If you have a child who is suffering—or who you suspect is suffering—from some degree of eczema, the chances are you’ll be hunting everywhere for a remedy for their pain.
What may have started out as a small patch of baby cradle cap or dry, scaly patches around the cheeks and chin could have rapidly spread around the body to their tiny feet, hands and joint creases.
The skin could be mildly irritated or your little one could be scratching so severely that their rash weeps.
June has heard heartbreaking stories of parents forced to watch their babies and toddlers dealing with itchy, inflamed skin and feeling powerless to cure it.
As many as 30% of children suffer from the inflammatory skin disorder, according to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the U.S.
Although we’re sorry to say that there’s no cure yet, there are environmental factors such as exposure to allergens, pollutants and foods that can help you manage eczema.
So here are a few ways you can help minimize—or even eliminate—your symptoms with a few simple changes around the home.
Be sure to read which chemicals June eliminates from our personal care products.
Reducing Household Allergens
If your child has eczema, their skin barrier will be slightly weakened, which is why it can be hypersensitive to chemicals found in cleaning materials or products around the home, such as surfactants.
Although some of these chemicals can be helpful (surfactants are added to detergents to help remove dirt), we feel there are healthier alternatives that are still just as effective at cleaning.
Eliminating dangerous chemicals from your laundry basket is a great starting point: From detergents and powders to fabric softeners—harsh, heavily fragranced laundry products can build up in fabrics that will then be in close contact with easily irritated skin.
How can you tell if your child could be sensitive to detergents?
Some moms have noticed that when their child uses disposable diapers, their nappy area is actually eczema-free. If a rash is visible elsewhere, this is a pretty clear indication of detergent-reactive eczema.
Instead seek out products that use vegetable and mineral-based natural ingredients, are mild and specially formulated for babies, fragrance free, and, importantly, free from toxins (such as 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide).
TIP: Your choice of detergent doesn’t just apply to your child’s clothes, but everything they may come into contact with—your family’s clothes, bedding, towels, and even dishcloths.
Any parent knows the struggle of trying to clean that pesky jam smear, diaper leak or mud stain from your baby’s latest outfit.
Although you want a stain remover that will do the job, do be aware that many supermarket fabric stain remover sprays, powders, liquids or pens contain chemicals that can irritate your skin, eyes and respiratory system.
Instead look for water-based products that use softer ingredients such as washing soda, acetic acid and citric acid. You may be surprised how effective these old-school tricks can be!
TIP: Presoak stains with a paste made from baking soda and water.
Cleaners, Sprays & Dishwashing Soap
We all want to minimize our contact with common household cleaning products, objects that may have been cleaned by chemicals, or toxic vapors.
Potentially harmful chemicals are found in some of the most innocuous products, from floor cleaner to kitchen sprays, air fresheners and even the liquid you use to wash your dishes.
There is no international standard for listing ingredients on cleaning products.
The really valuable resource Eczema Free recommends avoiding products containing: ammonia and isopropanol (glass cleaners) formaldehyde (air fresheners), concentrated chlorine and phosphates (dish soaps), or hydrochloric acid (toilet cleaners).
Instead opt for essential oils, citrus-based cleaners, baking sodas or anything plant-based.
TIP: There is no international standard for listing ingredients on cleaning products, although you can find information online. However, any natural, free-from or plant-based alternatives will highlight this on the label.
Shampoos & Soaps
For young skin, it’s best to use the gentlest form of soap and shampoo on the market—and you’ll easily find products that stress they are mild and specially formulated for babies.
Did you know?
The label ‘hypoallergenic’ is unregulated and can be used by any manufacturer that claims their product produces fewer allergic reactions than another. Dermatologists do not stand by this term and you should still always check a product’s ingredients.
Unscented bubble bath is the best for super sensitive or eczema-prone skin and ingredients such as oatmeal, avocado oil, shea butter or chamomile extract, can help soothe irritation.
TIP: A plain, unscented soap bar and warm water is just as effective in preventing illness and the spread of infection as antibacterial soaps, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
It’s much easier nowadays to find products that are tailored to eczema-prone skin.
So an act as simple as clearing your kitchen cupboards is not as laborious as it seems and could make a world of difference to your little one.