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Stop scratching! Reduce the itch factor of eczema for your child

If your child has been diagnosed with eczema, then you may find it an uphill battle getting them to leave it alone. The following advice should help to alleviate their suffering and minimise the chance that their condition will worsen.

Firstly, if your child scratches their eczema (and they probably do, as itchiness is especially common in childhood eczema), then take a look at their scratching patterns. Do they always do it whilst they are watching television, or perhaps it's while they're sitting on the bus? Encourage them to try something else like gripping their arm tightly, which is intended to relieve some of the tension that comes with itchiness. We all know that the hot itch of angry eczema can drive you up the wall and make it hard to concentrate on anything else, but scratching the affected skin may only lead to further irritation and even infection if the skin is broken.

Let your child know whenever they are doing well for not scratching, and consider using a star chart to praise them for each day that they manage to stop themselves. If the impulse proves too strong sometimes, then many parents use leggings or vests to cover their child's skin, thus preventing them from scratching whilst at the same time occluding the skin. This occlusion keeps skin moisture levels as high as possible, especially if an emollient has been used on the skin prior.

Secondly, eliminate the chance that your child's eczema is caused by a dietary allergen. About 10% of the time food triggers such as milk, peanuts and citrus fruits are what causes eczema in babies. Speak to your GP if you think that your child's eczema stems from their diet, and they will advise you on the best steps to take to ensure that, if eliminating any foods, your child will still get all the nourishment they need.

Next, avoid all harsh soaps and fragranced bubble baths which can strip the skin of too much moisture. Eczema sufferers usually have dry skin and the eczema itself is dry, so sufferers need to maintain as much moisture in their skin as they can. Intense moisturisation can be achieved through the use of emollients, which create a barrier over the skin and thereby offer protection from bacterial and viral infections. Do not wash your child's skin too often and when you do, use warm water rather than hot.

Lastly, if your child's eczema gets itchier at night (which is very common), then keep them cool by using only cotton bed sheets and a breathable duvet made of natural fibres. It is worth making sure that the fibres are not in any way rough as friction can be just as irritating as heat while your child is trying to get to sleep. Make sure that their bedroom is relatively cool and do not allow any pets into the room as pet dander may also exacerbate eczema symptoms.

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