For children with eczema, the excitement of back-to-school can be overshadowed by worries about this common skin condition, and naturally parents will have their own concerns too. Whether it is talking to teachers about skin care routines or coping with bullying, it’s important to know that you’re not alone in wanting your child to feel comfortable in their classroom.
Here are some back to school tips for families and teachers to ensure back-to-school is a positive experience for those kids with eczema.
1) Talk to school staff about your child’s eczema
If your child has eczema, the most important thing to do is let the appropriate teachers know that during an eczema flare up, your 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 your child can’t sleep at night because of eczema symptoms.
2) Deal with teasing and bullying
Because eczema’s red, scaly rash is noticeable, your child may be self-conscious. They may not want to wear shorts and t-shirts in gym class 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 delicately with students by discussing tolerance and bullying in the classroom.
3) Avoid activities that cause eczema flare-ups
Some physical activities may aggravate eczema. Overheating during physical education or active play at recess can increase itchiness. Some art supplies, like paste, paint and clay, can also cause eczema flare-ups. Parents can work together with teachers to determine alternate activities, offer to bring non-irritating art supplies to the classroom. During eczema flare ups, some tasks, for example, holding scissors if eczema is on her hands, may be painful and difficult. Discuss ways that school work can be modified or finished at home if eczema makes specific tasks too difficult complete during a flare up.
4) Minimize 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 suggest 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 eczema flare ups. If your child is required to wear a school uniform, ask if clothes made from cotton rather than polyester or nylon, are permitted. Because clothing made from cotton allows your child’s skin to breath and keeps them cooler during active play, itchiness due to eczema can be minimized.
5) Help with daytime skin care routines
If your child requires daytime moisturizing for her eczema, ask your doctor to write a note to school staff with instructions on how to apply it. If your child is old enough to properly apply their own cream or lotion, let teachers know that your child will need time during classroom breaks to do. If your child’s eczema is on their hands, time skin care and moisturizing around school tasks that require gripping pencils or scissors – slippery hands can increase your child’s frustration when they are completing classroom activities.
For all of the challenges your child may face in the classroom because of their eczema, your child’s teacher may already have ways to help him be comfortable at school because eczema is so common. Talk regularly with your child and his teacher to ensure that their learning is on track and that school is a welcoming and comfortable place for them to be.