During this eczema journey, one of the top questions is, how to prevent scratching beyond medication, especially for children. Experts weigh in and voice their preference: whether to use mittens, gloves or go completely hands free.
Should parents cover their child’s hands? The medical perspective
We’ve spoken to various doctors across the US to get their feedback on which approach they deem the most appropriate for children with eczema. Should parents cover the hands to prevent skin damage, or forego any hand covering, and use topical treatments instead, allowing children to scratch or rub freely? Each type of doctor (allergists, dermatologists & pediatricians alike) focus on stopping the scratch-itch cycle, removing discomfort, and healing the skin. Only 7% of doctors* felt that covering the hands would limit their fine motor skill development while interacting with their environment. However, 93%* agreed that making sure their hands are covered during scratching moments prevents additional skin damage. Covering the hands alongside of a treatment regimen gives the skin a chance to heal faster without scratching interference.
Scratch Mittens or Gloves, what’s the best option?
There are various ways parents can cover their little one’s hands: socks, mittens, and gloves. Most, if not all of these, can be used successfully if a child has a mild case of eczema and/or scratching. However, for those that scratch constantly and/or aggressively, each of these styles have pros and cons.
Socks can be easily pulled off and may cause excessive skin abrasion (rug burn) if the child decides to rub aggressively, the same with cotton or synthetic mittens and gloves. A child with moderate to severe eczema could be in socks, mittens or gloves for long periods of time which could limit fine motor skill develop, as some doctors were concerned about. Another cause for concern is the fabric content. Sensitive skin requires breathable, natural and organic fabrics. Certain types of fabrics such as polyester can cause skin reactions. This could leave some parents confused on how to protect their baby. As a mom, these were some of the concerns I took into consideration when designing the ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeve.
Why choose Flip Mitten Sleeves?
ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeves were designed to function the best for a child with sensitive, itchy skin. The Flip Mittens, were created to open and close, to support and promote fine motor skill development. When a scratching moment begins, parents can flip the mittens closed. When the scratching subsides, the mittens can be opened to continue with play or other activities.
The Flip Mitten Sleeves can be worn over or under clothing, blending easily with their current wardrobe. Parents can add scratch protection to any outfit without the need of purchasing an entirely new wardrobe. My favorite feature about our Flip Mittens is the outer layer of 100% silk. Silk is a natural fiber that breathes and is soothing the skin and reduces skin abrasion. Gloves and socks can’t provide this essential feature that promotes healing.
Susan Huang, MD notes, “Silk is much smoother and decreases the amount of damage rubbing can do to the skin. Even rubbing with cotton can lead to thickening (what we call “lichenification” in dermatology) which can worsen the skin condition and itch. There are often predictable times when your child will scratch skin, pull hair or bite nails — e.g. when she/he is tired or fussy, during diaper changes, at night when her/his inhibition is decreased, etc. In anticipation of these times, you can close the mittens. The rest of the time, you can keep the mittens open. This may also decrease your anxiety over whether you child won’t have enough open mitten time to learn how to use her/his fingers and hands.”
Related: Why Scratching Feels So Good
What about nighttime?
Have you ever tried to keep socks and gloves on at night? What about trying to get a baby or toddler’s fingers into each individual digit of a glove at night? Forget about it! It’s exhausting. This is a challenge that frustrates both, parents and child. A solution we’ve found to be beneficial for sleep time is the Bamboo Bubby Bag that grows with your little one. It’s a sleep sack for children with eczema that keeps those scratching fingers covered all night. As your baby grows, the arms extend for infants to children 2+ years old. Nighttime is the best time for creams or medications to mend the skin. If a child can pull off the protection with ease, the nighttime treatment is compromised. This is critical.
Our mission is to provide the best solutions for scratch protection. We’re excited to have the opportunity to give your kids relief and perhaps mom and dad peace.
Learn more about ScratchMeNots here.
*Out of 30 physicians polled.