Frequent handwashing leading to irritation?

Whether it’s a need to do chores involving water, due to one’s occupation, or just a habit, frequent handwashing can lead to irritated skin of the hands.  The hands become dry and stripped of their natural protective oils.  Irritant dermatitis is the name of the rash which often ensues from frequent handwashing — it is a type of rash that occurs as a result of direct physical, mechanical or chemical trauma from an outside culprit.  The most frequent culprit is handwashing.  Between the soap and the water, the damage is done.  Skin becomes dry and rough, and can become variable degrees of pink/red.

So how can you prevent irritated hands from frequent handwashing?

– First, if it’s not necessary, then don’t wash your hands.  This is not to mean that you should not wash your hands when they are dirty or soiled. You should!  Handwashing is important in preventing spread of germs.  However, if you find yourself excessively handwashing, figure out if you can cut back.

– Although hot water helps cleanse the hands more readily of microbes, they can also strip the skin’s oils more readily.  Depending on how germy your hands are, you may considering using lukewarm or cold water to wash as opposed to hot water.

– Limit the amount of time you are washing.  Do not wash for an excessively long time.

– Pat dry instead of rubbing dry.

– Follow up with a moisturizer.

– If all else fails, see a medical professional such as a dermatologist for help.  If your rash is particularly bad, prescription medicated creams or ointments may be helpful.

Vaniply Ointment/Skin Protectant

We’ve previously discussed the use of skin protectants and ointments for irritated skin such as eczema skin.  One of my favorites is Vaniply ointment.  One frequent complaint I hear from patients about ointment is that it leaves the skin and clothing sticky and goopy, and that it’s difficult to apply.  Vaniply is somehow much smoother and much easier to spread.  It also doesn’t leave that really sticky feel behind.

Vaniply is made by the same company that makes Vanicream.  All of their products are meant to be hypoallergenic. Specifically, Vaniply is free of fragrance, preservatives, lanolin, parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, sulfates, gluten, and chemical irritants.  Patients with eczema are more likely to develop contact dermatitis so it’s good that Vaniply has taken out all the above offenders.

So what does Vaniply contain?  1% dimethicone, C30-45 alkyl methicone, C30-45 olefin, hydrogenated polydecene, microcrystalline wax, polyethylene, silica dimethyl silylate

What are the uses of Vaniply?

It can function as a skin protectant — serving as an extra barrier between the skin and the outside world.   As such, you can use it over chapped lips, hands, feet, and elsewhere.  You can also use it in areas that develop a rash from constant moisture (think babies’ bottoms or skin folds).  It helps “seal” in the water content of the skin, so you could use it as part of the “soak and smear” method if you’re trying to hydrate the skin and then trap the moisture in (e.g. for those with eczema).  It can also be used as part of the wet wrapping procedure (again, often used in eczema patients).

Vaniply is “kid friendly” and has also received the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance.

The Bamboo Bubby Bag – a sleep sack designed for kids with eczema

The Bamboo Bubby Bag is a sleep sack made of bamboo and cotton designed for babies with eczema.  The material is stretchy and is relatively lightweight, so dress your child accordingly inside the sack depending on the weather.  The Bamboo Bubby Bag features covered sleeves which can fold over to shorten the length of the sleeves.  Because of the adjustable sleeves, they can accomodate small babies of about 6 months old up to 6 year old toddlers.

Here are some things I like about the Bamboo Bubby Bag:

– The stretchiness of the material makes for easy on and off.  This is important as when an eczema child is tired and needs to rest, the scratching often starts.  You don’t want to spend all day trying to get on your mittens, gloves, scratch sleeves and then your sleep sack, etc.

– The sack accommodates a wide age range.  Eczema clothing and accessories can be expensive and this can last you a long time.  Just be sure to take care of your sack in order to preserve its longevity.

– The double zipper means easy diaper changes.

– There’s a hole in the back to accommodate placing your baby in the stroller or car seat.  If you’re taking a long car ride and can’t constantly monitor your child’s hands, this is a nice benefit.

