Eczema In Babies And Young Children
Eczema is the most common chronic skin disease in children, sometimes starting as early as infancy. If one or both parents have a history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever, your little one is more likely to develop eczema.
About 6 out of 10 people with eczema will see symptoms before their 1st birthday.
One Year Old With Eczema
You can help reduce your childs discomfort by:
- keeping their fingernails short to reduce the damage to their skin from scratching
- washing them with aqueous cream instead of soap ask your pharmacist about aqueous creams and always follow the instructions on the product
- using non-biological detergent and a double rinse cycle when washing their clothes or bedding
- avoiding herbal, natural or alternative creams these can make eczema worse, as they may contain bacteria or high doses of steroids
- rinsing and drying them well after swimming
- dressing them in cool, breathable fabrics like cotton
- keeping them away from anyone with a cold sore as the cold sore virus can cause eczema to become infected
- using extra moisturiser on areas your child scratches a lot
- avoiding anything you know that causes your childs eczema to get worse
Around 6 out of 10 children with eczema will grow out of it by the time theyre teenagers.
What You Need To Know
Symptoms of eczema in babies and children are similar to those seen in adults. Marked by red, itchy and inflamed skin, especially on the face, as well as the creases of the elbows and legs, infant eczema usually has the same causes and triggers as adult eczema.1 However, the sensitive nature of young skin can require additional precautions to help prevent flare-ups. The best first step for managing baby eczema is talking to your pediatrician or dermatologist, who will likely recommend specially-formulated washes, lotions, creams or other products to help keep the skin moisturized. Other ingredients such as ceramides that help maintain baby’s delicate skin barrier and calming ingredients such as niacinamide can be helpful as well.2
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What Should I Do If My Babys Eczema Gets Worse
If your baby has wet, weepy skin and their eczema is not getting better with steroids, their skin may be infected and they may need antibiotics. If your babys eczema flare does not get better with the standard treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence , your GP should refer them to a dermatology specialist. If they suspect an allergy, they should refer them to an allergist or joint dermatologyallergy clinic.
How Long Does Baby Eczema Last
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while some babies may continue to experience eczema through adulthood, many will outgrow it around age 4.
Baby eczema may also evolve as your little one gets older. According to the National Eczema Association, it might appear on babys face in early infanthood but pop up in key areas like the knees, elbows and hands as they get older. As they approach big-kid territory, eczema often hides in knee folds or elbow creases and other sweat-prone spots.
Whether eczema is an acute or perpetual problem for your child, its reassuring to know that there are many baby eczema treatments and preventive measures you can take to reduce the symptoms and alleviate the itch.
No one likes to see their baby in discomfortand the appearance of any rash can be disconcerting. But if you recognize eczema, you can rest assured that its common and treatable.
About the experts:
Anna Bender, MD, is a pediatric dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian in New York City. She received her medical degree at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Latanya Benjamin, MD, FAAD, FAAP, is a Florida-based pediatric dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon and Society for Pediatric Dermatology board member. She earned her medical degree at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Plus, more from The Bump:
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Roasted Beets And Sweet Potatoes
Both beets and sweet potatoes are great foods for healing eczema. You can make this Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes by Know Your Produce in place of traditional breakfast potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes contain alkalizing potassium, the antioxidant beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium and histamine-lowering vitamin C.
Beets also have strong alkalizing properties, and is rich in antioxidants, folic acid and iron.
To make this recipe suitable for The Eczema Diet Stage 1, leave out the onion powder and use rice bran oil. Add in some spring onions or shallots instead.
Causes Of Atopic Eczema
The exact cause of atopic eczema is unknown, but it’s clear it is not down to one single thing.
Atopic eczema often occurs in people who get allergies. “Atopic” means sensitivity to allergens.
The symptoms of atopic eczema often have certain triggers, such as soaps, detergents, stress and the weather.
Sometimes food allergies can play a part, especially in young children with severe eczema.
You may be asked to keep a food diary to try to determine whether a specific food makes your symptoms worse.
Allergy tests are not usually needed, although they’re sometimes helpful in identifying whether a food allergy may be triggering symptoms.
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Progression Of Eczema In Infants And Children
Baby eczema is most prominent on the cheeks, forehead, and scalp of an infant within the first few months of life, and often tends to make the skin look more red and weepy than at other ages.
The eczema can appear on other parts of the body as well, including the diaper area.
When the infant begins to crawl, usually between 6 and 12 months, eczema will typically affect the elbows and knees, which rub on the ground. The eczema rash can become infected, resulting in a yellowish crust or tiny bumps of pus.
