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
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.
How To Tell If Your Child Has Eczema
Is it just a rash, or is it a more serious skin condition? Dermatologist Dr. Anna Kirkorian shares four ways you can spot signs of eczema on your child.
Kids get skin rashes from time to time, so when your little one has red patches on their face, how do you know if its eczema or another skin condition such as heat rash, acne or hives? Dermatologist Dr. Anna Kirkorian shares four ways you can spot signs of eczema on your child.
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What You Can Do
You can help reduce your child’s 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 they’re teenagers.
The Atopic March Food Allergies And Eczema
Eczema and food allergies are very closely related. They are both considered allergic conditions, and they are both part of a progression known as the atopic march.
What is the atopic march? According to the atopic march, children with one allergic condition are at increased risk for others, and allergic conditions often appear in a certain order. In other words, one condition usually marches in front of the other, in a fairly predictable lineup.
Eczema comes before food allergies in the atopic march. This means babies usually develop eczema before food allergies, and babies with eczema are at the highest risk for food allergies.
But even though food allergies and eczema are closely related, and even though some symptoms may look similar, eczema rash is not the same as a food allergy reaction.
Food allergy rashes appear as raised bumps, which look different from the red, scaly rash of eczema. Learn more about how to tell the difference between a food allergy reaction and an eczema flare-up.
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Help Your Child Avoid Personal Irritants
Some substances can irritate skin and start the cycle of itching and scratching. If you notice that your child’s eczema gets worse after being exposed to something, help your child avoid it. Irritants are not the same for all children. If a common trigger does not bother your child, there is no reason to avoid it. Here are some examples of possible triggers that can cause eczema flare-ups in some children.
Perfumes and fragrances, including the skin care and bathing products that contain them
Bath salts or bubble baths
Rough clothing, including wool fabrics
Temperature extremes, including hot and cold, dry air
Children with eczema often have more bacteria on their skin. Even when it does not cause an infection, the bacteria can make the skin more irritated and can make the eczema worse, so keeping clean is important.
Babies and children with eczema are also prone to skin infections. Infections make the eczema even worse and need to be treated by a doctor. An oral antibiotic, antibiotic cream or very small amount of bleach added to bath water might be prescribed. Bleach should not be added to bath water without guidance from your child’s doctor. Signs of possible infection include: increased pain, tenderness or swelling, hot skin, fever, pus, or red streaks extending from the affected skin.
Foods that are not allergens
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 Doesnt Cause Eczema
Eczema is not contagious. You can’t catch eczema by coming in contact with someone who has it.
Eczema is not an allergic reaction. Even so, a large number of children who have eczema also have food allergies. That doesn’t mean that certain foods such as dairy, eggs, and nuts — common food allergy triggers in children with eczema — cause it or make it worse. Before removing particular foods from your child’s diet, talk with your doctor to be sure your child’s nutritional needs will be met.
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.
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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 baby’s skin hasn’t 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 baby’s skin.
- This type of cleanser doesnt dry out the skin, because it doesnt affect the skin’s PH.
- Make sure the wash is unscented, mild, fragrance-free and dye-free
Stay away from soaps.
Scrub With Care
Have Baby Soak For The Right Time
Gently, Partially Dry Baby
Is Eczema Different For Infants Or Toddlers Than It Is For Older Children
A painful, itchy rash on a babys face, torso or body may be eczema
Eczema looks and acts differently in infants and toddlers than it does in older children. The location and appearance of eczema changes as they grow, so its important to know what to look for during every stage of your infant or toddlers life.
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How Is Atopic Dermatitis Treated In A Child
Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. There is no cure for atopic dermatitis. The goals of treatment are to ease itching and inflammation, add moisture, and prevent infection.