The cost is currently $79.95 and you can buy it through the company’s website.  You can also get it with the ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeves for a total of $89.95.  I recommend you line dry the sack as noted in the care instructions, so you may want to invest in two sacks.

Review: AD RescueWear RescueSuit

The AD RescueWear RescueSuit is a body suit made of soft stretchy Tencel (R) that covers your baby or child neck down.  Conceived by eczema mom Beth Scott, it is designed as an aid for wet wrapping for eczema, and can also be used for dry wrapping.  It features fold over mitts to cover the hands when needed as well as fully enclosed feet.  The neck down full coverage is important in providing a protective layer from scratching.

The Tencel (R) fabric is excellent for gently hugging your child’s skin.  Traditionally, parents have used tight fitting cotton pajamas for wet wrapping.  However, I have yet to find cotton pajamas which are able to fit a child’s body as well as this RescueSuit.  Additionally, the wet cotton pajamas end up heavy, bulky and bunchy when used for wet wrapping.  This RescueSuit molds to the body so that the damp fabric is right next to the skin and really is superior for wet wrapping.  Another benefit I have found of the body molding RescueSuit is that bulky diapers do not rub against thighs as much — this sort of rubbing can incite eczema and itch.

This suit can also be used for dry wrapping and worn day to day.  It is an added protective layer to protect the skin from scratching and because of the body molding fit, can easily fit under outer garments.

The AD RescueWear RescueSuit is very helpful for those of you whose children benefit from wet wrapping.  Watch the YouTube demo on how to wet wrap with the RescueSuit.  You may have to practice a couple of times to become as adept at putting the suit on as the mom in the video.

The AD RescueWear RescueSuit retails at $105.  You may want to have a couple on hand as they are delicate and should be air dried flat, so that would cost a couple hundred dollars.  The suit costs significantly more than cotton pajamas, but at the same time, they are actually designed for wet and dry wrapping.  Check out the AD RescueWear website as well as The Eczema Company’s website to look for sales and promotions.

All in all, as a dermatologist and eczema mom, I found the AD RescueWear Rescue Suit to be a helpful item to have and would recommend it to other parents of children with eczema.

For the month of March, use the code DERM10 to receive 10% off from The Eczema Company.

Review: ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeves

The ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeves are a unique way of protecting little ones’ nails and fingers from damaging their own skin, hair and nails.  An alternative to traditional mittens, they are worn like a shawl over the child’s normal clothing.  The ends can flip open or closed.  When closed, the exterior of the mitten is silk.  When open, the exterior of the mitten is cotton.  The shawl part of the sleeve is a blend of organic bamboo viscose, organic cotton and lycra.  They are available for babies and children ranging from 3 months to 6 years old.

These sleeves are useful for babies and children who scratch themselves, especially those with eczema or atopic dermatitis, or other skin issues.  They are also useful for children who pull out hair or have a habit of nail biting.  The ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeves were designed by  eczema mom Andrea Thomas and it shows.

I really like these sleeves and here’s why:

– The external silk mittens are gentle on skin. I have yet to find baby and kid mittens that are made of silk.  The traditional mittens and flip sleeves attached to onesies are cotton.  Silk is much smoother and decreases the amount of damage rubbing can do to the skin.  Even rubbing with cotton can lead to thickening (what we call “lichenification” in dermatology) which can worsen the skin condition and itch.

– These sleeves stay on.  The mitten portion is attached to the shawl portion.  Babies and kids are really good at getting traditional mittens off.  These stay on.

– They are easy to flip open and closed.  This is important because you aren’t going to just flip them closed and leave your child that way all day.  There are often predictable times when your child will scratch skin, pull hair or bite nails — e.g. when she/he is tired or fussy, during diaper changes, at night when her/his inhibition is decreased, etc.  In anticipation of these times, you can close the mittens.  The rest of the time, you can keep the mittens open.  This may also decrease your anxiety over whether you child won’t have enough open mitten time to learn how to use her/his fingers and hands.

