In this article, we are going to explore the question: “How often should you bathe a baby with eczema”. It’s a good question because there is no one right answer. In this article, I will discuss what I do personally and other strategies to make the most out of bathing time. This has helped me to control eczema that my child was suffering from.
So, how often should I bathe my eczema baby?
National Eczema Association (NEA) will say at least once a day, which is what I personally do with my child who has eczema. I find this is helpful because the water will help moisten the skin and hydrate it. After he finishes bathing, I will quickly pat dry him and stick to the “3 minute” rule and apply moisturizer as soon as possible to lock in the hydration.
On the other hand, some pediatricians will say not to bath more than 3 times a week. The reason for this is there is concern that too much bathing will dry out the skin. (1)
So who’s right? I don’t think there’s a right answer. Every child is unique and different so the best advice I can give is to try both and see what works for you. Meaning, try at least 3 times a week and if your child tolerates it, go up to 4 times a week and then 5 times a week and then 6 times and eventually 7 times. Do this only if you find it necessary. See how your child’s skin reacts. Regardless of what you do, always moisturize after bathing.
After bathing, moisturize!
Bathing helps moisture to enter the skin, but once you come out of the water, it can quickly dry and irritate the skin. Thus, once your child comes of the water, apply moisturizer to lock in the hydration. In fact, you should apply the moisturizer while your child is wet, without toweling dry. This technique is commonly referred to as the “soak and smear” method. (2) Click here for the best eczema moisturizer
What is the 3 minute rule?
It’s a guideline that pediatricians use to time when to apply a moisturizer after bathing. Basically, a moisturizer should be applied within 3 minutes to help lock in the hydration.
What is the right water temperature?
Luke warm water is the best temperature to use when bathing. Avoid using hot water as it can irritate the skin, and also cause more itching.
Are there things I can add to a bath?
Colloidal Oatmeal bath: This has been used for several decades and there has been a lot of research showing that it has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. it works well on children with atopic dermatitis (AD) / eczema and has minimal side effects. (3)
Bath oil: since bathing can cause skin to dry out and become irritated, oil can be helpful to keep the skin from drying out. (4)
Baking soda: adding a 1/4 cup of baking soda to a bath can help soothe itchy skin and irritation. (5)
What is a bleach bath?
A recent prospective study in 2019 showed that a bleach bath may be helpful for moderate-severe eczema. It helps reduce Staphylococcus aureus (SA), which is part of the normal flora of your skin. In other words, SA doesn’t cause problems, but for some reason (research still being down on why this happens) in those with eczema, SA is involved in causing skin inflammation and exacerbation of eczema. (6)
So the idea is that by using bleach, we can decrease the number of SA on the skin that is contributing to eczema flare ups. (7) This sounds harsh! Why would anyone want to use bleach on your baby. Hear me out. We are diluting bleach in a bath of water. See below for the protocol.
How do I give a bleach bath?
This is a protocol for giving a bleach bath per American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach for 40 gallons of water in a bathtub(8), (9)
- In the United States, bleach product may contain 6- 8.25% sodium hypochlorite
- Soak from neck down for 10 minutes
- If your child doesn’t tolerate, rinse the skin well and pat dry with towel
- Moisturize as soon as they are out of bath
- Speak with your dermatologist before starting a bleach bath
Click here to learn more about bleach baths for your child with eczema!
Shower or Bath?
There is no hard and fast rule. I think for me, it was made sense to bath my baby who is unable to stand up on this own. Once my kids were up and walking, it was easier to shower them. These products made my life a lot easier when bathing them.
I really like the Puj Tub, which is useful from 0-6 months.
Starting around 6 months when they are able to sit up, I think a toddler bath tub is helpful. I used this one:
Frequency for bath/shower
You will get varying answers from your health care providers when asking “how often should you bathe a baby with eczema”. The reason is that there is no good study/evidence. Thus, in general, most providers will say to only once a day at most. Beyond that, if you want to do a twice a week or four times a week, it should depend on whatever is comfortable for you and your baby. Sometimes the season will also determine how often. For example, in the summer you will probably want to wash your baby more often, but still limiting it to once a day. (10)
This is also another question that you will get varying answers for the same reason above regarding frequency. In general, most providers will say 5-10 min of soaking. No more than that. (11)
What are the benefits of bathing/showering?
It helps to wash away dirt, irritants and allergens that can further exacerbate eczema. It also can help caregivers bond with the child as this activity involves both parties. It’s important to note that bathing can cause skin to dry and further causing itching if a moisturizer isn’t used after washing.
Should I trim my baby’s nails after bathing?
I trim my baby’s nail after bathing because the nails are softer and easier to cut. He’s also more relaxed after a bath and generally in a good mood so it makes it easier to trim their nails. It’s important to keep nails trimmed because scratching can break the skin and introduce bacteria. This can potentially lead to an infection.
I hope this article helped answer the question, “How often should you bathe a baby with eczema?”. If you have questions/comments, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.