If you are a parent with a child that suffers with eczema, you will probably have a bathroom cupboard full of creams, thick paraffin-based ointments and tubes of steroids that you were prescribe on the various visits to the GP or dermatologist.
A recent survey of 100 parents with children with eczema had an average of 9 different creams and paraffin-based ointments prescribed by their healthcare professionals. More alarming was their answer to whether the medication was working – 95 parents out of 100 said that the prescribed treatments were not working and in 60 cases reported that the creams and ointments were actually making their child’s eczema worse!
The BIG question is why are these eczema treatments not working? The answer is quite logical, but first we need to understand how our skin works
Skin is our body’s largest organ and one of its most important functions is to keep us at the right temperature, which the skin does by either releasing moisture (sweating) when we are too hot or retaining moisture when we are too cold.
The traditional thinking that has driven the development of thick occlusive type barrier creams has been focused on using paraffin-based ointments that can ‘seal’ the skin to prevent excessive moisture loss from already dry skin.
The issue with this thinking is that If we all lived in Artic climates and were always cold, these ointments would be ideal, however when our children sleep at night, their body temperatures often increase very slightly and therefore their skin must release moisture to cool them down. With these paraffin-based ointments effectively blocking every pore, any sweat (which contains traces of urea, salt and ammonia) just pools over the already damaged skin, resulting in further irritation. This is why children often wake up with mor aggravated skin than when they went to bed.