– They are easy to get on and off.  The shawl part is a mix of bamboo viscose, cotton and lycra.  It has just enough stretch so that you can put it on easily, but not so loose that your child can work her/his way out of it.

– They are relatively affordable.  There are so many products that target parents of eczema babies and kids.  Some of them are very costly.  These are relatively affordable and there are often deals through the ScratchMeNot website or The Eczema Company.

As a dermatologist and eczema mom myself, I give these ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeves 5 stars.

DermBytes readers get 10% off at the ScratchMeNot website with the code: Dermbytes.

How do you clip your baby’s nails?

How do you clip your baby’s nails?

Carefully.

Worried moms often fear clipping their little ones’ little fingers.  This is not uncommon as the infants don’t respond to directives to stay still.  This issue of nail clipping an important one for me as I learned to clip the nails of my eczema baby’s nails to prevent his nails from ripping up his skin.  Those nails needed to be short!  (This brings back memories from my violin teacher.)

So what are some ways to make keeping your baby’s nails short easier?

  • Use a nail clipper designed for babies.  No, do not use your adult-sized nail clippers.  They are too large and the blades may be too thick.
  • If you’re struggling to see your baby’s nails, look for a clipper with a little magnifying glass.
  • Try baby nail trimming scissors.  Those with the rounded tips may be best if you worry about poking your baby with sharp scissor tips.
  • Try this Zoli electric baby nail trimmer.  It has little “sandpaper” like pads that buff the excess nail away.  Each pad is meant for a different age range.  Just be careful, held next to skin, these pads can also buff away skin!
  • Try a good ol’ fashioned emery board.  This may be slow going though and it may be hard for your baby to keep still as long as you need to do an adequate job.

What other tips do you have?

The story of the ScratchMeNot. Interview with founder Andrea Thomas

Today, we have the opportunity to learn more about the story behind the ScratchMeNot products.  Founder Andrea Thomas shares her story dealing with her children’s eczema and how that inspired her to develop the ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeve.

Can you share your story as an eczema mom?

My story may sound familiar, yet it was very new to me at the time! I was a first time mom that wanted to know everything about everything about being a mom! I wanted to do everything right. Ha! When my daughter was born, something innate happened. I knew I’d do anything for her. When her eczema crept in overnight around age 2 months, I became her advocate. From doctors visits to research & intuition, I did everything I could to fight her eczema. In the meantime, my husband and I, dealt with this seemingly uncontrollable scratching that kept getting in the way of any progress we made. We couldn’t get a handle on it. I had never seen anyone scratch with such intensity, especially a baby.
 
How did you get started with ScratchMeNot?
During her extra scratching moments, that was all I could focus on. I couldn’t take time to research the way I wanted, doctors were leading me to steroids and I was VERY sleep deprived from co-sleeping day & night with a scratching baby. I knew I couldn’t continue at this rate, I needed to find a solution to bridge the gap. I designed the ScratchMeNot to do just that! They bridge the gap to stop scratching fingers from damaging delicate skin so parents can focus on stopping the skin from itching. I also knew I wanted my daughter to have plenty of hands free moments for her to interact with the world. All of these thoughts, plus dreaming of sleeping again, helped me create the first ScratchMeNot.
 
Tell us about your new product, the FlipMittenBody.
I’m so excited! Our Flip Mitten Sleeves are amazing on their own, as kids can wear them with just about anything. Yet, the Flip Mitten Body is an all-in-one scratching solution for babies, toddlers and older children that need extra protection. They’re also extra easy for caretakers to flip the mittens closed during scratching moments. Plus they go up to age 4T which is uncommon for onesies.
 
Have you connected with other eczema parents who have used your products?  Can you share some success stories they have relayed to you?
 
