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How Common Is Eczema In Babies

Does My Child Have Eczema

Baby Eczema – Causes, Signs and Treatment

Eczema can look different at different ages:

  • Babies usually have a rash on their face and neck which may weep and crust.
  • Children often have a dry rash, characteristically in the creases of knees and elbows, around the mouth, neck, wrists and ankles.
  • From age 12, the it may be more widespread and severe.

When the skin is red, dry and itchy, it is known as a ‘flare-up’. It is common for the severity of eczema to change, sometimes it is very mild and other times it gets worse. Between flare-ups, people with eczema tend to have dry sensitive skin.

See your doctor to diagnose your child’s rash, as other skin conditions can look similar to eczema. Your doctor will examine the rash, ask you about how and when it began, and ask whether other family members have noticed a similar rash. This is because while not contagious, eczema may have a genetic basis and does tend to run in families. A child with eczema often has one or more relative with eczema or a related condition, such as asthma, hay fever or allergic conjunctivitis.

Washing Bathing/ Showering With Eczema

Washing helps treat eczema skin by removing dry skin and any build-up of emollients, reducing bacterial levels on the skin and softening the skin ready for the application of emollients and/or steroids. Soaps and detergents can be very irritant to the skin in eczema and cause it to worsen. It is recommended to use a soap substitute in place of standard soap, cleansing products for hand washing, bathing and showering.

The following tips can help to reduce any discomfort to the skin when bathing or showering

Tips for bathing/ showering

  • Water alone is very drying on the skin so using a soap substitute when washing showering or bathing including adding a bath oil or emollient to the water is important.

*Caution Emollients and oils can make the bath or shower environment slippery for a baby or child so be careful.

  • Bath water should be tepid/ luke warm , as heat is a common trigger for eczema and having the bath water too hot may trigger the itch scratch cycle.
  • Skin should be patted dry rather than rubbed dry to prevent any further damage and stimulating the itch scratch cycle.
  • Use a separate towel for the individual with eczema that has not been used by the rest of the household so there is no soap residue on the towel.
  • Even with the addition of a bath oil or emollient wash product, emollients need to be applied after bathing to trap moisture in and prevent dryness.

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.

Read Also: What Foods Can Cause Eczema To Flare Up

Treating Eczema In Babies And Toddlers

Eczema is not contagious. You cant catch it from someone else.

For most types of eczema, including atopic eczema, managing flares comes down to these basics:

  • Know your childs particular triggers to avoid exposure
  • Implement a daily bathing and moisturizing routine to protect skin and lock in moisture
  • Useover-the-counter and prescription medication consistently and as prescribed to curb symptoms

There is no cure for eczema but there are treatments and more are coming. These include OTC remedies, prescription topical medications, phototherapy, and immunosuppressants.

Eczema, especially atopic dermatitis , may look and act very differently as your child gets older. Its important to understand which type of eczema they may have and their symptoms and triggers so that you can better treat and manage it as they grow and change. The only way to be sure what type of eczema your child has is to make an appointment with your doctor.

What Causes Eczema In Infants And Children

Eczema  Atopic Dermatitis  Skin Problems

Eczema is brought about by the complex interplay of a genetic predisposition and the childs environment. Many things from the climate to possible allergens can cause eczema to flare. We know that eczema tends to run in the families with a predisposition to other atopic diseases, such as food allergies, asthma and hay fever. Individuals with atopic dermatitis may lack certain proteins in the skin, which leads to greater sensitivity. Parents with eczema are more likely to have children with eczema. However, the exact way it passes from parents to children is still not known. Most children who have eczema will show signs of the condition in the first year of life. It tends to wax and wane in severity.

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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.

What Causes Eczema In Babies

Our skin serves as a barrier to protect us from the things around us. When someone has eczema, some parts of that protective barrier arenât working properly. This can make the skin more likely to become dry and irritated.

Eczema isnât caused by one single thing. Eczema comes from the influence of the environment we are living in, and how that environment affects the cells of our bodies.

There is a genetic aspect to eczema. It is one of those conditions we often see run in a family across generations. It is also known that kids with eczema are more likely to have foodborne allergies and allergic conditions like asthma. Food allergies, however, do not cause eczema.

Unlike other rashes that you may have seen or heard about, eczema is not contagious. There is no risk of getting eczema from another person.

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Food Allergy And Atopic Eczema

Less than 10% of children with atopic eczema have food allergy or food intolerance as exacerbating factors

Food allergy may be IgE mediated, giving an immediate reaction

Food allergy may be a late phase reaction, as proved by atopy patch tests

Food intolerance to ingested chemicals such as colourings may occur and are not immunologically mediated

Exclusion diets are helpful in a small proportion of children with atopic eczema.

What Does Eczema Look Like

Mayo Clinic Minute: What to Do if Your Baby has Eczema

In babies with paler skin, when eczema is flaring the skin is red and itchy. In babies with darker skin, the irritated, itchy areas may be red but are more likely to show as darker patches. They may also appear paler around the front or back of knees or elbows.

When an area of darker skin is treated for eczema, it may become lighter and may take several months to return to the babys normal skin tone.

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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.

Skin Irritants In Skincare Products

Common allergens often show up in skincare products, too, including the food allergens listed above and harsh chemicals and contaminants. When looking for creams for baby eczema, make sure these ingredients are on your no-no list : Cocamidopropyl betaine, ALL sulfates , synthetic fragrances, parabens and chemical active ingredients in sunscreens .

