How to make treatment times easier

This section will look at:

  • How to make treatment times more fun for your child
  • Ways to encourage your child to use their moisturising creams
  • What to do if your child refuses treatment

Making treatment times easier

Most families can sometimes find it difficult to put creams on their child or to get their child to put their creams on themselves. Your child may dislike the creams or find that having them put on is boring or frustrating. They may not understand how important the creams are for looking after their skin. Sometimes, the whole thing can turn into a battleground or “cream wars” and can be a drain for all involved.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to try to make treatment times better for you and your child.

Finding what works for you and your child

There is no one right way to make treatment times easier – every child is different. You may find that different things work better at different ages.

Here are some things that other families have found helpful:

  • Making cream times fun with games and toys
  • Encouraging and involving your child in putting the creams on
  • Finding a cream they like
  • Rewarding your child for having the creams put on, or for putting creams on themselves
  • Building it into your child’s routine so that it becomes part of their usual activities
  • Explaining eczema and the creams to your child – you can find out more about this in the ‘teaching your child how to care for their eczema’ section. You can get to this section from the ‘help your child manage eczema’ menu above.

Make treatment times fun with special toys

One thing most families find helpful is to make treatment times more fun so that your child does not feel bored or frustrated.

Some families have a special toy their child is only allowed to play with while their cream is being put on.

Trying to get the creams on him used to be a total nightmare. A friend of mine suggested I got him a special teddy, and it’s amazing how much better he is when we give him the teddy to play with.


I put my daughter’s toys in the dishwasher every now and then to stop them from getting greasy and grubby.


Make treatment times fun with games

Some families try to sing or play games whilst putting on the creams to keep their child interested.

It’s all about keeping him entertained while I do the creams – when he was younger I’d give him a toy, or play a game. Now that he’s older we talk about his day and what we have planned for tomorrow to keep him distracted!


My daughter likes it when I massage in her moisturising creams. It makes her feel really calm. We pretend she’s at a spa.


We play dot-to-dot with his moisturising creams. I put some blobs on his arms and legs and he joins them up.


Involve your child in the treatment

It can help to involve your child in their treatment.

Some families have a doll or action figure that their child can put cream on at the same time as their creams are being done. This can be a pretend moisturising cream if you want to avoid the mess!

As your child gets older they can start putting on their own moisturising cream to parts of their own skin. If you have other children you can get them involved too so that everyone is a part of treatment!

We let her put her moisturising cream on me then I put the moisturising cream on her. It helped us get through a tricky patch when she just hated the whole thing.


What if my child refuses treatment?

Firstly look at the moisturising or flare control cream you are using. If your child doesn’t like it, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about trying a different one.

There are lots of different moisturising creams available, so it’s worth trying different ones until you find one that suits you and your child. You can find out more about choosing a different moisturising cream in the ‘moisturising creams’ section, which you can get to from the menu above.

There are also different types of flare control creams. You can learn more about the different types in the ‘flare control creams’ section, which you can get to from the menu above.

These two sections also give you advice on what to do if the creams sting.

Once I found the right cream everything just started clicking into place.


Reward your child for doing their treatments

Another thing that can be helpful is to reward your child for having their moisturising cream put on or for putting it on themselves.

This could be watching their favourite DVD or playing with a special game or toy after putting on treatment.

It is important to always make sure you give them the reward right away, or it might not work next time!

I try to be really positive and encouraging when he puts his creams on. If the eczema is looking better I point it out and tell him his good work is making his eczema better.


Making moisturising creams part of their routine

It can be helpful to make putting on moisturising creams a normal part of your child’s routine from when they are young. This will help them remember and keep going with this in the long run. You could try having set times or parts of the day they should use them. For example, as part of their wake-up and bedtime routine.

If you have an older child who keeps forgetting to do their creams, you could try to talk to them about how to fit their creams better into their routine or set reminders.

She kept forgetting to put her creams on so we set up an alarm to help remind her, just before bed, so that it was part of her routine. We also put the cream next to her toothbrush in the bathroom so she would see it, as a second reminder to put them on!


Using a reward chart

Some families find it helpful to use a reward chart when their child helps with putting cream on. This may include staying still or putting it on themselves.

To make it more fun you could let your child put stickers on the chart each day they do their creams. It can also help to give them a reward when they have followed the routine you have agreed.

Older children may prefer a calendar they like instead of a reward chart.

Click on one of the reward charts below to download a printable version of it:

Animal Printable
Animal reward chart
Mrmen Printable
Mr Men reward chard
Fairy Printable
Fairy reward chart

He gets really excited putting stickers on his chart. At the end of the week if it has all gone well then we give him a little reward. While we’re putting on the cream we talk about what the reward might be or how fun it will be to keep him distracted.


You can also involve your child in the 2 week challenge so they can see for themselves the difference using treatments regularly can make. You can get to the 2 week challenge from the menu in the top right corner of the screen.

Looking after you!

Many families can find it frustrating or stressful getting their child to stay still to have their creams put on, or getting them to put them on themselves. These feelings are normal.

You may find it helpful to look at the ‘managing stress for parents’ section, which will give you some ways to help you deal with stress. You can get to this section from the ‘itch, stress and sleep’ menu above.

The whole thing can be quite frustrating. When he was younger he used to run away, and cry, until we worked out how bribe him! Now that he’s older and doing the creams himself, I feel like I constantly have to remind him because I worry he won’t do his creams and that his eczema will then get worse. He hates that, of course!