If you have been following our healing journey, you would know that I am a big advocate of tracking eczema flares and allergic reactions. Especially for young children under the age of 5 who are not able to articulate discomforts they encounter. Keeping a close record of their diets, activities and exposures is sometimes the only way of narrowing down potential allergens. As my baby grows and with so much to manage, figuring out how to help him thrive while living with eczema is often on my mind.
In my low tech world, I found solace in using a physical bullet journal and eczema template to jot down observations. But for time strapped parents this may not be ideal. Then, a few weeks ago, I discovered an app that could do this, the Eczema Tracker App. I remember thinking whoever created it totally gets what I am talking about. True enough, its creator and fellow eczema and allergy mum, Nav, has battled eczema and multiple food and environmental allergies with her 6 year old son since he was 6 months old.
I got in touch with Nav and was struck by the warmth in her replies. It was clear that this was an eczema mama who have walked through my steps and more. And, instead of dishing out advice on creams and medications or some quack healing method which I usually get, Nav simply reminded me that it does get better with age. Inspired that she knows what I should be expecting in the toddler years to come, I though it would be great to do a Q and A on how to help toddlers thrive with eczema, which she kindly agreed to.
Here, Nav candidly shares some useful tips on about her healing journey.
Q: What were your biggest struggles throughout your son’s worse days?
There were emotional struggles and there were physical struggles. The biggest concern emotionally was if I would ever be able to provide the best quality of life for my son, while he’s suffering from eczema.
The biggest concern emotionally was if I would ever be able to provide the best quality of life for my son, while he’s suffering from eczema.
The physical aspect was controlling the itch. The itch caused breaks in skin and my son’s lack of sleep. So, controlling the itch was one of the biggest factors. However, it was the most complex. To control the itch, I needed to figure out the triggers and how to minimize his flare-ups intensity.
Q: how did you overcome these struggles?
1. Quality of life: I had to control his flareups to provide the best quality of life, which meant applying the medications, taking out allergic foods, doing my due diligence with moisturiser applications and maintenance plans of wet wrap therapy etc. All very time consuming, but everything made a difference to get his eczema under control.
everything made a difference to get his eczema under control.
2. Controlling the itch: Using medication and wet wraps really helped control the itch. He still itches, but uses techniques to “stop himself” from itching. These helped in long run. They may be distractions or taking hands away, or positive reinforcement when he stops scratchinh himself.
Q: what does your typical eczema mama day look like?
Now, it’s much calmer since he’s in school and eczema is better.
In the past, it was waking up to put moisturisers on his body and face immediately and medicine if needed, along with changing his clothes. Making his breakfast from scratch at home, including simple things such as apple sauce, since he’s so highly allergic to everything. Moisturising again at lunchtime and change clothes again if it was a hot day or if he had gone outside to play. Oil his hair (because he had scalp eczema) before bath time, which is typically around 7. Give a bath or a bleach bath, depending on the day. Apply medicines and moisturisers again. Wet wrap if needed. Give Singulair, record his condition and everything he has taken in a diary, change his bedroom (yes, everyday) to avoid dustmites or sweat since he had eczema on face. Apply moisturiser right before bed on face since brushing and hand washing can wash it off.
Right now: I still make all of his food at home from scratch. However, I only moisturize twice a day (morning and after bath) and bleach baths are once a week over the weekend. I put on medicines as needed on spots, not everyday.
Q: How do you ensure your son gets as normal a childhood as possible?
1. I try to make similar foods for him as other kids, but allergy free, such as cupcakes, or cakes on special occasions. If I cannot, I always explain to him what to expect at an event so he is not surprised. If i’m with him, I will not eat those foods either, so he knows I’m there for him. For school parties, I talk to the teachers before hand and have extra snacks ready so he doesn’t feel left out.
2. I try to include his sister in some of his lifestyle and vice versa, that we do not bring nuts in the house, because your brother is allergic, and he feels “included” in this environment that is “safe” for him.
3. Between my husband or I, one of us always goes out with him if we know the situation may not be eczema friendly, such as a high pollen and heat day at a park for a birthday party. We will take him, however, as soon as he’s home, and follow our bathing and moisturizing routine.
4. I have him meet other kids with similar conditions, so he knows that there are others out there with eczema and allergies as well.
5. Sometimes as a family, we just don’t do certain things, because it’s not safe for him, such as camping. We will join camping group for the day but return home for the night to avoid exposure to harsh conditions and to make sure he takes a bath etc.
Q: How do you balance all the different demands of being an eczema mama while maintaining your sanity and positivity?
It’s tough, especially when eczema is all over his body and itch leads to infections. However, I always had a support group of my own parents (who ensured me life throws things at you and you have to take it with gloves on) and other parents of kids with similar eczema and allergies. I also contributed to the cause, which made me feel like i’m doing something about it, via my blog and app, and NEA letter of support, etc. If we all do something about it, we will make a difference in learning more about this disease and coming up with a cure. That hope is always there in my mind.
If we all do something about it, we will make a difference in learning more about this disease and coming up with a cure. That hope is always there in my mind.
So, a support group and hope go a long way in keeping on moving with the routine, even on the toughest days.
You can find out more and download the Eczema Tracker app at http://eczematracker.com/.