Itchy Little Monkey gives solutions for kids with eczema. Here, they share allergy freindly recipes, tips for itchy skin, combined with a refreshing change for bed-time routines through our story books and much more.
This delicious chocolate cake is the staple for big celebrations in our house! To make it dairy-free as well as egg-free, you can use soya margarine instead of butter.
85g (3oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
300mls boiling water
300g (10 ½ oz) self-raising flour
100g (3 ½ oz) caster sugar
25g (1oz) cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
20cm round cake tin
Add the butter, golden syrup and vanilla extract to a heatproof jug. Add 300mls boiling water and whisk with a fork to combine.
Sieve the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, then tip in the butter mixture. Stir until you have a smooth batter, then add to the prepared tin. Bake for 50-55 mins until the cake is well risen and springy to touch. Leave to cool in the tin for around 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
To make the chocolate icing, mix together the cocoa powder and boiling water to make a smooth paste. Let it cool. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until creamy. Fold in the cooled cocoa paste and mix together to form a smooth icing.
Once the cake is completely cooled, take a palette knife and smooth the icing over the top and sides of the cake to your desired taste.
This really is a great cake for all those birthday celebrations – you won’t have much left!
Having a little one who suffers from eczema as well as severe food allergies, travelling abroad can be daunting. Our daughter was diagnosed with her nut allergy days before going on an overseas holiday – it was an anxious time to say the least! So we have put together some tips for travelling/holidaying to help you prepare for that well deserved trip away!
Routine: Don’t let your little one’s daily skin care routine suffer when on holidays. It will make for a more enjoyable time for everyone if you can keep up the management of your kids eczema.
Airplane: Make sure you have moisturiser on board and re-apply often as flying dehydrates the skin.
Bedding: Bring your own where you can – hotels may use strong laundry detergents on theirs that may irritate skin.
Flannels/Face cloths: Bring your own and multiple.
Emulsifying ointment: Bring enough for bathing each day and for moisturising more often than usual if going to a warm climate.
Prescribed creams/ointments/medications: Err on the side of caution and take as many as you would use at home – usually coming in small size packaging they don’t take up too much room and worth it in case of need. Keep them with carry-on luggage.
Scissors: Don’t forget your nail scissors (in checked luggage), little ones nails grow faster in the sunshine!
Refrigerator: Ask for a fridge in the hotel room/apartment before you travel to store medication but also to keep creams cool.
Swimming: Be careful how chlorinated the swimming pools are if this affects your child’s eczema. Make sure to apply emulsifying ointment before swimming to protect them. Sea water can be great for eczema, but you must also be careful if your child has broken skin in the salt water.
Shruggi: Don’t forget your Itchy Little Monkeys Shruggi – especially for bed-time and if travelling long distances in the car.
Start simply: If you feel too anxious about travelling abroad, look for stay-cation options for allergy safe travel. An enjoyable, manageable first holiday experience with your little one will boost your confidence and you may want to venture further afield next time.
Language: Find out the translation for your little one’s allergies in the language of the country you are traveling to.
Adrenaline pens: Make sure you bring a letter from your doctor, you may be asked for this at the airport.
Airplane staff: For severe nut allergy sufferers, when boarding the airplane ask for who is in charge and ask them to make a PA announcement saying that there is a child on board with a severe nut allergy, for passengers not to eat nuts on board and that they won’t be selling products that are nut based.
Snacks: Bring some snacks from home to ensure that you have reliable reserves for on the go.
Food: Before you travel, contact a few restaurants in the area you will be staying in and ask them if they can accommodate your child’s allergies. Many times, we have found that pasta abroad is made from egg rather than wheat, so we regularly bring our own and ask the chef to cook it for us if theirs is not egg-free.
Find out where the nearest doctor/24 hour emergency clinic is before you travel or when you arrive.
We all look forward to some sunshine after the cold and wet months of winter. Sunshine is great for generating skin-friendly vitamin D but we also need to protect ourselves and our kids from the harmful side of the sun.
Looking after a child with eczema in the sun takes a little more planning and preparation, so we put together our top tips to make it easier for you!
Some general advice…
Children’s skin, which is still in development, is far more fragile than adult skin, particularly when it comes to the harmful effects of UV rays. Remember, even on an overcast or cloudy day, the sun’s rays will still reach us
General Top Tips:
Avoid periods of peak sunlight (between 11am and 4pm) by encouraging activities in the shade or naps
Ensure your children wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with filtering lenses and dark clothing (a black t-shirt protects more than a white one)
Apply sunscreen frequently and generously (at least two layers every two hours and after each swim) on all exposed skin
Babies under 6 months should not be exposed to direct sunlight, so keep them in the shade at all times
Top Tips for kids with eczema:
All of the above applies for kids with eczema, but there are some additional factors to take into consideration when your child has eczema.
