Posted on June 16 2016
Parts of this blog are taken directly from Webmd, a great resource.
Baby Eczema is not only common, it’s also very treatable, and many infants outgrow it. Not sure if your baby’s itchy, irritated rash is eczema? These questions and answers can help you understand what to look for.
What Does Baby Eczema Look Like?
While it may appear just about anywhere on a baby’s body, eczema most often occurs on a baby’s cheeks and at the joints of their arms and legs.
Infant eczema can be easily confused with cradle cap, another significantly less red, scaly rash of infancy. Cradle cap generally clears up by 8 months, and usually appears on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyelids and eyebrows, and behind the ears.
Why Do Babies Get Eczema?
The current thinking is that eczema is caused by a combination of factors that include:
- Abnormal function of the immune system
- Activities that may cause skin to be more sensitive
- Defects in the skin barrier that allow moisture out and germs in
Examples of other things that can irritate the skin include:
- Harsh soaps and cleansers
- Dust and sand
- Irritants in the environment
Flares can also be triggered by certain conditions that have an effect on the immune system. For instance, things that can trigger or worsen a flare include:
Does Eczema in Infants Go Away by Itself?
Fortunately, most children outgrow the itchy irritation of eczema before school age.
A small number of kids will have eczema into adulthood. Remissions do happen and can last for years, though the tendency to have dry skin often lingers.
What Triggers Eczema in Children?
- Dry skin. This is often caused by low humidity, especially during winter when homes are well-heated and the air is dry. Dry skin can make a baby’s eczema more itchy.
- Irritants. Think scratchy wool clothes, polyester, perfumes, body soaps with irritants, and laundry soaps with irritants. These can all trigger a baby’s eczema flares.
- Stress. Children with baby eczema may react to stress by flushing, which leads to itchy, irritated skin — and an increase in eczema symptoms.
- Heat and sweat. Both heat and sweat can make the itch of infant eczema worse.
- Allergens. There’s still debate as to whether food allergies in children trigger eczema. Some experts believe that removing cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, or certain fruits from a child’s diet may help control eczema symptoms. Remember, a breastfed baby may be exposed to those foods through mom’s milk in addition to actually ingesting them. Allergens are also found in personal care products. Look for gluten free, soy free and dairy free products. And ones that do not have high allergy nut oils.
How Can I Treat My Baby’s Eczema Naturally?
Taking care of your baby’s skin is the first step to managing infant eczema, especially when the condition is mild. Try:
- Moisturizers. A moisturizer containing colloidal oatmeal is the best eczema treatment option. Other natural emmolients like beeswax, shea butter and calendula are very soothing. Anti-inflammatory ingredients like rosemary, tea tree and lavender are effective. Otherwise, a good moisturizer, fragrance-free cream, or ointment (avoid petroleum jelly) when used several times daily, will help your baby’s skin retain its natural moisture. Apply immediately after a bath.
- A lukewarm bath. This helps hydrate and cool the skin, and may lessen itching. Try a soothing diaper cream with zinc oxide to soothe itchy skin.
- Other topical treatments: Speak with your pediatrician.
What Baby’s Eczema Treatment Can I do at Home?
One of the keys to treating infant eczema is to prevent your baby from scratching. Scratching can make the rash worse, lead to infection, and cause the irritated skin to get thicker and more leathery.
Be sure your baby’s nails are trimmed often, and then take the edge off of them with a file if you can. Some parents also slip “scratch mittens” onto their little one’s hands. Others try long socks, tucked in under a long-sleeved shirt, so they’re harder for a baby to remove.
Other things you can do to treat your baby’s eczema at home include:
- Bathe your baby for no more than 10 minutes in warm water. Hot water can strip skin of its natural, protective oils.
- Use mild, sulfate free, gentle cleansers and laundry soaps. Perfumed, deodorant, and anti-bacterial soaps can be rough on a baby’s sensitive skin.
- Pat your baby’s skin dry; don’t rub.
- Apply a moisturizer while your baby’s skin is wet.
- Oatmeal products added to your baby’s tub may make your little one’s skin less itchy.
- To minimize the irritation of clothing rubbing on the skin, dress your baby in loose clothes made of cotton. Always wash new clothes before putting them on your baby.
- Use a mild, fragrance-free, sulfate free detergent to wash your baby’s clothes.
- Avoid putting too many blankets on your baby or overdressing your little one. This can make your baby hot and sweaty, triggering an eczema flare.