Will My Baby Have Eczema All Her Life
In some babies with atopic dermatitis, the condition stays put. But, fortunately, eczema clears up in many babies by the time they turn 4 years old.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Things You Can Do When Your Childs Eczema Gets Bad
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire
Its winter, and in many parts of the country that means cold, windy weather and dry, chapped skin. For all of us that can be a problem, but for people who have eczema it can be miserable.
As a pediatrician, I have lots of patients with eczema. Each one of them is different, of course, with different triggers for their eczema and different therapies that help. But when eczema gets bad when parts of the skin get very irritated and scaly there are three things that help just about everybody.
1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! This may seem obvious, but I cant overstate its importance and helpfulness. When it comes to picking a moisturizer, think greasy when eczema gets tough. This kind of moisturizer is called an emollient. Even just petroleum jelly, or hydrated petrolatum, which are both widely available, can really help dry, irritated skin. And while they feel greasy when you put them on, usually the skin soaks them right up. Applying emollients two or three times a day can really help when things get tough and can also help prevent eczema from flaring.
Right after the bath you want to put on any steroids or moisturizers. And then, you might want to consider
As with any chronic medical condition, eczema is best managed when you work together with your doctor and come up with a plan both for treating flares and for preventing them in the first place.
What Causes Eczema In Children
Researchers dont know exactly what causes baby eczema, but they believe its most likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Eczema is not contagious.
Infants are more likely to develop eczema if family members have a history of eczema, hay fever, or asthma.
While these conditions don’t cause one another, infants are more likely to develop hay fever or asthma if they already have baby eczema.
Scientists believe eczema results from an immune-system dysfunction that affects the skin barrier and its ability to hold in moisture.
Eczema is a general term to describe a number of inflammatory skin conditions. Aside from atopic dermatitis, other types of eczema that commonly affect children include contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema , and seborrheic dermatitis, or scalp eczema .
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Which Foods May Trigger Eczema
When you have a food allergy, your body reacts to a harmless treat as if it’s a dangerous germ and attacks. Symptoms — like swelling — are side effects of your body’s defenses.
Eczema doesn’t seem to be an allergic condition, but reactions from food can make it worse in some kids. Itâs more likely in babies and young children.
Some foods are more likely to bring symptoms. The common offenders are:
While trigger foods can make eczema worse, experts don’t think theyâre really the original cause. Instead, it seems to result from “leakiness” in the outer layer of skin that lets in irritants, germs, and allergens.
Affected Areas Of The Body
The two conditions tend to affect different parts of the body, although there is some overlap.
Baby acne breakouts tend to occur on the:
Eczema often develops on a babys elbows and knees at between 6 and 12 months of age.
It will sometimes also spread to other areas, but it does not affect the diaper area. A rash in this area may be diaper rash.
Baby acne and eczema require different treatments.
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Baby Eczema Natural Remedies
Since babies have extra-sensitive skin, its natural to want to treat it, well, naturally. But, Bender says, even natural products have the potential to cause a worsened rash called contact dermatitis, so check with your doctor first before applying something new to babys skin. Furthermore, Bender advises testing a new product before first-time use, and opting for gentle products with simple ingredient lists. Here are a couple natural baby eczema remedies that are safe for baby:
Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer. Medical grade honey can help shallow cuts and prevent a local skin infection, Benjamin suggests. A home remedy for baby eczema is wet wrap therapy . Bathe your child, and then apply a thick moisturizer to the slightly damp skin. Dampen a pair of cotton pajamas in warm water, wring them out and slip them on baby, right over the thick layer of moisturizer. After that, put on a second dry pair of cotton pajamas. Keep baby wrapped like this for a few hours or longer.
Could That Rash Be Eczema
Here are some of the ways eczema can look different in infants, babies, and toddlers.
- Youll most likely see eczema on the face, cheeks, chin, forehead, and scalp, but it is generally not as common in the diaper area
- Features red or discolored skin with weepy- looking sores
- At 6 months, you may still see eczema on your babys face and neck
- Eczema commonly shows up on elbows and kneesthe places that are easy to rub or irritate as babies crawl
- Youre likely to notice eczema in the creases of their elbows and knees, or on their wrists and hands
- You might also see eczema near your little ones mouth or eyelids
Tips to help manage your babys eczema
- Use clothing and shade to protect your childs skin from the sun, especially if under 6 months
- Wash stuffed animals oftensoft toys attract dust which can trigger eczema
- Right after bath time, use a fragrance-free moisturizer
- Keep in mind that ointments are good barriers that help retain moisture in your skin
Emollients And Fire Safety
Lotions, creams or ointments used to moisturise your childs skin are also known as emollients.
