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Welcome to this edition of DocSmo.com. Hope you are having a great day. Thanks for joining me today. I am your host, Dr Paul Smolen, a general pediatrician with 30 years of experience caring for both sick and well children. I’ve learned a few things during that time and I want to share that knowledge with you. As I like to say, from the crib to the country club, from the bassinette to the board room and everything in between… that’s what we talk about on DocSmo.com. Today’s cast very important because we are going to learn about a common skin condition, in fact, the most common skin condition in children-eczema. In today’s pedcast, I hope to give you a fundamental understanding of what is going on in the skin of a child with eczema. We have all heard that word, eczema, but do you understand what exactly it is? I hope after listening today, that you will. Before we get started today, let me remind my listeners, that I am probably not your child’s doctor and what you hear on this podcast is intended to supplement your child’s regular healthcare. For specific advise about your child’s health, visit the wonderful person you call your pediatrician.
You remember from biology class that your skin is made of two layers, the deep part called dermis and surface called epidermis. You may recall that the surface epidermal layer is made mostly of dead cells, which serve to protect the deeper part of our skin, the dermis. The dermis is where we find the working part of our skin, the sweat and oil glands, the hair follicles, as well as the nerves in our skin. Babies have two layers as well but their epidermis is thinner and more fragile when they are young. That’s probably why their skin is soooo soft! Soft is great but your babies skin is supposed to be a barrier to the outside world and when it is broken, there are bound to be problems. Thin epidermis can mean easily damaged and cracked. Bad. Think of your child’s epidermal skin as the shingles on your roof. If the shingles are cracked or loose, the roof is going to leak. The same is true with your child’s skin; if the epidermal barrier isn’t intact it is not going to work well. Without an intact barrier (shingles so to speak) your child’s skin will let in irritants that it was not meant to touch and the deeper parts of your child’s skin doesn’t like touching the outside world and will react by turning red and angry…. Itchy red angry skin means the dermis isn’t happy. In a nutshell, that is what we call eczema.
Now that you know what is happening in the skin in a child with eczema, let’s talk about the essential dos and don’ts in skin care for a child with this condition. First the don’ts
Try not to remove oil from their skin by:
Don’t over bathe: Limit bathing. I suggest twice weekly for young babies.
Don’t use hot water: Try not using hot water when bathing as this may remove oils your baby’s skin really needs.
Don’t use much soap-Try using very little soap for the same reason. When you do use soap, don’t put the soap in the bath water. Just use a little on the washcloth and only use it on the areas that need it.
If your child is infection prone, many dermatologists recommend using “Clorox” in the bath to kill some of the nasty skin bacteria that can infect the broken skin of eczema. Many experts recommend ½ cup per full bathtub no more than twice weekly. Check out the references in the Smo notes if you don’t believe me or ask your child’s pediatrician but…. take care to follow the directions carefully.
I also want you to limit your child’s exposure to irritants:
Limit Laundry products- I do not recommend you use dryer sheets or softeners. Now, I don’t do much laundry but I hear that baking soda in the wash cycle is a good softener.
Make sure the detergent you choose is perfume and dye free.
Avoid irritating fabrics like wool from touching your child’s skin.
Remember that if you wear perfume or wool clothing, your baby is probably going to get a good dose of it when you carry them around so be careful to keep a cloth on your shoulder when this is going on.
Avoid vigorous rubbing during bathing. Only use a soft cloth.
Avoid alloy metals- snaps, earrings, jewelry
Avoid skin products with chemicals, especially perfumes
Avoid touching grass or other things that you find trigger trouble
If you find a food that starts the whole inflamed skin process, avoid it!
If you do have a child with sensitive skin, here are some of the things that you want to do to help keep their skin in good condition. Hydrate the skin. Moisturize quickly after bath as well as at other times. Use the thickest moisturizer you can that has no perfumes. Petroleum jelly may work for your child.
Try reminding yourself to moisturize by associating the moisturizing with other activities such as diapering and bathing. The more the better. We are talking at least 4 times a day. Remember, those shingles are cracked and need repair. Suppress eczema that is inflamed. Watch for signs of infection
Pustules, blisters, oozing mean it’s time to seek help from your child’s doctor.
-Let me sum up today’s podcast with one of those DocSmo pearls that I love: “Modern children’s skin probably needs less exposure to modern life.” Let me repeat that; “Modern children’s skin probably needs less exposure to modern life.”
Less hot water bathing!
Less exposure to chemicals and perfumes of all sorts!
That wraps up another edition of DocSmo.com
I told you were going to be smarter after this podcast.
If you enjoyed today’s talk, go ahead and check out the extensive DocSmo library of pediatric topics
Share any thoughts you have with us by sending a comment to our blog at www.DocSmo.com. We would love to hear from you.
This is your resident pediatrician, Dr. Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, NC hoping you have all the facts about your child’s skin cracks
Until next time
- Doc Smo podcast with Dr Primmer on Eczema: https://www.docsmo.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1018&action=edit
- Clorox formula for bathing :
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