MOISTURISER, particularly when used in the early stages of a child’s life, can help prevent the development of food allergies, hay fever, and asthma later on, according to research by Dr Donald Leung, Head of Pediatric Allergy & Clinical Immunology, National Jewish Health. He has demonstrated that early onset of eczema and the resultant itchy and dry cracked skin is a major promoter of the so-called atopic march, a term used to describe the progression of atopic disorders in children as they get older. Therefore, thorough moisturising in order to prevent eczema at this early stage is critical.
“When food particles are introduced through the skin rather than the digestive system, they are much more likely to cause allergies,” explained Dr Leung. “Cracks in the skin of those with eczema often set off a chain of allergic diseases that develop over several years.”
His research has highlighted the lack of important proteins and lipids in the outer layers of the skin of eczema patients; this leads to water escaping from the skin, drying it out, which subsequently causes cracking and itching. Further damage to the skin and activation of the immune system comes from scratching the dry, itchy skin. Food particles that enter the body through cracks in the skin can then trigger an allergic response, causing food allergy. Following this kind of allergic response, the immune system is primed to also develop hay fever and asthma.
The mantra prevention is better than a cure is very applicable here. As a newborn baby’s skin is particularly vulnerable to drying out once it has emerged from the womb into the dry air of the outside world, regularly moisturising their skin straight from birth is an important preventative tool against eczema. The more most effective way of achieving this is known as ‘soak and seal’, which is recommended by experts. This starts with thorough moisturising of the skin in a warm bath before trapping the moisture in with a moisturising ointment.
The method was able to start healing Kriston Kline’s 19-month-old son’s skin within a week. “It provided him with immediate relief, and each time we do a soak and seal treatment, his skin looks so much better,” commented Kline. “Not only is this making him more comfortable now, but if it can help protect him from allergies and asthma, that is a huge benefit for his future.”
Dr Leung added: “Restoring the skin barrier as soon as eczema develops is the best way to stop the atopic march in its tracks and prevent allergic diseases from developing.”