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The rise of allergies in children

The rise of allergies in children

Why are allergies rising in Australia? These days there seems to be so many more children and adults who are experiencing allergies, especially food allergies. But why? Why suddenly are allergies on the rise? Why do my toddlers suffer from allergies when I don’t?

This question is on my mind a lot since my youngest toddler is allergic to eggs and pineapple and my eldest is allergic to yeast. Allergic reactions to foods are also more common in children with eczema.

The answer to why allergies are on the rise is that we’re not totally sure. The experts say it is a bit of everything – our western lifestyle and environment, a bit of genetics but not one thing alone is to blame.

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Eczema and asthma

Managing your toddler’s asthma

Winter infections are made a little more serious if you have a toddler with asthma. We know if your toddler has eczema there is a higher chance they might also have asthma. In our house with two toddlers with eczema, only one of them, my eldest, also has asthma. Having been admitted to hospital a few times with chest infections made worse by asthma, there are a few extra things we do this time of year.

what is an asthma action plan?

Every six months our asthma action plan is updated by our pediatrician, but a GP would also be able to do this. Getting on top of our action plan is the first step we take to managing our toddler’s asthma in winter. Not only does it remind me of important steps to take, but also my toddler’s medication might be changed for the winter months.

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Eczema and dust mites

Dust mites and eczema

We were getting ready to move house and amongst all the chaos there’s one thing which really took me by surprise and that’s the amount of dust which was happily living where I couldn’t see it.

Wasn’t my weekly vacuum, mop and wet dust enough to keep dust away? Apparently not.

Of course the reason why I was so alarmed about the hidden amounts of dust is that dust mite allergen is a big trigger for eczema. Some babies skin can be become more inflamed if it comes in contact with dust mite allergen. Dust mites and eczema just don’t go together. So now I’m trying even harder to make dust mites uncomfortable in our new house with a few new tricks.

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Treating winter eczema

Treating Winter Eczema

Melting marshmellows over the open fireplace, slipping my feet into my favourite hot pink ugg boots, the smell of a yummy casserole in the oven and… my toddlers’ eczema flaring up. These are just a few things I’m thinking of as winter is approaching and yes winter eczema is very much on my mind.

Why does eczema get worse in winter?

Winter brings cold, dry air and this makes it hard for your baby’s skin to keep the moisture in. So it is even more likely that your baby’s skin will become dry, itchy and irritated. Winter also means in and out of warm heating to outside windy weather. Going from warm to cold shocks your baby’s skin which can lead to a winter eczema flare up.

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Soothing itchy skin

Soothing Itchy Skin

Baby eczema is almost always itchy and sometimes itchy skin starts even before we see a rash. The hot spots for baby eczema rash are the face and the back of the knees, wrists, hands or feet. Other spots I found to be popular for itchy skin with my baby are the fronts of the ankles and the eyelids. Sometimes the itchy skin can be so bad that if your baby is like mine, he might scratch his skin until it bleeds. This is called the itch-scratch cycle and makes your baby’s skin more irritated and inflamed.

Getting the eczema itch under control

Getting itchy skin under control is the first step to happy for skin for your baby. The first thing I do for itchy skin which brings immediate relief to my toddler is to put a cold compress on the really itchy areas. I usually do this by wrapping a small bag of frozen peas in a wet tea towel. When the need to itch seems to be dying down I rub a steroid cream into his skin quickly followed by a moisturiser. The moisturiser I use is called emulsifying ointment in water which your local pharmacist can make up for you without a prescription.

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Food allergies and eczema

The link between food allergies and eczema

I can’t talk about managing eczema without mentioning the link between eczema and food allergies. Some toddlers with eczema will be allergic to some foods. The most common foods which trigger eczema symptoms in toddlers are cows’ milk, eggs, soya, wheat, fish and nuts. This doesn’t mean the food causes eczema, just that it is likely your toddler may also have a food allergy which can in some cases make eczema symptoms worse. In our family my eldest toddler has a food allergy to yeast – so no vegemite in our house! My younger toddler has food allergies to pineapple and eggs.

Each of my toddlers react differently to their food allergies. The eldest has a delayed food allergy – after about 6 hours of eating the food he is allergic to, his itching and eczema worsens. Whereas the youngest experiences immediate food allergies and her symptoms are more obvious. Her symptoms usually occur within two hours of eating the food she is allergic to – what we see is redness, swelling and irritation around her mouth and a little red lumps which form a rash on her skin (uticaria).

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eczema, baby

Why does my baby have eczema?

Both my babies have eczema. I have always wondered (or to be more exact, agonised), why my babies? why do they have it and other babies don’t.

Being a pharmacist, I am constantly surrounded by health professionals. I have asked this question to so many health professionals, ranging from naturopaths to paediatricians. In response, I always get the same question – have you or your partner ever had eczema? Chances are you have come across a similar response in your journey to conquer your baby’s eczema.

What do they mean? I have never had eczema… but if you dig deep enough someone related to your child probably has. Or they are asthma or seasonal allergy sufferers, and these two conditions have also been genetically linked to babies who have eczema. So, it’s more than likely a genetic thing, something we have been dealing with through the generations.

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