Emollients are very effective at treating chronic dry skin conditions, such as eczema.
But it is important to be aware of the fire risk linked with them.
Emollients won’t cause a fire on their own. But if there is a build-up of emollient residue on clothing and bedding, this can quicken the speed of a fire.
Do not smoke near your baby or allow them near naked flames:
- while they are wearing emollient
- if they are wearing clothes or bandages that may have emollient on them
There is a fire risk with all paraffin-containing emollients. There may also even be a fire risk with paraffin-free emollients. There might also be a fire risk with other products that you put on skin over large body areas for more than a few days.
Washing clothing or fabric at a high temperature may reduce emollient build-up. But it might not totally remove it.
Treatment For Seborrheic Dermatitis In Children
If the seborrheic dermatitis is mild, an OTC topical antifungal cream or medicated shampoo with ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, coal tar or zinc pyrithione, may be enough to control symptoms. It is OK to leave mild seborrheic dermatitis untreated if your child is not uncomfortable.
A seborrheic dermatitis rash on an infants head, neck and torso.
In more severe cases, a provider may prescribe topical steroids or TCIs to calm the inflammation. Oral antifungal agents may also be used.
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How Is It Treated
Because there is not yet a cure for eczema, our treatment goals are to reduce itching and skin inflammation, and to prevent infection. The best treatment for eczema is a proactive one, using gentle skin care and moisturizers to re-establish the skin barrier.
Infants and older childrens skin should be kept well moisturized, and washed with fragrance-free non-soap cleansers. We also recommend a fragrance-free ointment-based moisturizer, with petrolatum as either the only or the first ingredient. In young children and infants, it is reasonable to use an over-the-counter topical hydrocortisone ointment, which is a mild topical steroid, for up to a week.
But if the rash either persists or you find that you need to use the hydrocortisone more than one week out of the month, you should discuss further use with your childs pediatrician. You can apply the ointment, as prescribed, then a coat of petrolatum-based moisturizer, to help keep in the moisture.
If your childs skin does not respond well to any of these measures or becomes infected, contact your pediatrician, who can diagnose the condition and then prescribe another topical cream or antihistamine.
Can Food Allergy Cause Eczema
Although food allergy is more common in children who have eczema, they are separate conditions.
Food allergy does not normally cause eczema, but having eczema may increase the chance that a food allergy develops. For a description of how eczema may increase the risk of food allergy, please refer to the section on the next page called: How can good eczema control help prevent food allergy?
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Should I Worry About Using The Topical Steroids Prescribed By My Healthcare Professional
No, you dont need to worry, as long as you follow your healthcare professionals specific instructions. Topical steroids are first-line treatments for babies with eczema. These creams have been used to treat eczema for more than 50 years, so there is a good understanding of how they work.
If you dont treat the eczema promptly and adequately, skin damage is far more likely to occur through scratching into the deeper layers of skin.
Moisturizing Ointments And Creams
Using a moisturizing ointment or cream to keep the skin soft and moist is key to tacklingbaby eczema. Moisturizers are classified according to their oil and water content, withthe most effective moisturizers containing a higher amount of oil.
Ointments and barrier creams should be applied to the skin in a thick layer at least twiceper day and immediately after bathing. They can be bought over the counter at the pharmacyor be prescribed by a doctor.
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Why Did My Child Develop Eczema
The exact cause of eczema is unknown. Researchers do know that children who develop eczema do so because of a combination of genes and environmental triggers. When something outside the body switches on the immune system, skin cells dont behave as they should causing flare ups.
We also know that children who come from families with a history of atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis.
Preventing Eczema In Babies With Dry Skin
Does your baby have flaky, irritated, cracked skin? About 1 in 5 kids gets eczema. For some, its the first symptom of a lifetime of allergies. Infants who have eczema are more likely to develop hay fever and asthma later. Doctors refer to this type of allergic disease progression as atopic march. How you treat your babys eczema could make all the difference.
We believe that cracked skin is the entry point for food allergens, such as peanuts and eggs. Food can get into the skin off the table or off people who eat these foods and then kiss or touch the baby. When the food comes through the skin, it causes an allergic reaction, says Donald Leung, MD, PhD, head of pediatric allergy and clinical immunology at National Jewish Health in Denver.
Doctors dont fully understand what causes eczema. They believe genetics and the childs environment each play a role. But parents can help repair their babys broken skin barrier and prevent allergens from getting in. This could stop development of future allergies.
In babies, eczema usually shows up as an itchy, red patch on the cheeks, chin, or scalp and the front of arms and legs. If you see these signs, Leung recommends the soak and seal method.
