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Chesca Garcia Shares What Works In Managing Scarlett's Eczema Symptoms
PHOTO BY Instagram/chekakramer
  • When Chesca Garcia and her husband Doug Kramer's middle child Scarlett was just a year old, the little girl started experiencing symptoms of eczema. These included small red bumps, known as eczema rash, that can be very itchy and lead to dry, scaly skin.

    The itchiness was so intense that Scarlett couldn't stop scratching her skin until, her mother recalled, "nagsusugat s’ya." She added, "After that, because of the friction, nagdudugo pa nga at some point."

    Chesca shared how she was able to help Scarlett, now 10 years old, in managing her daughter's eczema.

    "In the beginning, I didn’t know," the mom of three said at a recent online event organized by Bayer Consumer Health, makers of Elica and Bepanthen products formulated to address symptoms of eczema.

    At that time, Chesca thought "maybe it was just something ordinary, like an allergic [reaction], that would go away." But when she consulted Scarlett's pediatrician, she found out that what the little girl had must be treated and managed.

    She stressed the importance of consulting doctors: "Because they know better. I know us, moms, mahilig tayong mag-Google on what conditions our kids might have. I’m also guilty of that, but before I go to Google, I go to the experts.

    "What I did was I called our pediatrician, and I told him and her—because I have two. I have a pediatrician for the kids and a pedia derma. I consulted about the condition. Of course, they had to see what condition my daughter has. Tama naman ang nakita ko sa Google, but best pa rin to come from the doctors. The doctors said my daughter had eczema."


    What to know about eczema

    At the online event that Chesca attended, the focus was on the most common among the seven types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, also called atopic eczema. It is so itchy that is often called "the itch that rashes," according to Kids Health.

    "Eczema is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory skin condition," said Dr. Leah Manio, Country Medical Lead, Bayer Philippines. "Chronic because it’s really for the long-term. Relapsing dahil pabalik-balik s’ya. It really comes and goes."

    Dr. Manio gave further explanation on atopic dermatitis in her talk at the online event: "It’s actually characterized by flare-ups, some itch, may redness, may inflammation, ’yon ang rash n’ya. And there can be excessive dryness or scaling of the skin.

    "Globally, about 15 to 20 percent of children can have eczema, and about 1 to 3 of adults. Usually maagang dumadating itong eczema in the lives of our kids. Usually it hits before the age of 5. Darating ang eczema bago pa dumating ang ibang allergic diseases, like allergic rhinitis or asthma."

    She said the first signs of atopic dermatitis can be:

    • Redness or spots that are usually seen on the arms, on the face, and on the legs
    • The spots can get very hot and very itchy

    She pointed out, "Pag nag-peak s’ya, ’yun talaga ang intensity na very, very itchy ’yan. Meron tayong tinatawag na itch-scratch cycle. Because of the inflammation, kakati s’ya. But if you actually scratch it, it actually leads to further damage of the skin.

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    "That’s the reason why lalong mamamaga. The skin will become more inflamed. So it actually becomes a vicious cycle. It can actually leave the skin with scars and spots kasi hindi naman naghi-heal completely."

    The exact cause of eczema is not known yet, according to the United States National Eczema Association (NEA). But medical experts believe a combination of genetics and environmental triggers may bring about this skin condition. When triggers, such as irritants or allergens alert the immune system, an inflammation occurs. The inflammation hence causes the symptoms associated with eczema.

    Dr. Manio mentioned some examples of triggers: "Common ang extreme temperatures. Minsan nga kahit aircon lang, and then you go out, sobrang init. It triggers. ’Yung iba, pag nag-sweat sila, nagkakaroon sila ng eczema. Sometimes it’s the clothes that we wear. Mga wooly na makati-kati, sometimes it also triggers.

    "Stress can be a trigger. ’Yung iba kapag may deadline, may kailangang i-submit, naku, lumalabas. Madali talagang triggers. It’s about managing it and knowing what triggers it."

    Management of eczema rash and other symptoms

    "Unfortunately, there really is no cure for eczema," said Dr. Manio. "What we can really do is find ways to manage the symptoms. Not just as they happen, but even before they happen."

    The doctor's recommendations:

    • Know your or your child's triggers and avoid them.
    • Use over-the-counter cream and ointment to alleviate the itchiness and avoid scratching the skin.
    • Use only an anti-inflammatory medicine after consulting with your doctor. It has steroids, so a thin layer can only applied on the skin and it cannot be used for more than two weeks.

    As for Chesca, the celebrity mom said Scarlett's pediatrician prescribed Elica right after confirming her daughter had eczema about nine years ago. Scarlett has been using it since then, and, later on, her older sister Kendra and younger brother Gavin followed suit if their skin got itchy, too. Their mom uses it as she also developed eczema.

    Chesca admitted that controlling children from scratching their skin from the itch can can be difficult "because they don’t have as much self-control" as adults do. So parents need to think up ways to manage the itchiness. "We help our kids not to be insecure of their skin," she said.

    What works for Chesca is constant reminding Scarlett, who happens to enjoy taekwondo that makes her sweaty during training, to change clothes.

    Chesca has these reminders to all her three kids:

    • Pag mainit, pag pinagpapawisan ka na, magpunas ka na.
    • Pero huwag mong masyadong magpunas nang madiin. Masusugatan ka.
    • Huwag mong kamutin kasi mahapdi ’yun. Pawis ’tapos sugat, di ba?

    She pointed out, "It’s really educating your child. Creating that healthy habit for your child to remember to care for their skin." She has also taught her children how to use their trusted brand of topical medicine, so that the itchiness from eczema rash can be alleviated and controlled.

    Read also: A Mom's Battle and Victory Against Her Baby's Eczema

    What other parents are reading

    Marami talagang triggers. Pero common talaga ang extreme temperatures. Minsan nga kahit aircon lang, and then you go out, sobrang init. It triggers. ’Yung iba, pag nag-sweat sila, nagkakaroon sila ng eczema. Sometimes it’s the clothes that we wear. Mga wooly na makati-kati, sometimes it also triggers.

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