While I have always struggled with eczema, I still found it to be new territory when our son's skin suddenly erupted in rashes at around four months old. My go to remedy of slathering on my prescription betamethasone wasn’t going to cut it with my infant. I quickly started researching – aka googling – how to manage my son’s itchy, weeping, bleeding skin. And let me tell you there is A LOT of information out there with most of it conflicting each other.
So, I thought it would be prudent to share my experience and what helped. While I do not hold a medical degree, I did lean on our medical providers when addressing my son’s skin. This is what worked for us and some steps I think would help any parent battling with eczema.
My very first piece of advice is to get you advice straight from your doctor. We have quite the team with our kids because of their allergies. So, my first step was to bring it up with our family doctor, who gave us a referral to a pediatric dermatologist, and our allergist. While both of their perspectives were helpful, there was conflicting ideas around if I should eliminate items such as dairy or wheat from our diets to help with the eczema. I did attempt to reduce my sugar intake, as Zayden was still exclusively breast fed, and I know sugar is highly inflammatory. Otherwise, the allergist did not want us to remove other foods as it could result in more allergies later. So – do with that what you will!
Seeing the dermatologist was extremely helpful. Not only did she prescribe great medications, outside of just betamethasone, she went over so many tips and tricks for getting the flares down and under control. I would highly suggest you seek a referral to dermatology if that is something available in your area.
The Right Products
One thing that I have noticed is that the right skin products and clothing materials do make all the difference.
Outside of our prescribed steroid ointments, we needed a heavy-duty moisturizer we could use daily and gentle soaps that weren’t going to aggravate his already angry skin. I had already tried a PLETHORA of products that were suggested to me by friends and family, yet nothing really worked well. I was started to lose hope that there wasn’t much I could do but rely on the prescription ointments – and that didn’t feel great. However, once we saw the dermatologist, I had a list of products I could use.
La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+M
I know your jaw is going to drop when you see the price of this line of products, I know mine did the first time I flipped down the price bar in the Shopper’s Drug Mart Beauty Boutique! However, this line DOES work. Also, it’s been clinically tested on infants as young as two weeks old versus so many other products which haven’t been tested for safe use on children below 1 or 2 years of age.
We use the Lipikar Baume AP+M which “is clinically proven to reduce itching by half, provide immediate soothing and space out the frequency of flare-ups of eczema and severe dryness.” It uses the science of lipids to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. The first time I used this I was shocked with how think the cream is, but it’s been such a life saver. The biggest con of this product is the packaging. It’s a pump bottle which is great for the first three quarters of the bottle. We find that its very difficult to get the last quarter out of the bottle – and for how expensive this is, we ain’t leaving even a drop behind!
La Roche-Posay SYNDET AP+ wash
While I wasn’t a fan of the fact our dermatologist directed us to the seemingly most expensive (at over $22 for 400 ml) brand of body wash for our four-month-old son, I was happy that it was the same brand as the moisturizer. I was happy that I was going to be able to find the two items at the same store every time versus going on a scavenger hunt for various brands. This soap is so gentle and leaves the skin feeling so moisturized. I can see why this is the number one recommended soap for sensitive and eczema prone skin.
Bioderma – Atoderm Cleansing Oil
Listen, I stuck to the La Roche-Posay cleanser for over a year, but I came to a point where I just needed a break from the sticker shock, so I asked the extremely knowledgeable SDM Beauty Counter reps what a suitable alternative would be. I was delighted when I was directed to this product. This cleansing oil is around $29 for 1L! And it’s been working so well on everyone’s dry skin in the house! The smell definitely reminds me a bit of my grandma, but it’s not a deal breaker.
I know that a lot of parents and doctors swear by the Cerave line of products. I haven’t tried any of the Cerave products, but I wanted to give them an honourable mention as I know so many of my friends have had great success with them. They are much more cost effective than the La Roche Posay line of products so they might be a great first step for a family starting out on their eczema journey.
As for the right clothing, it is very important not to overheat when dealing with skin issues like eczema. We love our Kyte Baby clothing for this reason. We use their sleepers, sleep sacks, body suits, hats, and sheets. I have also sought out other bamboo and light weight clothing all in an effort to keep our son’s temperature regulated. In winter, I typically use a bamboo diaper shirt as a base layer and add warmer layers on top. I also avoid other skin irritating elements such as itchy tags or rough materials.
The right routine
I will never forget when our pediatric dermatologist went over what our routine for keeping our son’s eczema under control. “Mom, you’ve simply got to treat him like the prince he is!”. Oh! Ok! Let me elaborate…
Our doctor explained that we should be giving our son a lukewarm bath – Every. Single. Night. The water should not be too cool and not too warm, just right. She went on to explain that it was IMPERATIVE that we get his skin dried off and lotion applied within 3 minutes of taking him out of the bath – no dilly-dallying! We were instructed to not be skimpy with the lotion either. I should be thinking of icing a cake when applying moisturizer to his skin. Let me tell you when I got home, I took this advice very seriously and my son has been given the royal treatment since!
While eczema is so, so common these days, it can be extremely challenging. We found that our son’s skin was keeping him from sleep and affecting his mood. It was clearly painful and causing him a lot of stress. Now, at 19 months, our son’s skin is mostly under control. We have stubborn areas like his hands that have been hard to manage as he always washing them at daycare. Otherwise, when it does flare, like after an illness or allergic reaction, we know exactly how to handle it. I am so thankful that we found the right products and the right routine to help us get it under control.