There are so many wonderful things about babies from their sweet smiles, to their soft coos, amazing smell, and delicate skin. Baby skin is soft and smooth to the touch and appears to be absolutely flawless. Seeing dry, bumpy, itchy, red skin for the first time on your little one might be alarming as a new parent and can cause some concern. You immediately Google “skin rash on baby and treatment”. After consulting with your pediatrician and confirming your baby has Eczema, don’t worry! This skin irritation is more common than you might think and we have you covered. Here is what you need to know about baby eczema and baby eczema treatment.
What Is Baby Eczema?
Eczema is an inflammation of the skin that can show up as red, dry, itchy patches on your little one. This common skin condition has many forms. The most common form is called atopic dermatitis which is the skin losing its protective barrier causing it to become more sensitive and more prone to irritations and infections. Eczema affects about 15 million Americans and according to the National Institute of Health, 10%-20% of those are young children.
Great news though, baby eczema usually occurs before your little one is a year old, and nearly half outgrow baby eczema or have significant improvement in their skin condition before they are 5. There are so many changes to your little one’s skin within their first several months, so proper identification of this skin irritation and then figuring out the types of baby eczema treatment options are important to know and do.
What Does Baby Eczema Look Like?
Your baby’s skin will change a lot within the first several days of birth through their first several months. The color will change, the temperature to your touch might feel different on their toes and hands, and you might even experience what looks like their skin is peeling off their little bodies. All of those things are okay. However, some things you want to watch for include:
- Dry red patches
- Scaly skin that might become rough to the touch from scratching
- Little bumps or fluid-filled blisters that might ooze when scratched
Eczema does not discriminate when it comes to only affecting certain areas of the body. Baby eczema can appear anywhere on the skin, however, some of the most common places for it to appear are the face, scalp, and in those “bendable” areas of the skin. Examples of those bendable areas include the backs of the knees, joints of the arms, and in between all their cute little rolls. Baby eczema on the scalp is not to be confused with cradle cap, so make sure to talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns about both skin conditions before starting any baby eczema treatment.
Causes Of Baby Eczema
Research shows there is no exact cause for eczema, but what we do know is that baby eczema is NOT contagious, it can run in families and some babies are just born with it. Baby eczema that runs in families appears most often when a parent of the child has or has had eczema and/or if there are known allergies. About 30% of babies with severe eczema also have food allergies.
In addition to these causes, eczema tends to flare up when exposed to certain situations and substances. The most common are:
- Irritants: Think fragrances in soaps, perfumes, laundry detergent, really anything that would touch your baby’s skin that might have a smell to it. Also, the make of certain fabrics such as wool that are more scratchy is definitely going to cause some skin itchiness. Clothing made of 100% breathable cotton is a great material to wear for babies with eczema.
- Dry skin: When adults have dry skin they moisturize it or just scratch it raw. Think the same for your baby. When the air is dry with little to no humidity, that is a flare-up zone for eczema. Try a humidifier during the winter months and put on a skin barrier ointment such as petroleum jelly every night before bed. Trust us, it works.
- Allergens: These are triggers for an allergic reaction which is sneezing, itching, watery eyes, runny nose, etc. In addition, some allergens such as pet hair, dust, and food, can also make baby eczema symptoms much worse. Talk to your pediatrician if you notice any flare-ups due to specific allergens so they can be closely monitored.
- Climate: Hot weather is not the ideal condition for individuals with eczema. Heat and sweat can both cause flare-ups. Make sure to keep a portable fan with you for those warm summer morning strolls, dress your baby in a loose-fitting breathable material and try to avoid long exposure out in the heat.
Baby Eczema Treatment
Baby eczema will often go away on its own, but in the mean time here are some baby eczema treatment options:
1.Daily Bathing: a daily luke-warm bath (no longer than 10 minutes) is a fabulous at-home baby eczema treatment option. Not only does it provide hydration back into the skin, but it can also ease itching and be a calm way to end the day with your little one. Make sure the water is not too hot, your soap does not contain any harsh chemicals, and wash right before you are getting ready to end the bath. If you wash your baby at the beginning of the bath the extra soap that sits in the water and can actually dry out their skin.
2. Unscented Soaps: This goes for everything that will touch the baby’s skin. Here are a few to consider, bath soap, laundry detergent, hand soap, dish soap, etc. Make sure all of these products are fragrance-free and for sensitive skin. Adding in deodorants and fragrances can be harsh on your little one’s skin.
3. Keep Nails Trimmed: You might be thinking, how is this a baby eczema treatment option? Ensuring your baby’s fingernails and toenails are trimmed can help with itching so they do not itch so much their skin starts to become raw. Believe it or not, they have great ways to maneuver around and get those hard to reach areas, such as using their little toes to scratch right behind their knees.
4. Skin Ointment: Some might suggest moisturizers, others might suggest an ointment or skin barrier such as petroleum jelly. If you are going to use a moisturizer, ensure it is for sensitive skin, fragrance-free, and a good quality brand. If not using a moisturizer, try petroleum jelly. No, it is not going to moisturize their skin, but what it will do is act as a skin barrier, which a baby with eczema lacks and is what they actually need. If the eczema is severe, you can also try a hydrocortisone cream and your pediatrician can even prescribe one for you to help your little one with their eczema flare-ups.
5. Identify Triggers: No little one will be the same in identifying triggers or what baby eczema treatment will work best. Keep note of the things you do notice that cause those flare-ups and what little ways seem to help them. This most likely will be a trial and error process until you see some consistency with when and what causes those dry, itches patches of skin.
Baby eczema is easy to treat once you know what it is and how to handle it. There is no exact science on why our sweet babies get it, but the good news is they can grow out of it. With the easy at-home baby eczema treatment options provided above, you are sure to nail down the best way to treat your baby’s skin while offering them relief. You got this mama, start identifying and conquer!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Everything You Need To Know About Baby Eczema And How To Treat It Quickly.
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