Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hydration is Key

Eczema is a very complex disease.  There are so many things that can factor into the severity, the manifestation of it, and the treatment.  It varies greatly from person to person.  That's one of the reasons that it's so difficult to treat.  There is not really a cure for it, so instead you're left to try to figure out the root cause, and in the mean time, treat the symptoms.

The biggest thing we can do for Rapunzel right now is try to keep her skin hydrated.  Because of the eczema, her skin does not hold onto moisture well at all.  So it kind of feels like a losing battle.  But it's not one I'm going to surrender to.  She takes multiple daily soaks in the bath (just water - sometimes bleach, but I'll touch on that another day).  We've had to find just the right balance though.  Too warm of water, she starts itching.  Too long of a soak, she starts itching.  It's recommended for her to soak 10-20 minutes.  But we've noticed that when she soaks for longer than 3-5 minutes, she starts itching uncontrollably.  And that is pretty counterproductive.  So we've started shortening the amount of time she soaks, which in turn has helped us to be able to lower the temperature of the water without chilling her (cooler water helps fend off the itching as well).  However, no matter how long she's in the bath, we have to get a barrier on her ASAP to help lock in that moisture.  Within just a couple of minutes of getting out of the bath, her skin is bone dry again.  Lotions are a no-no for extremely dry skin because of the high water content, which just evaporates.  Creams are a good choice for moderately dry skin, because of the higher oil concentration, which acts as a good barrier for keeping moisture in and irritants out.  Ointments are the preferred moisturizer for severely dry skin because they work best for retaining moisture, though they tend to be a greasy mess.  We've found that for Rapunzel, ointment is the only way to go.  Yes, it's a mess.  But lotions and creams just don't do enough for her fragile skin.  She goes through clothes like crazy, because of the amount of ointment we have to apply to her skin daily, which, as you can imagine, does a number on her garments.

Right now, our ointment of choice is Vaniply Ointment.   A friend of ours recently recommended coconut oil for us to try on her skin and gave us a little sample of it.  I've been using that for a few days and do like it so far.  I'm not sure if it does a better job than the Vaniply or not just yet.  It does make her smell like a tropical princess though!  And I'll take any excuse to refer to her as a princess and see the smile on her face that follows!

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