Whether you’re sending your teenager off to their final year of schooling, or you have a little one beginning prep, it’s a busy and exciting time for families across the country over the next couple of weeks.
Here are some tips to help ease the transition and make for a happy and healthy year!
Master the art of the lunchbox
Bento style lunchboxes are all the rage. Keep it simple by adding cut fruit, sandwiches, vegetable sticks and their favourite yoghurt.
Walk to school
it doesn’t have to be every day, but if you can include this into you and your child’s routine, your health will thank you. Getting out in the early morning fresh air is great for your mental health too!
Stick to the same bed times
Make sure your child is getting enough (quality) sleep by enforcing a bed routine. Kids of any age need upwards of 10 hours of sleep a night. It’s also crucial to wind down before bed time- this means no iPads and TV at least a half hour before they hit the hay.
Handle the dreaded head lice
Keep long hair tied up, don’t wash your kids hair too frequently (they love fresh hair!) and keep ‘butting heads’ to a minimum 😂
Ease those nerves
Starting school can be an exciting but daunting time for kids. Help ease any anxieties they may have by talking about all the positive and wonderful adventures and opportunities the new school year is going to bring. In the first few weeks back, give your kids something to look forward to after school like an evening at the beach, and ice cream, or dinner at their favourite cafe
Make sure their health is in check
Start the school year on the right foot with a visit to the doctors to make sure everything is in tip top shape. Be proactive with their health and ask your GP how you can help keep your kids (and yourself!) happy and healthy this year.
Skin is the largest organ in the body, and it works as a barrier to keep the body safe. When that barrier is broken, eczema can occur. Let’s look at what eczema is, how it occurs and steps you can take to avoid an eczema flareup.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. It’s an irritating, and sometimes painful skin condition that occurs when the skins barrier becomes compromised. The skin becomes red, dry and itchy, and over time rough patches might develop. The most common areas to have an eczema flare-up include the creases of the elbows, behind the knees, across the ankles and sometimes on the face, ears and neck. There are many triggers that might cause eczema to flare up, and with careful observation most people are able to identify them to help manage their condition.
Who is Affected by Eczema?
Eczema can occur in people of any age, but it is most common in children. Around one in five children under 2 years old will have the condition. It can also occur in older children and adults, but for most people it improves with age. Even adult eczema normally goes away by middle age, although a small number of people might need to manage the condition for the rest of their lives.
What Causes Eczema?
We don’t really know why some people get eczema. Eczema seems to go along with other issues like allergies, hayfever and asthma, which appears to show that genetics influence the risk of someone developing eczema.
When the skin barrier is damaged, it allows moisture to evaporate and lets irritants and allergens past the skin. In turn, the skin releases chemicals that make the skin itchy, and scratching makes the skin release even more. That creates an irritating and painful cycle that makes the problem worse.
Known irritants that can trigger eczema include:
Chlorine from swimming pools
Sand (especially in sandpits)
Sitting on grass
Chemical irritants like soap and perfumes
Changes in temperature
If a person has allergies, then coming into contact with allergens can cause eczema to occur. Constant exposure to water, soap, grease, food or chemicals can also damage the protective barrier function of the skin, which often causes eczema.
Sometimes because an allergic reaction to food and an eczema flare-up can happen around the same time, people assume that the food has caused the eczema, causing them to remove the food from their diet. In some cases, removing foods can help with eczema management but it should only be attempted under the supervision of a doctor.More often, food issues are unrelated to eczema flare-ups and don’t need to be removed from the diet.
What Treatments are Available?
Unfortunately, eczema can’t be cured. However, it can be treated and managed. Staying away from allergens can help avoid flare-ups, and keeping the skin moisturised and protected can help stop the skin barrier from breaking. People with eczema need to work together with their doctor to identify triggers for their eczema, and work on minimising flare-ups.
People can help manage their own symptoms by:
Keeping baths and showers lukewarm
Moisturising every day, preferably within a few minutes of bathing
Wearing soft, natural fabrics
Using mild cleansers, preferably non-soap
Gently drying skin after bathing by patting or air-drying
Avoiding sudden changes of temperature
Using a humidifier when the weather is dry
Your doctor might prescribe:
Corticosteroid creams and ointments
Antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals if a skin infection has occurred
Barrier repair moisturisers
Phototherapy – UV A or B light can be used to treat moderate dermatitis.