We have so much feedback from parents who have found success using ScratchMeNots for their little ones. You can read (and see) what parents think on our storyboard! I’m currently working with a family who’s children battle eczema daily. The youngest daughter has the most intense case of it. They were using socks, however their daughter rubbed & scratched through the socks causing some intense skin trauma. Sometimes, the socks would get stuck to her wounds. Today, ScratchMeNots are helping her so much, here’s a quote from her mom:
Her skin is at least 75% healed and we not used a single oral medication or prescription cream on her since we started using the ScratchMeNots. No one can believe the difference, and asks if we finally found a medication that works. Haha! I tell everyone about your company and show everyone her pretty sleeves and tell them we don’t use meds on her anymore. I’m so glad she is happy to wear them and doesn’t have to wear socks on her hands all the time anymore that would stick and hurt her. Plus, she could still scratch with those.”
Whenever I get feedback like this, it really inspires & propels me forward to help families in need of a scratching solution & hopefully provide them with information on how to start healing eczema from the inside out!

Interview with National Eczema Association CEO, Julie Block

NEA logoToday we feature an interview with Julie Block, President and CEO of the National Eczema Association (NEA). Over the past 5 years, Julie has been leading NEA’s mission to support and educate patients, and promote scientific progress in the fight against eczema.

The National Eczema Association (NEA) is the premier patient-oriented eczema association in the United States. Can you share with us how NEA started?

Originally the organization was called the National Eczema Association for Science & Education (NEASE) and was formed in 1988 in Portland Oregon. Dr. Jon Hanifin, a preeminent dermatologist and eczema researcher, knew that his patients battling this chronic condition needed more support and information. He, along with Nurse Practitioner Susan Tofte and patient Irene Crosby started a patient support group, and the rest is history as they say. The association moved its headquarters to California in the early 2000’s, and has been on a solid trajectory providing eczema education, support and funding research, ever since.

What is the mission of the NEA?

NEA improves the health and quality of life for individuals with eczema through research, support, and education.

How did you become President and CEO of the NEA? 

I have devoted my career to non-profit leadership and am privileged to serve NEA now.

How have you seen NEA grow over the past 5 years as leader of the NEA?

NEA continues to educate and support more and more eczema sufferers and their loved ones each year. As well, we have funded close to $500,000 in eczema research. One of the biggest changes has been communication through social media channels, as you can imagine. NEA has increasingly engaged in advocacy efforts – for example, ensuring access to phototherapy, and for increased federal research funding to NIH. Our outreach to physicians has been ongoing during this time to provide eczema resources that improve their patients lives.

Support, awareness and education are very important for patients and families with eczema. What is the biggest piece of advice you have for our readers without eczema in how they can support patients and families with eczema?

Great question! Don’t tell anyone “Stop Scratching”…its near impossible and just makes the person with eczema feel bad.

How can readers get involved with the NEA locally or nationally?

Your readers can get involved in a host of ways: participate in a local Itching for a Cure Walk! Create a team, fundraise, and join the entire eczema community across the nation in either a virtual walk or the national walk being conducted that year. We always are in need of magazine article submissions, and website content that is personal. Start a local support group with an eczema patient and or caregivers – its easy! Clinicians and researchers will have an increasing opportunity to get involved in NEA advocacy to improve eczema care and assure access and affordability. Stay tuned.

Over the years, NEA’s support of scientific research has been critical for advancing our understanding and treatment of eczema. Can you share some of the most exciting findings of these projects that NEA has supported?

Two specific NEA seed funding projects come to mind. First, Dr. Eric Simpson of OHSU studied eczema prevention in high risk infants. This research grant was parlayed into an international effort to study the same, and was awarded NIH funding. Secondly, Dr. Gil Yosipovitch received two research grants from NEA on itch, specifically Pruritus in Atopic Dermatitis using Arterial Spin Labeling Functional MRI and The Effect of Visual Stimuli on Itch Perception Intensity in Healthy and Atopic Dermatitis Patients. These projects too led to NIH research grant funding and have contributed greatly to the body of research knowledge on the underserved study of itch.

