Eczema mama’s THUMBS UP tips to treating eczema infections

by amanda
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Disclaimer: The medicated creams and any sharing done on them pertain specifically to Corey’s infection. Every child’s eczema is different so get a medical doctor’s opinion before using any medicated creams. Always check in with a doctor on safe dosages of medicated creams and keep asking questions if ever in doubt! Never attempt to self-medicate. 

TIP 1: WHEN TO TREAT ECZEMA?

ANGRY, WEEPY, RAW LESIONS NEEDS MORE ATTENTION

Anything that is red, angry, weepy and raw needs to be treated with something stronger than moisturisers. Cracked eczema can be very very stubborn due to the dreaded staph (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria. It is made worse by the itch-scratch cycle.

Corey’s thumb has not always been like this. It started with a teeny tiny dot. His baby instincts were to scratch and peel that itchy tiny dot when it got dry and thick. Despite best efforts to keep it clean and treat the wound as instructed it just got bigger and BIGGER. Till it becomes too raw and painful, that’s when he asked for plasters to cover it up. This made the problem worse because moisture is a fantastic breeding ground for more bacteria. Hence our THUMB CRISIS this week, where his thumb has swelled to double its size.

IF IT AFFECTS YOUR SLEEP AND DISTRACTS FROM DAILY ACTIVITIES

I know it sounds intuitive that one should know WHEN to treat infected eczema, but it really can be confusing when eczema feels like it’s become a permanent part of your skin. One way I use as a signal that more needs to be done is to observe how much the itch has disrupted Corey’s daily activities.

This past week Corey has woken up crying of pain from his finger. I would find him with bloodied clothes and bedsheet from his scratching. These were a clear indication that whatever treatment I have been using for the thumb is definitely no longer effective and something else was needed.

So if you notice the eczema is affecting your daily activities, don’t ignore it but instead, start seeking help because likely more needs to be done.

TIP 2: WHAT IS THE APPROPRIATE TREATMENT?

CONSULT A DOCTOR PLEASE!

We got stickers after seeing doctor yay!!

If the eczema is infected it’s best to consult a trusted doctor. If you have a regular dermatologist or allergist just give them a quick phone call and describe your problem and ask for advice.

One rule of thumb (pun not intended lol), bring down the infection fast because this will reduce the chances of scratching that can reopen and maintain infected eczema. Once the wound is fully healed, maintain a healthy skin barrier thereafter with lots of good moisturisers.

RELY ON A REGULAR TRUSTED DOCTOR FOR BEST RESULTS

Our regular allergist was not available but he gave me a suggested treatment and I decided to bring Corey to see a doctor for the prescription. It’s best to seek a regular doctor who knows your eczema history to ensure consistency in treatment and follow up.

NEVER ATTEMPT TO SELF MEDICATE

Never attempt to self-medicate. Your friends are well-meaning but seriously, unless they have years of medical experience staring at skin infections, they probably won’t be able to tell the difference between what is fungal, eczema or sores. So let’s rely on real medical professionals who have a better track record than the internet when it comes to diagnosing your skin infections.

Oh, and moisturisers are not eczema treatments. I can’t repeat this often enough. Maybe it’s all the fancy marketing and flowery wording used that makes so many moisturisers sound like they could even cure cancer.

 

TIP 3: WRITE DOWN THE TREATMENT PLAN TO STAY DISCIPLINED

I like to write down the treatment plan and other details I want to remember as this helps me to stay focused on what needs to be done.

Eczema sufferers are fraught to stopping treatments halfway when they see some results and get complacent.  Many get the impression if it doesn’t itch anymore, it’s fine. This is not true as the underlying infection may still be there and treatment needs to be followed through till the infection is fully healed. Check in with your doctor to follow up if in doubt.

 

 

TIP 4: BE PATIENT AND PERSISTENT WITH TREATMENT

Depending on the extent of the infection, it won’t disappear overnight. A dermatologist once said to me that eczema is like a smouldering forest fire. You may no longer see an active flame but all it takes is a spark to ignite the fire again.

Hence you have to ensure eczema ‘fire’ is totally out ie. infection has to be fully healed. This usually requires persistent repetitive treatment of lesions till they are completely healed. It might also require some sleuth observation of feedback to your doctor.

TIP 5: KEEP LEARNING AND KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS

Even after 2 years of intensive battle with chronic baby eczema, I still find myself with lots of questions whenever I see a doctor. Sometimes if we have to see a new doctor, I would ask questions for which I already know the answer, just to sound out whether this doctor knows their stuff.

Keep learning, observing and noting down what works and what does not work will help greatly to speed up future eczema infections. This way, you will be able to handle the small infections with ease and confidence. As for the serious infections like our thumb’s up crisis, always refer to a trusted doctor for a proper medical opinion.

OUR PROGRESS AFTER 3 DAYS:

Click on each photo to see the larger description. Our treatment plan includes using Bactroban antibacterial ointment on the weepy raw parts. Using Fucicort (a combination of antibiotic and steroid cream) twice a day for 3 days, and reduce to using once a day. I always clean with chlorhexidine antiseptic before applying creams. I found a fantastic breathable self-adhesive bandage from Guardian pharmacy which works great to protect the wound.

THE TOUGH JOB OF KEEPING HEALING ON TRACK

Honestly, the tough part starts NOW at day 3. The main infection has been brought under control, but if the itch overwhelms Corey and he peels it raw, we will be back at square one again. So to give the wound the best chance of healing faster, I apply a lot of repair cream moisturiser when he sleeps, I constantly watch him like a hawk and the words ‘DON’T SCRATCH!’ and ‘DON’T PEEL!” fly out of my mouth even before his fingers have reached that thumb!

Lot’s of distraction tools like toys work to keep his hands busy. Sometimes I use my nails to make little crosses on the good parts of his thumb. This kind of creates a distraction from the itch. Much like when we rub a bruise to disperse the pain.

Anyway, we are back on the mend and in good spirits. Time for Corey to go do some fun stuff and forget about that thumb while mummy does the heavy lifting of ensuring it continues to heal well!

If you like this post, have a look at these related posts!

4 Simple Steps to healing skincare for eczema babies
My eczema mama’s top 5 eczema baby skincare tricks
Chlorhexidine gluconate – eczema skincare beyond moisturisers
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