Managing eczema is an ongoing battle. Even adults who have outgrown childhood eczema can find their skin is easily irritated. Once an area of skin has healed, it still needs ongoing care to ensure the barrier stays intact. People who struggle with eczema need to be proactive, and work with their doctor to identify their triggers, alleviate their symptoms and prevent further breakouts. A cure isn’t currently available, but good skin management can free eczema sufferers from irritation and discomfort.
ASCIA Guide to eczema (atopic dermatitis) management:
Planning a fun family trip these holidays? Travelling with children should be a joy, particularly with some forward planning. These tips will help smooth out some of the bumps and ensure you have a pleasant journey.
The recirculated air in aeroplanes can be particularly dehydrating, so it’s important to take regular sips of water. This can also help with motion sickness.
Feed infants at the same rate or pattern as you would at home
Feeding your child more than you normally would can increase their discomfort in flight. This is because it results in more gasses being ingested. Due to cabin pressure changes gas in our digestive system expands causing bloating and discomfort.
Contact the airline in advance
They can help with arranging children’s meals and a bassinet if you have a young baby.
Pack the baby wipes
You never know when they will come in handy to wipe hands, restaurant tables or even toilet seats!
Don’t forget the first aid kit!
I recommend speaking to your doctor about what you may need to take with you. But obvious ones would be panadol, bandaids and antihistamines.
Give your children a personal travel diary before leaving
I still remember how delighted I was as a child to go out and pick a travel diarybefore each holiday. I would then spend hours on the plane, in the car, and during my downtime detailing my day, where we went, what we saw, what we ate. I even kept wrappers from little chocolates and lollies, stickers, brochures and cards to stick in my diaries. If your kids are of an age where they can write, I highly recommend this. Even if their writing skills are just developing, encourage them to spend time in the aeroplane ‘planning’ their trip, writing in simple words or with pictures. I used to write down where we were heading, which cities, where we were staying and what I was hoping to see and eat there. You could also give them little drawing tasks like to draw aeroplane, the pilot, what sights they think they will see etc.
Use relaxing music
Music is wonderful for setting a mood, and this is no different when the mood you want to create for your children is one of relaxation. Why not load up a relaxing play list onto some iPods to help your children fall asleep while on the move? I used to lug around my purple diskman, usually with my Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera CDs. But I would also carry a CD of chill out music for whenever I wanted to zone out.
Dealing with anxiety / a fear of flying
Some children and adults have a fear of flying, which is very normal and very treatable. However, it’s not something to leave to the last minute – it is encouraged that you approach it well in advance. Your doctor can give advice on coping mechanisms and arrange specialist treatment if necessary.
Another tool which many find useful for anxiety is a product called Rescue Remedy. Rescue Remedy is a mix of flower remedies known for their calming effects. It comes in a variety of forms – drops, spray and pastilles. I recommend putting drops of Rescue Remedy in a water bottle to sip on while in transit – that way you are helping yourself/your child stay calm as well as hydrated.
Coping with ear pain
There is nothing worse than being exhausted from travel and then experiencing that excruciating pain in your ears during take off and landing. On one trip when my sister and I were little, we were both crying so much from pain that strangers passed chocolates down the aisle to us. It must have been pretty distressing for other travellers to see us like that.
It’s nothing serious, and certainly nothing to worry about. However, it can be very distressing – particularly for children. It occurs because the eustachian tube that runs between the middle ear and pharynx (part of the throat) gets blocked or swollen. When cabin pressure changes rapidly the blocked eustachian tube isn’t able to adjust properly, causing discomfort. This is particularly a problem for children whose eustachian tubes are shorter and more easily blocked than adults or those who have a cold, allergy or sinus condition.
I have since discovered something which means I no longer suffer when flying – Earplanes. They work by lessening the pressure difference in your ear, allowing your eustachian tube to function more normally. Importantly, they come in a children’s version. Honestly, I never fly without them.
If, however, you or your child suffers from chronic sinus pain or an ongoing cold or virus, it’s important to see a doctor to get to the bottom of it.
My sister and I suffered from terrible ear pain during flights when we were younger. Since discovering Ear Planes, we haven’t had to worry!
Children are more vulnerable to picking up viruses than adults. It’s important make sure your child’s immunisations are up to date. There are also diseases specific to certain travel destinations – it is exceptionally important to get vaccinated against these before travel. It may also be a requirement of entry in some countries. Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on travel vaccination, and if you need to see a doctor in the mean time you can book here.
When should you see a doctor?
In most instances seeing a doctor prior to travel with children is a good idea. Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether you need any particular vaccinations and provide more detailed travel advice. They will be able to assess and treat your child if they are suffering from blocked ears or any other conditions. They will also be able to suggest specific medications that you may need to take with you.