We've received many questions about eczema recently. I sure don't have all the answers, in spite of having suffered with eczema myself, and having three kids who have had it.
What I do know about eczema is that it's complex and there doesn't seem to be any simple answer. I've tried different diets, changing their environment, homeopathy, herbal remedies, and prescription meds when there didn't seem to be any other choices. Some things worked beautifully...for awhile. My son was off of all carbs and was taking different herbal supplements and his skin cleared up, only to break out again when the season changed.
Some kids do better in cooler weather; others improve in hot weather. Some kids are helped by swimming in pools or the ocean; other kids' skin is aggravated by chlorine and/or salt.
Elimination diets can be very helpful. Some of the common allergens that may contribute to eczema flares are:
wheat and gluten
peanuts and other legumes
It's helpful to find out if the child has environmental allergies. One of our sons is extremely allergic to dust mites. Once we removed the carpeting from his bedroom, covered the mattresses and pillows, took down the blinds, and removed all stuffed animals and books, his skin improved. We sanitize his bedding in the washer and dryer, and we dust and damp mop frequently. There's also an air purifier going in his room at all times.
We avoid personal care and cleaning products that have artificial dyes, preservatives, and fragrances in them. The children wear cotton clothes and avoid polyester as much as possible. When we do laundry, we use a natural, fragrance-free detergent, and we always do a double rinse when we wash their clothes, bedding, and towels. We turn their clothes inside-out when we wash them so that the clothing that touches their skin gets extra clean.
As far as TPN's products go, we use different products, depending on the severity of the eczema.
One thing that we like to use is plain coconut oil. Coconut oil has healing properties, absorbs quickly into the skin, and is very beneficial for eczema. We offer two types: Raw Organic Cold Pressed Extra Virgin, which has a coconut smell, and Organic Expeller Pressed, which is slightly more processed but still good for the skin, and does not have a coconut smell. In warm weather, we keep the coconut oil in the fridge where it solidifies and is easier to apply than when in the liquid form.
We also use our own Whipped Shea Body Butter. It's very healing and soothing, and feels so good on very dry skin with eczema.
Other things we do are to bathe infrequently with very mild soaps. We offer Citrus Spice Coconut Milk Bar Soap, and our Shampoo and Body Bar, both of which are very gentle.
One thing that helped a lot when my one son's eczema was severe was wet wraps. He didn't like them at all (he also has sensory issues, but I don't think that they would be particularly comfortable for anyone!), so we had to get creative and use a little motivation (okay, bribery!) to get him to follow through.
I first heard about this being done at National Jewish, and we then did it under the guidance of our physicians at our local children's hospital. It should always be done under a doctor's supervision because, if the eczema is open, the treatment could lead to infection.
The child soaks in the tub, filled with warm water, for 15 or 20 minutes, and then is quickly patted (never rubbed) dry with a towel (leaving the skin slightly damp), and a moisturizer is applied immediately. A physician may recommend a steroid or other prescription cream; we had good results just using a thick moisturizer or salve. Next, wet cloths or wet clothing are put on the child. We wet long underwear with warm water, wrung them out well, and then put them on. Over the wet layer, goes a dry layer. We used over-sized sweat pants and sweat shirts or cotton pajamas.
The child can then lie in bed, under a warm blanket and watch a movie or do something to keep him or her occupied for the next two hours. Check periodically to make sure that the clothes next to the child's body are still damp. If not, spray them with warm water from a clean spray bottle.
After a minimum of two hours, remove the wet clothing, apply an additional layer of moisturizer to the child, and dress as usual.
In cases of severe eczema, I've heard it recommended to do this several times a day and then once before bedtime, when the child will then sleep in the wet wraps.
That never happened here, but we still saw results when we did it during the day.
For less severe eczema, another option is to simply bathe daily as described above, towel off as above, and slather the child well with a salve or moisturizer immediately, within three minutes of getting out of the tub. This process helps to seal in the moisture from the bath. With this, I've always used my salve or a homemade body butter because my son said that every single cream that the dermatologist suggested either burned his skin or made it itch even worse.
P.S. Andy, who makes Wash Tyme soap, said that several people have told him that Wash Tyme has helped with their eczema. We use Wash Tyme Liquid Glycerin Soup for washing hands and dishes, and for cleaning, so our hands are in it alot. (Well, at least mine are!) When I get eczema, the only place I get it is on my hands, so I'm very careful about always using mild soaps that don't aggravate my skin. Wash Tyme is gentle and natural, and completely eczema-friendly!