Children love to play. It’s what they do best. Playing helps a child to grow, develop and learn.
When you have an unwell child it is all to easy to wrap them up in cotton wool and stop them from doing what is only natural for any child – playing.
Eczema is not contagious
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition commonly affecting small children. It is characterised by a red rash, dry skin and severe itching. It is not contagious so there is no need to stop a child with eczema from playing with other children.
The secret is to get the right balance – protect your child so they can play happily without worsening their eczema. You just need to know how.
Children love to play outside
Most children just love to play outside. There is so much to explore outdoors it seems a shame to deny any child. Ensure your child is well protected from sunburn. Use a good quality sunscreen or better still keep their skin covered. Sunburn causes stress on the skin, which frequently causes an eczema flare-up.
Sandpits are not an ideal play environment for children with eczema. The sand in these confined areas frequently contains bacteria and is more prone to causing eczema flare-ups. The sand at the beach is a much safer option. If your child swims in the salt water whilst at the beach remember to wash the salt off and remoisturize as soon as possible.
Water dries the skin
Remember that water dries the skin and whilst swimming and playing in water is a popular playtime activity a little care is needed to prevent eczema from worsening. Applying oil to your child’s skin before they swim will create a protective barrier from the drying effects of the water. Showering to wash off the chlorine or salt and applying a moisturizer immediately after will also ensure the skin moisture is not jeopardized.
Water play without swimming is also a popular pastime. Filling a container with water and letting children play with sieves and containers in the water can provide endless hours of fun. Simply adding a few drops of oil to the water will prevent your child’s hands from drying out whilst playing with the water.
Activity and rest
Outdoor activities and exploring are fun. Children seem to have a never-ending supply of energy. Whilst the activity is good for a child, even a child with eczema, it is important to ensure your child doesn’t become over tired. Encourage regular rests. Alternating between active outdoor activity and quiet time (ie watching a movie, coloring or snacking) is ideal.
There are of course times when it is best to restrict play to inside areas. In warmer climates during the hottest part of the day it is safest for any child, not just a child with eczema to avoid being outside.
Windy days or when grass is freshly mown are also days to keep eczema children indoors as these conditions often lead to an eczema flare up as the pollens are prone to trigger eczema.
When selecting toys for your child to play with it is best to choose toys with no sharp edges that could cut or scratch sensitive skin. Toys that can be washed easily and are made out of fabrics that are low irritant are also ideal.
If your child has a dust mite allergy putting soft toys in the freezer overnight will kill the dust mites. Simply wash them in the morning to remove the dead mites.
Busy hands scratch less
Keeping your child active and their mind busy will help to distract them from the itch. Busy hands are less likely to scratch. And a busy mind is less likely to think of scratching. Thereby reducing the risk of damage to the skin.
Children need to play
Children need to play. As a parent we need to make play as safe as possible and just let our children do what they do best – play.