When your child with eczema is in day care or school, you don't have the same control over his environment as you do at home. Still, there are plenty of steps you can take to keep itchy flares and other problems away while your child is out of the house.
Check the Place Out
Take a look around the center before putting your child there. Check for any obvious items than can irritate your child's skin. For example, make sure there is "not a whole lot of plush carpeting [and] not a whole lot of stuffed toys," says Chris Adigun, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine.
He adds that most day-care centers have moved away from those types of things because of the risk of problems. But you still need to make sure.
Send Your Own Products With Your Child
The handwashing products that day-care centers use may dry out kids' skin or aggravate eczema.
"People use a lot of hand sanitizers at day care. And those products can have a lot of ingredients in them. Those can trigger a flare," says Elaine Siegfried, MD, a professor of pediatrics and dermatology at Saint Louis University.
Send your kids to day care with their own cleaning and moisturizing supplies, like a gentle cleanser and a jar of petroleum jelly to treat dry skin.
Avoid Food Allergies
Eczema and food allergies often go hand-in-hand. The school cafeteria can be a risky place for kids with either. Make sure your child isn't exposed to foods that could cause a reaction.
Peanut allergies are one of the most common -- and serious -- food allergies. If your child has a known peanut allergy, Adigun says, make sure the school is peanut-free, or at least the classroom is. If the allergy is life-threatening, you'll want to keep an epinephrine injector (Adrenaclick, Auvi-q, EpiPen, Symjapi, or a generic auto-injector) at school in case your child does come into contact with the offending food.
Also send your child to school with his own stockpile of snacks. Make sure they’re ones he likes, so he won't eat his friends' snacks, Adigun suggests.
Talk to the School
Don't wait for a problem to happen. Talk to your child's teachers and the school nurse ahead of time. Make sure they know about your child's eczema and allergies.
Tell the teacher, "If you see that my child is having difficulty breathing or is starting to scratch, please call the nurse right away," Adigun says.
Leave any medicines your child takes, including steroid creams and antihistamines, at the nurse's office, along with a jar of petroleum jelly. "As soon as they're having a flare, they need to be treated right away," Adigun says.
Parents can prevent flares at school by taking good care of their child's skin at home.
"If they do everything they can to make sure their child's skin is in control, it's going to stay in control," Siegfried says. Use the medicine your doctor prescribes. Keep your child's skin well moisturized with products like petroleum jelly and mineral oil.