So much work remains to be done in eczema. What exciting projects is the NEA currently supporting and what endeavors will NEA be undertaking in the coming years?

Now, for the first time in decades, there is a healthy pipeline of new eczema drugs in development, including the first biologic drug for eczema. All this development will bring profound change for eczema atients. It will also bring misconceptions and bewilderment as patients, payers, medical practices, government and medical academia all scramble to understand eczema’s changing healthcare landscape as it retains to their respective needs. NEA wlll soon launch a Roadmap to Advocacy to usher in this Decade of Eczema. The roadmap is a blueprint for change, a vision that will propel NEA into a leadership role in this new era of transformative care.

How can you treat cracks and fissures over hand eczema?

Example of hand eczema. courtesy of Wikipedia user Haendels.
Example of hand eczema. courtesy of Wikipedia user Haendels.

Cracks, fissures and splits often occur over hand and foot eczema that has been left untreated.  Here are some tips to help prevent cracks from appearing and to reduce the pain from cracks.

Prevent the eczema from occurring in the first place!

Practice good dry skin care practices.  If there is sign of eczema starting, catch it early and treat it before the cracks develop.

Seal up the cracks

The cracks hurt, especially when they come into contact with water.  You can seal up the cracks with liquid bandage, or keep them protected with an ointment such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment or

Liquid bandage can be used to seal small cuts, fissures, and cracks including those on the hands and fingers.
Liquid bandage can be used to seal small cuts, fissures, and cracks including those on the hands and fingers.

Vaseline.  The ointment may need to be frequently applied.  To learn how to apply liquid bandage, click here.

Wear gloves

You may need to use your hands for work or chores.  Reduce the amount of irritation and exposure to these cracks by adding a protective layer.  You can slip gloves on over protective ointment as well.

Treat any infection that may be present

Bacteria, especially Staph bacteria, likes eczema.  If there are signs of infection over your eczema, you may need an antibiotic ointment or even an oral antibiotic.  Let your healthcare provider guide you on the appropriate therapy.

Interview with Kelly Northey of the Bamboo Bubby Bag for Eczema

Bamboo Bubby logoToday we feature Kelly Northey who created the Bamboo Bubby Bag for eczema and learn about her story.  Kelly is also mom of an eczema child.

What was your inspiration behind the Bamboo Bubby Bag?

The Bamboo Bubby Bag was born back in 2010, when I was a new mum to a 6 month old baby, who while was completely gorgeous, had suffered eczema since he was born.

Thanks to the discomfort this caused him, he’d barely slept longer then 30-40 minute stints day or night for that entire time. To call us sleep deprived was an understatement!

We tried everything we could possibly buy from pharmacies to give him some relief while we waited for doctor and specialist appointments, but nothing really seemed to help a lot. We quickly found that there’s often no quick fix for eczema and each day seemed a month long when nothing seemed to solve the ongoing battle we had with sleep every single day. We found that some of our baby’s sleep time scratching was minimized while he was young enough to be wrapped or swaddled tightly (as long as he didn’t fight his way out of it, which he often did), but this all changed dramatically when at 6 months of age he learnt to roll, meaning an end to being able to be wrapped safely, as babies need access to their hands to be able to roll themselves back over.
I started then using baby sleeping bags with him and found that it was long sleeved ones that worked best as I could use a larger size and try to fold over the ends of the sleeves so he couldn’t scratch as much, however all the long sleeved ones were designed for cold weather and being an already hot, flaring eczema baby were too hot for him and yet all the lightweight summer type ones which he slept better in were sleeveless.

So one day out of frustration I made him one that was of a fabric that wasn’t too hot or too cold for him and with enclosed sleeves that could be adjusted as he grew (another frustrating and expensive thing is having to upgrade sleeping bags every few months) and this worked fantastically for him!

Having his hands enclosed with a soft fabric meant he was still able to have the free arm movement required roll around in his cot as needed but the damage he could do to himself from scratching was drastically minimised and for the first time his skin was getting a chance to heal. The sleeping bag also had the added bonus of helping to keep his layers of creams on his skin longer which also helped a lot.

