When Thumb Sucking Triggers Eczema

thumb sucking tiggers eczema

There’s something that seems so natural and even primal about thumb sucking. So many kids do it at one time or another, and it seems to have some benefits. Thumb sucking helps kids wean from breastfeeding by providing a comforting replacement as they get used to solid foods. It also soothes and relaxes them, and many parents have noticed that thumb sucking is the one thing that helps their child drift off to sleep.

If there’s one thing about thumb sucking parents love, it’s convenience. Unlike pacifiers and teething toys, the thumb goes wherever your child goes and it’s pretty hard to misplace it. Kids can wake up in the middle of the night and have instant access to their thumb which could put them back to sleep pretty quickly – a great treat for any parent who enjoys getting as much rest as they can. But it’s the convenience and availability of the thumb that causes the issue. Thumbs can be overused leading to damage on the skin, breeding ground for bacteria and infection due to the extended wetness, it can also encourage dryness cycles that challenge the natural moisture retention of the skin, and we haven’t even touched on the possibility of the big B word- Braces.

With the above thoughts, what can we do as parents when thumb sucking actually causes eczema flare ups? The moisture, saliva, and irritation that thumb sucking can cause on the skin can be a really effective trigger to start a flare up – and flare ups on the fingers and hands can be really hard to deal with. If your child is a thumb sucker and you’re probably noticing dryness, cracking, calluses, nails thinning or even splitting and more, it may be time to weigh out the pros and cons of thumb sucking to see if it’s time to help your child transition to another comfort.

If this is the case for your child or you’re starting to think about what the future could bring, here are some things you may want to try…

Give Alternatives

While managing a pacifier or teething toy can be a real bother, it may be one of the best things you can do to help minimize the damaging effects of thumb sucking. Whenever possible provide your child with these items to give the thumb a rest. Think of it as giving the thumb time to heal and strengthen.

Thumb Support

If you find that your child’s thumbs are getting damaged, introduce the Yuck Effect – Applying oils or creams designed to taste terrible and deter the desire to suck.

Constantly apply oils, ointments, and other creams to replenish moisture and repair damaged skin faster. Which leads me to my next point…

Cover Up

A simple way to give the thumbs a break and even allow any healing ointments to soak in and do their work is to cover the hands. ScratchMeNot Flip Mittens work great in this situation, and they make it easy for you to cover the thumbs while you provide an alternative comforting activity for your child – twice the effectiveness!

You’re little one may be not super excited about the inaccessibility of their thumb and it’s a normal reaction to removing their main comfort. We’ve found it be easier to break the habit before a little one is 1 year old, yet in the even the habit continues into preschool, a conversation between parent and child can begin to explain what’s going on and starting a reward system for not sucking their thumb can begin. Also there are other products you can use outside of mittens such as thumb guards. They create a barrier around the thumb to make the sucking action less effective.

My Story

My daughter’s eczema flared and nails began to thin & split when constantly thumb sucking so we had to take matters into our own hands and ween this habit early. At 6 months, we began the journey of ScratchMeNot use to stop the thumb sucking.  I can say consistency at night and during idle moments is key. It has interrupted her sleeping throughout the night, but she is quickly adapting to this new change….
It’s been about 2 weeks and her eczema has completely healed and her nails are growing faster…. stay tuned for an update.

To see the full line of mittens available now, visit https://www.scratchmenot.com

Do you have any tips or ideas about cutting down on thumb sucking?
Share them with us in the comments below!

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