A few weeks ago, I excitedly shared a photo of my soon to be 1 year old soon gushing about the fact that he was well, soon turning 1! In the post, I casually mentioned several highs and lows we’ve experienced since becoming parents. One of the lows being dealing with his dry skin condition. I was baffled at the response I got in the form of numerous messages from people detailing their own experience and recommending so many helpful things for us to try out. First of all, eczema is one of those things that, until we experienced it, I had no idea how common and STRESSFUL it was. Most babies experience some form of dry skin condition (from mild to moderate to severe) at some point in their childhood. A lot of them tend to outgrow it and get better. Some have to deal with dry skin (psoriasis) into their adult lives. DRY SKIN IS A REAL B****
Leslie turns 1 in a few days so I thought it would be helpful to give a lengthy (I tried so hard to summarise!) recap on what his symptoms are, all the products we’ve tried so far and all the professional advise we’ve been given as it might be useful to someone out there.
He has always had trouble sleeping through the night. At first we assumed it was naturally because he was a newborn and they tend to feed regularly even through the night. I mentioned his sleep pattern to the community health visitor and she said the older he gets, the more he’ll learn to sleep through the night. By this time he was about 3-4 months old and he couldn’t visibly itch himself so we didn’t deduce what it was that really kept him up most nights.
By the the time he was about 6 months old, he still wasn’t sleeping through the nigh. In fact, he had gotten worse. Because by then, he could itch himself and it was clear that something more than just the need to feed was keeping him awake at night. Hw would toss and turn, cry for ages, fidget and just itch away furiously at his skin. Obviously babies cannot control any urges and would respond physically to any discomfort. He would itch his skin sometimes until he’s bleed. It was so hard to watch. We had to have him sleep in mitts but that made him even more frustrated. The only way he could sleep most nights was having me rock and soothe him.
By this time as well, I had returned to work part-time (3 days a week) and the lack of sleep of sleep was taking a huge toll on me. I was shattered. I had to be in the office by 8am. After long nights of soothing my distressed baby it was just the hardest thing. Me and my husbands took turns at night but ultimately I still couldn’t get any uninterrupted sleep because Leslie rejected formula and was solely reliant on breastmilk. Some nights we would sit up until my alarm went off for me to get set for work at 6am. MAJOR SIGH.
So basically, when I was working Mathew was home taking care of Les. He went to work when I got back. This was how we made my return to work fit our schedule so we would not need to spend crazy fees on childcare. But we were not getting enough sleep. Some days Matt would not even drive to work because he was too tired to drive. What the hell?! It was dawning on me how something as undermined as eczema could affect the quality of life for many families.
I ended up losing my job because things were just not working out(in retrospect I think this contributed to my overall performance and concentration) but that’s another story.
As time went by his skin was getting worse. It was very dry, sore, red and on bad days it would ooze some sort of liquid. This was around June/July when it started to get hot. The heat was doing the most to his skin. He got so many red itchy patches on his arm that we had to constantly have him in long sleeves to stop him form scratching himself sore which really made it 10 times worse. The doctor prescribed several dry skin remedies for him. None of them seemed to help. He would itch at every chance he could get. I assumed it was food allergies because we had tried to introduce formula and other solids. I felt like I couldn’t catch a break. Between working and caring for my baby I could barely find time in the week for any GP appointments. We booked another appointment and told the GP none of the prescriptions worked for him and he needed to see an actual skin specialist and all they said was many children grow out of eczema and he will get better. They also prescribed a new set of medication for him to try.
We had planned to travel to Italy for a couple weeks in the summer and we were dreading the effect the heat would have on his skin. We asked the GP’s advise before we set off and they prescribed Piriton (suitable for children for 1 year and above but was only given to us as his case was severe), advised us to keep his skin constantly hydrated and moisturised, apply Hydrocortisone on affected areas daily and feed him lots of liquids.
To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as we feared. Yes he did not stop itching, BUT a lot of the redness and raw skin dried up during and after the holiday. A lot of the wounds and sores started drying up and what was left in their place was just very dried skin peeling off. This was actually not desirable but it was a lot better than the red irritated fresh skin he sported for several months.
