When your child is young, keeping their eczema under control is easier because you have more control over their daily activities. But when your child starts to walk, run, and play without you nearby, avoiding triggers and preventing outbreaks can be challenging. It raises questions like:
- Can my child go swimming?
- Can my child play outside?
- Can my child get dirty?
- What sports can my child play?
- How can I prevent or minimize flare-ups when my child is active?
If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions, or even if you think you might one day, let Mustela’s experts put your mind at ease. We’ll start with one of the most common concerns: swimming.
In The Water
Does your child love the water? If so, it can be hard to keep your little one away from puddles or hoses or ponds. Their enthusiasm can make it difficult to say no. After all, who can resist those big grins and playful giggles? The good news is that now you don’t have to. With just a bit of extra care, your child can swim like a fish anytime they want.
In our article Bathing Your Baby To Avoid Eczema Flare-Ups: A Parent’s Guide, we explained the best process for bathing your eczema-prone child. But letting your little one with eczema swim in a pool or the ocean is a different thing altogether. The chlorine in a public pool and the salt in the ocean can be a major trigger for your child’s sensitive skin.
Irritating chemicals aside, swimming can actually be an ideal activity for your eczema-prone child because it cools their core body temperature and prevents outbreaks. As a parent, you just need to take a few precautionary steps to keep eczema flare-ups at bay.
First, apply an emollient product like Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Cream or Stelatopia Emollient Balm. These specially designed products create a barrier between your child’s skin and the air and water around it. This barrier prevents harsh chemicals and other allergens and irritants from causing an eczema flare-up.
Second, protect your little one’s skin even further by applying an SPF 50+ sunscreen that is safe for atopic-prone skin. Be sure to re-apply the emollient cream and the sunscreen every two hours or whenever your child gets out of the water.
Third, when your child is done swimming, bathe them in fresh water and use eczema-safe products like Mustela’s Stelatopia Cleansing Cream and Mustela’s Stelatopia Foam Shampoo. For added protection and peace of mind, drop a dash of Mustela’s Stelatopia Bath Oil in the water.
Lastly, re-apply an emollient product to provide ongoing flare-up protection for your little one.
Dealing with childhood eczema doesn’t mean your little one has to live in a bubble. They can run and play outside in the grass just like any other child, provided you take a few preventative measures first.
The primary concerns when your child plays outside should be their sweat and the many foreign substances they can come in contact with. Both of these things—sweat and foreign substances—can trigger an eczema flare-up faster than you can say, “Did you have fun, sweetie?”
Sweat can play a major role in causing a breakout because it contains trace amounts of chemicals like ammonia, urea, and salt. These chemicals, along with the heat that usually leads to sweating, can irritate your little one’s skin after only a few minutes. How can you prevent your child from sweating? The ideal solution is to choose calm yet entertaining activities, like marbles, bocce, hide-and-seek, and treasure hunting (just to name a few).
Additionally, you can keep your child inside during the hottest part of the day to prevent sweating. Let your little one play outside in the early morning or in the late evening, but avoid the noon-day sun if at all possible.
As we mentioned above, foreign substances are another significant eczema trigger. Grass is rough and prickly. Dirt is, well, dirty. And the sun can be so intense that it can almost immediately burn sensitive skin.
To prevent these environmental factors from becoming an issue, apply a sunscreen and an emollient product just like you did before taking your little one swimming. The sunscreen protects against the sun’s harmful UV rays, and the emollient product protects against the foreign substances that can irritate your child’s skin.
On The Sports Field
As your child gets older, the idea of playing sports becomes more appealing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Your future athlete can play basketball, football, volleyball, whatever. You simply need to follow a few skincare rules to prevent eczema flare-ups.
- Always apply an emollient product before your child heads out to the field or the court. This extra bit of protection can mean the difference between an itchy flare-up and no flare-up at all. It’s that important.
- If at all possible, dress your player in loose-fitting, cotton clothing. Shirts and pants of this type breathe well, don’t bind or constrict, and wick sweat away from the surface of your child’s skin.
- If your little one is going to be rolling in the grass (e.g., football), choose long sleeves and long pants to protect against irritation.
- If your child plays sports outside during the summer, request evening games—when the sun isn’t at its strongest. It may not be possible to switch the game schedule around, but it never hurts to ask.
- Remind your child to keep cool by drinking plenty of water. They can also use a water atomizer (a.k.a. a mister) to lower their body temperature.
- When your child’s game is over, make sure they shower or bathe as soon as possible, washing with a gentle cleanser like Mustela’s Stelatopia Cleansing Cream.
- After bathing, re-apply an emollient product like those mentioned above.
Eczema doesn’t have to hinder your little one’s childhood experiences. With these simple reminders, your child can stay active, enjoy the water and the outdoors, and play any sport they choose—despite their eczema-prone skin.