Christmas and Wintertime
Does your child’s eczema worsen in winter? Colder weather can aggravate eczema, extreme temperatures are a common cause of flare-ups. However, temperature isn’t the only reason eczema is triggered at this time of year.
Ingredients that can trigger an eczema flare-up in some individuals such as cheese, milk, eggs, wheat and nuts are used year-round but are particularly popular at Christmas. It’s important to make sure friends and family are aware of your child’s triggers and that these foods are kept out of reach of kids wandering hands.
Festive outfits such as Christmas jumpers and dressing up clothes are often made from fabrics that irritate sensitive skin. If these items are unavoidable aim to dress your child in a protective base layer of smooth fabric such as DermaSilk Therapeutic Clothing. With DermaSilk you don’t need to worry about overheating when dressing in layers thanks to the way the sericin-free silk is knitted, allowing airflow between the fabric and the skin.
The needles on real Christmas trees can also be a trigger for eczema-prone skin. The oil terpene found in some plants, including natural Christmas trees can cause contact allergies. Artificial trees are a better alternative but be sure to wash them down to remove any reaction-triggering dust.
Many people overheat their homes in the winter. This reduces humidity and dries the skin. Not what you want with an eczema sufferer around. It’s still ok to have the heating on, but be careful not to turn the heat up too much when it’s cold outside. Instead, set the thermostat at a cool, comfortable temperature of around 20°C.
Toiletries are a popular Christmas gift but can contain many eczema-triggering ingredients that can dry out the skin. To avoid receiving gifts that may go to waste, agree with friends and family to share wish lists and create a list with your child that contains eczema safe products such as specific toiletries and clothing that you know is safe for your child, toys or even an experience day that you can enjoy as a family.
Anxiety and stress are common triggers of eczema flare-ups. This is because when we experience a stressful situation, the brain sends a distress signal which causes the body to enter fight or flight mode, prompting the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system and cause an inflammatory response in the skin, which is bad news for children with eczema.
Identifying potential areas of stress in your child’s life can be a good place to start in helping find ways to prevent it from having a detrimental effect on their eczema. These may include:
Exams, teasing or bullying, social situations
Changes to Home Life
Separation anxiety, moving home, changes to family structure, loss in the family, family conflicts
Specific Fears and Phobias
Animals, insects, storms, heights, water, blood, the dark
Signs of Stress or Anxiety in Children:
- become irritable, tearful, or clingy
- have difficulty sleeping
- wake in the night
- start wetting the bed
- have bad dreams
- lack confidence to try new things
- seem unable to face simple, everyday challenges
- find it hard to concentrate
- have problems with sleeping or eating
- have angry outbursts
- have a lot of negative thoughts
- start avoiding everyday activities
How to Help
It’s important to start by talking with your child to understand as much as possible about their stress or anxiety. Reassure them and show them you understand how they feel.
If your child is old enough, talking to them about what anxiety is and its physical effects can be a helpful step in teaching them to recognise signs of stress and anxiety in themselves, so they will be able to manage their symptoms or ask for help when they need it.
Practising relaxation techniques are an excellent way of dealing with stress. These may include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, mediation, visualisation, self-massage and rhythmic movement.
Distraction can be a useful way for young children to manage stress and anxiety. You may want to try listening to music, cuddling with pets, exercise, reading, watching TV or drawing.
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