Basically I’m really trying to summarise everything that we’ve been through in 11 months so I can get to the product reviews. These are the different remedies we tried out. Some of them were recommended by the doctor others we found out by reading articles about other eczema cases in babies.
Things We Tried:
Obviously staying hydrated and keeping skin moisturised are imperative if you suffer from sensitive dry skin. But these are the other things we tried along the way as we tried to figure out how to solve our son’s skin issues.
–Monitor diet and see what triggers itching. We took turns limiting different things from his diet to see if the itching would stop. The most common triggers usually are nuts, dairy, sugar, etc. We didn’t really experience any differences in his behaviour each time. We have not completely ruled this out though.
–Oatmeal baths are recommended for dry skin. I have not tried this enough to know if it works or not but the few times I have did not improve his overall skin that much. However, they are calming and soothing as he appeared to love it.
-Fancy perfumed bath and shower creams are a no go. Even if they promise to be moisturising, they’re just not beneficial especially if you or your baby suffers from dry sensitive skin. Same goes for body creams and lotions. Stay away from all the perfumed or fancy creams that will do nothing for you skin. We have used natural ingredients for the longest time. We use emollient or aqueous cream as soap and olive oil, coconut oil or raw shea butter as moisturiser.
-Washing brand new clothes before wearing them as the factory chemicals might be irritating his skin.
-Opting for 100% cotton clothing which does not irritate sensitive skin as much as other commonly used fabrics. This is a more expensive option as 100% pure cotton clothes come with a slightly higher price tag. And babies grow out of clothes literally every month so this was hard to keep up with. But if you can afford to wear exclusively 100% cotton all the time and you have sensitive skin, it’s completely worth it.
Avoid placing them directly on rough surfaces like shaggy rugs, carpets etc. Again, this reiterates the point of such surfaces causing sensitive sensitive skin to flare up.
This is a lot to write up in one post and I’m not sure if I’ve remembered everything but I will definitely edit this post if anything else comes to mind!
Before I go into our products list, here is a list of his symptoms so far:
-dry and chapped skin. Lots of dried flakes fall off if he goes without moisturiser for a few hours.
-Skin is inflamed and red in some areas especially his forearms, front ankles, stomach and the back of his hands.
-Inflamed areas usually flare up and will bleed when itched or ooze a clear liquid.
-Skin is super itchy especially at night which distresses him.
Products We’ve Used So Far…
There are a few other products that we have used and thrown out earlier on so I can’t remember those. These are all the item that I’ve found and photographed. Please do not take my reviews as gospel truth. I’m only sharing our experience which may or may not benefit others.
*None of the items are sponsored and this is not a sponsored post. However I have used some affiliate links to some of the products.
This is evidently the best emollient cream we have used to date. It’s super moisturising and really helped especially in the earlier stages when his skin was constantly inflamed and irritated. This did a great job to calm the flare ups and restore moisture.
Aqueous cream is a light, non-greasy moisturiser often used as a soap substitute. It cleanses the skin without drying it out. We’ve used this mainly as a soap substitute. They’re gentle cleansers and pretty affordable and easy to get. Most supermarkets will stock an aqueous cream. It doesn’t matter what brand it is. They worked better for us as cleansers than as moisturising lotions.
Always handy to have around. It’s natural and does not irritate sensitive skin so that’s plus. It works well as a moisturiser for dry skin. However if your skin is extremely dry, you’ll need something a bit more heavy duty than coconut oil. So in our case, it’s a nice-to-have but it hasn’t really been revolutionary.
Recommend: Yes (For mild cases of dry skin especially).
When it comes to natural and organic moisturisers, nothing works like Shea Butter. It’s a natural ingredient that targets chapped and dry skin. Someone recommended this to me and it works a treat in getting rid of the dryness as long as you apply it multiple times a day. It doesn’t help soothe any itching or irritation but it heals dry skin. I’m guessing in the long run if you get rid of dry skin then the itchiness will reduce or stop. We’ve been using this for dryness alongside other things to stop the itching.
