Eczema 101

I’ve had a handful of people ask me about how we deal with SG’s eczema so I thought, “Eh, why not write a post?”

As an infant, SG’s skin was like sandpaper and she was constantly itchy. On more than one morning I would go to retrieve her from her crib and find her in a halo of blood. She would itch the back of her neck all night long and the blood would wick through the jersey knit sheets. The first few times it was unnerving. After awhile it became the reality.

Fast forward seven years and we now know that the eczema is a result of her allergies. We try to stay on top of it- we always have- but sometimes, for whatever reason, her skin goes bonkers. Right now is one of those times.

Back of her neck.

Back of her left leg.

Back of her right leg.

This isn’t the worst it’s ever been (that was when the back of her legs were basically one, big, open sore and she nearly had to be hospitalized) but it’s pretty bad. There are raw patches on her arms, sores all over her legs, and she hurts and itches constantly. There’s a regimen we use- it’s obviously not 100% effective- but it generally works.

When her skin is decent:

She’s medicated for allergies year-round.

Hydroxyzine is given at bedtime to help prevent her from itching in her sleep.

Twice a day we apply an ointment that’s compounded at the pharmacy (aquaphor and triamcinolone).

SG takes bleach baths two or three times a week. We mix 1/4 cup of bleach with a full tub of water. After she soaks, we immediately apply her ointment and put her jammies on.

Her shampoo is about as irritant-free as it gets and, unless she’s filthy, I don’t have her scrub her body with anything other than water. If she requires soap, she uses Cetaphil.

I try to keep her nails trimmed (she’s a real pain in the ass about having her nails trimmed so it’s easier said than done).

When her skin starts to get bad:

We do everything listed above and add the following:

She gets Hydroxyzine twice a day.

We throw down about nail trimming.

I make her do wet wraps (we’ll talk about these in a second).

When her skin is bad enough she needs antibiotics (like now):

I let her skip baths. It’s excruciatingly painful. I realize she probably needs them now more than ever, but it hurts her so much. Think about when your hands get dry in the winter, how they burn and itch. Now think about what happens when you wash your hands, how the pain is magnified. Imagine that pain on most of your body.I do make her take showers (her skin needs the hydration from the water) but they’re quick and often involve me, fully clothed, in the shower with her, forcing her to get clean.

I give her hydroxyzine as often as I can (every 6 hours) to keep her hands off the sores.

She does wet wraps during the day and I make her sleep in them.

We use straight triamcinolone and cover it with aquaphor.

Wet wraps:

I’m fairly certain they would drive me bonkers, but SG actually deals with them well (she’s not a fan but I don’t have to sit on her to get her to comply- which is exactly what happens when I trim her nails). We’ve tried several different methods and, short of buying some expensive medical garments, there’s not a super convenient way to do the wraps. P.S.- Make them go potty before you wrap them.


1. Whatever you use for the actual wraps needs to be 100% cotton. Pajamas (tight-fitting, like long underwear), men’s tube socks, strips of cotton (I cut up a clean, white tea towel), gloves, socks.

2. Aquaphor

3. Plastic wrap

4. Dry pajama pants or sweat pants, long-sleeved shirt, socks and gloves (as needed).

5. Heating pad or heavy blanket

6. Hot water

How to

1. Slather the skin in Aquaphor (I also use the steroid cream).

2. Whatever you’re using to wrap (if their whole body needs wrapping, pajamas are the easiest route; if there are bad spots, strips of fabric might be easier) needs to be damp with water. Think about what it’s like to put a wet swimsuit on…that’s why I use hot water. You could also use damp cloth straight from a dryer.

3. Wrap a section of the skin (or put on the pajama pants) and immediately wrap in plastic wrap. Now, I’m unsuccessful at wrapping leftovers with plastic wrap. Trying to mummify my child makes me want to scream. Keep it on the roll, don’t wrap it too tight, start at the widest point on the body and work down (ex: thigh to ankle). Try not to introduce your child to new and interesting curse words.

4. Put the dry clothing over the plastic wrap.

5. Repeat, as needed, in sections.

6. Help your kiddo settle onto the couch or in bed and start a movie.

7. Wrap them in a heavy blanket. If they’re willing, use a heating pad on low as well.

8. Start a movie- whatever movie they want- and be prepared to be at their beck and call. They want juice? Bring ’em juice. As they marinate for the next two hours, your job is to keep them comfortable.

If they’re willing, sleeping in wraps is remarkably helpful.

If your kiddo has patches of eczema that aren’t bad, just irritating, hydrocortisone cream can be used in lieu of a prescription steroid, with aquaphor slathered on top.

And that, ladies and gents, is how we play the eczema game at our house.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Hit me.


4 thoughts on “Eczema 101

  1. Our girls were separated at birth!! My dr has pointed out that I am supposed to use the plastic wrap, but I don’t. We have had better luck that way. Some day we shod let the girls have a wrap party!

  2. OMFG. Your poor baby. Poor you, too. My kid’s allergic to any fabric except cotton — in that she breaks out in huge hives if exposed to it — but I can’t imagine this. Will she grow out of it, or is this forever?

    • I think this is probably a forever thing. As her allergies have gotten worse, so has her skin. When she eats clean (as allergy free as she can- no wheat, soy, dairy, corn, or eggs) her skin is a lot better. Swimming is hugely beneficial but, because of her asthma, we avoid indoor pools so she only gets to swim in the summer.

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