Animals and their relationship to Eczema in Children
Pets have long been thought of as an integral part of life, with most considering their pet to be a part of their family.
Pets bring companionship and love to millions of homes, especially to those with children. But for children that suffer from eczema, pets can actually be a secret nightmare…
Are pets a risk to children with eczema?
The fur and dander (dead skin cells) of animals can cause flare ups and serious irritation to an eczema sufferer’s skin. While some pets may aggravate eczema more than others, it is vital that parents take the right precautions to determine whether their pet is a risk or not. The most common pet allergies are linked cats, dogs, and horses – usually animals with more fur or longer hairs.
Even if you do not own a pet, your child’s allergy is still not safe, particularly from cats. Cats’ saliva and skin scales are so light that they remain floating in the air for a long time and can land just about anywhere, especially on clothes or the seats on public transport – to put it simply, your child is at a very high risk of being exposed to pet allergen in most places they go.
If you are thinking about getting a pet but want to avoid aggravating your child’s eczema, then many have found that owning a short haired animal such as a Labrador or a Beagle poses much less of a threat to eczema.
Short-haired cats can also be beneficial although their skin is more susceptible to a build-up of protein that is likely to trigger the eczema. This build-up can be washed away though, so hygiene is absolutely key.
Other pets that have little or no effect on eczema include hairless animals such as reptiles, animals that cannot be touched such as fish, or animals with fur that can live outside such as rabbits and guinea pigs.
These pets are potentially less harmful, and talking to your child’s doctor or the owners of the pet store could ease your mind. It is not an easy choice, however, as many people may be reluctant to bring non-conventional pets into their home, and some may just have their heart set on a more classic house pet such as a cat or dog.
But I already own one!
Fear not, however, as there are things that can be done if you already own (or still want to own) a furry friend. First it is necessary to work out whether your child’s eczema is actually affected by your pet or not, so it may be a good idea to remove the pet from the household temporarily and see if this makes a difference.
If so then cleaning your child’s bedding, clothing, furnishings and carpet can reduce the likelihood of flare-ups, along with regularly and thoroughly shampooing your pet. It’s all about hygiene, so make sure you keep on top of this as it can make a real difference.
Preventing your pet from licking you or your child’s hand and ensuring your child uses a natural emollient immediately after coming into contact with your pet can significantly help. It may also be worth using a natural skin balm to help protect your child’s eczema as it can create a defensive shield around the skin, preventing direct contact with pet allergens.
Related Information for Causes of Eczema in Children
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