Recommend: Strong yes
We don’t give him a bath without this. It works a treat to soft the water and prevent his skin being stripped of its moisture as we bathe him. This is really a must. Don’t give your baby a bath without a bath additive if they have dry skin. His skin feels moisturised after every bath! There’s also a bath additive for adults.
Recommend: Absolutely yes
Even though the Oilatum bath additive works a treat for us, the body cream has not been revolutionary. It does work for dry skin but when I use it I wish it’s consistency was a little thicker so it would provide longer lasting moisture. One great thing about it is that it applies greatly on to the skin and is not greasy.
We’ve used a range of products from the Aveeno Baby range and I honestly have nothing bad to say about them. They are absolutely gentle, soothing and very hydrating for dry skin. I think what makes them so great for dry skin is the presence of oats in the ingredients. This is the go to brand for a lot of people who suffer from dry skin but for more severe cases it takes a little longer to see results. The Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturising Lotion and the Aveeno Daily Moisturising Bath and Shower oil are my personal favourites.
The A-Derma Emollient Balm is fantastic for dry skin! The reason I love it is that it’s a balm instead of cream so its consistency is thicker than normal and you can just feel the skin soaking in all that moisture once it’s locked in. The balm dispenser has a unique patented opening which prevents air from going into the tube once opened. This was a great recommendation by another friend. It’s a little harder to get in the UK but you can get online. It’s also a bit pricier and is not the NHS prescription list so I have to buy this out of pocket. Lookfantastic usually stock it but it was out of stock for this post. But I have used Cocoon Center or Sanareva and they all stock a range of great Aderma products including this Anti Scratching Cream which I will be trying next.
The story about this brand went viral a few months ago and as soon as I saw it I desperately jumped on the bandwagon. It was started by a mum like myself who tried to find something that worked for her daughters’ sensitive skin and hair that after trying several things to no avail, she created her own formula which worked for her children!
Clearly the majority of women have children who suffer from eczema because as soon as the story was published on the Daily Mail about this lady who called it the ‘holy grail’ product, it sold out completely. I mean SOLD OUT. As in both in stores and online. Amazon, Ebay, random online outlets, niche corner stores…. I went everywhere and asked. Child’s Farm had sold out. In one of the shops I checked out, women were joining the waiting list for this product. I thought, shit, it must be the real deal then. My baby WILL stop itching finally. I HAD TO HAVE IT. After searching high and low for this product, I finally got an alert a few days later that it was back in stock at Boots. I immediately left my desk at work and ran straight into town to buy this cream. I got to Boots and guess what? You guessed it. SOLD OUT again. These parents did not come to play y’all. I really wanted to get it in store because I was KEEN for Leslie to start using it immediately. But it was sold out again. So I jumped on Boots online and ordered SIX BOTTLES before it sold out again. My order arrived within 3 days and I was just thanking Jesus because I knew my baby was going to have a blessed itch-free night.
Far from it.
This did nothing to soothe his skin. Yes it smells nice and was made to target eczema prone skin and works fab as a moisturiser but that is it. As you can see, based on the hype and great reviews from mums like myself, I ordered bucket loads of this brand which I still have sitting in a drawer. I don’t think the other mums are lying or anything. It might be a case of different strokes for different folks. On that basis I would recommend it. I think it may really have helped other families out but it didn’t do much for us. Maybe I just didn’t use it long enough. But we have loads of the moisturisers lying about so I might try it again.
On a positive note, the bath and hair products are fantastic and they do not irritate his skin. We’ve completely run out of the bath and body washes and shampoos. I will be repurchasing. In terms of his skin, I just want something that will make the itching go away. This didn’t do that so I was really disappointed.
The Child’s Farm spf 50 Sun Cream however came in really handy especially on holiday. It really helped keep Leslie’s skin moisturised and protected.
I would recommend it.
Diprobase Ointment Emollient has been a lifesaver. Out of everything we’ve used, this has given us the best results. Perfect for night time use and is suitable for moderate to severe conditions of dry skin. It is recommended for night-time use for the provision of long-lasting hydration. I love it because it’s an ointment and has a super thick and sticky consistency so it creates a barrier on the skin that protects by keeping irritants out and seal moisture inside the skin. This was a prescription and you get a really large tub which lasts forever. We’re on the second tub.
