When To Contact A Doctor About Baby Eczema
If this is the first time baby is experiencing red or irritated skin, its best to contact your doctor to confirm whether its baby eczema or another condition. Once you get a diagnosis, you can start taking the appropriate steps and trying some baby eczema treatments.
But if the skin irritation is accompanied by a fever, or the bumps and patches start to ooze, scab or blister, it may be a sign of infection, and youll want to consult your childs doctor right away.
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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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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Did My Baby Develop Eczema Because I Couldnt Breastfeed
As eczema is caused by genetic factors, bottle-feeding a baby definitely cannot cause eczema. In fact, current research is divided, with some studies showing positive effects of breastfeeding and others showing no significant effects at all.
Neither is there enough evidence to advise pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid specific foods to protect unborn children from atopic eczema or any other atopic condition.
Why Did My Child Develop Eczema
The exact cause of eczema is unknown. Researchers do know that children who develop eczema do so because of a combination of genes and environmental triggers. When something outside the body switches on the immune system, skin cells dont behave as they should causing flare ups.
We also know that children who come from families with a history of atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis.
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When Should I Take My Child To The Doctor For Their Eczema
If you think your child might have eczema, make an appointment with your pediatrician. A trained eye can tell the difference between eczema and other skin conditions.
Speak to your childs doctor right away if skin appears infected , if the eczema seems painful and blistered, or if it’s preventing your child from sleeping or is just generally making them miserable.
What Are The Symptoms Of Atopic Dermatitis In A Child
Symptoms may come and go, or occur most or all of the time. Any area of the body may be affected. In babies, symptoms usually affect the face, neck, scalp, elbows, and knees. In children, symptoms usually affect the skin inside the elbows, on the back of the knees, the sides of the neck, around the mouth, and on the wrists, ankles, and hands.
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
Dry, scaly skin
Pale skin on the face
Small, raised bumps that may become crusty and leak fluid if scratched
Rough bumps on the face, upper arms, and thighs
Darkened skin of eyelids or around the eyes
Skin changes around the mouth, eyes, or ears
Raised, red areas
The symptoms of atopic dermatitis can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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Other Causes Of Infected Eczema
An infection from Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, or other bacteria is just one cause of infected eczema. Others include fungal infections and viral infections.
Eczema itself isnt contagious, and most infected cases usually arent either. However, some of the causes of the infection may be contagious to people who have eczema, such as exposure to herpes simplex.
If you have eczema with frequent broken skin, its important to take care around others who have herpes simplex. The telltale sign of this is usually a cold sore.
Baby Eczema Risk Factors And The Environment
While baby eczema is the result of immune-system dysfunction, likely from a genetic predisposition, studies have found a number of risk factors.
For example, a study published in February 2018 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggested that children have a higher risk of developing eczema if their mothers experienced high-stress situations during pregnancy.
In a study published in May 2018 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed the sociodemographic characteristics of about 675,000 children in a primary-care database. They found that the children were more likely to be diagnosed with eczema if they fit one of the following descriptions:
- Black Caribbean
- Of high socioeconomic status
Another study, published in May 2018 in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, looked at how the outdoor environment specifically air pollutants and meteorological conditions affected eczema risk in children of both sexes. The researchers concluded that high levels of carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, lead, particulate matter, and ozone levels may all influence the development of infantile eczema.
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How To Help Prevent Your Babys Eczema From Recurring
Always follow your healthcare providerâs advice on treating your baby’s eczema. Your provider may suggest taking the following steps to help prevent eczema from recurring or getting worse:
Bathe your baby no more than three times per week.
Keep bathtime to no more than 15 minutes.
Use only mild, unscented soaps.
After bathtime, moisturize your babyâs skin with a fragrance-free cream or an ointment such as petroleum jelly or one prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Moisturize your babyâs skin at least twice a day . Diaper changes can be a good time to do this.
Launder your babyâs clothes in mild, unscented detergent.
Dress him in soft clothing. Avoid wool or any rough woven fabrics.
To help protect your little oneâs skin, keep his nails clipped short so that he canât scratch himself. You could also slip cotton mittens on his hands before bedtime to help prevent him from scratching.
If your baby has eczema, it can look scary, but with care from your provider supplemented by effective at-home treatment, your little oneâs skin should improve in time. In the meantime, keep showering your little one with lots of love and kisses.
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What Are Birthmarks In Children
There are two main types of birthmarks red birthmarks and pigmented birthmarks. Red birthmarks are skin markings caused by a collection of blood vessels. Pigmented birthmarks are areas in which the color of your childs birthmark is different from their skin color.
Strawberry hemangiomas: Strawberry hemangiomas can be found anywhere, but are most commonly found on your babys face, scalp, back or chest. Theyre made up of small, closely packed blood vessels. Strawberry hemangiomas usually fade or go away as your child ages. Some minor discoloration or wrinkling of your childs skin may remain at the site of the hemangioma.
Cavernous hemangiomas: Cavernous hemangiomas look sort of like strawberry hemangiomas. But theyre deeper in your childs skin and often darker in color. They look like reddish-blue spongy masses of tissue filled with blood. Cavernous hemangiomas usually go away on their own as your child ages.
