Protect your baby's skin from Eczema !

Modified: 30 April 2016

If your little-loved one is suffering from eczema all you think about is- getting relief!

Eczema is a severe form of dry skin which is a chronic itchy skin condition. It makes the baby’s skin become dry, itchy, red and cracked. It is a common problem in babies and it affects 1 in 5 children. It usually starts within the first five years of life, most often in the first six months. It may appear anywhere on a baby's body, but most often eczema occurs on a baby's cheeks, forehead, and scalp. The appearance and occurrence of eczema location change as your baby grows. At 6 to 12 months of age, it gets worse when they start to crawl, the elbows and knees. When your baby reaches the age of two the dispersal of eczema changes and prone to involve the creases of the elbows and knees, wrists, ankles, and hands. Eczema can even affect the skin around the mouth and the eyelids, and have a possibility to occur only in hands of older children and adolescents, so it differs for each baby suffering from eczema. For young babies, eczema tends to be more red and weepy. Eczema can't be cured, but it can be controlled with the right treatments.

Cause of eczema 

Eczema is caused when the body makes too few ceramides. Ceramides are the fatty cells which can provide the barrier protection to the skin. If the baby doesn’t have enough of them, its delicate skin will lose water and become very dry.Heredity is another reason for baby's eczema. If mom or dad have eczema, there is a chance that a baby gets it too. Other factors can be defects in the skin barrier, allowing moisture out and germs in. Salivating may cause additional irritation for babies, especially to the cheeks, chin, and neck. You need to apply an ointment like Aquaphor or Vaseline which can prevent direct contact with saliva and in turn decrease skin irritation.

Some triggers that may cause eczema are given below:

  • Dry skin: Dry skin can make a baby's eczema itchier. It is caused due to low humidity, especially during winter when homes are well-heated and the air is dry.
  • Irritants: Thick scratchy wool clothes, perfumes, polyester, body soaps, and laundry soaps, shampoos, bubble bath, disinfectants like chlorine can all trigger a baby's eczema flares. Eczema flares occurs due to skin dryness and when it comes in contact with irritating substances or allergic triggers, or when the skin is infected.
  • Heat and sweat: Both heat and sweat can make the itch of infant eczema worse and you must also avoid being under low temperature.
  • Allergens: If you are exposed to certain environmental factors then it may cause an allergic reaction. Allergens are substances that can cause the body to react abnormally. It may happen due to house dust mites, pets, pollens, molds, and dandruff.
  • Diet: Parents may assume that eczema is caused due to a particular food or predict eczema triggers as “milk allergic” but most of them are unrelated to diet. If your baby gets a rash after eating a specific food, then this may be a sign of food allergy and you need to consult your child’s doctor for allergy testing. And do not stop breastfeeding or giving cow’s milk formula to your baby unless you consult your doctor but make sure the mamma should have a proper diet because a breastfed baby may be exposed to those foods through mom’s milk than to actually ingesting them.

How to control and treat eczema?

There is no complete cure for eczema. But one good thing is that in most children eczema becomes less severe with time. And they can be controlled by maintaining a good skin care. Very mild eczema may be controlled with a good bathing and moisturizing routine alone. It will protect your baby’s gentle skin against all kinds of irritants. Try to find your child’s triggers and avoid them as much as possible. Finally, you must treat patches of eczema with medications as soon as they appear, since this can prevent more severe rashes.

The treatment of eczema varies according to its severity. If your child has mild eczema with only a few red and itchy areas, then you can use an emollient lotion, cream or ointment and sometimes combined with a short course of a low-strength steroid cream. 

Bathing

  • Daily bathing is a must for infants and children with eczema to treat skin dryness. Instead of showers baths are generally preferred. The water should be warm, not hot, and the bath should be short in duration not more than 10 minutes. The use of soap should be limited.
  • Bubble bath, Epson salts, and some other bath additives must be avoided because they can be irritating to the baby’s skin and worsen eczema. Also avoid the use of loofahs, scrubbers and rough washcloths.
  • Some of the cleansers that can be used for baby’s bathing are Cetaphil® RESTORADERM® Eczema Calming Body Wash, Stelatopia Cream Cleanser, Cetaphil© Gentle Skin Cleanser, and CeraVe© Hydrating Cleanser which are often recommended by dermatologists to treat eczema.
  • Cleansers should only be used to wash the diaper area and areas that appear dirty. They need not be used on a daily basis.
  • While shampooing your baby, use a mild shampoo which doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. One example is Exederm™ Baby Eczema Shampoo.

