When Should I Be Concerned
It’s a good idea to see your doctor or a dermatologist if your baby still has a rash and itching even after you moisturize the skin. This is the first step in taking care of eczema.
Sometimes eczema isn’t serious and will improve with just moisturizing alone. If a rash stays despite moisturizing, medicines may be needed to help with inflammation of the skin.
Also, if you’re concerned your child may have a skin infection or if the itching is causing problems with sleep or daily life, it’s time to get a doctor’s help.
What Causes Eczema In Toddlers
Before you panic that your child will have lifelong bouts of itchy rashes, its important to remember that some kids are just prone to eczema because of their unique skin makeup. And even thats not always fixed or permanent.
Theres no way to predict what will happen in the future, but lots of kids outgrow their eczema when they reach their preschool years.
Your child is more likely to have eczema if they also have:
- a family history of eczema
Food allergies dont cause eczema, but they are related.
According to a , other conditions that may be related to eczema may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder.
For the most part, though, environmental triggers are the biggest cause of eczema flares. Common triggers include:
- excessive heat or sweating
Although eczema is bothersome and often hard to treat, you can take some steps to get your toddlers eczema under control.
The Individuals With Eczema
Fabienne Peters, 24: “Ive had eczema from a very young age which tends to be inside my elbows. Dairy is a big player, but the connection was only made when I was 16 – now I’m dairy-free. I use Doublebase gel every day and only Hydrocortisone cream when I need to as it tends to scar. My eczema is also brought on by perfumed creams, alcohol and stress, so I try to avoid them if I can.”
Victoria Hutton, 27: “As far as I remember, my eczema started as a reaction to washing up liquid . Over the years, Ive had periods without it, and periods where its been particularly bad – the skin behind my ear, and on my eye lid, split, and my hands have been red raw. In those instances I always trusted the advice of GPs, using steroid creams for short times when it was recommended.
Victoria before and after treatment for her eczema
“Whilst GPs have helped monitor my condition since childhood, the best thing Ive ever done is see an actual dermatologist . Justines in-depth knowledge got to the root of a particularly nasty flare up last year, and her recommendations – not just for treatment, but for everyday maintenance – have more than restored my skin to health it looks and feels the best it ever has. The La Roche-Posay itch stick Justine introduced me to was a life saver at times and I still carry the body balm with me wherever I go.”
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Are There Likely To Be Any Complications Of Eczema
It’s important to control your child’s eczema – uncontrolled eczema can lead to poor sleep which can have long-term effects on learning and behaviour.
Children with eczema are more likely to get skin infections.
Eczema makes the skin dry and cracked and increases the chance of infection by bacteria and viruses . Infected eczema may be wet, crusted or painful. See your doctor for treatment.
If your child’s eczema gets worse or becomes infected, you will need to take them to your doctor. Sometimes, a hospital stay may be necessary.
It’s important to control your child’s eczema. Uncontrolled eczema can lead to poor sleep which can have long-term effects on learning and behaviour.
Why Did My Toddler Develop Eczema
Similar to when babies develop eczema, children who develop eczema do so because of a combination of genes and environmental triggers, but researchers dont know a lot more about why eczema manifests on a childs skin. When something outside the body switches on the immune system, skin cells dont behave as they should causing eczema flare ups.
We also know that children who come from families with a history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever are more likely to developatopic dermatitis.
Common eczema symptoms in children include itchiness, rashes and the breaking down of skin barriers that protect children from skin infections.
Prevention and treatment are often similar for toddlers and babies. No matter what age your child is, consult with a pediatrician or pediatricdermatologist before deciding on a treatment plan.
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Is Baby Eczema Serious
Baby eczema can be mild, moderate, or severe. The severity of your child’s symptoms will determine how bothersome the eczema is and how much it affects their quality of life.
While its not usually a serious condition, severe eczema can be uncomfortable and may interfere with a childs sleep. Therefore, discussing your concerns with your doctor and working together to develop a treatment plan for your baby is always best.
Triggers Of Eczema Flare
- Soaps. Never use bubble bath. It can cause a major flare-up.
- Pollens. Keep your child from lying on the grass during grass pollen season.
- Animals. Avoid any animals that make the rash worse.
- Foods. If certain foods cause severe itching , avoid them.
