How to Distract your Kid During Wet Wraps: A Battle Strategy

BLOG_ WET WRAPS

Sometimes physicians recommend wet wraps to support skin healing for inflammatory skin issues such as eczema. If your physician has recommended that you try wet wraps as a part of your treatment plan, here are some ideas to help support that process. Talk to your dermatologist or pediatrician before beginning a wet wrap regimen.

Getting your child to comply with wet wraps can feel like can be a battle! Which if you think about it, is a little ironic, because by administering wet wraps you are helping your child’s suit of armor, their skin defends itself against the outside world! So let us talk strategy, determine some “weapons” for your arsenal, and let’s realign so that you and your child can go from enemies to allies.

Strategy: 

Before you begin: 
How are you doing wet wraps? I have heard from some mamas that their favorite way is to use two pairs of pajamas, get one pair nice and wet and then put a dry pair on top. (You can also use, leggings and fitted long-sleeved t-shirts, whatever is the most comfortable for your child and keeps that moisture close to the skin!) This way, a kiddo doesn’t have to lay still with towels on top of them but can be up and moving about, laying on the couch or the carpet in front of the tv! This can be done with socks and gloves as well. 

Where are you doing wet wraps?  Instead of in their bedroom or yours, can you do it in front of the tv? In the playroom? With an iPad? If you don’t want your couch or bed getting wet, but that is your child’s favorite spot…can you lay down a cheap blue tarp first or a shower curtain from the dollar store? Where can you do your wet wraps that will ensure the best compliance from your kiddo? 

When are you doing wet wraps?  Of course, bedtime is when we want our kids’ skin to feel at its best, but bedtime on its own can be a struggle, so allow yourself some extra time. If your child is not going to sleep in their wet wrap, can they wear their wet wraps and then play and have a gap between application and bedtime where you insert your typical bedtime routine? This way it isn’t a lot of structured tasks happening back to back and all at once. Bonus, if wet wraps are a struggle, you are allowing yourself a calm down period before bedtime. 

Going from Enemies to Allies
  1. Explain Why! Helping even young children make connections between treatments and outcomes can be very effective and can help to develop engagement in their care in the future. Here is a video we created demonstrating how clean moist skin absorbs moisture from lotions and ointments more effectively than dry dirty skin. For even younger children, you might just use a short 3 step explanation: Your skin is very dry and itchy. The more it gets itches and scratches, it could crack and bleed. When your skin cracks, there are spaces for germs to get inside and that isn’t safe. So we need to work together to heal your skin and keep germs out.   You might find yourself explaining this every day several times a day! Hold strong, parents! 
  2. Keep this time special: Do you ever treat yourself to a special large coffee when you know it is going to be a particularly agonizing day at work? Or only allow yourself to watch a favorite tv show when you are on the treadmill? Recreate that for your kiddo by allowing “special” things during wet wrap time. For example, maybe you have a bag of particularly distracting toy tools that you pull out only when you do wet wraps or soaks. Maybe that is the only time Ipads are allowed after bath time or a certain app or special silly show? Maybe that is the only time we are allowed to blow bubbles INSIDE the house. Or a popsicle is allowed, right before bedtime? Glitter? Slime? That annoying song your kid loves? Whatever it is for your kiddo, choose your “special” and keep it sacred for that time.
  3. Show them how it’s working, measure progress:
    1. Physical Progress: Take a picture of their skin each time before and after wet wrap time and show them how it is improving. Download a free photo collage app on your phone to show some effective side by side of their skin getting better and involve your child in this part if they are old enough! 
    2. Behavioral Progress: Put a sticker on the calendar for each day that they participated in their wet wrapping. Then help them reframe the experience: I know you didn’t want to do your wet wraps, but look you did them 3 days in a row! I knew you could do it and now you are helping your skin!  
    3. Sensational Progress: Ask them a word to describe their skin each night before bed. (Itchy, Ok, Stinging, comfortable, etc). Help them recall nights with wet wraps or after and how they are compared to others. Help them draw appropriate and supportive parallels. 
  4. Giving Back Control Whenever Possible: Part of the reason that kids don’t want to do wet wraps is a plain and simple loss of control. The whole psychosocial and emotional goal of growing up is to have control of yourself, your behaviors, and your actions. So on some level, just like a lot of things we do for our kids good, wet wraps are just another example of taking back control. How can we give back control and still get them through doing what needs to be done?  
    1. Offer Choices and Participation: Do you want to do your wet wraps after homework or during homework? Do you want to get your pajamas wet with me or by yourself? Do you want to watch TV or play the Ipad, while I put on your cream?
    2. Allow them to “Be In Charge” Allow your child to put cream or lotion on you once in a while! Allow your child to wet wrap their dolls. Let things get messy. There is a real therapeutic benefit for your child to be in control within limits (ie they can use the Vaseline but not the prescription on you!)

Getting wet wraps may feel like a battle, but they can make a big difference in the war on eczema. We are here, so that you never have to feel like you are fighting alone. For emotional, social, or spiritual support for your child with eczema please consider reaching out to us at A Children’s House for the Soul. We are here to help, because you were made a masterpiece.

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Written by: Lindsay O'Sullivan

Lindsay is a Certified Child Life Specialist with a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies. Prior to her work with A Children’s House for the Soul Lindsay worked at Texas Children’s Hospital for 5 years where she provided coping support and education for children and teenagers in over 10 different medical specialties, dermatology being one! Lindsay also taught child life and child development courses at San Jacinto College and serves as program director for Camp Discovery Texas.

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