Summary Tips: Dos And Donts To Control Your Baby’s Eczema
- Moisturize your babys skin throughout the day to keep it soft and hydrated.
- Use lukewarm water for bath time and soak bath with oatmeal.
- Wash your clothes with fragrance and enzyme-free laundry detergents.
- Double-rinse your clothing to remove any soap residue.
- Choose cotton for bed linens and clothing.
- Put a humidifier in babys room to keep air moist.
What You Can Do
We cant cure eczema, but its absolutely a controllable disease, stresses Weinstein. Experts recommend a daily 15-minute soak in a warm, water-only bath, which will add moisture back to the skin. Avoid hot water, harsh soaps and bubble baths, which can irritate the skin, causing itchiness, redness and kick off an eczema flare-up. Use plain water to wash all but the visibly soiled areas, like the hands, feet and diaper area. On those, use a gentle, non-irritating soap or cleanser.
When your kid gets out of the bath, gently pat away excess water just until the skin is damp, and generously apply a thick, unscented, non-irritating moisturizing cream to seal in the water. Shore up that replacement barrier by reapplying the lotion two or three more times a day.
While coating a wiggly, fussy baby in greasy cream can be a struggle at first, its one of the keys to controlling your kids eczema, and it gets easier with practice. After his bath, when Nathan was still on the changing table, wed coat him with moisturizer, Cresswell-Melville says. We also got into the habit of applying it every time we changed his diaper.
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.
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.
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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.
Eczema: From Childhood To Adulthood
Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, 17% of Canadians will have it at some point in their life. The onset of symptoms often occurs in the very first months of life, when the skin fails to protect itself from its environment. This type of eczema affects many children before the age of five. Fortunately, flare-ups become less frequent and subside over the years, and generally disappear during puberty. The earlier eczema is treated in toddlers, the better chance of preventing it from continuing over time. In some cases, however, atopic dermatitis persists into adulthood. Even though it is not contagious, eczema can be inherited and triggered by an outside factor, such as the sun, pollution or stress.
Some people are affected by contact eczema, an inflammation caused by direct contact with an irritant or chemicals like soaps, detergents, perfumes, solvents, nickel, etc. More fragile skin has difficulty protecting itself from external stimuli.
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Know Your Childs Eczema Triggers
Regardless of the type of eczema your child has, there are certain things and environmental conditions that make it suddenly appear where it wasnt before or make a relatively calm patch suddenly worse. These are called flare-ups.
Things that trigger eczema flare-ups are not the same for everyone, but the most common are stressful situations, dry air, and sweat. Keep in mind that your childs triggers may change over the years, so be on the lookout for new challenges as they grow. Here are some triggers to watch for:
How Can Good Eczema Control Help Prevent Food Allergy
Since healthy skin acts as a barrier, it also helps prevent substances like food allergens from getting into the body through the skin. Healthy skin helps protect the immune system from being exposed to food allergens. When your child’s eczema is under good control, your child’s skin is better at preventing food allergens from getting in.
New research suggests that when your child’s skin is scratched open, food allergens can get into the body more easily to make contact with the immune system. Direct contact between open skin and food, such as peanuts, may increase the chance that an allergy will develop to that food. The immune system may be more prone to developing a food allergy if the first exposures to the food are through scratched open skin.
The opposite may be true if the immune system is first introduced to the food by eating it. If the first exposure to a food is through the digestive tract, the immune system may more likely tolerate the food.
For more information about controlling eczema, please refer to the section on the next page called: How can I help control my child’s eczema?
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Ways To Relieve Itchy Eczema At Home
Apply a cool compress to itchy skin. To use this technique, you:
Telling your child to stop scratching itchy skin rarely works.
Eczema is just too itchy, and telling your child to stop scratching can feel stressful. Stress often makes eczema worse.
Add colloidal oatmeal to your childs bath. Youll find colloidal oatmeal at many places that sell health and beauty products. When you add this to your childs bath, it helps relieve the dry, itchy skin.
When using colloidal oatmeal, dermatologists recommend:
Dont let your child eat the finely ground oatmeal.
Colloidal oatmeal makes the bath very slippery, so take care to prevent a slip or fall.
Soak in a bath and smear on ointment. After letting your child soak in a lukewarm bath, smear a thick layer of moisturizing ointment on all of your childs skin. When the skin is very itchy, using an eczema friendly ointment like petroleum jelly provides more relief than a cream or lotion.
Minimize Contact With Irritants
Aside from natural remedies, some preventive care can also help ease eczema. For instance, many commonly found irritants can make things worse for your baby. Here are a few tips on how you can keep them at arms length:
- An allergic reaction to dust mites can worsen eczema. Since these organisms and their feces can accumulate on soft toys, youll need to make sure that theyre clean. Wash your childs toys at 60°C or place them in the freezer for 24 hours in a plastic bag weekly to get rid of mites. Bed linen should also be washed at 60°C to clear out mites.