Port-wine stains: Port-wine stains are flat, reddish-purple birthmarks. Theyre made up of dilated blood capillaries. Theyre commonly seen on your childs face and they vary in size. Port-wine stains are permanent, without treatment. They might thicken or darken over time.
Pigmented nevi: Pigmented nevi are also called moles. Moles are growths on your babys skin that typically are flesh-colored, brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on your babys skin. Your baby may have one mole or several in a group.
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Helping Your Child Feel Better
If your child has eczema, keep their fingernails short and their skin moisturized. Dress them in loose-fitting clothes and make sure they don’t get overheated. Depending on how severe their eczema is, your doctor may recommend wet wraps, a diluted bleach bath, over-the-counter or prescription medications, and/or light therapy to help.
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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When Adults Get It
You might notice itchy patches on the hands, elbows, and in the “bending” areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. But eczema can appear anywhere, including the neck, chest, and eyelids. People who had atopic dermatitis as a child may see drier, scaly rashes as adults. The skin may be discolored or thickened.
How Can I Stop My Baby Itching
Keeping your babys skin well moisturised and controlling any flares are the best ways to reduce the itch.
Try to work out any individual factors that trigger your babys flares and try to avoid exposing them to irritants. Scratching is a response to itch but it can become a habit, too. So, keep your babys nails short and use sleepsuits with built-in mittens. Keep the bedroom cool: around 18°C.
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How Infected Eczema Is Treated
The way you treat infected eczema depends on whether it was caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungi. Viral infections may be treated with antiviral medications or allowed to heal themselves.
Antibiotics are used in bacterial infections. Mild bacterial-infected eczema is treated with a topical antibiotic first. A steroid cream may also be used to reduce inflammation.
Oral antibiotics are reserved for more severe cases of infected eczema. Theyre also used for infections that have spread to other parts of your body.
A fungal infection may also be treated with steroids. Its treated with topical antifungal creams as well.
Some people prefer using natural treatments in addition to prescription medications. This is due to the long-term side effects of steroids, such as thinning skin.
You may consider the following natural treatments, as well as the pros and cons of each:
- herbal supplements for eczema flares, such as primrose oil
- essential oils, such as borage, evening primrose, and tea tree
- probiotics, to offset gastrointestinal side effects from antibiotics
- natural soaps and creams with emollients, to decrease skin inflammation
Be aware that natural treatments for eczema and skin infections havent been widely studied for safety or efficacy.
Make sure you discuss all these options with your doctor first before trying them out.
Infected eczema may lead to the following complications:
You may need to go to the hospital if you start experiencing:
- low energy
- excessive fatigue
More Than A Dry Spell
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For some, dry skin can be caused by harsh weather, soaps, or even water. This is nothing a little moisturizer cant fix. But for others, dry skin could be the result of a more severe condition. Eczema and psoriasis are the main culprits. Each condition has specific characteristics and needs special care. So how can one tell the difference?
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Which Is The Best Emollient For My Baby
Emollients treat dry skin by providing a surface film of oils. This increases water in the upper layer of the skin, restoring and providing a robust skin barrier, to prevent the entry of environmental agents or triggers.
Emollients soften the skin and reduce itch. If they are used regularly to maintain skin hydration, they can reduce the frequency of eczema flares. Leave-on emollients include lotions, creams,ointments and gels.
The emollient advised or prescribed for your baby should prevent dry skin and not cause irritation. You might need to try several products until you find the right one. Apply leave-on emollients regularly, throughout the day for example, at every nappy change and after bathing.
Use the product liberally . To apply the product, dot it all over the skin, and then smooth it in, using a gentle, downward, stroking motion rather than rubbing in.
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.
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Is Psoriasis The Same As Eczema
Psoriasis and eczema are two different skin conditions. They differ in where the disease appears on the body, how much it itches and how it looks. Eczema tends to appear more often behind the knees and inside the elbows. Eczema also causes more intense itching than psoriasis. Many people, especially children, can get both eczema and psoriasis.
Identifying Baby Eczema On His Face And Body
So what does baby eczema look like? With eczema, your babyâs skin will look dry and scaly or bumpy with red patches. The condition usually starts on the face, especially on the cheeks, forehead, or scalp.
In many cases, the rash goes away on the face before spreading to other areas, such as the bends of the elbows and the area behind the knees.
The patches caused by eczema can be mild and small, but they can also be extremely itchy, which can make your baby irritable. If this is the case with your little one, speak to your healthcare provider.
Keep in mind that eczema on your babyâs head might look a little like cradle cap, which is another skin condition that can affect some babies. Your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose the condition.
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Eczema Around The Eye
When eczema occurs on the face, it often affects the skin around the eyes or eyelids . Eczema that develops near the eyes needs special attention because the eyes themselves can be affected.
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What Are Skin Conditions In Children
Various skin conditions can affect babies, toddlers, children and adolescents throughout their lives. Healthcare providers receive more than 12 million office visits from children each year related to skin concerns. Skin conditions in kids may include hives, warts, acne, birthmarks and all sorts of rashes.
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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