Siblings and Sensitivities: Caring for Siblings of Kids with Eczema
When your child has atopic dermatitis or eczema, because of his or her young age, extra care is required to keep the symptoms at bay. Bathing, moisturizing and application of medications all take a significant amount of time and attention, which may have their siblings jealous of the extra care they’re receiving. If chronic itching is causing sleep loss not just for the child but the whole family, it can lead to crankiness, causing additional strain in the family.
Here, we offer you some tips on how to deal with and care for siblings of children with eczema.
Talk to your children about eczema
Communication is key to almost everything. Remember to talk to your children first and foremost about the condition and its characteristics, for them to know what and why it’s occurring. Setting the condition in context to daily life will prepare them to live with eczema for the long run. This will also be a good opportunity for you to inform them who to turn to with any questions or little worries.
Involve the siblings in the skin care regimen
One of the ways you can ensure that your child with eczema gets the attention he or she needs and deserves while not having the siblings feel left out, is by getting them involved with the entire child skin care regimen. They can be your extra eyes and ears to help you track what’s going on, and it can also establish a positive sibling bond.
Remember, everyone likes feeling needed and valued. Older siblings can help with the skin care regimen for their sibling with eczema. Ask for their help with simple tasks such as applying moisturizer after bath, applying emollient to ease the itch, or have them divert their attention away from the itch by doing something fun to do.
Restrict products ONLY when necessary
Labelling powders, soaps, and skin products at home as “special” or solely for the child with eczema can make the sibling feel left out. While siblings of a child with eczema have an increased risk of getting it themselves, some research has shown that early application of emollients can prevent eczema from developing, especially when applied daily. Everyday products do not need to be restricted.
Gentle products are good for everyone and this is not limited to skin products. Switching to hypoallergenic clothing or organic cotton clothing will not only benefit your family’s skin, but also the environment, as manufacturing of organic products does not require chemicals. While siblings can benefit from the use of moisturizers, eczema treatment creams should not be shared, and neither should cloths, because children with eczema are at higher risk of cross contamination, and are more likely to experience skin infections.
Giving all your children some individual attention will assure them that they are important to you. It also gives you time to focus or get familiar with the hobbies or activities that are important to them. A one-on-one does not need to be serious talk about eczema. A simple cuddle time or “hang out” will eliminate the feeling of being left out.