Gently bathe your baby in lukewarm water with a gentle cleanser free of soap. Dont scrub irritated skin. Allow your baby to soak for at least 5 minutes.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Atopic Dermatitis In A Child
Symptoms may come and go, or occur most or all of the time. Any area of the body may be affected. In babies, symptoms usually affect the face, neck, scalp, elbows, and knees. In children, symptoms usually affect the skin inside the elbows, on the back of the knees, the sides of the neck, around the mouth, and on the wrists, ankles, and hands.
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
Dry, scaly skin
Pale skin on the face
Small, raised bumps that may become crusty and leak fluid if scratched
Rough bumps on the face, upper arms, and thighs
Darkened skin of eyelids or around the eyes
Skin changes around the mouth, eyes, or ears
Raised, red areas
The symptoms of atopic dermatitis can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Does Your Child Need To See A Doctor About Eczema
Yes. Take your child to see your GP if your child:
- might have eczema for the first time
- is very itchy and uncomfortable
- has eczema thats weeping or bleeding
- has eczema that hasnt improved much after a few days, even though youve been treating it as usual
- is having trouble sleeping because the rash is so itchy
- has painful or eczema that has developed pus
- has eczema and is generally unwell for example, has a fever and/or is sweating, feeding poorly or tired.
You should also take your child to the GP if youre not sure whether the rash is eczema.
If your childs eczema doesnt improve with a combination of medical treatment and management at home, your GP might refer your child to a dermatologist. If the GP thinks your childs eczema might be from allergies, they might also refer you to an allergy and immunology specialist.
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How Does Baby Eczema Differ From Dry Skin
Dry skin is a symptom of eczema. Your pediatrician can diagnose eczema by examining your baby’s skin. He or she may send you to a pediatric dermatologist for confirmation and treatment if the condition is severe.
In general, dry skin can be handled at home with some moisturizer and isnt as bothersome as eczema. However, babies with darker skin tend to have drier skin than those with lighter skin making moisturization even more crucial.
When Should My Baby Go To The Doctor For Eczema Treatment
If your baby has symptoms of eczema and at-home treatments have not helped, make an appointment with your pediatrician.
If your baby’s eczema is crusty, oozing fluid, or if your baby is showing any other signs of infection , call your pediatrician right away. Eczema rashes can become infected and may require antibiotic treatment.
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What Is Baby Eczema / Infant Eczema
Baby eczema, or infant eczema, is a highly common and treatable skin condition which typicallyfirst occurs in children before the age of five. Also known as atopic eczema, infantile atopic dermatitis or just atopicdermatitis, the condition results in red, dry, itchy and cracked skin that may sometimescrack and bleed. Eczema can affect the whole body, though the hands, face and neck are the most commonly affected areas in babies.
Baby eczema will generally disappear before the child reaches their teens, but in some casescan continue into teenage and adulthood. The condition can be treated with a variety of creams,ointments and minor environmental changes.
Does Breastfeeding Prevent Baby Eczema
There is some evidence that breastfed babies may be less likely to develop eczema. Although unproven, the antimicrobial properties in breast milk have also been studied as a type of treatment when directly applied to an eczema rash. To try this, rub a few drops of your liquid gold onto the rash regularly for a few days and watch for any reduction in symptoms.
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Consider Diluted Bleach Baths
Silverberg suggests them for babies older than 6 months who have moderate or severe eczema. They’re especially helpful if your baby has crusting on their skin. Bleach helps remove staph bacteria — a known eczema trigger — without antibiotics.
Talk to your pediatrician before giving your baby a bleach bath. If you do, use 1 teaspoon of bleach per 1 gallon of water or 1/4 cup per full bathtub.
Sound harsh? Silverberg says it’s just like putting your child into a swimming pool with chlorine. Whatâs more, it may give your baby fewer flare-ups and more comfort.
Causes And Triggers Of Baby Eczema
The causes of baby eczema are unclear, though it is generally agreed that the conditionstems from a mixture of genetic and environmental factors. Knowing what triggers babyeczema can be useful in keeping the condition under control. Common triggers include:
- Dry skin: When the skin becomes too dry it becomes susceptible to rashes and flare-ups of eczema.
- Moisture on the skin: From sweat, milk, saliva or wet diapers.
- Chemical irritants: Natural or artificial chemicals found in everyday products canmake an outbreak of eczema more likely. These chemicals can be found in products such asshampoo, soap, laundry detergent and disinfectants or surface cleaners.
- Dust mites: Some research shows that prolonged exposure to dust mites increases thelikelihood of an infant developing eczema. Further research in the area suggests thatreducing the number of dust mites in the home makes little difference to the frequencyand severity of eczema flares after the first diagnosis.
- Stress: Babies can become extremely irritated by eczema which can in turn exacerbatethe condition further.
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