With the summer drawing to a close and a new academic year kicking in, parents of children with eczema might be feeling trepidation about how to manage their skin condition away from home.
And this particular autumn, children are likely to be feeling more anxious than ever about returning to school after experiencing such disruption in the previous academic year. For kids with eczema, normal service being resumed might mean re-learning strategies for coping with their skin, or feeling self-conscious about their eczema after spending so much time at home with family.
With that in mind, here are five suggestions for helping your child prepare for the new school term:
1. Talk to the school
Make sure that everyone involved in your child’s care knows how important it is to encourage kids with eczema to moisturise. Talk to the school beforehand and let them know your child might need support to apply their emollients regularly in breaks or even during lesson time.
2. Support them not to scratch
Have a chat with your kid about how they’ll manage itchy moments when you’re not with them: discuss distraction techniques or alternatives to scratching (such as rubbing the area, using a cool pack or counting to ten) with their teacher. Emphasise the importance of not shaming or telling off children for scratching.
3. Discuss alternative activities to avoid flare-up
Sports activities that can cause sweating, or those that involve irritant chemicals like swimming or art could cause eczema flare-ups. Chat to the teachers about possible alternatives and involve the child in decision-making so they’re not left feeling they’re missing out on all the fun stuff.
4. Be aware of social issues
Kids with visible eczema on arms, legs or faces might be experiencing bullying, stress, anxiety or low self-confidence. Talk to your child about their feelings and, if necessary, have a meeting with teachers or support staff, so everyone knows what’s going on. It’s crucial to handle this with sensitivity and tact so your child isn’t made more uncomfortable by any intervention.
5. Prepare a care pack together
You and your child can work together to make up a special care pack to keep in their school bag. Chat about what they’d like in it to help them through the tricky times. It could include
- Gloves (for handling materials that may irritate skin)
- Their preferred emollient cream or ointment
- Their prescribed antibiotic or steroid ointment
- A fragrance-free hand sanitiser that will be more gentle on their skin than standard issue
- Soap-free hypoallergenic cleanser
- Spare bandages and/or gauze pads
- Hypoallergenic plasters
- Written instructions for teachers or support staff about your child’s emollients and other medications, triggers to avoid, limitations or special arrangements for flare-up activities