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Eczema

  • if your child has eczema, their skin feels dry and rough to touch, and it is itchy
  • their skin can become inflamed , and may even get infected , particularly with scratching
  • in babies, the rash often involves their face
  • in older children, the skin in the creases of their knees and elbows, around their neck and on their hands is often affected
  • in some children, the skin over their entire body is affected
  • at times your child’s skin will look good and at other times it gets worse – this is part of eczema and not necessarily caused by bad care

What Does Baby Eczema Look Like

Eczema or Infant Acne? How To Tell The Difference

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.

Itâs 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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Can You Cure It Or Prevent It From Happening

There is no cure for eczema, and there are no certain ways to prevent eczema from making its first appearance. The Mayo Clinic reports on some evidence that taking probiotics during pregnancy, as well as breast-feeding and using petroleum jelly products on your babyâs skin after birth may reduce the risk of the eczema rash from developing, but research is still inconclusive.The good news is that while atopic dermatitis canât be cured, most children tend to outgrow it at some point, often before the age of four. And for those few who continue to have eczema throughout their lives, there are many treatments to help control and manage flare-ups.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do

  • Avoid irritants such as soaps and synthetic clothing. Recently, it has been found that many natural remedies have irritants within them. You should consult your doctor before using any such products.
  • Breast-feed exclusively for the first four months of life, if possible, as it has been shown to protect against the occurrence of eczema.5
  • Allergy testing is occasionally needed if your doctor suspects an underlying cause of the skin irritation.
  • Short nails can reduce the severity of your babys scratching and reduce the chance of infection.

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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.

What Can Caregivers Do

Mayo Clinic Minute: Protecting babies from eczema risk

When treating eczema, caregivers need to follow the treatment plan and try to reduce symptoms in the child. Equally, they should remain vigilant for any skin infections, monitor the childs condition, and schedule doctors appointments as necessary.

However, this can be stressful for caregivers. A 2020 study highlights that many experience sleep disturbance, exhaustion, worry, and social isolation relating to their childs atopic dermatitis. Following treatment regimens, coordinating appointments, and communicating with insurance can create time and financial pressures.

This highlights the need for caregivers to seek support and advice for both emotional and physical well-being.

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When To Speak With A Doctor

It is advisable to speak with a doctor if symptoms become more severe or if it is difficult to manage the condition at home. If eczema is beginning to impact a childs everyday life, such as disrupting sleep or there are frequent infections from scratching their skin, a parent caregiver can consider contacting a doctor.

Is Milk Or Food Allergy A Problem And Should I Make Any Changes To My Babys Diet

Dietary allergy can occur in any child usually between three months and two years of age. Babies with eczema have a slightly higher risk of allergy, but lots of babies with eczema have no milk or other food allergy.

A baby with an immediate allergic reaction may have a sudden flare of eczema, become very itchy or start to wheeze, while a baby with a delayed reaction is more likely to have colic, reflux, vomiting and reluctance to feed.

If you think your baby has a food allergy, keep a diary, note any reactions, and ask for a referral to a paediatric dermatologist or allergist.

The vast majority of food allergy is limited to nine food groups: milk, egg, peanut, soya, wheat, tree nuts, sesame, shellfish and kiwi. Diagnosing food allergy in children up to the age of three is based on a history of symptoms. Treatment involves avoiding the food and then gradually reintroducing it. The only exceptions are peanut and shellfish as these are lifelong allergies.

Whatever happens, dont change your babys diet unless youve been advised to by a healthcare professional, as this may affect your babys growth and development.

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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.

What Triggers My Childs Eczema Or Causes It To Get Worse

Baby With Severe Eczema Has To Wait A Year For Treatment

Some of the most common eczema triggers include:

Even your babys stuffed animals may be a trigger for eczema

  • 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.

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What Else Is Happening At Johns Hopkins Today

We go out of our way to provide the comprehensive care our patients with eczema need. On a case-by-case basis, we communicate with one another whether in allergy, dermatology, psychology or infectious disease to put together the best course of treatment for each child.We are optimistic that future therapies and approaches to care for those with even severe eczema are going to be greatly improved with more research and that the creation of the Eczema Day Treatment Unit will help us conduct cutting edge research and answer questions we face every day seeing and treating patients.

How To Tell If Your Baby Has Acne Or Eczema

Based purely on how each looks, baby acne, and eczema can appear pretty similar. They both can cause redness and inflammation to the skin, and they both often occur in common places like the face.

Telling the difference between acne and eczema is more about knowing the characteristics of each like the timing and symptoms.


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How Reducing Indoor Allergens Can Ease Your Eczema Symptoms

Eczema usually isnt a persistent condition, but rather one marked by long symptom-free periods followed by flare-ups.

Various environmental factors may cause the immune system to respond as if the body has encountered a harmful substance, resulting in inflammation and worsening eczema symptoms.

  • Pet dander, pollen, mold, and dust mites
  • Allergenic foods
  • Clothing made of wool or synthetic fibers
  • Cigarette smoke

Theres no cure for baby eczema, but the condition usually becomes less severe over time.

Treatment focuses on managing skin dryness to prevent flare-ups and on reducing skin inflammation.

Will Eczema Hurt My Baby

Food allergies and eczema in children

Eczema itself doesnât present a true danger to your baby. The dryness or itchy skin can, however, be unpleasant enough to make them irritable or disrupt their sleep.

Although eczema itself is not dangerous, it is important to note that sometimes a patch of eczema can become infected, especially if your child is itchy and scratching or rubbing their skin. If an infection occurs the area may appear honey-colored, or have a yellow crust with oozing from the crusty patches.

Areas of skin that are crusting and oozing should be looked at by a doctor for professional medical advice.

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