Sending a child to daycare or nursery school can be a difficult time for many parents. It may be the first time you have been away from your baby since they were born. This separation can be traumatic—for you and your child—especially when they suffer from eczema-prone skin. How will their caregiver handle it if a flare-up occurs? How will they and the other kids handle it? And what will they do if you’re not there to comfort them? Your heart just breaks thinking about it!
Daycare or nursery school doesn’t have to be a stressful transition (other than saying goodbye to your baby for a few hours). All it takes is a bit of communication, a healthy dose of understanding, and some simple preventative measures. In this article, Mustela’s experts will show you what steps to take to make your baby’s transition from home to daycare or nursery school a pleasant experience.
Talk To Your Child’s Caregivers
When it’s time to entrust your child’s care to a babysitter, nursery, daycare, or school, it’s also time to have a talk with their caregivers and teachers about their eczema-prone skin. First of all, keep in mind that there is no shame in being affected by eczema. It is true that eczema is a visible skin problem. But it is common, and, most importantly, non-contagious. Your child’s caregiver or teacher needs to understand that.
What’s more, eczema flare-ups are very similar to allergic reactions. Your child shouldn’t be treated any differently than a child with seasonal allergies or a peanut allergy. Most likely they won’t be, but it’s better to bring up your child’s eczema first rather than letting the caregiver discover it for herself. You’ll find that most caregivers, childcare workers, and teachers are already well-informed about childhood eczema. That’s because nearly 15% of infants and 20% of children under the age of seven are affected by eczema and atopic-prone skin.
So don’t be afraid to broach the subject on the very first day. Not sure what to tell your child’s caregiver to help them understand? Here are six key things to mention about eczema and the way it impacts your child.
1) Eczema Is Not Contagious
If your child’s caregiver is unfamiliar with eczema, this is the first piece of information they need. Explain to them that eczema is a hereditary condition that is passed on from a parent to their child through DNA. And tell them, just like a regular allergy to pollen or dust, eczema cannot be spread from person to person by touch or proximity. When your child’s caregiver understands these basic facts, they can tell their coworkers, the other children, and parents that there’s no need to worry.
2) Eczema Is Not Due To A Lack Of Hygiene
Another myth you need to dispel right away is your child’s eczema flare-ups are somehow caused by a lack of good hygiene. Make it clear that the red, itchy spots are the result of allergens that have penetrated the hydrolipidic barrier and have irritated your child’s skin. Once your child’s caregivers or teachers are clear on the causes of an eczema flare-up, they can reassure parents and children alike that your child is not dirty in any way.
3) They May Get Tired And Grumpy
The stark reality of dealing with eczema is that your child may not always get the sleep they need to be at their best. This can result in a tired and grumpy child at daycare or school the next day. You can warn your child’s caregiver(s) the very first day you meet that this may be a possibility. It’s also important, then, to say a few words whenever it does happen so that caregivers aren’t surprised by their bad mood, drowsiness, or lack of concentration. If the adults are made aware, they can even help them catch up on their sleep when the opportunity arises.
4) This Is What A Flare-Up Looks Like
Another important topic to mention is what a flare-up looks like. You don’t have to go into the deep details, just the broad strokes—red, swollen, itchy patches or spots—will do. It would also be useful to tell your child’s caregivers where they are more prone to break out. The parts of their body that are more susceptible will change with age, so it’s vital that caregivers know where to look. If you have any pictures of your child with an eczema flare-up, we suggest showing them to your child’s caregiver so they know exactly what to look for. A picture is worth a thousand words after all.
5) If A Flare-Up Does Occur, Here’s How To Treat It
The best way to treat an eczema flare-up is with an emollient product like Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Cream or Stelatopia Emollient Balm. Make sure that your child’s caregivers are aware of this fact and know the best ways to apply the emollient for maximum relief. It’s a good idea to always verify if your child’s caregiver has emollient products on hand. If not, you can send an emollient in your child’s bag every day.
Expert tip: To help further relieve eczema-prone skin and prevent future flare-ups, dress your baby in Mustela's Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas at the end of each day. Made with natural ingredients, these pajamas deliver skin-soothing moisture all night long so your baby can rest well and be ready for another day at school.
6) These Environmental Factors Can Cause A Flare-Up
The final thing you should tell your child’s caregiver is what environmental factors can cause your child’s eczema to flare-up. Be sure to include everything that could be risky including heat, strong sunlight, scratchy carpets, and even the foods. If you’re not sure exactly what triggers your child’s eczema flare-ups, we recommend visiting a doctor who can refer you to a dermatologist or allergist. They can run tests to identify your child’s allergies. Armed with that information, you and your child’s caregiver, can work to minimize the risk that a flare-up will occur.