It can be stressful for everyone in the car when any child is unhappy. But when that child has a condition that makes them want to scratch themselves until they bleed it’s tortuous.
Travelling with a child who has eczema is an exercise in misery. Any parent of a child with a bad case of eczema will understand how helpless you feel in that situation.
While you can’t cure your child’s skin condition, you are able to do something to ease their distress.
Here are some essential items to have in your kit when travelling with a child who has eczema.
Putting your kit together
In your car you’ll need a good sized plastic container to store everything in. You’ll also need to buy some smaller plastic bottles and tubs to fit inside the storage box. You’ll decant some liquids and creams into these so you should make sure they have tight fitting lids.
Have a smaller kit to carry when out walking. An insulated fabric carry bag is ideal because it protects the creams and liquids from temperature extremes.
You’ll also need a permanent marker or some labels and a pen.
We’ll go through the items one by one. There’s a handy checklist containing all of the items for you at the bottom of the article.
The contents of your kit
Moisturiser and creams
In people who have eczema, their skin is dry and easily damaged. Moisturizers are a daily requirement and are often coupled with medicated creams such as topical steroids. You might be using natural products instead.
Ask your provider for extra creams to put in a travel kit. If your cream comes in very large containers as many of the moisturizers do, ask your provider if they can split it into smaller ones.
If that’s not possible use the plastic containers you’ve purchased and transfer some of the cream into those. Label them first with the type of cream and date. You’ll need to make sure the container is clean and that you wash your hands first. Use a clean spoon to transfer the cream across.
Antihistamine and other medications
In conjunction with your health provider you should have developed a clear plan about what medications you need to give to you child and when. You may have chosen a natural remedies path.
Whatever your existing care plan is, you should take the same approach as with the creams. Ask for the liquids to be dispensed into smaller bottles. If your provider is amenable you could ask for a single dose to be pored into each bottle (you may need to bring a couple of your own or purchase them there). That way you don’t have to fuss with sticky dispensers while you’re out and about.
Wet wraps and cloths
Wet wraps are often used in cases of severe eczema. They are bandages that are applied wet to the body over the top of a thick layer of moisturizer and sometimes medicated creams. They provide relief to the itchiness and help the body absorb the creams better.
Having spare wraps in the car can be a life saver. Apply them before you set off on a long journey. We found using them on the return journey when stress and tiredness exacerbates eczema was a good game plan.
Even if you don’t use wet wraps, having a spare cloth, towel and bottle of water gives you the means to recreate some of the same benefits. Apply some moisturizer on an itchy spot and place a damp cloth on top. The towel just helps keep the mess off the carseat.
A small spray bottle filled with cool water can also help alleviate inflamed skin. If your child is old enough, a mini spray bottle is both distracting and empowering. Sometimes it helps to give them something they can do themselves besides scratching.
For young children who can’t stop scratching you can buy special clothing items such as gloves, mittens and tops with sleeves that fasten closed. These help minimise the damage wrought by scratching. If you don’t have any of these then some light cotton socks can provide the same barrier between finger nails and skin.
Nail clippers and nail file
Despite your best efforts to keep your child’s nails short sometimes you’ll only notice they’ve grown longer when the scratching draws blood. Having nail clippers and a file to smooth sharp edges can stop the damage from worsening any quicker than it needs to.
Bandages, plasters and tissues
These are part of a standard first aid kit for your vehicle. Have extras in your eczema kit to provide an extra layer of protection for sore patches of skin.
Kids can get into an eczema scratching trance very quickly. You may recognise when they are scratching because they are itchy and when they are scratching out of habit.
Being able to distract them begins with having a selection of entertainment on hand. Sometimes it pays to have a couple of ‘never seen before’ toys or books when they are in a particularly bad state.
Fan and towel
Because the skin plays a key role in regulating body temperature, in eczematous individuals, their temperature gauge doesn’t work properly. They may struggle with extremes in temperature or feel heat or cold more readily than others.
A handheld fan allows them to direct cooling wind onto their body. A paper or material fan works fine. There are small battery operated ones which can add some value as entertainment at the same time.
A soft towel works well if a lap blanket is wanted for extra warmth. Towels are better than having a blanket in the car because they’re also great at drying wet hair, moping up spills and all the other things that happen when out and about with munchkins.
Eczema can make you feel hot, bothered and with dry skin on top of it. Drinking water is a good way to help your body respond to this. You can also use the water to dampen your cloth and fill your water sprayer.
Eczema can be worsened by stress. Having snacks on hand to feed hungry kids is a common tactic for parents wishing to avoid a tantrum. It can also help keep eczema kids calmer.
It takes energy for a body to manage illness or a disorder such as eczema. You may have noticed your eczema child is prone to wilting or meltdowns. Sleep deprivation from having itchy, bothersome skin at night exacerbates the pressure on your child's body and mood.
Snacks will help boost your child’s flagging energy.
If you child has broken skin you may want to avoid salted or sticky snacks.
Optional: A diary and pen
If you are tracking your child’s eczema flare ups then have a pen and diary or eczema flare tracker handy so you can make notes as to what you suspect the triggers might be.
Having a kit won’t cure the eczema. It will however give you the tools to manage the next flare up just as well as you could at home.
You also need to look after yourself. Take a deep breath. Severe eczema often abates. My child wore wet wraps and eczema clothes for most of the first 4-5 years of his life but it’s now minor and easily managed. I remember the tears and tension and how overwhelmingly devastating it was not being able to help my baby. Hang in there. You’re doing the best you can.
Hopefully this checklist will bring some relief the next time you travel. x
Eczema travel kit contents
- Plastic storage container (to store the items in your car)
- Insulated bag (to carry items when out and about)
- Plastic tubs and bottles
- Marker or labels and a pen
- Moisturiser and creams
- Antihistamine and other medications
- Wet wraps and cloths
- Water sprayer
- Cotton socks
- Nail clippers and nail file
- Bandages, plasters and tissues
- Fan and towel
- Bottled water
- Diary and pen