When the child is around age 2, eczema may begin to appear on the inside of the elbows and behind the knees, as well as on the wrists, ankles, and hands. It may also appear around the mouth and eyelids.
This eczema tends to be drier, scalier, and thicker .
What Does Baby Eczema Look Like
Eczema doesn’t look the same on every baby. In babies with light skin, it usually shows up as patches of red skin. In darker-skinned babies, the rash might look purplish, brownish, or grayish. Eczema can be harder to see on babies with dark skin.
These patches are almost always dry, itchy, and rough.
Babies can get the condition just about anywhere on their body. Most often, it affects their cheeks and the joints of their arms and legs.
Its easy to confuse baby eczema with cradle cap. But there are some key differences.
Cradle cap is much less itchy and irritated. It generally clears up by age 8 months and usually appears on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyelids and eyebrows, and behind the ears. See a photo of what cradle cap looks like.
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What Triggers My Childs Eczema Or Causes It To Get Worse
Some of the most common eczema triggers include:
Even your babys stuffed animals may be a trigger for eczema
- Dry skin
- Allergens such as pet dander, pollen or dust
Your childs eczema may be worse in the winter when the air is dry. Saliva from drooling can also cause irritation on your babys cheeks, chin and neck.
The best way to manage your childs eczema is by getting to know their symptoms and triggers so that you can help keep it under control.
What Can Make It Worse
Each baby is different. But there are some common eczema triggers to avoid, including:
Dry skin. It can make a baby’s skin itchier. Low humidity, especially during winter when homes are well-heated and the air is dry, is a cause.
Irritants. Think scratchy wool clothes, polyester, perfumes, body soaps, and laundry soaps. These can all trigger symptoms.
Stress. Children with eczema may react to stress by flushing. That can lead to itchy, irritated skin. And that, in turn, ramps up their eczema symptoms.
Heat and sweat. Both can make the itch of infant eczema worse.
Allergens. Its not certain, but some experts believe that removing cows milk, peanuts, eggs, or certain fruits from a childs food may help control eczema symptoms. Remember that your baby can get exposed to these foods if their mother eats them before they breastfeed. Find out the connection between food and eczema flares.
New Innovations In The Treatment Of Eczema In Children
Tacrolimus ointment this is an investigational ointment currently being tested in the U.S. for the treatment of eczema. It suppresses the part of the immune system that is responsible for the eczema rash and itching. This ointment is showing great promise, and will hopefully be available soon. It appears to be just as effective as steroid creams but does not have many of the side effects that the steroids have.
Managing Babys Eczema: Bathing
Daily bathing and moisturizing is essential to managing baby eczema. Never skip a bath!
Babys compromised skin barrier makes it easy for moisture to escape from the skin, which can lead to dryness and flare-ups. But giving baby a daily bath, and moisturizing them regularly, helps keep that moisture from escaping.
National Jewish Health shares more on why a daily bath is so essential for baby eczema care:
The best way to bathe eczema babies, and stop dryness and flares, is with the soak and seal method. In the soak and seal method, you bathe your baby daily, then apply moisturizer right after the bath.
Follow these steps for the best way to give a soak and seal eczema bath:
Use The Right Temperature Water
Use warm water, not hot water. Keep the water temperature between 97 and 98.6 for the most comfortable bath.
- Water thats too hot for babys skin may make flare-ups worse.
- Also, repeated hot baths can make babies skin dry out more, compared to adult skin. Your babys skin hasnt fully developed, so its more sensitive.
- Buying and using a bath thermometer is helpful for checking the water temperature.
Use Unscented Body Wash, Not Soap
Mild liquid body wash is the best way to cleanse your babys skin.
- This type of cleanser doesnt dry out the skin, because it doesnt affect the skins PH.
- Make sure the wash is unscented, mild, fragrance-free and dye-free
Stay away from soaps.
Have Baby Soak For The Right Time
Gently, Partially Dry Baby
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Food Allergy And Eczema Flare
- Food allergies are a factor in 30% of young children with severe eczema. This factor is mainly seen in babies.
- The main allergic foods are cow’s milk and eggs.
- The main symptoms are increased skin redness and itching. Some parents report these symptoms start during or soon after the feeding.
- The eczema becomes easier to control if you avoid the allergic food.
Is A Cure Or Better Treatment For Eczema On The Horizon
Without a cure on the near horizon, we here at Johns Hopkins are creating an Eczema Day Treatment Unit to help our patients with moderate to severe eczema keep their symptoms under control and prevent flare-ups. We anticipate that this novel, multidisciplinary program will include experts from Child Life, behavioral psychology, allergy, dermatology and infectious diseases to provide the comprehensive care these children need care that cannot be provided in an average clinic visit.
