Back to school has come upon us again (can you believe it?!) and I am so thrilled to be able to bring you this guest post from Mei, also known as MarcieMom of EczemaBlues.com. Many of you may have read Mei’s introduction in her last guest post, Preventing Eczema Flare-Ups in the Summer, but for those of you who are just joining us, here is a little background: after living with eczema herself, Mei gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who started suffering with severe eczema at only 2 weeks of age. Getting her baby back to a comfortable place was Mei’s biggest mission, and a driving force behind her blog, Eczema Blues. Mei is an expert on all things eczema, and is here today to give you the inside scoop on going back-to-school with eczema. Thank you Mei!
Managing eczema in school is not easy – there are many facets to it and it involves more than just your child. There are two key objectives to eczema management in school, (i) preventing eczema flare-ups and (ii) maintaining eczema skincare during school hours. We will explore communication and interaction with key stakeholders in these two objectives, namely the child and the school. In certain areas, you can enlist the help of a local eczema support group, or talk to your child’s doctor to give talks and increase awareness and understanding of eczema. (Image to the left provided by MarcieMom of EczemaBlues.com)
Eczema Flare-Up Prevention in School
The table below lists common triggers of eczema flares in school and how you can help manage that with your child and the school.
Eczema Skincare in School
Eczema skincare in school should be a condensed version of what you would normally do at home. Help your child learn how to care for his or her skin in a shorter time, as the shorter the routine, the more likely he or she will be confident following through and worry less about what others think.
Some Helpful Tips Include…
Washing hands – Avoid soap for hand-washing. Your child can wash their hands with water only or bring a small sample bottle of gentle cleanser. Avoid sanitizers as most are drying for the skin and contain irritants. (Image to the left provided by MarcieMom of EczemaBlues.com)
Shower/ Freshening up – If your child attends a school where swimming or showers are present, you will want to be prepared. Apart from towel and change of clothes, bring a small bottle of gentle cleanser (can double-up for hand washing too). Remember to pack a waterproof bag for wet/soiled clothing and towel. Advise your child to avoid hot water and to keep the shower short.
Moisturizing – A must. You may want to help transfer a bigger bottle of lotion/cream to a smaller dispenser container. Doctors usually have free samples given by product companies, ask for those in your next consultation!
Sunscreen – Avoid sun when experiencing an eczema flare-ups. Always keep a small bottle of sunscreen ready and apply at least 20 minutes before going into the sun.
Wet or Dry wrap – Sometimes on bad eczema flare up days, your child may need wet wraps to moisturize the dry skin, limit scratching and contact with irritants. Wet wrapping (a dry layer of wrap over a wet layer) may be difficult to practice in school. Instead consider dry wrap (either wear from home or have ready-cut pieces of wrap bandage suited for the affected parts of body).
Gloves – Experiment with cotton or non-latex gloves for use during art classes or on days with bad hand eczema.
Remember that although your child is out of your sight when he/she goes to school, you are not completely helpless. Finding a local support group can help in many ways, from providing checklists applicable to your local school system to giving talks to your school teachers. Similarly, local hospitals may have pediatric dermatology department which have decided to take on a social responsibility to help their patients beyond the clinic consultation.
Communication with the school is important so that the teachers can understand that constant scratching is not a sign of disrespect or that your child intentionally refuses to pay attention. Teachers can also help other parents and students to understand that eczema is not contagious. Adopting an open attitude and finding ways to work with the school (volunteer, show appreciation!) go a long way to building a positive school environment for your child.
This article is contributed by Mei, also known as MarcieMom of EczemaBlues.com. Mei has co-authored the book Living with Eczema: Mom Asks, Doc Answers with her eczema child’s doctor Professor Hugo van Bever and illustrated a children book ‘A to Z Animals are not Scratching!’.