I read once that the best treatment for eczema is the one that works for you. I believe this wholeheartedly. If you already have things that work great for your eczema or your kid’s eczema, that is awesome! Keep doing what works for you. If you need something more or if you are where I was at a year ago and at a complete loss, then I hope this helps you. Here are the things I have found work for my daughters eczema as well as some things that don’t work.
The Things That Work
Long Sleeves While all of her skin is drier than most peoples, my daughter’s eczema patches are at joints where skin meets skin-her inner elbows and the back of her knees. Last winter, when her eczema was at its worst, I stashed all of her short sleeve shirts and pajamas in a box, and I only let her wear long sleeves. It was winter, so she was already wearing long pants. Once I had her eczema under control, I started letting her wear short sleeves again during the day, but I still only had long sleeved pajamas for her. I’ve learned her eczema flares up during cold weather, so long sleeves is an easy, super helpful solution for her.
Apple Cider Vinegar Baths I know. It sounds crazy. But it works. Just mix 2 cups of apple cider vinegar in your child’s bath. Use less if this is for a little one that uses less water in the tub or is still in a baby tub. I was worried it might sting, especially since my daughter’s arms got so bad they had open sores that were weepy (and tended to get infected), but adding vinegar didn’t sting at all. Apple cider vinegar baths are what kicked off my daughter’s healing. It seemed to clear out all the bacteria and bad stuff that had been festering in and on her skin. We did vinegar baths every couple of days for about a week, and then we added apple cider vinegar any time her skin started looking like it might be getting infected or weepy again. We had her play/soak in the tub for 15-20 minutes each time. Now that her skin is generally much healthier, we don’t add vinegar to her baths, but it was crucial when her skin was at its worst.
Baths in General Some eczema groups say to stay away from baths and some say baths are helpful. One thing everyone seems to agree on is to bathe in warm, not hot, water and moisturize within two or three minutes after getting out of the tub. I bring the lotion to the side of the tub, so it is there and ready as soon as she gets out.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream CeraVe is a lotion that you can get online, at Walgreens, some WalMarts, etc. It’s supposed to help repair and strengthen the skin barrier. Not sure how that works, but I do know that it helps my daughters eczema. This seems to be the only lotion that can really moisturize her skin. They have other products in there line, but I haven’t tried all of them, and I only use the moisturizing cream.
Raw Shea, Chamomile, & Argan Oil Baby Therapy by Shea Moisture I haven’t found this in any local stores, so I bought this through Amazon. It is really thick in the tub, but I rub a little bit in my palm to liquefy it, then I put it on my daughter’s skin. It’s really oily, so I usually put it on right before she goes to bed, so it won’t get all over my house, or I put it on when I know she will be wearing long sleeves. The oil seems to soak deep into her skin. Again, not sure why it helps, just that it does! I just ignore the fact that it says it’s a baby product.
Lantiseptic Another product that isn’t meant for eczema but works. This is a super thick, sticky paste that is made to keep moisture out, but I think also works well to keep moisture in. I only put this on her patches of eczema. I do not put it all over. I have found that layering this with one of my moisturizers works best. I either put on CeraVe or the Sea Moisture first, and then dab the lantiseptic on top. It is not something that rubs in, so it’s another product that I put long sleeves or a jacket over. When her eczema was bad last year, I put this on her eczema patches after every bath once I had done one of her moisturizers. I also put it on each night before bed with one of her moisturizers. You can buy this through Amazon.
Triamcinolone Acetonide Ointment I have a cream version of this, and I have an ointment version. For some reason the ointment works better. This is a prescription steroid. I’ve heard a lot of negative things about if you use steroid products excessively on the skin, but I feel ok with using it occasionally. When I notice my daughter is having a flare-up, I put just a little bit of this on once, and it definitely helps. It is not a replacement for moisturizing though. Use this to give the skin a burst of strength and then moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Without moisturizing the flare-up will come back within a couple of days.
The Things That Didn’t Work
Vanicream This has been my go-to lotion ever since I became a mom, but it didn’t help my daughter’s eczema at all, and during her big flare-up last year, it actually made her eczema worse. So while I still use it for myself and for my other kids, I don’t use it on my daughter who has eczema.
Any Creams or Lotions Marketed for Eczema This was really frustrating for me. Every lotion or cream I had that was marketed for eczema made her eczema worse.
Oatmeal in the Bath Tub This is one I’ve heard of for a long time, but it didn’t seem to help and made my tub a mess even though I had bagged the oatmeal. Maybe there is a less messy way that I don't know about...
Going Dairy Free When I begged for help with my daughter’s eczema on social media last year, I had several people recommend going dairy free, a couple of people recommended going gluten free, and a couple recommended gluten and dairy free. I tried for a couple of days to go dairy free with her, but it was a feeble attempt. Ultimately, my daughter wanted the milk, cheese, yogurt, and all the things she loved, and I had a one month old baby to care for, I was sleep deprived and overwhelmed. I just didn’t have the energy to take on such a big diet change. I told myself if we couldn’t get her eczema under control then I would do my research and really try, but then we got it under control. So really this one didn’t work because it just didn’t fit with life at the time, but I think this would have been a solution worth trying if we had needed it.
Just a Final Note I had so many suggestions from so many wonderful people when I asked for help. I honestly couldn't try all of the great ideas, and once I found things that worked I didn't want to rock the boat. So if you are one of the people who gave a suggestion, but I haven't listed it here, just know that I appreciate all your love and support so much!!!
Bethany Allen is a mom and photographer. She loves the little moments in motherhood and likes finding those moments in her photography sessions in Southern utah.