A primary goal of the day treatment unit will be education children and their families will learn techniques such as wet-wrap therapy, to help deeply moisturize the skin. This therapy involves coating the skin with a topical ointment, followed by a greasy ointment like petroleum jelly, then dressing in wet pajamas, followed by dry pajamas, allowing the skin to soak in the moisture.
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What Does Baby And Toddler Eczema Look Like
In addition to persistent itching, baby eczema causes redness and a rash-like appearance. The skin can become very dry or scaly and develop crusted or oozing blister-like lesions. Baby eczema and eczema in children most often appears first on the face, elbows and knees since these spots are easy to scratch and exposed to friction while crawling. Infant eczema can spread to other parts of the body, but is rarely seen in the diaper area because of the extra moisture. As children age, eczema can develop inside the elbows, on the hands, behind the ears, on the feet and scalp. However, its important to keep in mind that symptoms of eczema in babies and children can vary from case to case, so it is best to consult your dermatologist or pediatrician if you believe your child may have eczema.1
Instructions To Soak And Seal
Dont limit moisturizing to just bath time. Slather it on your child throughout the day whenever their skin starts to itch or feel dry. Try using an ointment or a cream rather than a lotion and apply it with your palms, stroking lightly in a downward direction.
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Does Your Baby Have Eczema
If someone in your immediate family has allergic tendencies, eczema may be the first sign that your baby shares that tendency, too, says pediatrician Chris Tolcher, MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.
Eczema can start as early as your baby’s second month. Symptoms can be mild and barely noticeable, or itchy and intense. Know the signs of baby eczema, how to treat it, and what eczema treatments to avoid.
Baby Eczema: Top Tips For Treatment
Eczema, sometimes called infantile eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammation of the outer layers of skin. The condition most often appears in children, though many outgrow it as they get older. For more severe cases of eczema, here are seven tips for treatment:
1. Avoid triggers.The problem with eczema is that skin is easily irritated, so “the main treatment is avoiding irritants,” Tolcher tells WebMD. Triggers that may irritate your baby’s eczema include:
– Dry air
– Heat and sweating
2. Avoid scented products. What irritates eczema varies with each baby, says Tolcher, but start by avoiding fragrances in all products that touch baby’s skin, including soaps, shampoos, and lotions. Opt instead for mild body soaps or soap-free cleansers such as Aquaphor Gentle Wash, Basis, Cetaphil, Dove, or Eucerin. Also avoid perfumed laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets, and select “baby friendly detergents” such as All Free and Clear, Dreft, Ivory Snow, and Purex.
3. Moisturize. Moisturizing is the foundation of healthy skin for people with eczema, says California dermatologist Wendy E. Robert, MD. You can soothe your baby’s eczema symptoms by moisturizing skin at least two or three times daily, using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic product. Look for oil-based ointments. These help lock in moisture better than lotions, which contain more water.
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How To Use Baby Eczema Cream
Follow your doctor’s orders or read the instructions as each cream may have set guidelines for maximum results. If you are using a baby eczema prevention cream, you can add it to your baby daily hygiene routine. Their skin can get dried out right after a bath so that is the best time to apply eczema treatment.
If you are using a baby eczema cream treatment, everything depends on the severity. If its mild eczema, your baby will need a light eczema cream, with a low-strength steroid for a short period. However, if its intense eczema, your babys doctor will recommend a stronger baby eczema cream for you to apply for a longer time. Again, you should use any baby eczema cream following your baby’s doctor’s recommendations.
When To Seek Medical Advice
See a GP if you have symptoms of atopic eczema. They’ll usually be able to diagnose atopic eczema by looking at your skin and asking questions, such as:
- whether the rash is itchy and where it appears
- when the symptoms first began
- whether it comes and goes over time
- whether there’s a history of atopic eczema in your family
- whether you have any other conditions, such as allergies or asthma
- whether something in your diet or lifestyle may be contributing to your symptoms
Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema you should have had an itchy skin condition in the last 12 months and 3 or more of the following:
- visibly irritated red skin in the creases of your skin such as the insides of your elbows or behind your knees at the time of examination by a health professional
- a history of skin irritation occurring in the same areas mentioned above
- generally dry skin in the last 12 months
- a history of asthma or hay fever children under 4 must have an immediate relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, who has 1 of these conditions
- the condition started before the age of 2
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