Eczema (AKA atopic dermatitis) causes the skin to be dry, itchy and cracked. Eczema can affect anyone – including babies, children, teens, and adults. Eczema seems to have a genetic component and there are definitely environmental triggers that can exacerbate eczema. Treatment and management of eczema include avoiding triggers, applying topical medications if needed, and continuous moisturizing/hydrating the skin3. Also, it’s important to mention that the gut plays a role in eczema as well. This will be discussed later. This article will discuss how to help baby eczema.
What are triggers for eczema?
People with eczema generally have sensitive skin because their skin barrier is disrupted and cannot retain moisture in the skin. Eczema patients must be careful in choosing products that they apply on their skin. Products that can make eczema worse include soaps, detergents, and shampoo.
Other triggers include:
- Certain weather conditions (dry climate)
- Dust mites, pet fur, pollen, molds
- Certain foods
- Certain fabrics like wool and synthetic fabrics
What are general treatment strategies
Moisturize: One of the best treatment strategies for eczema include hydration and lots of moisturizing. Moisturizing is important to promote water retention in skin with eczema.
Bath time: Taking baths with warm water for five to ten minutes to hydrate the skin helps to exfoliate and wash off scale, crust, sweat, irritants, and allergens. Bleach baths can help eczema as well. After taking a warm bath, it is very important to apply emollients or moisturizers immediately within three minutes. This helps prevent the skin from experiencing water loss and dryness2. I personalize find that bathing my child every night helps him not only get clean, but to wind down for bedtime and get a good night of sleep.
Avoid triggers: For those who already know what triggers their flare-ups, it is advised to protect yourself from these allergens and irritants. During flare-ups, it is important to not scratch as it can cause more itching and thus more scratching. This can cause bleeding and scarring of the skin.
More ways to treat eczema: There are several tips to help stop the itch sensation for babies with eczema. An important tip is to keep your child’s fingernails short to prevent breaking the skin which can cause an infection. Additional strategies for eczema include antihistamines, topical steroids, wet wrap therapy, phototherapy, and immunomodulatory medicine.
What should I look for in a moisturizer?
There are different types of moisturizers, including lotion, creams, ointments. Creams are better than lotion. The best moisturizers for eczema are creams and ointments.
- Ointments: They are the most recommended for severe eczema because they don’t have preservatives, which can cause flare-ups. But ointments may be too thick or greasy for some people.
- Creams: They can help mild to moderate eczema. They are not as thick or greasy as ointments
- Lotions: They are less recommended because they have a very high water content which can evaporate easily.
What is the connection between eczema flare up and food allergies?
20-80% of eczema patients have food allergy. Common food allergens that may trigger eczema flare-ups include dairy products, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, seafood, and shellfish6. It’s important to know what foods may cause eczema so you can avoid them. Also, it’s important to know what foods are ok to give children with eczema as well.
An elimination diet can help find your child’s triggers. There is more information showing that healing the gut can help eczema.
How to help your eczema baby sleep
Children with eczema can have sleep issues, which can cause behavior issues and affect quality of life7. Babies can be more irritable due to interrupted sleep. Not to mention sleep-deprived parents. Unfortunately, I remember those days all too well. There are several ways to help your child get quality sleep.
- Seek help from a pediatric allergy doctor and pediatric dermatologist. They can help you find out triggers.
- Use fabric and clothing that doesn’t irritate your child’s skin. Click here to read about what to look for in pajamas for eczema
- Find crib sheets that work well with eczema (click to read)
- A bath before bed helps hydrate the skin and then moisturizing within 3 minutes can help get a good night of rest
- Sometimes an anti-histamine may be needed to help decrease the itching 8
What are the best baths for eczema?
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends the following steps to bathe a child with eczema:
- Have everything you need after a bath ready (i.e. towel, cream or ointment, etc…)
- Use lukewarm water (NOT hot water as it can dry the skin)
- Use gentle body wash and shampoos
- Let your baby soak for 5-10 minutes9.
I have received questions regarding products to use with baths such as oils, baking soda, etc10. These types of baths are usually not recommended. Rather, there are two types of baths that may help eczema: bleach bath and oatmeal baths. From my experience, I have found bleach baths to be very helpful for eczema. Bleach baths can decrease inflammation and eliminate bacteria. Colloidal oatmeal baths can be helpful as well. As always, use precaution and talk to your child’s doctor before trying these baths.
What are wet wraps and how do they help?
Are you looking for more ways on how to help baby eczema? Wet wraps can help hydrate dry skin and calm it down during intense flare-ups11. Basically, you take a piece of clothing, wet it and wrap it around a patch of eczema. For more details, click here to read how wet wraps can help eczema.
How do you keep your child cool so their eczema doesn’t flare up?
Hot weather can cause eczema to flare up due to sweating. It’s important to stay cool and dry. Wearing cotton clothes during summer can help children stay cool. Avoid uncomfortable clothing like wool and other rough fabric which may cause irritation12.
How long does it take for eczema to clear up in babies? Do children outgrow eczema?
Several studies suggest that children can outgrow eczema. The age at which eczema disappears in children widely varies, but a majority of eczema cases in babies were observed to cease by the age of 3 years. Almost 75% of babies with eczema are said to “outgrow” it13.
Is eczema contagious?
Eczema is not an infectious disease, so it is not contagious. It is not caused by microbial or viral infections.14.
How do I know if a skin is infected?
Signs of infected skin from eczema include oozing, warmth, and redness. It is very important to have a medical professional examine the skin to give a definitive diagnosis 4.
Do humidifiers help eczema?
Low humidity or dry air decreases the moisture in the air and causes dry skin. A humidifier can increase air humidity and help hydrate dry skin. Using a humidifier, especially during the winter months when a heater is usually used can help humidify the air. Click to read more how humidifiers can help eczema.
Can laundry detergent cause eczema?
Certain chemicals in laundry detergent can exacerbate eczema. Discover the best laundry detergent for babies with eczema. The best detergent do not contain fragrances, preservatives and optical brighteners so avoid products that contain these things.
There are many ways to manage eczema. I hope this article gives you information on how to help baby eczema. Using a good moisturizer after a bath, and avoiding triggers are some of the ways to manage eczema in babies. As always, consult with your doctor before starting new products or treatments.