The eczema dilemma: How sleepless nights can turn your day upside down


Anyone who has a child with eczema will know, the itching always becomes much worse at night. This is because the body’s natural defence hormone, cortisol, is at its lowest level of production at night, and at its highest in the morning. Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone produced by the adrenal gland. It is also known as the “stress” hormone because it helps the body respond to stress. When your own child is having to go through periods of stressful itching at night times, due to chronic eczema, you make it your business to find out exactly what is happening to them. It also helps to better understand the condition and your child’s discomfort.

Night time therapy and medication

Learning about the problems associated with eczema is one thing, but actually dealing with the problem first hand is something very different entirely. When our son was young we spent many a night by his bedside attempting to comfort him. What might begin as an isolated itch would soon spread to all parts of his body, and he used to tear frantically at his skin in desperation for relief. We learned early on to ensure his nails were cut very short so that he couldn’t inflict any serious damage to himself. We even tried making him wear gloves but he always took them off. Needless to say, next day after a late night he would be tired and irritable in themorning, as did we.

The daily ritual…

Applying hydrocortisone cream directly to the affected areas would sometimes bring relief but not always. We also had a supply of prescribed steroids and antihistamines for when an attack had become obviously unbearable. In the mornings and early evenings we would apply a moisturizer to his skin, which became a daily ritual. He wasn’t always a willing participant either. My wife and I would take turns in applying these lotions morning and evening and during the late nights when he couldn’t sleep, which certainly took its toll on all of us during the course of the next working day.

Sharing experiences with other parents

It’s not easy being nice and friendly towards work colleagues when you have been up half the night. Many a time I have been quite short-tempered, for the most insignificant reasons, and I always end up apologising to everyone. Thankfully everyone had been very understanding and quite often offered advice and support. I found it helps to share a problem with people you trust. It’s also a good idea to talk to other parents of children with eczema, and who may be experiencing similar problems. Actually, we found this invaluable, especially sharing ideas about routines and schedules and ways to deal with our own stress.

Keeping to a daily routine

My wife works full-time and like me, can be a bit short with people, including me, when tired and stressed. We have had to work together to overcome many problems over the years but everyday seems like a constant battle against the clock. We get up at the same time every day, we have breakfast at the same time, my wife goes off to work at the same time, I take my son to school at the same time and then arrive for work at the same time. My wife collects our son from school at the same time and so on. It only takes one unscripted problem to arise, like my son not wanting to go to school in the morning or getting into trouble at school or having a flare-up, or getting upset, and then the whole day becomes out of sync. Everything in our lives has revolved around our son, his well-being and our time schedules.

Recharging the batteries

Having your life turned upside down by the constant worry of something going wrong is draining. However, we have realized that you have to find ways to recharge your batteries and one of the best ways to do this is through meditation. Simply relaxing and clearing your mind of all your worries, thinking of nice, positive thoughts can help you get through the day. You can spend as little as 10 minutes on this mental exercise and it works wonders for your state of mind, which also helps you sleep and cope much better. There are many online programs available now, which can help guide you through the process.



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