What was your motivation behind starting Bamboo Bubby?

Once we had used the first version of the Bamboo Bubby Bag for a little while and could see how beneficial it was to our son and that it worked alongside other treatments both natural and conventional, the seed for the Bamboo Bubby business was planted when I would take his sleeping bag with him to day care and the childcare workers would all tell me how great they thought it was and just how many other babies they’ve known over the years who could have used one!

I loved the idea of being able to help other families just like us and so I started the process of finding a way to manufacture them, sell them online and also started the Bamboo Bubby Facebook page.

The rest is history and Bamboo Bubby has grown dramatically in the past four years here in Australia as well as overseas including online stores in New Zealand (www.bamboobubby.co.nz) and the UK (www.bamboobubby.co.uk) to allow our products to arrive to parents faster. We also have stockists and distributors all over the world including the US and have fantastic partnerships with complementary product manufacturers like ScratchMeNot in the US who create the ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeves and Body Suits which we distribute here in Australia and New Zealand as part of the Bamboo Bubby range and also Soothe in the UK who have create a range of eczema pyjamas for adults.

How did you see your child change after using these products?

The change for our baby after using the Bamboo Bubby Bag for just a few sleeps was quite dramatic. He used to scratch his head a lot and within minutes left alone in his cot would have scratched badly, causing bleeding, infection and a never-ending itch-scratch-wake cycle. By having his hands covered in super soft fabric, this scratching damage was minimised and his sleep started to improve.

The other great bonus for us in using the Bamboo Bubby Bag was that the sleeping bag became part of his bedtime routine and a sleep queue for him. When we’d put him in it, he’d associate it with calm and peace and it helped a lot to also minimise some of the anxiety we all had around bedtime after so long without proper sleep. He’s now 4 years old and while he no longer fits in his Bubby Bag, when he gets a bit sick and run down or has an eczema flare up he will still go and find his Bubby Bag and likes to sleep with it like a comforter blanket!

Can you share some stories from other parents with eczema children?

I hear A LOT of eczema stories back from customers, so many that I’ve started collecting them and publishing them on the Bamboo Bubby Blog because while everyone’s eczema journey is quite unique, we often all do feel the same frustrations and isolation when it is our babies especially who are suffering it. Reading the stories of others in the same situations can really help during this time as well as the fact that these stories are full of helpful tips and tricks that someone else might not have thought of yet or heard about to try!

Have you found health care professionals to be knowledgeable about products for kids with eczema?

We found the allergy clinic specialists very knowledgeable about products to help our child with eczema and did come away from appointments with names of products to go and buy and try which was great. We’re also continually working now to make Bamboo Bubby products known to these specialists so word of them can get to the people who are needing them the most.

What is the most helpful advice you have been told regarding eczema?

A dermatology nurse gave us the most helpful advice regarding our baby’s eczema and it was something that no one else had ever mentioned before about the importance of layering moisturisers to lock the moisture into the skin as much as possible. Once we started doing this using prescription ones first (if we were using these) followed by thinner ones and then finally the really thick, intensive type, it really helped us battle the dryness and helped the healing as well. I tell that many people now about this, that I wrote about it here to explain it better: http://www.bamboobubby.com.au/blog/what-is-the-best-moisturiser-for-baby-eczema/

What is in store for Bamboo Bubby’s future?

I’m really excited about the way Bamboo Bubby has grown in such a short period of time to now be helping thousands upon thousands of children worldwide with our unique range of specially designed bamboo clothing products. The future is also exciting as we have in development a new version of the Bamboo Bubby Bag for warm climates. Bamboo Bubby is also starting to ‘grow up’ and into a new range called Bamboo Buddy that will help older children with eczema as well as many adults who continue to suffer the condition. We aim to be able to soon help soothe sensitive skin across all ages and help everyone get a good night sleep!