As many of you know, my daughter struggles with eczema. Sometimes we have it under control, and other times, it is out of control. This summer, it has gotten progressively worse, and I haven’t been able to figure out why.
I came up with a few hypothesis, but they were proved incorrect. Then, I had an “a-ha” moment and realized that the biggest thing that has changed this summer is our bathing routine. Whereas she used to bathe every day, she is now bathing once a week.
“But shouldn’t kids with eczema stay away from baths?” Well, that’s a misconception a lot of people have, even doctors. Kids with good skin should bathe 2-3 times a week, so they do not dry out their skin. They can have bubble baths and use really hot water. Kids with eczema should bathe daily in warm water with no soap.
Baths naturally open up the pores to allow them to accept moisturizers, like lotions or oils. Plus, with the bathing, dead skin is removed. So for a kid with eczema, not bathing means a build up of the bad skin and poor absorption of the many lotions, ointments, creams, steroids, and oils that you are lathering on in hopes to calm the flare ups.
The key to successful bathing for kids with eczema is 5-20 minutes in warm water, not hot, and no soap. We found bathing at night was not just relaxing, but it has become almost necessary since it makes her skin fresh and soothed, meaning she can sleep a lot better. Let your child soak in the tub and then pat to dry. Immediately, within 2-3 minutes of getting out of the bath, apply moisturizer. We use olive oil because it works the best for her, but use whatever non-scented moisturizer you prefer.
If you’re child responds like ours, you will see almost instant improvement. We started bathing her 10 days ago and after 6 weeks of terrible skin, she started looking and feeling mostly normal again after just 2 days. Now, it has been 10 days and she doesn’t have a trace of eczema on her arms, bottom, thighs, backs of knees, back, or tummy. She has a tiny bit on her lower legs, but hardly at all. She is no longer spending most of her days itching, which means she can focus on being a kid.
For more information about eczema, check out these other FRM posts: