October is Eczema Awareness Month. Here at Ready. Set. Food!, we're dedicating the month to answering common questions about eczema and sharing eczema care tips.
Today, we'll cover how to help your child with eczema get a more comfortable night's sleep.
The itchy, uncomfortable rash of eczema (also called dermatitis) can be a major sleep disruptor for a child of any age. It could wake your child from an otherwise sound sleep, or cause them to have trouble falling asleep in the first place.
And if your little one is still a baby, eczema can shake up their—and your—already turbulent sleep schedule even more.
So, how to help your child with eczema sleep better—and reclaim more hours of sleep for yourself? Here are our top 10 tips.
1. Consult your child's dermatologist
Sleep disruption is very common when your child has eczema.
As always, your dermatologist will help you develop an eczema management and treatment plan, but this time, the plan will keep your child's sleeping difficulties in mind.
Your dermatologist will help you identify and remove any eczema triggers that could disrupt your child's sleep.
If they haven't already, your dermatologist may also prescribe a topical steroid to help tame the flares.
2. Avoid rough, itchy pajama and bedding fabrics
Avoid pajamas made from rough, itchy, and synthetic fabrics, like polyester, nylon, and wool. Don't use blankets and bedding made from these fabrics, either. These can make your child's eczema worse when they rub against your child's skin.
Opt for cotton instead!
3. Use cotton pajamas and cotton bedding
Loose-fitting, cotton pajamas are the most comfortable option for children with eczema.
Cotton is also the best choice for your child's blankets and bedding.
Wash new pajamas and bedding before your child uses them. This will remove irritating chemicals that could make your child's eczema worse. And when you wash, be sure to use a detergent that's free from fragrances and dyes (other irritants)!
4. Bathe and moisturize before bed
Daily bathing and intentionally moisturizing are two keys to effective eczema management. Timing the daily bath so that it's right before bed, then moisturizing your child's skin within 3 minutes after the bath, will help seal moisture into the skin. This can help set your child up for a more peaceful night's sleep.
Pro tip: Read a bedtime story after you moisturize your child's skin, to give the moisturizer time to soak in!
Watch the video below to see Dr. Debra Babcock and the Pediatric Sleep Council share more tips for helping your little one with eczema sleep better:
5. Use wet wrap therapy before bed
Ask your dermatologist if wet wrap therapy would be beneficial for helping your child sleep.
Wet wrap therapy takes the bathing and moisturizing routine one step further. It involves dressing your child in damp cotton pajamas, to help seal in even more moisture before bed.
After their bath, and after you liberally apply moisturizer, use a bucket of warm water to make a set of cotton pajamas slightly damp. You can do the same with cotton socks and gloves, to wet dress your child's hands and feet.
Dress your child in the damp pajamas, socks, and gloves. Then, cover the damp layer of clothing with clean and dry cotton pajamas.
Your child should stay in the wet wrap for the entire night, if possible.
For a detailed guide to wet wrap therapy, don't miss our previous article!
6. Keep your child's sleeping environment cool
Heat can make your child's eczema worse. And if your child sweats, this will make their eczema even more uncomfortable.
So, make sure their sleeping environment isn't too hot.
- Keep their bedroom temperature cool and comfortable, especially during summer.
- Don't cover them with too much bedding.
- And remember—loose-fitting cotton pajamas are best for keeping your child cool and comfortable at bedtime!
7. Set up a humidifier
Dryness in the air can cause eczema flares—and that's even worse if your child's in a dry environment for the entire night.
To prevent your child's sleeping environment from becoming too dry, turn on a humidifier in their bedroom.
For babies and toddlers, using the humidifier 1-2 nights per week is sufficient. For older children, ask your dermatologist how often you should run the humidifier.
8. Think about using an air purifier
If your child's eczema flares up when they're exposed to their environmental allergens, consider setting up an air purifier system in their bedroom as well. This will help remove the environmental allergens that could trigger eczema.
9. Consider anti-scratch mittens or sleeves
Scratching can cause eczema to get worse. At night, children can be especially prone to scratching if their itch is disrupting their sleep. And this scratch could start a repeated, vicious cycle of worse itching and scratching.
How to stop the scratching at night? Have your child wear "anti-scratch" cotton mittens or gloves, and cotton socks on their feet, overnight. Cotton socks can also work on a baby's hands, instead of the mittens.
There are also specialized "anti-scratch" eczema sleeves made for bedtime that can help stop the scratch (ScratchSleeves is one example).
10. "Start bedtime over" if needed
What if you've tried these strategies and your child's eczema still keeps them up at night?
Sometimes, the best option is to "start bedtime over" with a middle-of-the-night moisturizing session. Spritz your child's skin with a water spray bottle, apply plenty of moisturizer, and have them change into new clothes before tucking them in again. This will help both of you get valuable hours of sleep back!
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