As a dad, there’s little that makes me feel as helpless as trying to heal my son’s eczema. There’s inevitable guilt that is accompanied by my boy’s symptoms – a realization that “Dad can’t fix everything”. After all, my little guy expects as much from me – and I can’t deliver. That’s a horrible feeling for any parent.
My son calls his eczema “itchy spots” and these spots give him more grief that no 5-year old should ever have to endure. He wakes up several times each night and wakes Mom and I, requesting that we help him scratch his back or get some band-aids for the blood that’s now oozing forth from his uncontrollable scratching.
[quote_right]When it comes to toddlers, breaking the “itch/scratch” cycle is going to require a focus on stopping the itch – because you can’t stop the scratch. [/quote_right]I occasionally try to express the importance of not scratching for healing. He’ll just give me a bewildered look and explain, “But Dad – I try not to. It’s just that it itches so much.”
Of course it does. Ever tried to not scratch an itch? It just makes it itch all the more.
Eczema produces the worst kind of itch. Even I couldn’t avoid scratching and here I am asking my little five year old to endure this kind of pain. I ultimately just give him a hug and say, “I know son. It’s okay. I know that it itches a lot”.
When it comes to toddlers, breaking the “itch/scratch” cycle is going to require a focus on stopping the itch – because you can’t stop the scratch.
Wet Wraps to the Rescue
If you’re like any parent of a child that has eczema, you’ve tried every cream, ointment, anti-bacterial agent, soap and diet tip known to man. Some things seem to work and then the vicious cycle comes back around and it feels like you’re back at square one.
Wet wraps might provide the relief that you’re looking for. It’s only temporary relief – best for when eczema skin rashes are at the worst – but wet wrapping most often seem to work better than anything else.
Wrapping takes work so be prepared to spend some extra time – but it’s time well spent. You’ll essentially be soaking and sealing the skin.
It starts with a plain-water bath to hydrate the skin with plenty of water. Afterwards, pat the skin dry with a towel. Avoid wiping motions with the towel, as this will irritate the skin.
Apply the cream that seems to bring your child the most relief and whatever medications your dermatologist has prescribed.
Next, moisten your wraps. 100% cotton pajamas make an inexpensive wrap substitute if you prefer to wet these down instead.
You then want to lock in moisture by applying dry bandages over the wet wraps. At this point, it’s essential to cover those dry bandages with warm clothing, to keep your child from getting cold. Use 100% cotton clothing – as this is all your child should ever be wearing anyway.
Keep these wraps on for several hours or let your child fall asleep in them. While it seems that it might make for a cold toddler, the trapped moisture will be covered with warm clothing so being cold really isn’t an issue. The relief will be well worth it – and your child will let you know!
Distraction will play a major role in getting your child to cooperate. Be sure to allow your child to watch a favorite cartoon while you wrap – or whatever means works best to keep attention elsewhere. Also, don’t let your toddler leave the bathroom until mission complete. We made this mistake initially and found that it was much more difficult to get our son to cooperate.
Wrapping should probably not be done any longer than a week as continued wrapping will dry out the skin.
Wraps aren’t the cure but until there is one, it remains the best way to control itching and discomfort associated with eczema. You’ll get to feel a little bit like the hero again and most importantly, your child will sleep well without the need to scratch all night.