How to manage travelling with your little one
Going on holiday to explore new worlds, see fresh sights, and immerse in the magic of a new city can be a truly memorable experience…until atopic dermatitis hits.
If you’ve been through it before, you’ll know exactly what that means. A child with this form of eczema can squirm, scratch, and squeal with discomfort, quickly upending a happy family holiday. Seeing your little one scratching his or her skin till it bleeds is a painful experience for any parent, and should be prevented wherever possible.
Up to 1 in 3 children in the Philippines have atopic dermatitis.1 It can affect babies as young as two months and run its course for years—making for a scratchy situation.2 While many parents do their best to keep those painful flares under control when home, the state of skin can take a different turn when a child is on holiday.
The world is a vast place and there are multiple variables that change with travel: temperature, humidity, and climate are just three of them.
Travelling itself can make little ones anxious—and atopic dermatitis feeds on stress. Plane travel, in particular, isn’t great for children already prone to this condition, and these are three common reasons:
Travel induces stress
Travel—especially air travel—can be a stressor. Your child may feel uncomfortable being strapped into a seat and breathing cabin air, which results in higher stress hormone levels. This impacts your child’s largest organ—the skin—and can set off an avalanche of skin-related troubles, including greater sensitivity to allergens, more skin water loss, and a higher likelihood of scratching.3
Cabin air is recycled and very dry
Cabin air typically contains less than 20% humidity.4 In contrast, average humidity in the Philippines is generally between 70% and 85%.5 With the extreme drop in humidity, skin becomes parched of hydration and dries up, triggering a flare. Cold cabin temperatures may also impel atopic dermatitis.6
Allergens can trigger atopic dermatitis
An allergen is anything that causes an allergic reaction.7 This could be something your child eats, touches, or breathes in. When you’re in an uncontrolled environment on holiday, it’s more likely that your child may eat a new food, touch a fresh object, and breathe in something different. Any of these allergens has the potential to trigger a flare.
Don’t lose hope—painful flares don’t have to be your holiday companion. These are five things you can do to make sure your child’s skin stays holiday-happy when you travel.
Keep your child’s skin hydrated at all times. Not all moisturizers are created equal, and the right one can effectively lock moisture into your child’s skin (it’s good to massage it in within three minutes of showering, when the skin is still plump and moist). More is better than less when it comes to moisture.6,8
2. Stick with a routine
Keeping to a strict skin routine can prevent eczema flares. An established daily routine that focuses on bathing and moisturizing with appropriate skincare products helps your child’s skin to stay healthy. Before travelling, do consult your doctor to ensure your child’s skincare routine is suitable for travel.9
3. Have your skincare on hand
Wherever in the world you go, do keep your child’s skincare products close by, whether it’s a soothing colloidal oatmeal lotion or a specially formulated gentle wash. Having these items makes it easier to adhere to your child’s daily skincare routine.
4. Pack a cold compress
Itchy skin can get annoying and many children with atopic dermatitis become so frustrated, they wind up scratching their skin raw, especially at the joints. A cold compress can offer relief from irritated or inflamed skin, numbing the area and calming any swelling. You can make one by soaking a clean cloth in cold water, wringing it dry, then placing it over the itchy skin.10,11 Apply moisturizer after removing the compress.
5. Stay vigilant
Are there foods that trigger flares in your child? Some children experience flares after eating spices, such as cloves.12 Certain children start itching after coming into contact with animal dander. The city or country may be different, but the causes of atopic dermatitis remain the same, so do protect your child from familiar triggers. You should also keep a close eye on your child’s skin and wash, soothe, or moisturize once the slightest need appears.
If your child’s skin is prone to infections or looks very angry, it might be a good idea to let him or her wear a mask to prevent breathing in potential allergens, as well as avoiding overly crowded places until the skin calms down. Atopic dermatitis can seem daunting, but with appropriate skincare and knowledge, you can help your little one keep the eczema away—no matter where you are in the world.
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