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Can stress make your child's eczema flare up?

Is stress a trigger for my child’s eczema?

Stress. Why is it that on the days my little boy went to daycare his skin always seemed worse? So many people told me it was the sandpit, but it even on the days there was no sandpit play his skin was still affected. So what was causing his eczema to flare up while he was at daycare?

After a lot of monitoring all sorts of possible triggers, like whether he played in the sandpit that day or not, analysing the weekly weekly menu to try and pick up a pattern, taking note of whether it was a hot or cold day, and making sure his own sunscreen was applied which I knew didn’t irritate his skin… I wasn’t able to find a culprit.

There was one possibility left. And this was stress. The emotional stress of being in a less familiar environment, being away from me, and dealing with the everyday happenings at daycare was quite possibly the reason for his eczema flare ups.

What types of stress triggers eczema?

  • Separation anxiety – When your child is away from you for long periods of time, it may cause them mental and emotional distress and result in their skin being more itchy.
  • The stress scratch cycle – When your child feels stressed from irritants such as clothing and dust, they may begin to scratch their skin intensely.
  • Busy schedules – Just like all of us, when schedules get more hectic, we start to feel stressed and begin to worry. Children also feel this when their routines become overloaded or changed, so it is important to maintain a more relaxed routine for your little one and sometimes choose to do less.

How can I manage my child’s stress?

There are some changes you could make which could help to lessen eczema flare ups related to stress.

Itchy skin can make sleeping well really challenging and the lack of sleep can result in your child feeling stressed, worsening eczema symptoms. To help your little one (and you) get a good night’s sleep you could try:

  • Bath time can help some children relax, especially if it is part of their known routine.
  • After the bath massage their skin using a hydrating moisturiser or oil to protect the skin from drying out and getting itchy during the night.
  • Limit the use of screen time two hours before bed time.
  • Make sure your child’s bedroom is a relaxed environment – not too hot or cold. It is also important to dress your child up in pyjamas made of cotton which is a breathable fabric and lessens the heat around the body which can cause itchiness.

Although stress may not directly cause eczema, it can increase the incidence of eczema flare ups. Just being aware of stress as a trigger for your child’s eczema can influence decisions you make about your day to day routine.

This blog post was brought to you and your family with love from Julia and the itchy baby co. team x.

Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional.

what is the atopic triad and eczema

What is the Atopic Triad and why is it important for eczema?

What is an Atopic Triad?

So, you have found out your child has eczema, so it’s the right time to let you know that eczema is commonly associated with asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and food allergies and the Atopic triad refers to the genetic likelihood of developing these conditions together.

Children who have eczema are more likely to develop asthma and hay fever, and this is because they have their immune system can over-respond to allergens. The various conditions of the Atopic triad usually present early in life, soon after birth. The best way to deal with your child’s allergic conditions is to track down potential triggers and maintain a skincare routine that suits your child. Generally, eczema is the condition diagnosed first as part of the atopic triad, then hay fever and asthma.

Why do people get eczema and allergies?

There have been many questions of whether eczema and allergies are due to a problem with the skin barrier, which allows allergens to enter the body, triggering eczema, or vice versa – due to an over-active immune system that leads to inflammation and then a broken skin barrier, which results eczema. After several years of research, there has been evidence that there is a skin deficiency which allows allergens and irritants to more easily enter the skin. The environment also plays an important role in flare ups so watch out for what triggers your child’s eczema and try your best to avoid them.

The Atopic Triangle

The conditions of the Atopic triad are genetic, so there is a higher chance of your child having these skin conditions if you have suffered from them in the past.  Studies have shown that roughly 70% of those who suffer from one of the allergic conditions, may experience symptoms from another one of these conditions from the triad.

Signs that your child is suffering from the Atopic triad

Some of the early warning signs that your little one might show are:

  • The development of eczema from a very young age. Symptoms include, itchy dry skin, redness, rash, scaly and crusted sores.
  • Children may not develop all three conditions together, and may suffer from asthma and hay fever later in life, but it is important to be aware for their signs and triggers.
  • People who have hay fever mostly have their allergies triggered by pollen, dust and mould, especially during spring time. Some of the common symptoms include sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, and an itchy nose and throat.
  • You should watch out for any signs of asthma, such as coughing at night or during exercise, as well as having difficulty breathing, wheezing, breathing fast through the mouth or tight feeling in the chest. If you think your child may have asthma, please contact your doctor.

What can I do to manage my child’s symptoms?

