October is Eczema Awareness Month, and Ready, Set Food! is here to help with tips for your child’s eczema care. Packing the right eczema care supplies, and making the right preparations, is key to managing eczema on the go.
Learn what to pack when you and your child leave home, to manage eczema flares. Plus, check out tips for managing eczema while traveling.
You're familiar with how to manage your child's eczema at home – but what happens if your little one has a flare-up on a trip, or anytime you're away from home? Packing the right eczema care supplies, and making the right preparations, is key to managing eczema on the go.
Today, we'll cover what you should always have with you when you and your child leave home, to manage eczema flares. We also have plenty of tips for managing eczema while traveling.
Eczema essentials to bring on the go
Whether you’re vacationing far away or going somewhere nearby with your little one in tow, bring these eczema essentials with you in a diaper bag or carry bag so your child can get relief when they need it:
- Plenty of moisturizer: This is the #1 essential in any eczema care kit, so make sure you always have some in your bag for your child. If your child’s skin flares up or gets itchy when you are away from home, it’s time to apply moisturizer all over their skin. But before you moisturize, you’ll need to use the next item on our list.
- Spritz bottle and water: Use a filled spritz bottle to spray water all over your child’s skin before you moisturize.
- Prescription eczema treatment: If a doctor prescribed a cream or ointment to treat your little one’s eczema, carry a container with you. You’ll need to apply it to flare areas before applying moisturizer.
- Sensitive skin sunscreen for sunny days: It’s important to protect your child’s skin from the sun. But since some sunscreens can actually make eczema worse, choose your sunscreen wisely. Usually, mineral based sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, or any sunscreen recommended by the National Eczema Association, is your best bet.
- A cooler with ice packs: Applying an ice pack to your child’s flare areas can help give them soothing relief.
- A distraction toy: When your child’s eczema gets itchy, a toy that occupies both hands can help them resist the urge to scratch – as scratching only makes eczema worse.
9 tips for traveling when your child has eczema
Going on a longer trip? Traveling can be a bit challenging when your little one has eczema, but don’t let that stop your family from seeing the world. Planning ahead and packing the essentials is key. Here are our top tips:
1. Prepare with your doctor and dermatologist.
Talk to your child’s doctor and dermatologist about your upcoming travel. They will help you prepare, will refill any current prescriptions so your child has enough for the trip, and may even prescribe added eczema treatments or outline new strategies to try if there is a sudden flare. Make sure you have their contact information, and all prescription information, in case of emergency.
2. Get familiar with doctors and pharmacists at your destination.
It’s also helpful to find out about doctors and dermatologists at your destination, in case you’d need to visit them in an emergency. In addition, find out if there’s a pharmacist who can refill any prescriptions your child has.
3. Check in with accommodations.
If you’re going to pay to stay at an accommodation, talk to cleaning personnel at possible accommodations to make sure that your hotel room will be vacuumed thoroughly, and cleaned with fragrance-free and dye-free cleaning products.
Ideally, ask about fragrance-free and dye-free detergents for linens as well. (If an accommodation can’t promise this but can fulfill all your other needs, you’ll know to bring your own linens).
Staying with family or friends? Talk to them about your child’s eczema triggers and how they can help minimize the triggers when your child stays in the space. Many of the same rules apply – using fragrance-free and dye-free cleaning products, vacuuming regularly, and the removal of anything with a fragrance are must-dos.
4. Pack all the essentials.
For any trip with your child where you’ll be away for at least one overnight, be sure to bring all of the following supplies:
- Plenty of moisturizer: Pack more than you think you’ll need, in case you can’t access your child’s usual eczema moisturizer at your destination.
- Spritz bottle and water: Use a filled spritz bottle to spray water all over your child’s skin before you moisturize.
- Prescription eczema treatment: If a doctor prescribed a cream or ointment to treat your little one’s eczema, bring more than you think your child needs. You’ll need to apply it to flare areas before applying moisturizer. When traveling, make sure you also carry your child’s prescription paper, as well as pharmacy contact info, in case you need a refill.
- The shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hand cleanser that your child normally uses at home: You don’t want to take the chance that an unfamiliar soap or cleanser will trigger flares! Bring plenty in case you can't access these products at nearby stores.
- Sensitive skin sunscreen for sunny days
- A cooler with ice packs, for flare relief
- A set of loose-fitting cotton clothing for every day, plus at least two extra changes of clothes, for your child: This way, all clothing will be washed in your home detergent that’s suitable for your child’s skin, and you won’t have to worry about packing as much safe detergent. If needed, dress your child in multiple loose-fitting, cotton layers to keep them warm on cooler days.
- At least two sets of loose-fitting cotton pajamas
- A small bottle of safe detergent, if you know there's a place to wash clothing and want this option
- Distraction toys, to keep your child’s hands occupied during flares
- An eczema care plan, if other adults are helping you care for your child and need info on how to avoid your child’s eczema triggers
If dust or detergents tend to be an eczema trigger for your child, consider packing your own sheets, towels, and washcloths. Staying in a hotel room with frequent cleaning? Leave notes so the hotel staff know not to change or otherwise touch the sheets and towels.
