Five good habits to help care for skin with atopic tendencies
Practical advice to space out eczema flare-ups: hygiene, diet, environment, itching & irritation, sport
An atopic eczema flare-up is never a random occurrence. You are always able to overcome it, but it's also important to recognise the situations in everyday life that encourage the flare-ups. Dr Bourrel-Bouttaz uses a simple comparison to make her point: 'If there's a fire in your house, you spray water on it. If it starts again two weeks later, you spray water again. And you keep doing this until you understand what is starting the fire!' Thanks to her explanations below, discover triggers, understand why there are flare-ups, reduce the number of risk factors and space crisis out as widely as possible.
No intensive cleaning, no scrubbing, no irritation, no soaking in the water and no perspiration… Atopic skin performs poorly, its barrier role is more permeable than normal skin and lets environmental allergens in. Anything that can impair the skin's barrier role can trigger an eczema flare-up: strong cleaning, soaking, long baths…
As the direct interface between his body and the exterior world, your child's skin is very sensitive to his environment. And because its barrier function isn't very effective, his atopic skin is more permeable, it lets in all the air's particles and reacts strongly to all kinds of stresses.
'It is important to realise that clothing rubbing on skin is one of eczema's main triggers,' Dr Bourrel-Bouttaz underlines.
Cold is your child's biggest enemy! Be sure to moisturise your child's skin well throughout the winter. According to Dr Magali Bourrel-Boutaz1, '90% of atopic skins do better in the sun.' But remember, too, that direct sun exposure for children under three years old is not advised. For older children, enjoy the sun in the morning and in the later afternoon, with a 50+ SPF sunscreen.
A child with atopic skin isn't necessarily more sensitive than one without. Stress hormones spread through the skin in the same way with everyone, atopic skin or not. However, not providing treatment for your child, or constantly telling her that she is nervous, will decrease her resistance and make her more susceptible to stress,' explains Dr Bourrel-Bouttaz.
Facing chronic discomfort, an atopic baby cries more often than normal, including at night, to express her irritation. The constant trial and sleep difficulties can also be a source of anxiety for your child, and she will need you to reassure her and make her feel safe and secure. It's also likely that you too will be distraught and tired, thanks to a situation whose consequences are felt by the whole family!
Hang in there, despite the stress… You're working hard to keep your child calm and make family life as normal as possible. And you're right! Your immense efforts help your child in the best way possible to get through this rough period. Even better, you're teaching him how to confidently face other kinds of adversity later in life. Keep at it! You have supporters all around you to help out.
Create a gently reassuring environment. Stress and immunity are linked, and the former has been shown to favour the development of eczema in some studies2. 'That does not necessarily make is a psychosomatic disease. But a vicious circle can develop between stress and immunity,' cautions Dr Bourrel-Bouttaz3. Massages, ideal for applying the daily moisturising treatments, and skin-to-skin contact are two ways of calming your child and developing ties in a peaceful way. There's no such thing as too much!
For children with atopic skin, sports are particularly beneficial for developing social relationships and stimulating growth. As well, sports take children's mind off their troubles, and reduce stress. While playing, your child forgets his skin problems and the itching.
The main trigger factors:
A dermatologist is the best resource for identifying skin disorders, finding the cause of your skin issues, and developing an adapted treatment. Please consult your dermatologist, doctor or pharmacist so that they may best advise you on your personal skin regimen.