Recommend: Highly. A must have
Good old petroleum jelly. In the absence of an ointment, petroleum jelly is great moisturiser and sealant for dry skin. We use this sometimes when we run out of Diprobase ointment or when out and out and about and we quickly need to reapply ointment to dry areas. I’m sure every household has a jar of the well-known trustworthy cure-all petroleum jelly. Obviously not made to target eczema but it works fabulously to in and seal moisture. Vaseline is obviously the most popular brand but other supermarkets own brand do the same great job.
Recommend: Obviously yes.
This is recommended for children 1 and above and is meant to target itching from eczema, chicken pox and other ails.
When we were prescribed this Leslie was only about 5 months old so we were very skeptical to go ahead and use it as the bottle clearly said 1year plus. We phoned the GP to confirm that we could definitely use this on our baby but they wouldn’t give us a straight answer for the life of us. They said it’s not recommended but it can be used. And we wanted to know the risks but they just weren’t giving us anything at all! Long story short, we slept on this one. For months. When we finally did decide to give it a go, we gave him half of a normal dose which did f**k all. It did not really stop the itching when we used it so we’ve decided to wait and use this when he’s one and we can finally use it in the right way and find out if it actually works. A few mums at my work did tell me thy rely on it though as it works a treat for them.
Well we’ll soon find out.
As far as non-steroidal creams go, this is the best one on the market. It works really well in soothing red and dry skin areas without thinning the skin like most steroids do. It’s so friendly to skin and I absolutely love it. Can’t recommend it enough. Also my husband’s noticed how good this is. I told him I was writing a blog post about eczema and all the products we’ve used. Which would he recommend? This was one of his top 2. The other was Diprobase ointment.
Recommend: Highly yes
We’ve used E45 in the past and it’s a great brand for very dry skin. I would definitely recommend it. However this cream did not really do much in terms of relieving his itch which is why I bought it in the first place. The name itch relief gave me high hopes but it is just a good dry skin moisturiser that did not relief any itching in our case.
Recommend: Not a must
Nothing targets dry, itchy skin like topical steroids. One of the most commonly prescribed medications for eczema is topical corticosteroids, or just “steroids,” which can ease redness and reduce inflammation and itching so that your skin can begin to heal. It is the one ointment that guaranteed at least a few hours of no itchiness or a few hours of sweet itch-free sleep for Leslie. Obviously every good thing comes with a catch. Side effects are unlikely to occur with short course of use. However, long term use can cause permanently damage the skin by thinning it. Hydrocortisone id really great and keeps the redness, dryness and itchiness at bay but we only use it up to 3 times a week. When Leslie’s skin was really bad (bleeding and oozing liquid) the GP advised us to use it daily but I just couldn’t do it. She said she didn’t think he could get better without it. It is too harsh a cream to use on a daily basis. We stuck to our guns and limited the use of Hydrocortisone. His skin got better but it took a while.
If you suffer from eczema or dermatitis you can’t be without this. However to preserve your skin in the long run, use sparingly and only when needed.
Recommend: Highly recommended but use sparingly.
WELP. This ended up being one long ass post. What the hell. LOL. Hopefully this can shed some light and help others looking for their holy grail eczema treatment.
Leslie os almost 1 and his skin is far from what it was a few months ago. The open sores and red inflamed patches are all gone. His skin is still VERY dry. There’s lots of skin peeling off in dry areas and it flares up when irritated but there’s no clear liquid coming out of his skin, praise Jesus. The thing we have used the most consistently out of everything else is Diprobase so I know it is responsible for how better his skin looks these days. We also use raw Shea Butter on a regular.
My main gripe is the itching. He still itches during the day sometimes but mostly at night. It interrupts his sleeping pattern and it’s been hard to establish a routine because of it.
I can’t wait for the day when that will go away for good. In the mean time. We’ll keep looking!
I can’t find any pictures of his skin to compare then and now but I will update this post if I find any.
Thanks for reading. Happy hump day!