And if you're driving to your destination and have room in the car, you might consider bringing a humidifier with you. This will help add humidity to a dry sleeping area.
5. Be alert for how different climates can affect your child’s eczema.
If the surroundings at your destination are very different from at home, your child may be exposed to new eczema triggers.
A good rule of thumb is to pack twice the moisturizer you expect your child to need, especially if you’re in a new environment.
It’s also important to know how different environments require different eczema care strategies:
- In the city? It may help if you air out your accommodation, so allergens and irritants that build up in the city don’t linger in your child’s sleep space.
- At the beach or somewhere else hot and sunny? Slather on plenty of eczema-friendly sunscreen, and have your child drink lots of water. Also, try these eczema management strategies for the heat.
- In the country? With all the environmental allergens there, it’s a good idea for your child to wear long sleeves and long pants (made of cotton) while exploring.
- If your child has the chance to play in water, always moisturize your child’s skin before they swim, and then again after they get out of the water. Also, take off your child’s swimwear as soon as possible after the swim, so the tight fit doesn’t irritate your child’s skin. Be alert: Chlorine can help or hurt eczema skin, and the same goes for saltwater. This varies from child to child.
- If you’re in a very cold place where the cold dries out your child’s skin, or in a very dry place, expect to moisturize more than usual. You might ask your child’s dermatologist about a heavier-duty moisturizer for these environments.
- If you’re in a high-altitude location, try hanging up a wet towel (or asking about a humidifier) to raise the humidity of your child’s sleep space. Also, ask for a thorough vacuuming to minimize dust buildup.
6. Know how to handle eczema supplies when going through airport security.
If your child has eczema, flying can bring added challenges. Skin tends to dry out more quickly in the air. And you’ll have to follow the TSA’s rules for how much liquids you can bring in your carry-on or personal bag – which means your child's moisturizer supply will likely be limited in the air. How to handle this?
If your child has a prescription eczema treatment, you’re allowed to bring as much of that through security as you want – as long as you show the TSA agent the prescription and let them know that you’re carrying your child’s prescription medicine with you. Keep the prescription medication in its original container.
Generally, other “medically necessary liquids, medications, and creams” can also be brought through TSA checkpoints in containers of any size. But even if you bring a doctor’s note that says your child needs non-prescription eczema moisturizer, it’s still up to the TSA agent whether you can bring larger containers of that moisturizer through security. And many times, larger containers of non-prescription moisturizer won’t be allowed through, meaning you’ll be forced to throw them away. (Rules are also different for international destinations.)
Your best bet is to put your child’s moisturizer into several 3.4 ounce containers (the biggest size container of liquid allowed through security) and then pack as many of these small containers as you can into a quart-size bag for your child. This way, you won’t have to worry about the valuable moisturizer being confiscated.
Of course, you can pack as much moisturizer as you want in a checked bag, so pack more than you think your child will need in your checked luggage. The same goes for shampoo, body wash, and other “sensitive skin” liquid items that your child uses regularly to prevent flares – pack them in your checked bag.
As for the spritz bottle, keep that empty as you go through security, but keep that with your personal luggage so it’s easy to reach. Once you get through security, fill the spritz bottle at the water fountain so it’s ready in case your child needs it.
Keep your carry-on moisturizer, your child's prescription, and your spritz bottle in your personal bag, so they are within arm’s reach at all times when you’re on the plane. You’ll likely need to moisturize your child’s skin mid-flight.
7. Once at your destination, remove all the triggers you can.
This includes getting rid of scented soaps and washes, adding your own linens to the bed, and removing decorative pillows and bed covers that could hold lots of dust. You should also bathe your child – or at least spritz, cleanse, and moisturize them – to remove any triggers that may have accumulated on the skin during travel. Then, pull out a fresh change of clothes.
Remember all of your child’s known triggers, and do what you can to keep them from being exposed during the trip.
8. Stick to your child’s eczema care routine.
No matter how busy you get on your trip, it’s key to stick to the essentials of eczema care. Give your child a bath every day, then apply moisturizer immediately after the bath. In addition to the after-bath moisturizer, spritz and moisturize your child’s skin at least two more times each day.
9. If one of your child’s flares is hard to manage, dig into your bag of tricks.
As pediatric nurse practitioner Karol Timmons told the National Eczema Association, it’s always a good idea to “keep in your back pocket all the eczema tools you’ve learned about” for travel.“For example,” says Timmons, “you may not have needed to do wet wraps” before the trip, “but when you’re on vacation and [your child has] a bad flare, it might save your trip.” Oatmeal baths, ice packs for soothing, and ways to increase room humidity are other tricks to keep in mind to help your child. For more, check out our guide to stopping eczema itches and soothing flares.
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