Swimming with eczema

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What is eczema?

Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is highly individual in its nature and affects 1 in 5 children in the UK.  It varies from person to person, comes in many different forms and is not contagious.

Skin provides a strong, effective barrier that protects the body from infection or irritation – it is made up of a thin outer layer, a fairly elastic one in the middle, and a fatty layer at the deepest level. Each layer contains skin cells, water and fats, all of which help maintain and protect the condition of the skin.  Healthy skin cells are plumped up with water, forming a protective barrier against damage and infection, fats and oils help to keep the water in.

If you have eczema, your skin may not produce as much fats and oils as other people’s, and will be less able to retain water- the protective barrier is therefore not as good as it should be. Moisture is then lost from the deeper layers of the skin, allowing bacteria or irritants to pass through more easily. Some everyday substances contribute to breaking down the skin. Soap, bubble bath and washing-up liquid, for example, will remove oil from anyone’s skin, but if you have eczema your skin breaks down more easily, quickly becoming irritated, cracked and inflamed.

AQUATOTS

Can my baby swim with eczema?

YES!  You should ensure you shower your baby thoroughly straight after swimming if the chlorine seems to worsen the eczema. Apply moisturizer once you’ve dried your baby off and if necessary apply it before swimming as well.  You may want to use a wetsuit such as Warma Wetsuits or Sun Protection UV Suits on occasions when the condition is flared.

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Why is swimming good for my baby with eczema?

Swimming is beneficial to babies but for eczema babies in particular there are a number of long and short-term health benefits:

Swimming has been proven to strengthen the heart and lungs as eczema babies have a higher chance of developing asthma it is important to support the development of strong lungs.  It is also of great advantage to teach babies how to control their breathing which can help to control asthma symptoms.

Eczema babies can really struggle to sleep through itching, swimming really does encourage a better night’s sleep (for baby and you!)

Spending time in cool water can calm angry skin and surprisingly pool chemicals can actually be beneficial for some babies’ eczema, especially if your baby’s eczema is prone to infections!

Interacting with other babies in Aquatots swimming classes supports good social skills.  Developing these skills early can be a real benefit to eczema children who can start to struggle socially once they become aware of their skin condition.

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Tried and Tested non-prescription remedies from our Aquatots parents

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Final word

For babies with mild to moderate eczema it should be possible to find a way for them (and you) to really enjoy swimming. However, if your little one has really severe eczema it would be wise to wait until it is under control before venturing into the pool for the first time. If you are in any doubt, ask your GP.

Thanks for reading

Fiona Munt-Whittle – Aquatots Managing Director

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