Heat can be a key factor in triggering your childs eczema. When out and about, covering them up in light cotton trousers and tops will not only protect against sun exposure but will help to keep them cool
Sunscreens can irritate eczema in some children. Make sure that you test any new sunscreen before applying it to the whole body
Look at ingredients of the sunscreen – some are based on chemicals, some non-chemical minerals (usually titanium dioxide) and some are a combination. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin whilst those containing titanium dioxide sit on the skin and act as a barrier
Try not to rub too hard when applying cream as this will trigger itching
Sun exposure is drying to the skin. Be even more generous than usual with your regular emollients (moisturisers) and use a heavier emollient than usual at night.
Apply your emollient about half an hour before applying a sunscreen. This will stop the sunscreen from becoming diluted by the emollient and will make sure that the sunscreen keeps its protective properties
Remember that sunscreens are not designed to allow your child to spend unlimited time in the sun but to provide protection when they are exposed to sunlight.
Salt water and sand may be irritating for some children with eczema, particularly if the skin is broken or cracked. Particles of sand or salt can lodge in the skin cracks and sting. Chlorine can also be irritating for some children. Always apply a thick layer of emollient before swimming.
A tepid soak in a bath, with oils suitable for eczema, will remove particles of salt and sand and help to soothe the skin after a trip to the beach or the pool.
Itchy little monkeys! Our top tip for caring for a child with itchy skin is to give them the gift of our skin-saving Shruggi™ to protect their skin from the damage caused by scratching. The Shruggi™ is made from 100% certified organic cotton and silk. It is super soft and comfortable. It is machine washable, lightweight and comes in bright colours with the Itchy little monkey characters on it, so your child will love wearing it. Combine this with one of the Itchy little monkeys bedtime stories to make bedtime easier and to give the child (and therefore the parent) a good night’s sleep!
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! And do it often. Thick ointments are much more effective than lotions and creams, they offer the most protection for your child’s skin. Moisturising after washing and bathing is a must!
Take a bath! Having a daily bath helps with your child’s itchy skin, but remember not to let them stay in for longer than 5 minutes. If your child is reluctant to get out after 5 minutes, pull out the plug – they can continue to play but are not immersed in the water!
Tough as nails! Ensure that your child’s nails are kept short. Short fingernails cause less damage to the skin if your child does scratch. If scratching at night is a problem, remember to put on their cuddly skin-saving Shruggi™ at bedtime for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Be Trigger Happy! If you can learn what your child’s eczema triggers are you can try to avoid them where possible. Main triggers are heat, dust, grass and pollen, synthetic or woollen fabrics, biological detergents, cigarette smoke, cats and dogs, stress.
Keep cool! Keep your child’s bedroom and surroundings cool. Heat and humidity can cause itchy skin to flare up.
Be natural! Dress your child in light, breathable, natural fabrics, such as cotton. Wools and synthetic fabrics such as polyester, can irritate the skin. Light layers work great as they can put on or take off a layer to stay comfortable.
Go undercover! Skin that is covered up seems to be less likely to itch especially if your child’s trigger is environmental or airborne.
Don’t wash your dirty laundry… in biological detergent! Always wash your child’s clothes in non-biological washing detergent and wash new clothes before they wear them. Do not use fabric conditioner.
The Art of Distraction! Finding a distraction from your child’s itchiness is easier during the day with games and activities. At night-time, read them one of the Itchy little monkeys stories to help them relax and go to sleep.
This time of year the weather can be a problem for little ones with eczema as it dries out the skin – and so does central heating.
Here are some top tips for looking after your child’s eczema during this festive time!
Especially around Christmas time, there are plenty of festive jumpers for kids in the shops – but if they are not cotton, they will be uncomfortable and make your little one very itchy. If wearing party dresses, wear cotton tops underneath.
Instead of turning up the heat, pile on the (cotton) layers. Central heating can cause havoc with sensitive skin.
Don’t forget your little ones exposed areas when they’re outside in the biting wind – hands and cheeks can all feel the full force of the elements. Cover up to help protect vulnerable skin.
With all the festive and indulgent food available during the Christmas period, make sure to keep healthy snacks with you – too much sugar can trigger flare ups!
Having a daily bath helps with your child’s itchy skin, but remember not to let them stay in for longer than 5 minutes. When its cold outside don’t be tempted to turn up the temperature of the water, your little ones skin wont thank you for it.