  • Setting up an air purifier in your child’s room can help to keep the area clear of allergens and dust.
  • Wet dusting and regular vacuuming to decrease house dust mite.
  • Being aware of the pollen count especially during spring time when deciding how to spend your day.
  • The most important way of managing your child’s symptoms are to maintain an appropriate skin care routine by giving your child a daily bath to keep irritants away, providing a protective barrier to help reduce the risk of infection. And remember, moisturise moisturise moisturise.

This blog post was brought to you and your family with love from Julia and the itchy baby co. team x.

Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional.

are pets good for children who have eczema?

What type of pets are good for children who have eczema?

Can children with eczema have pets?

We all love pets, especially children. They are a great way of passing time and having fun, while at the same time helping your child learn responsibility. Choosing a family pet when your child has eczema has comes with extra considerations, this is because pet dander and other allergens or irritants can potentially trigger eczema and aggravate flare ups.

Which pets can trigger eczema?

Any animal that sheds pet dander has the potential to trigger eczema flare ups in your child. Dander is material shed from the body of various animals that have fur, hair, or feathers. You may have heard of ‘hypoallergenic pets’ being better for your eczema child, however there is no proof that these animals are better for children with allergies because all pets have the potential to transfer dander and saliva to your child.

Research on pets and eczema

Studies conducted by Epstein, which was featured in ‘The Journal of Paediatrics’ showed that dog ownership among young children who tested positive for dog allergies, decreased the risk of developing eczema when they are older. Six hundred and thirty six children at risk of developing allergies, living in Cincinnati were collected and results showed that those with dogs were less likely to develop allergies compared to those who did not own a dog.  Doctors call this the hygiene hypothesis, where the theory is that being exposed to germs when a child is young strengthens the immune system.

Although research found this data for dogs, there was not very much information on whether cats act the same way. Studies showed that children who owned a cat before the age of one, who were also tested positive for allergies, were much more likely to develop atopic eczema than those who did not have a cat. If your child is allergic to cats, living with one may make them more likely to get eczema flare ups. Experts say that more investigations need to be administered on the positives and negatives of owning different pets while you have a child with atopic eczema.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, eczema flare ups can worsen with triggers such as allergens and pet dander (pet saliva, urine or skin flakes), and not always just the pet’s fur. Since research is still not 100% conclusive, it may be safe to expand your options and buy a pet with no fur instead (maybe a goldfish?). You can also spend time with the pet you are considering buying and see if your child’s symptoms worsen, and then make a decision.

Tips for living with a pet

If you suspect that your pet is aggravating your child’s eczema, here are some tips to help minimise flare ups:

  • Vacuum and dust regularly to get rid of pet dander and fur, as well as any dust mites that might be roaming around
  • Keep your pet out of bedrooms
  • Wash the pet bedding routinely
  • Bathe and groom your pet regularly to get rid of allergens that may be on them. It is best to do it outside to minimise contact with your child.
  • Make sure to wash your child’s hands after they have finished playing with the pets. Regular bath time is important to cleanse the skin especially after your child has come into contact with irritants and allergens.
  • Always remember to moisturise to keep the skin soft and hydrated!

This blog post was brought to you and your family with love from Julia and the itchy baby co. team x.

Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional.

eczema colloidal oatmeal bath itchy dry skin

It’s just OATMEAL! How can an oatmeal bath help my child’s itchy, dry, eczema skin?

I know, I get it, and I thought the exact same thing – oatmeal is oatmeal. How is it going to help my child’s itchy, dry, eczema skin? So to satisfy my scientific pharmacist self, I started researching the clinical evidence and research available (that kept me busy for awhile!) and after those late night study sessions, I decided to jump right in. Or rather… I stepped into the oatmeal bath carefully holding my little boy and hoping with every bit of my heart and soul for something to wash away the pain of his suffering and ease my guilt.

Why can an oatmeal bath be effective for eczema and dry, itchy skin?

Naturally, the benefits of an oatmeal bath go back to science…

Research shows most of the benefits of having an oatmeal bath come from oatmeal’s chemical structure:

  • Beta-glucans hold in water and protect the skin, and may also assist in stimulating collagen production to strengthen the skin from irritation.
  • Cellulose and fibre which give oatmeal the ability to soften and moisturise the skin.
  • Phenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helping reduce irritation and itching of your child’s eczema skin.
  • Our body contains prostaglandins which cause blood vessels to dilate, resulting in inflamed, irritated skin that can be prone to infection by bacteria and other microorganisms.
  • Colloidal oatmeal lowers the levels of prostaglandins, resulting in repaired barrier function and calmed skin.
  • Saponins, which are compounds found mainly in grains, and this ingredient gives colloidal oatmeal exceptional cleansing qualities to wash the skin and also take away any triggers sitting on the skin’s surface which can cause irritation and lead to infection.