Treatment of atopic dermatitis includes:
Staying away from irritants, as advised by your child’s healthcare provider
Bathing with a gentle cleaner or body wash advised by the healthcare provider
Keeping your child’s fingernails short, to help prevent scratching that can cause skin irritation and infection
Using moisturizing lotion advised by the healthcare provider
Your child’s healthcare provider may also prescribe medicines. They may be used alone or together. The following are most commonly used to treat atopic dermatitis:
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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Indications Of Atopic Eczema In Babies
- Itchiness is a strong factor but babies tend to rub more than scratch. Look out for redness in the forehead and the wrists as well as cracking and breaking of the skin.
- A dry skin is very indicative of atopic eczema.
- If the eczema is infected it will be weeping and oozing and there may be yellow/brown crusting.
At What Age Do They Start
Eczema usually starts in babies or young children. Often, symptoms improve when a kid becomes a grown-up.
It’s less common, but possible, to get it as an adult. When that happens, it’s usually because you have another condition like thyroid disease, hormone changes, or stress.
Psoriasis, on the other hand, usually shows up between ages 15 and 35. But you can get it at other ages too. It’s rare for a baby to have it.
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Eczema And Food Allergy Risk
Babies with eczema are at sharply increased risk for developing a food allergy. In fact, babies who have eczema are at the highest risk for developing a food allergy in the future.
According to Dr. Jonathan Spergel, Board Certified Allergist and Member of the National Eczema Association Scientific Advisory Committee, Up to 67% of infants with severe eczema, and 25% of infants with mild eczema, will develop a food allergy.
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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What To Do About Itching
Try to keep your baby from scratching their itchy skin. Scratching can make the rash worse, lead to an infection, and cause the irritated skin to get thicker and more leathery.
Trim their nails 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. View a slideshow to get more eczema skin care tips.
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.
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Eczema Or Just Dry Skin
Eczema can start as dry skin, but its more than dryness, says Dr. Tamburro. Its a red, extremely itchy rash that can ooze or become even more red and itchy when scratched. Sometimes scratching can cause the rash to bleed, crust and scale over.
Eczema can appear anywhere on the body, she says, but location often changes with age. Its usually on the:
- Face and scalp in infants.
- Arms and legs in toddlers.
- Elbows, wrists, creases of hands, knees, ankles, feet and neck in teens and adults.
While dry skin can trigger flares, so can environmental factors, including:
- Allergens, like pollen and pets.
- Skin irritants, like laundry detergents, dyes, fragrances and other chemicals.
- Clothing fabrics.
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.
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How Can You Prevent Baby Eczema
If your baby has contact dermatitis, you can try your best to prevent a flare-up by identifying and avoiding common triggers, which might include:
- Moisture . Dress your baby in lightweight cotton clothing. Gently pat drool away when you see it.
- Scratchy fabrics. In addition to clothes and rugs, even your babys stuffed animals can trigger eczema.
- Allergens. Think pet dander, pollen or dust.
- Harsh detergents and soaps. Consider using a sensitive detergent when washing babys clothes and crib sheets.
What Do I Do If My Baby Has Eczema
Eczema can be frustrating and uncomfortable, especially for babies delicate skin. While there is no cure for baby eczema, there are effective treatments that can relieve symptoms by addressing the source of the problem.
CLn BodyWash is a gentle cleanser designed by a physician and safe for babies who are at least six months of age. This proven product clinically helps clean away contaminants and microbes that can lead to irritation and skin infection. The patented formula contains active sodium hypochlorite, a substance used to clean food, to purify water, and now to cleanse the skin of harmful allergens and microbes to promote healing safely and effectively. Unlike lotions, which are left on the skin and may seal in eczema-triggering germs, CLn BodyWash washes these germs away, leaving the skin clean, soft, and less likely to develop further eczema symptoms.
When our babies have uncomfortable symptoms, we want to help them feel better as soon as possible. We can choose products that work at the source for faster and more effective yet still gentle and safe relief. Think Clinically Clean with CLn, the first step in fighting skin concerns. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. Were always happy to help.
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