Don’t forget to take care your child’s moisturiser/emollient with you when out and about and apply often.
This sweet fruit loaf is a favourite Irish tradition at Halloween. You can leave out the whiskey in this egg, dairy and nut-free recipe if you wish, but it adds a richness to the overall flavour.
375g packet fruit mix
250mls cold tea
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 over ripe banana
900g loaf tin
Place the fruit mix in a bowl and pour over the whiskey and cold tea. Allow to soak up the liquid overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C and grease and line a 900g loaf tin.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and mixed spice in a mixing bowl.
Add the mashed banana and a little of the liquid the fruit mix is sitting in and mix it through. You may not need all the liquid as you are looking for a wet dough. Stir through the fruit mix until everything is thoroughly combined.
Spoon the wet dough into the lined loaf tin and place in the oven, on the middle shelf, and bake for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf tin and placing on wire rack.
Halloween can be one of the most fun times of the year for little ones, but it can also be stressful if you have a child with eczema and/or food allergies. Trick or treating exposes kids to unknown foods, and Halloween parties at school or friends’ houses can be a source of concern if you’re not sure that the goodies will be allergy friendly.
Halloween outfits and an excess of party food can also exacerbate your little ones eczema.
With some planning & preparation, you can have a stress-free Halloween!
Costumes – When it comes to costumes, cotton is best. Avoid purchasing costumes made of plastic and synthetics. If you cannot find a costume made from 100% cotton, make sure to wear 100% cotton light undergarments to prevent itching – long sleeved cotton tops are great. If you are creative, you could also create your own costumes!
Masks – Avoid masks and costumes that cover the face. If the skin becomes overheated, sweating can irritate the skin and cause an eczema flare.
Face paint – Face paint is not good for little ones with sensitive skin and is certainly a no-go if your child has eczema on their face. If they have eczema on their face but not on arms for example, you could paint that area that is not sensitive so they don’t feel they are completely missing out. A little lipstick can also be enough to enhance a princess costume!
Triggers – Heat and sweat are known eczema triggers.
Food – Sugar, especially refined sugar can increase skin inflammation, so go easy on the sweets!
Trick or treating – When it comes to trick or treating and food allergies and your child is young enough for you to go with them, you can monitor what treats are being handed out before your child is given them.
Purchase allergy friendly treats in advance and swap them for any inappropriate treats after the trick or treating has finished.
Wearing cotton gloves protects them from coming into contact with items they are allergic to.
It is also good to have your child wash their hands thoroughly after trick or treating.
Parties – Coordinate with the organiser of any Halloween parties to inform them about your child’s allergy and consider volunteering at the Halloween party to make sure your child isn’t exposed to any allergen foods.
Medication – As always make sure to bring their emergency medication with you.
Starting school and Back to school time can be met with both excitement and nerves. If your little one has eczema, it’s the parents that can be more nervous than the child! But with some planning, preparation and communication, it can be a lot easier than you think! Here are some top tips. Some may apply more than others, depending on the age of your child.
Communication – Meet with your child’s teacher and explain to them what the requirements are for best looking after their eczema. This may include some of the following:
Triggers– Discuss what your child’s triggers are, how to best avoid them, how your child behaves when having an eczema flare and how to best handle it.
Medication – Make an Eczema Relief Kit for your child to keep at school or to bring with them each day. Talk through the kit with your child’s teacher to make sure they understand what each item is for. Things to include can range from moisturiser, antihistamine, bandages, eczema clothing (such as the Itchy Little Monkeys Shruggi™).
Heat – Request that the windows in the classroom are kept open to allow fresh air to circulate and that your child is seated away from heat sources.
Uniform – Many school uniforms unfortunately can be very heavy and made from synthetic fabrics. Where possible, your child should be dressed in 100% cotton clothing to prevent itching. Discuss the necessity of having your child wear natural fabrics as part of their uniform – there are usually similar cotton alternatives available.
Moisturiser – Your child should carry a tub of moisturiser with them to school. Depending on the age of your child, they may be able to apply themselves or the teacher can assist them. Make sure that you have applied moisturiser to their skin before sending them off to school each morning.
Education – Educate your child about eczema, their triggers and how to best manage the symptoms. This will help them prevent and treat their symptoms when they are not with you. Validate feelings and insecurities they may have about coping with eczema, especially social insecurities. Children with eczema can feel isolated in social settings.
Stress– Stress is a trigger for eczema whether it stems from the symptoms and treatment of eczema or the academic and social pressures brought on by the school year. It is important to find ways to help your child prevent and cope with the stress brought on by school. Make sure your child takes part in activities they enjoy and talk to your child about their feelings regularly.