- Wool. Avoid wool fibers and clothes made of other scratchy, rough materials.
- Dry Air. Use a humidifier if the air in your home is dry.
- Herpes Virus Infection . Keep your child away from anyone with fever blisters . The herpes virus can cause a serious skin infection in children with eczema.
- Eczema is not caused by laundry soap you use to wash clothing.
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Gently Apply A Cold Compress
For those swollen, red patches of skin that feel like theyre burning up, we recommend applying a damp, cool towel to the area.
Make sure you squeeze the towel or cloth until it no longer drips water. If your child can handle things on the icier side, soak the rag in the coldest water possible.
Leave the compress on the affected area for 30 seconds on and off until the swelling begins to subside.
When To Call A Doctor
Make the call if your babyâs eczema doesnât begin to get better within a week of starting over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams. It may be time for a prescription medicine.
Also check with your doctor if yellow or light brown crust or pus-filled blisters appear on top of the eczema. This could be the sign of a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics.
You should call your doctor if your baby is around anyone who has cold sores or genital herpes. Eczema can make your little one more likely to pick up those germs.
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What Caused My Babys Eczema
There is no single cause of atopic eczema. Eczema is a complex condition it is genetic but also involves an overactive immune response to environmental factors, which cause eczema flares. Because the atopic gene is hereditary, it runs in families, and is responsible for three conditions: eczema, asthma and hay fever.
Fifty per cent of people with eczema have an additional genetic element a difference in a skin protein called filaggrin which leads to further problems in the skin barrier. All atopic conditions can be linked to allergies in some people, but there are also many universal irritants, such as soap and heat.
Living With Dry Skin And Eczema
When my son, Ethan, turned 3 months old, he was diagnosed with eczema . Like any first-time mother, I was crushed as the eczema progressed and expanded over every part of his body. By his fourth month, he had severe eczema. Eczema is severe form of dry skin. Unlike traditional dry skin, eczema frequently has an underlying allergy — in Ethan’s case, a food allergy. Each doctor and specialist I saw prescribed the same thing: hydrocortisone cream. The cream would help some areas, but doctors didn’t recommended using it often or over Ethan’s full body because of its high potency.
I knew there had to be more I could do.
- Your Guide to Preventing Infant Eczema
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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.
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.
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What Causes Baby Eczema
A combination of genetic and environmental factors causes baby eczema. These factors include:
- Skin irritants and allergens: Several things in your babys environment can bother your childs skin. If your child has an allergy, symptoms of eczema can flare up on their skin. Common environmental irritants and allergens include fabrics, soaps and certain foods.
- Immune system reaction: Your babys immune system defends against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses that can make your child sick. If your baby has eczema, their immune system can overreact and confuse healthy skin cells and small irritants in your babys environment as a foreign invader. As a result, your babys immune system will attack your babys skin cells which can cause symptoms of eczema.
- Genetics: During conception, the egg and sperm cells meet to give your child the building blocks of their body, which are their genes. Sometimes, changes to your babys DNA happen , which can affect how your babys body functions and develops. An eczema diagnosis could cause a lack of proteins in your babys body that are responsible for maintaining their skins protective barrier. If your childs protective barrier in their skin isnt working as expected, they could experience symptoms of eczema.
Does Breast Milk Help Eczema
Breast milk is amazing!
For generations, moms have used their milk to treat various skin problems. However, the scientific community has recently been studying the powers of breast milk a bit more closely, and theyve discovered some promising results using breast milk on eczema.
In fact, preliminary studies suggest that breast milk may help improve eczema symptoms. If you want to try this natural remedy, apply some of your milk to a cotton ball. Then, apply it to the eczema patches on your babys skin.
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Protect Sensitive Skin With Long Pants And Long Sleeves
When your child wants to go outside to play, its important to protect their skin with long pants and long sleeves. This will keep environmental triggers like dirt, dust, and grass from irritating your little ones skin and causing a flare-up.
Be sure to apply an emollient product before dressing your child, and if its warm, choose soft, breathable clothes to prevent excessive sweating.
This same rule applies to their pajamas. When your child is bundled up in their blankets at night, they can easily become overheated if they go to sleep wearing tight pajamas. Sweating and overheating are major causes of eczema flare-ups, so dress your little one in loose, cotton pajamas so their skin can breathe.
