As millions of British children head back to school after the summer holidays, for children with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, the excitement of back-to-school can be overshadowed by worries about their skin.
This can also be a cause for concern for parents and teachers. It is estimated that 1 in 5* children suffer from eczema and other skin conditions in the UK.
Dr Laurentiu Gologan, medical specialist at HelloSkin, an international platform for products and guidance for people living with chronic skin conditions, says: “It is important that children are comfortable at school and are not forced to miss classes because of their eczema or other skin conditions. Eczema symptoms can range from dry itchy skin behind the knees and in the elbow creases right through to covering the whole body which can make school very difficult especially the wearing of uniforms and PE kits.”
Dr Gologan has produced the following list of tips for parents to assist in getting their child’s eczema under good control during the school year.
1) Educate your child about eczema
Ensure your child understands eczema and why treatments are necessary; explain things in age-appropriate terms. Familiarise your child with possible eczema triggers and take precautions to avoid them; teach the child how to manage the eczema symptoms. These will help them prevent and treat their symptoms when they are not with you. Also teach your child to accept eczema early in life. Taking a matter-of-fact approach will help your child learn to live with eczema without feeling shame or embarrassment.
2) Talk to school staff about your child’s eczema
If your child has eczema, it is important to liaise closely with the teachers. It is best if the child is seated away from the radiators and other sources of heat. Discuss with the teachers that during an eczema flare up, the child will have a hard time sitting still or concentrating because they are so itchy. In some cases, this leads to irritability and other behaviour issues. Drowsiness in the classroom can also be a concern if the child can’t sleep at night because of the itching. Most likely, teachers may already know these things and have ways to help your child be comfortable at school because eczema is so common.
3) Get help with the skin care routines
Children with eczema require daytime moisturising. They should take their own special soap and moisturisers with them at school. If your child is old enough to properly apply their creams, let teachers know that the child will need time during classroom breaks to apply moisturisers and other topical treatments, and this must be supervised. If your child needs help with applying the creams, get a note to school staff with instructions on how to apply the moisturisers and other treatments.
4) Avoid activities that cause eczema flare-ups
Some activities may aggravate eczema. Children with eczema must avoid contact with hamsters, rabbits or other pets at school. Some art supplies, like paste, paint and clay, can also cause irritation and eczema flare-ups. Parents can work together with teachers to determine alternate activities, or offer to bring non-irritating art supplies to the classroom. Overheating during sports and active play can increase itchiness, still, except for periods with severe flare ups, open sores or skin infection, children with eczema should participate in their physical education classes.
5) Minimise scratching
Children with eczema have a constant urge to scratch. Teachers can help by offering quiet reminders not to scratch during class. Positive encouragement may help the child cope with itchiness, as well as suggesting activities that may prevent scratching. Parents should have their children try on all their clothing before school starts to make sure that tags or seams don’t further aggravate itching. If your child is required to wear a school uniform, ask if clothes made from cotton rather than polyester or nylon, are permitted. Loose-fitting cotton clothing should be worn as well during physical education classes. Special eczema clothing are available and can be worn under school uniforms and regular clothing. Also, consider letting your child wear eczema gloves at school to prevent scratching and to keep creams in place.
6) Deal with teasing and bullying
Eczema’s red, scaly rash is noticeable, so children with eczema may be self-conscious. They may not want to wear shorts and t-shirts because they are worried they might be teased. Unfortunately, some children are teased by others who don’t understand that eczema is not caused by poor hygiene and that it isn’t contagious. Teachers can address this issue by discussing tolerance and bullying in the classroom.
7) Prevent flare ups at school by taking good care of the child’s skin at home.
Parents should make sure their child’s skin is in control using regularly at home the moisturisers and the medicines prescribed by the child’s doctor.
8) Raise awareness
Useful school packs with information for children with eczema, their teachers and other pupils in the school can be downloaded from the website of the National Eczema Society (UK) – www.eczema.org/eczema-at-school
Added Dr Gologan: “School can sometimes be a particularly harsh place for children living with a skin condition and it is vital that parents do everything they can to ensure their child is happy at school, keeping stress levels to a minimum and avoiding the risk of falling behind in their studies or missing out on significant life experiences due to absence caused by flare ups.”
HelloSkin is a Copenhagen-based start-up that has operated in the UK since July 2016. With an in-house team of medical experts that screens all the products they sell, to do their best to ensure they don’t contain any ingredients that may cause flare-ups.
HelloSkin then uses the data voluntarily obtained from its users to create a world-leading algorithm to match the right products to the right people. HelloSkin also retail all the products they list at as close to their cost price as possible, so as to maintain a neutral position on what is recommended to customers.
*Source: The National Eczema Society eczema.org/about-us
For further information please contact Terry Gilligan of Listening Pig PR. email@example.com or 07770 703541.
HelloSkin is an organisation that compiles and uses data from millions of people to understand what will work for people living with skin conditions and provision of treatments.
Powered by a global network of people living with sensitive skin conditions, HelloSkin uses this knowledge to guide people with a personalised combination of products designed to control symptoms over a lifetime.
HelloSkin sells a curated selection of screened products to help people living with chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
HelloSkin’s in-house medical team ensure no product they sell contains ingredients which they believe might cause flare ups. They then use data obtained from voluntarily submitted surveys to assess which product work best for which type of person and condition.
Founded in 2016, HelloSkin now sells to an international community from its UK hub.