Ah… the life of an eczema mum. Whether it comes out of the blue, or you had an inkling your child might develop eczema as it runs in the family, it is still challenging!
The creams, the scratching, the waking up at night…. The worries about what the future will bring…
So many thoughts go through our heads, right?
Summer is coming….argh….. the beach..the sand…the sunscreen!
Just ordered another cream… will that be THE ONE? (Hmm….What will I do with that bulk purchase of 5L of moisturiser that doesn’t work for us anymore?)
What’s their skin like today? Do I have the energy to go out and deal with the ‘what’s wrong with your child comments or stares’?
There’s so much trial and error while our life is on hold trying to figure it all out…
As a mum and a researcher, I just knew there was more to addressing eczema than I was being told. We learn so many lessons along the way.
I’m no longer an eczema mum because my son no longer has to deal with dry, itchy scratchy skin… given this, I wanted to share with you 5 things that I have learned along the way.
The ‘scattergun’ approach doesn’t work
You know the one… where you’re spending hours lost in Dr Google or in online groups and trying every different strategy under the sun.
No stone left unturned, right?
Yet you still feel so stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and lost. You buy that new cream, and you try that new ‘gut healing’ bone broth, and you get that new probiotic.
You try a whole different bunch of things….start them all at the same time (or get impatient and not wait long enough in between), there’s a flare up (of course!) and you’re not sure which one was the culprit – if any of those were the culprit at all.
Where you’re posting in lots of different forums, getting different answers and feeling more overwhelmed because you don’t know how to be systematic about helping your child (is that even possible?!).
There’s no magic cream out there
You probably don’t want to hear this one.
(Even though I wish there was one – I know I bought at least a dozen different creams in the first 12 months.)
That unicorn cream … the one that you just put on once and then it was all better, and you never had to apply it again.
Or even one that you put on every day for the rest of their lives, and it completely stopped the itch, the redness, the scratching and the waking up at night.
I would have settled for that!
Knowing this doesn’t stop us from going out and trying dozens of different creams.
BUT… if that’s the only thing we’re focussed on, then the symptom based approach isn’t going to be the fix we want it to be.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with symptom-management with a moisturiser because of course, we just want our children to be comfortable.
To not feel itchy all the time.
To not scratch until they bleed, to sleep better, to feel comfortable in their own skin.
However, if you’re wanting a better way, then it needs to be combined with an approach that assesses and addresses the root causes.
So… spend some time ensuring that your moisturiser is doing its job and isn’t filled with skin irritants and other harmful ingredients and then move on to the bigger picture.
Trust your instincts and ask questions
This one was a big lesson. A hard one to learn as I always felt that trusting my instincts and asking questions went out the window when we were at an appointment.
I still felt the power imbalance in these specialist appointments, despite being a health professional and a researcher and somewhat informed.
After being given advice I would often sit there quietly, knowing that I should ask questions but unsure what those questions should be.
Even when the advice we were being given raised red flags because there was a disconnect with common sense, I would simmer and not dare to question.
All the while, I knew we had to find a new way forward.
(And I went on the search for a new healthcare practitioner.)
I finally found a framework to enable me to ask the right questions in a systematic way so that I was informed when making decisions about treatments, dietary interventions, even moisturisers and environmental changes.
Probiotics are only the beginning
The topic of probiotics is one that I get asked about a lot.
In the early days it took me a while to understand the role of gut health in eczema and the importance of addressing this.
Those with eczema have a different gut health profile than those without eczema.
And I thought that taking a probiotic was the way to fix his gut health.
It turns out it is more complicated than this!
Research suggests that using them alone does not result in improvements in skin, however they can be used as part of greater strategy to improve gut health.
There’s no one one-size fits all approach to eczema
I would love to tell you that it was easy as simply avoiding a, implementing b, and changing c, there would be no more eczema. Now, for a few people, removing a food trigger might be enough to soothe the skin. But for most people, a little more detective work is required.
Triggers may include:
- Food – allergies, intolerances
- Skin care and personal care products
Alongside these triggers, nutrition, genetics and gut health also play a significant part. Working this out, without a systematic approach, can seem like an overwhelming task.
Many take a scattergun approach of Dr Googling, online forums, and waste countless hours trying to work it out for themselves.
I have learnt to not go it alone. It is completely unnecessary that you take countless months working this out for yourself while your child continues to suffer.
Ask the right questions, seek the advice from the right professionals who are experienced in eczema to support you with a framework to logically work through triggers.
If you’re looking for a supportive community of like-minded parents, click here to join. We’d love to support you and reduce the overwhelm and stress with a new way forward for a healthier family.
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