We recommend our Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas. Designed for babies and toddlers with eczema-prone skin, these 100% cotton pajamas deliver skin-soothing moisture throughout the night!
Ways To Soothe Your Babys Eczema
When your baby is itchy and in pain, youll do anything to help her feel better. Four experts weigh in on what actually works.
Watching your baby wail in discomfort from red, irritated, eczema-flared skin can make you feel like youre at your wits end, so we asked experts for tips on how to get the itchy condition under control.
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Can You Get Rid Of Eczema
Unfortunately, there’s no way to make eczema go away entirely. It tends to come and go. Predicting flare-ups can be difficult. Kids do often outgrow some of their eczema, but they may have rashes or sensitive skin for life.
Our goal as dermatologists is to give you the tools and education to take care of eczema and make it less impactful on the life of your child.
Avoid Triggers And Treat Infection
Getting too hot from clothing or heating can make eczema worse – stay cool.
Avoid soap and fragrances
Soap and fragrances are the most common triggers of eczema. Only use skin care products designed for eczema. Many are available on prescription from your doctor or nurse prescriber.
Eczema is made worse by infection such as from:
- the cold sore virus which can cause severe painful infection of eczema
Avoid contact with cold sores. See your family doctor urgently if your child gets an infection from cold sores.
Find out more about school sores.
Removing foods from your child’s diet does not usually help eczema
Removing foods from your child’s diet does not usually help eczema and can be dangerous, leading to anaphylaxis.Please talk with your doctor about this.
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How Is Eczema Diagnosed
There is no specific test used to diagnose eczema. The doctor will look at the rash and ask about symptoms, the child’s past health, and the family’s health. If family members have any atopic conditions, that’s an important clue.
The doctor will rule out other conditions that can cause skin inflammation, and might recommend that your child see a dermatologist or an allergist.
The doctor may ask you to ban some foods from your child’s diet, switch detergents or soaps, or make other changes for a time to see if your child is reacting to something.
Relieving Itchy Painful Eczema
While your child is on a journey to address their eczema flare-ups, we know there may be moments when their skin is uncomfortable and unmanageable in the meantime. All they want is some relief!
Here are some ideas for how to soothe and nourish your childs skin at home when their eczema is making them uncomfortable.
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As Many As 1 In 5 Children Suffer From Eczema In The Uk
Eczema is a common condition that plagues thousands of people in the UK, including children and babies. And whilst it can be painful to experience it yourself, it can be even more difficult to see someone you love struggle to cope with their skin condition – especially when the sufferer is a child. When it comes to finding a cure, no two patients are the same – what works for one may not work for another, and it doesnt help that the internet is full of contrasting advice and ‘miraculous’ promises. We dont have a one-size-fits-all answer here, either. But, as its National Eczema Week, weve asked real people, real parents, and an expert dermatologist for their recommendations.
How Often Should I Bathe My Baby
If your baby has eczema, a daily bath with an emollient will help soothe the eczema and reduce dry skin and itching, while cleansing the skin, removing dirt and repairing the skin barrier. Use leave-on emollients instead of soaps, baby washes or bubble bath, or alternatively use emollient wash products or bath additives. Avoid any perfumed products and keep the water tepid, as heat can aggravate eczema.
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Teach Your Child To Avoid Or Cope With Stressful Situations
Stress can cause flare-ups just like environmental triggers can, so you should teach your child to avoid or cope with stressful situations whenever possible. When major changes in your childs life occurfirst time at daycare, starting preschool or kindergarten, a move to a different townbe sure to reassure your child that everything is going to be okay.
If necessary, teach your child some coping techniques such as deep breathing or visualization. These will help your little one deal with the inevitable stresses that they will encounter throughout life.
Other Types Of Eczema
Eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin.
Other types of eczema include:
- discoid eczema a type of eczema that occurs in circular or oval patches on the skin
- contact dermatitis a type of eczema that occurs when the body comes into contact with a particular substance
- varicose eczema a type of eczema that most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins
- seborrhoeic eczema a type of eczema where red, scaly patches develop on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears and scalp
- dyshidrotic eczema a type of eczema that causes tiny blisters to erupt across the palms of the hands
Page last reviewed: 05 December 2019 Next review due: 05 December 2022
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