Saturday, January 7, 2012

Controlling scratching and modeling how to behave for your kids

If you've got eczema, you scratch. And sometimes you scratch in front of others--either you're not aware that you're doing it, or you are but you're nervous, or you've just got that itch that needs dealing with. You can control it when you really need to--say you're on stage presenting a talk at a conference. As soon as you're out of the spotlight, you give in to the urge.

But sometimes you get called on it. "Hey, why are you scratching?" Or you can tell someone's noticed. And that's embarrassing. Because it's not socially acceptable to do it in public. Like picking your nose or masturbating, scratching is something that most people do privately if they want to keep their jobs and spouses.

So how do you explain to a child with eczema that they should try not to scratch in public? Given, of course, that some outbreaks are unbearably itchy and you can't help yourself. I'm talking about scratching that you could control if you wanted to.

This hasn't come up as an issue for us yet, but I've been thinking about it. You know that just telling your kids to do something is not enough.You have to model the behavior yourself. I know this well. Just this week (as a New Year's resolution) I started eating raw vegetables, instead of my usual chips or chocolate, in front of the kids during their dinnertime. Whaddya know? All of a sudden Voov wants a carrot stick. Shmoop can't get enough kohlrabi.

If Voov, currently two and three quarters years old, grows up with eczema, as she shows every sign of doing, I'd like her not to scratch unduly in public. They'll eat you alive in high school for that. So, as her eczema-afflicted dad, I need to try not to scratch in front of her.

I admit it. Around my kids, I usually behave as if they're not even there, when it comes to personal matters. When your kids like to barge into the bathroom and closely examine your butt as you're toweling off after a shower, it's hard to follow Miss Manners' code of conduct once you're fully dressed. So I often find myself vigorously scratching my feet, or picking at my scalp, in front of Voov.

Really, I need to smarten up and stop this; act as I would in front of my boss. Because the only way she's going to know how to control herself, to the extent it's possible with eczema, is if I show her that it can be done.

I'm hoping I can speak to a behavioral expert about this and learn some tips about controlling compulsive scratching--an issue that I wouldn't be surprised to learn is connected to OCD. If I do learn anything, I'll blog about it.


  1. Welcome back to blogging! I know you're not into alternative medicine, but I have to tell you that in the time you've been away my kid's scratching has vanished. I completely credit NAET. He is now eczema free and has been for many, many weeks. Plus he's eating pretty much everything these days. I hope you and your kids find relief!!

  2. Thanks, EM! Glad to be back. I've been out so long that I have to search around to find who's joined the community and who's dropped out. Plus I have forgotten a lot of stuff I learned so excuse me in advance for getting excited about things all over again.

    Also very glad to hear your kid's eczema has cleared up. I hope he's free from here on out and can enjoy life with as few restrictions as possible.

  3. We tried NAET and it didn't work for our son, although food allergies were triggering his eczema. It's a good thing for parents to try though because you never know what will work. We found some homeopathy that really helps our son.