Infant eczema shows up as dry, red, itchy, irritated patches on Baby’s skin, usually on the cheeks, neck, backs of the knees, and front of the arms. Around one in ten babies younger than a year old experience eczema, so if you think Baby might be one of them, they’re not alone. Genetics often determine if your little one will get eczema or if they’re predisposed towards eczema. You can treat it, though, and many children who experience it will grow out of it as they get older.
What can I do at home?
The best way to manage Baby’s eczema is to keep her clean and moisturized, and out of the way of probable irritants. Here are some common ways to limit baby eczema from the comfort of your own home:
- Don’t agitate: After you bathe Baby, you can help to treat her dry skin by patting her dry after a bath, instead of rubbing her dry.
- Limit dry air: If the dryness of either the summer heat or the winter wind makes itself known, it can dry out and roughen Baby’s already irritated skin. Humidifying the air in your home can keep the air from drying out, and mild, gentle moisturizers or creams can help restore moisture to her skin.
- Perfumes and detergents: The perfumes in lotions, soaps, shampoos and detergents can irritate sensitive skin, so milder alternatives labeled for sensitive skin, like unscented baby soaps and unscented lotions with natural ingredients and without dyes, are recommended.
- Baby’s own nails: Scratching eczema isn’t the best idea, but you can’t blame Baby for scratching when those dry eczema patches start to itch. Itching eczema can be more painful when it’s scratched, and in extreme cases, it can cause scarring or infection. Keeping Baby’s nails trimmed helps, and putting lightweight mittens over her hands can be effective, as long as you can convince Baby not to squirm out of them.
- Natural remedies: Though not scientifically proven to work, there are several natural remedies to treat infant eczema that many parents swear by, like probiotics, coconut oil, calendula, and oatmeal baths. But you should always check in with Baby‘s doctor before starting her on any natural treatments or before using any herbs or supplements.
- Natural textiles: For some babies, certain fabrics, like polyester and wool, can irritate this skin when they’re suffering from eczema. Soft, breathable cotton can be the best fabric for babies with eczema to come into contact with.
What can the doctor do?
Sometimes, there are root causes for eczema that can be treated, so it’s always a good idea to have the doctor or other healthcare provider check Baby out when those red patches start popping up. There’s a good chance that Baby‘s healthcare provider will start by advising you to keep Baby’s skin moisturized, and eliminate perfumes and harsh soaps, but she might suggest others things, too, like:
- Antihistamines: Your doctor might recommend an antihistamine, like Benadryl, to get Baby’s itching under control.
- Steroids: If other methods don’t work, he or she might prescribe a mild, topical steroid to treat the eczema patches on Baby’s skin. If there are eczema patches on her face, consider asking your doctor about getting a milder steroid for her face than the one for the rest of her body.
- Allergies: In some cases, eczema has been linked to contact with food or environmental allergens. If the eczema persists, Baby’s doctor might recommend an allergy screening, a change in her diet or, if you’re breastfeeding, a change in yours, like eliminating common culprits like dairy and soy.