Moisturising

  • Immediately after bathing (within 3 minutes), a moisturiser should be applied to prevent evaporation of moisture from the skin. There are various moisturisers or emollients, find the one that suits your baby’s skin.
  • To prevent skin irritation, seek out moisturisers that are fragrance-free and dye-free.
  • Moisturisers are classified based on their oil and water content. The oil content in a moisturiser is effective in treating dry skin. Ointments have the greatest oil content, followed by creams, and then lotions.
  • Lotions are water based and are not generally recommended because they contain added preservatives that may burn the skin when applied on scratched open skin. Ointments and creams will seal moisture from the bath into the skin, and do not burn when applied.
  • During the summer a cream, you can prefer an ointment to prevent miliaria (prickly heat), which can occur after application of an ointment in the summer heat and humidity.
  • Use liberal quantity of emollient several times a day on your baby’s skin. Apply them even if no patches of eczema are seen in order to prevent skin from drying out too much.

Topical steroids treatment

Majority of children suffer from moderate to severe eczema (or atopic dermatitis) and they need to use low- to medium-potency topical steroids on a more regular basis to control eczema.

In order to treat skin inflammation, anti-inflammatory medications like topical steroids or topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) should be used. And occasionally, oral anti-inflammatory agents are needed to treat the most severe cases.

Steroid ointments are safe and you need to use them appropriately. Some tips for safe application include:

  • Topical steroids can be applied only twice per day. You must apply immediately after bathing as part of the bathing routine.
  • A moisturizer should always be applied over the topical steroid. Be aware that the skin may look lighter in color after the redness clears. This is normal and improves with time.
  • Apply topical steroids only to bumpy red itchy areas of skin and avoid normal unaffected skin.
  • Avoid the application of topical steroids to skin folds (armpits, groin, thighs, under breasts) when possible, especially for prolonged periods of time.
  • Avoid using topical steroids on eyelids.
  • Apply milder steroids, which your dermatologist can prescribe, to treat the face.
  • consult your dermatologist before you start and use the mildest topical steroid that controls eczema.
  • Enough steroid ointment should be applied so that the skin feels tacky immediately after application. Within a few minutes it is will be absorbed by the skin.
  • Consider using topical calcineurin inhibitors (Protopic© ointment and Elidel© cream). These nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are approved for children older than two years, but they are sometimes used “off-label,” especially in rotation with topical steroids, for infants.
  • The normal color pigments in your baby’s cells don’t work properly when the skin is inflamed from eczema. The good news is that these cells will recover and the light spots eventually will return to the normal skin color.

Some of the creams/lotions/oils to treat eczema

  1. Aquaphor Healing Ointment, Buy now
  2. Aveeno Soothing Moisture Relief, Buy now
  3. Gentle Naturals Eczema Relief, Buy now
  4. California Baby Aloe Vera, Buy now
  5. Mustela Stelatopia Moisturizing, Buy now
  6. Triple Cream Severe Dry Skin Eczema, Buy now
  7. Babyganics Bye Bye Dry Eczema Care, Buy now
  8. Neosporin Eczema Essentials Daily, Buy now
  9. Weleda Calendula Baby cream, Buy now
  10. Johnson's Baby Lotion Shea and Cocoa Butter, Buy now

oil based products recommended by doctors 

  1. Aveeno oil, Click here for more details
  2. MooGoo Irritable Skin Balm, Click here for more details
  3. Epaderm, Click here for more details
  4. Organic virgin coconut oil, Click here for more details
  5. Oilatum, Click here for more details

"Prevention is better than cure. So always protect your baby from harmful chemicals"



Review written by Ilakkiya Parthasarathy

Born and brought up in Chennai, Ilakkiya is an IT engineer who works as a business analyst. She is an expert when it comes to buying; from pretty dresses to useful gadgets. Her ubiquitous opinions have led her to exhibit her writing skills to the world at large through Review Frenzy.