Is using oatmeal for eczema and itchy, dry skin a new thing?

No! Oatmeal has been used for hundreds of years to soothe itchy and irritated skin. The oldest oat grains were found in Egypt in about 2000 BC and was introduced to North America at the beginning of the 17th century. Colloidal oatmeal started to be used for cosmetic benefits in facial masks as well as for cleansing and relieving itching. In the mid 1900s, colloidal oatmeal became ready to use for skin care and in 2003, the US FDA approved it as a product that can relieve skin irritation and itching.

What new evidence is around to suggest colloidal oatmeal might be effective for my child’s eczema?

Studies have been conducted on colloidal oatmeal, as it has been used for centuries as a topical treatment for a range of skin conditions, including eczema. Extracts of colloidal oatmeal were made with numerous solvents and tested in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory assays. A blind study was also carried out with 29 healthy females who displayed mild to moderate itch with dry skin on their lower legs. After treatment with colloidal oatmeal, results showed significant clinical improvements in skin dryness, roughness and the magnitude of itchiness. These results provided evidence that colloidal oatmeal does contribute to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, benefiting the skin, and may be used to treat the symptoms of eczema (Reynertson KA et al., 2018; PubMed 2018).

In a double blind, active-controlled study researchers aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 1% colloidal oatmeal cream, compared to prescription creams in children with eczema. A variety of ages (ranging from 6 months to 18 years old) were randomised to colloidal oatmeal and prescription cream. The effectiveness of these products was tested using the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) scores, as well as the Investigator’s Global Atopic Dermatitis Assessment (IGADA) scores. The EASI scores showed that prescription cream was not superior to colloidal oatmeal. It was concluded that 1% oatmeal cream was equally effective and safe as the prescription cream, in the treatment of mild-moderate eczema in children (Lisante Et Al., 2017; Medline, 2018).

Another double-blind, randomised, controlled study was conducted by researches where colloidal oatmeal was applied for 15 minutes as an open patch test, and under a patch for 24-48 hours. Results showed no sign of an allergic reaction. In a 2-week, single-blinded study of patients with Fitzpatrick skin types IV-VI, a remarkable improvement in skin brightness was seen within the first day, and continued throughout the study period. These results concluded that using the moisturiser containing colloidal oatmeal twice daily had great improvements in alleviating symptoms of irritated skin (Nebus et al., 2004).

But what is colloidal oatmeal?

When we hear oatmeal bath, it may sound like having a bath with breakfast cereal, but it is not quite what we think.  Oatmeal is ground into a fine powder and boiled, making it into a colloid, which is a solution of very small particles suspended in warm water, and because it has been finely ground, it remains evenly dispersed and does not sink to the bottom. This well mixed oatmeal is called colloidal oatmeal. Colloidal oatmeal binds to the skin and forms a protective barrier which helps to lock in moisture, as well as ease inflammation, it also cleanses the skin.

Where can I find colloidal oatmeal to help my child’s eczema and itchy, dry skin?

Our itchy baby co. products contain colloidal oatmeal. A regular skincare routine of bathing and moisturising your child every day can lead to healthy and happy skin.We recommend dissolving two to three spoonfuls of our natural oatmeal bath soak in a lukewarm bath every day and applying our oatmeal and coconut moisturiser within two minutes of taking your child out of the bath.  You can find a range of natural skincare products containing oatmeal oatmeal at itchy baby co.

This blog post was brought to you and your family with love from Julia and the itchy baby co. team x.

Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional.

References:

Lisante, T., Nunez, C., and Zhang, P. (2017). Efficacy and safety of an over-the-counter 1% colloidal oatmeal cream in the management of mild to moderate atopic dermatitis in children: a double blind, randomised, active-controlled study. Journal of Dermatological Treatment 28: 659-667
Renertson, KA. et al. (2015). Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry skin.  J Drugs Dermatol. 14 (1): 43-48. PubMed-NCBI
Nebus J, et al. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;50:P77.
Gibson L, et al. (2003) Origin, history, and uses of oat (Avena sativa) and wheat (Triticum aestivum).