- Certain fabrics may irritate your babys skin. Keep to breathable and friendly fabrics like cotton and avoid nylon or wool. If your baby has started crawling, dress them in cotton trousers so that they dont rub against the carpet.
- Avoid bubble baths and soaps as they can irritate and dry out the skin. Choose a mild, fragrance-free cleanser instead.
- Identify other irritants that could be troubling your baby and limit contact with them. Common irritants include animal dander, cigarette smoke, and chemical sprays.15
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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.
How To Identify And Control Eczema Triggers Without Losing Your Mind
Paige Goff has been living with atopic dermatitis since age 6.
It started with itchy outbreaks in the inner crease of her elbows and behind her knees. During her teens, when she was at her most self-conscious, her eczema moved to her facemost visibly on her upper lip and the bridge of her nose.
Goff also has two comorbidities of AD: food allergies and asthma. These conditions each come with their own set of triggers and vary from individual to individual.
The weather is a major disrupter of Goffs skin, from cold, dry air in the winter to heat and humidity in the summer. Her eczema also tends to flare in response to irritants in personal care and household products.
Product additives are far more plentiful today than they were in the past, said Dr. Lynda Schneider, director of the Allergy Program at Boston Childrens Hospital and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
The sheer number of products on the marketalong with whats in themhas skyrocketed. This makes it difficult for people with eczema to identify which ones might be problematic for them or for their children with the condition, she explained.
Whats more, Schneider added, many of todays product ingredients are plant-basedin other words, natural. But plant products are anything but innocent. In fact, when you see the words all natural on a product label, thats the time to double down and do your homework.
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Massage With Sunflower Seed Oil
Another natural oil that can help with eczema is sunflower oil. Research shows that sunflower oil improves the barrier function of the skin. In one study of babies at high risk of developing eczema, parents were advised to apply sunflower seed oil on their babys entire body at least once daily. This was done as soon as possible after birth but within a maximum of 3 weeks and was to be continued till the baby hit the 6-month milestone. It was found that sunflower seed oil had a protective effect and reduced the incidence of this condition at the 6-month mark.5 In the study, parents were also told not to use potential irritants like fragrant soap, bubble baths, or even bath oils and were to stick to a mild, fragrance-free cleanser.
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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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.
Researchers Identify Subtype Of Eczema Tied To Food Allergies
Other studies, though, have had contradictory findings. For example, one study of American children published in August 2016 in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology suggested that a hot and sunny climate combined with high particulate matter and ozone levels actually appears to protect against eczema.
A small Australia-based study, published in March 2019 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found an association between ultraviolet sunlight exposure in early infancy and lower incidence of eczema by 6 months of age.
The scientists, though, caution against intentionally exposing babies to direct sunlight until researchers better understand this complicated issue.
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Apply A Sunscreen Before Your Child Goes Outside
To protect your childs skin from becoming irritated by the sun, always apply a sunscreen before they go outside. Even better yet, we recommend following the below steps:
- Apply an emollient first .
- Cover your childs skin with a high-SPF sunscreen, like Mustelas NEA-certified SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion .
- Be sure to reapply often if your child will be outside for more than 2 hours.
- Finish by dressing your child in long pants, long sleeves, and a wide-brimmed hat.
When your child comes back inside, apply a soothing product like Mustelas After Sun Spray to counteract the dehydrating effects of the sun.
Talk To Your Child About Stress
Its not easy being a kid these days. Between school work, peer pressure, and social media demands, kids face a lot of challenges. Add eczema to the equation and its even tougher. Whats worse: Stress aggravates eczema. They wont be able to eliminate stress altogether, but they can learn to avoid it when possible.
Its good to let your childs teachers know about the problem as well. They can help guide situations that are prone to stress and recognize the signs when your child might need help.
In general, the rule of thumb for kids with eczema is: Moisturize often and reduce triggers. When those efforts alone are not enough to control your childs flare-ups, us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lubega or book one online. We can help you calm the worst of it and learn to manage your childs eczema so they live more comfortably.
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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
Give Your Little One An Oatmeal Bath
Oatmeal baths arent reserved for folk tales about soothing chickenpoxthey really work!
Colloidal oatmeal is a naturally soothing, emollient product that adds moisture to the skin and soothes itchy irritation. It can provide immense relief to your child during those nights when their inflamed skin is getting the best of them.
To use colloidal oatmeal, add it underneath a running faucet or to warm water. Allow your child to relax and play in the oatmeal bath for at least 15 minutes so their skin has time to be soothed and absorb the oatmeals beneficial properties.
Colloidal oatmeal is safe to apply to the face as well, though you should be careful not to let the oatmeal enter your childs mouth or eyes. You can crank up the fun by hopping in the bath with them, as its great for your skin, too!
Once they exit the bath, your child may be a little slippery. Gently pat their skin just dry enough that they still feel damp without dripping. Then, apply your favorite emollient cream to lock in their skins new nourished, soothed state.
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