Back to school for eczema children may bring about a different set of challenges, for instance, how to continue with eczema skincare during school hours and how to prevent contact with triggers in school. Below are five common challenges and suggestions on how to work on them with your child and the school.
Challenge #1 – Skincare in School
Sometimes there may not be as much time in school to carry out the skincare routine, and adjustments have to be made to skincare (mainly to keep it short) and also to encourage your child to take care of his skin. Suggestions for skincare in school include:
(i) Moisturizer - Put in a smaller container and encourage your child to moisturize whenever after washing or when he feel itchy (but skin has to be clean). Practice at home to moisturize quickly if your child feels conscious applying cream.
(ii) Avoid soap - Avoid soap for hand-washing and sanitizers which are usually drying. Either bring your own, use water only or communicate to school to use non-soap cleanser.
(iii) Freshen up - Pack a bag with towel, change of clothes and small bottle of cleanser so that your child can take a quick shower when time permit. Keep shower short and avoid hot water.
Challenge #2 – Sweat
Some schools may not be air-conditioned or not have time for children to freshen up after exercise. Sweat can irritate skin though the causes may be varied from the contents of the sweat, changing pH of skin or the crystallized sweat. Encourage your child to freshen up, moisturize and change a new set of clothes. Inform the teacher to give your child extra time to shower or wipe off sweat residue after exercise.
Challenge #3 School Uniform
Certain materials such as polyester may irritate your child’s skin. Work with the school to ask for options such as making a similar uniform of different material, wearing alternative school uniform (for instance, the attire for sports) or wearing a garment underneath the uniform (if appropriate for the weather). Here is one challenge that will be good to meet up with other parents in the school so that you can work with the uniform supplier.
Challenge #4 Heat and Changes in Temperature
Changes in temperature and heat also exacerbate eczema for some and therefore check with your child and his teacher on his assigned seat. Avoid seats that are beside the window and the radiator. If heat or low humidity is an issue in the classroom, explore various options with the school on having humidifier or classes in air-conditioned room.
Challenge #5 Dust
Allergy to house dust mites is one of the most common trigger for eczema in schooling children. Communicate with the school to assign your child non-dusty class cleaning duties and where possible, not to sit on carpets. This is an area where you can ask for your doctor or work with a support group to hold a session for your child’s school on various good practices for avoiding contact with dust for your child, such as wet-wiping (instead of dry-dusting) and avoid using carpets, curtains and furniture that trap dust.
Other then the above, get your child’s doctor to write a letter explaining to the school the triggers of eczema for your child and how to avoid them in school. Adopt an open attitude to work with the school on helping your child and at the same time, other children who have eczema or sensitive skin. Contact your local support group or hospital who may have programs to help their members or patients beyond the clinic consultation.
For more on eczema management, check out the book Living with Eczema: Mom Asks, Doc Answers at EczemaQnA.com.