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Eczema, sensory play, alternatives to sand?

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One of our children has quite bad eczema (her face and arms are always dry and sometimes the skin is broken). Her parents have provided emollient cream for us to apply whenever she needs it and are asking the GP for a dermatolgoy refereral.


When mum brought her in this afternoon, she said we needed to keep the child away from the sand while her eczema is so bad.


I explained to mum that while I fully appreciated that the sand sticks to her cream and then needs to be washed off, and that this makes the eczema worse, we still need to have sand (and the digging area) available to all the other children in the preschool.


I showed her the sand pit and digging area and the child went straight to the sand when we were looking at it as she loves sand and happily spends all afternoon working in the sand pit....


Mum said she would leave her with us this afternoon and I said we'd encourage the child to work in other areas this afternoon, and I'd find out about eczema friendly alternatives.


Does anyone have any suggestions?


I've found recipes for gloop with cornflour and moisturising lotion, and one for putting oats in old socks, tying them up and putting in the water tray to make squeezy things...




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You can buy cotton gloves for children with eczema. They are mainly about keeping the emollient on the skin but I think it might be worth trialling a pair in the sand pit. you can buy them on Amazon quite cheaply.

Are you sure that the sand/ washing the sand off is making the eczema worse? If you use a light emollient to wash them and then apply the heavier emollient afterwards, it shouldn't dry the skin out. You just need to be careful to avoid any rubbing. In fact, with my own children's eczema, washing helped it as they reacted to things like sweat building up on their skin.

Is it just sand the mother is concerned about? What do you do about water play, paint, etc?

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We had a child with severe excema, often had bleeding cracks etc, and we always had to use the creams provided by mum several times during a session..


She too loved sand and mum provided cotton gloves when it was at its worst, but otherwise we ensured they were well rinsed and creamed after her sand play.


Gloop with moisturising lotion - you have to be very careful with which lotion etc.. some can cause the eczema to become worse.. best to stick to creams etc supplied by parent.


Water play can also cause issues..


We did sometimes change sand for other things that cause less irritation.. beans, or lentils, oats, rice.. all worked well.. but I know some don't like using food stuff for play... used to ask parents for any out of date items in their cupboards..

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Thank you, cotton gloves are a great idea!


Child isn't a fan of water play, she'll dip into it from time to time. She did join in with washing our 'new' car tyres this afternoon, but with disposable gloves on, as we'd put detergent in the water to get the tyre grease off the tyres.


I'm not sure that sand is the issue, but I think mum thinks it is. But what is an issue is that the GP won't give them a prescription for washing stuff for her to have at preschool, so we can only use water & gently pat her dry, & apply the very heavy & oily cream afterwards. So the sand is still on her, & her skin is very cracked at the moment - it was worse by home time, with her crying & trying to scratch herself before starting to blow on her hands.


Paint, she's been all right with, but is very careful with brushes & doesn't get on her hands. Again, we've used gloves with finger/hand painting if her hands are sore.

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I used to decant some of the emollient wash (Dermol 500) for my daughter to take to pre-school and then school. Water on its own is still very drying to skin. Could you ask the mother to do this or perhaps buy some of what she uses over the counter if it's available. A pharmacist might be able to suggest a suitable alternative if that's not available.


Poor little thing. Eczema is so painful as well as itchy. It must be horrible for her.

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Yes, I used to send elder son to nursery with a tube of aqueous cream for washing with (till the dermatology nurse prescribed better stuff for him).


Continuing to be more awkward about decanted stuff - our medicine policy says we'll only accept medicines with the dispensing label on to prove that it's been prescribed for the child in question (though this has been handy in explaining to parents why we won't give their child random medicine prescribed for the next door neighbour 2 years ago...).


Though that's no reason we can't buy the emollient wash if it's available over the counter, and keep it for the child.

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