some lovely companies out there now such as Ecooutfitters who have started making pure cotton uniform for children with eczema and allergies.
We’d love to hear how others manage their itch. Is there anything that you have found really helpful, or is their nothing that makes the itch go away?