Eczema is one of those common but extremely uncomfortable skin conditions that often affect young babies. Parenting a child with eczema is tough as no mum or dad wants to see their child in distress. We’ve put together a guide that will answer all your questions about eczema in kids.
Eczema is a skin condition that causes skin to become red, dry and itchy. Having eczema means your skin is lacking the body oils and moisturisers that usually keep the skin supple and intact. Eczema affects 20% of children under two years of age and usually starts in the first six months of life.
Eczema is not contagious, but unfortunately there is no cure for the condition. So your best strategy is to keep eczema under control and do all you can to make your child more comfortable.
1) How do I know if my baby has eczema?
The most common symptom of eczema is a dry, red rash on your baby’s body. In young babies, eczema typically appears on the face, cheeks, chin, forehead and scalp. Eczema in older kids can often be seen on the creases around the child’s elbows, ankles, knees and wrists. With some kids, the rash can present all over their body.
Many kids will have ‘flare-ups’ of the rash, where their eczema gets worse, while other times it may be milder or almost gone.
A child with eczema is more susceptible to catching a secondary viral or bacterial skin infection, as the skin is often inflamed and open. If this happens, the skin will become weepy, crusty and broken. You should see a doctor as soon as possible, as stronger medication may be needed.
2) What Causes Eczema In Babies?
The actual cause of eczema is a bit of a mystery. It is often genetic and if a family member suffers from the condition, it is common for the child to have this too.
So instead of looking at direct causes, we focus on triggers, which tend to make the rash worse.
The most common irritants include:
- Allergies to food – my sister was allergic to cow’s milk as a young child and would develop eczema if she ate any dairy products.
- Overheating – caused by blankets, clothes or heaters
- Infections or viruses may exacerbate eczema
- Allergies to pollen, dust mites or animal fur
Sensitivities to harsh soaps, chemicals and detergents – it’s crucial to use a sensitive body wash for babies, especially those who have eczema. We love the Dermexa baby range by AVEENO® which helps to protect, nourish and give lasting comfort to baby’s sensitive skin, so they can happily experience the world around them. They are also suitable for eczema-prone skin.
3) What are the best ways to ‘manage’ eczema?
As we know, there is no cure for eczema, so the best that we can do is put into place controls that will minimise the triggers that cause a flare-up of the condition.
Find your child’s triggers and avoid them
The first step in eczema management is to pinpoint the triggers that make your child’s eczema worse and do your best to avoid these.
Steer clear of skin irritants
Environmental – If your child has allergies to animal fur, try and keep them away from pets. If they’re allergic to dust mites, grass or pollen, it may be a good idea to take them to see an allergy specialist to consider your options.
Harsh detergents, soap, washes, perfumes and chemicals – Don’t use any harsh skincare on your baby. Ensure you pick gentle skincare solutions, such as the AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Wash, which has been formulated to protect, nourish and give lasting comfort to baby’s sensitive skin.
Dribbling – excess saliva around the mouth can irritate the skin and make eczema worse. Clean around baby’s mouth with a wet, soft towel after eating and then apply a nourishing moisturiser, specifically for baby’s sensitive skin such as AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Moisturising Cream. This fragrance-free cream works to soothe your baby’s dry, itchy skin, and is clinically proven suitable for eczema-prone skin. The advanced formulation helps to reduce the appearance of redness and scaling, helping to restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier and put dry, uncomfortable skin at ease.
Rough material – don’t dress your child in clothes made from wool or acrylic and ensure that all bedding is made from 100% good quality cotton.
Food allergy – if your baby’s eczema is caused by a food allergy, you would need to eliminate that ingredient and replace it with an alternative. However, you should not restrict your child’s diet unless you have been advised to do so by a doctor, allergist or dietitian.
Choose skin products formulated for baby’s sensitive skin
Not all skincare products are equal and some brands maybe too harsh for infants’ sensitive skin. It’s best to choose a gentle, hypoallergenic product range that helps to soothe dry, itchy skin and is suitable for eczema-prone skin, such as AVEENO® Baby Dermexa range.
We particularly love the AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Wash which combines natural colloidal oatmeal and oat extract plus ceramides, working to gently cleanse without drying your baby’s delicate skin. This ultra-gentle wash soothes dry, irritated skin, it’s fragrance-free and is clinically proven suitable for eczema-prone skin.
Keep baby’s skin moisturised
Dry skin is one of the most common triggers of eczema. So it’s important to keep your baby’s skin moisurised. You can apply a thick fragrance-free moisturiser like AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Moisturising Cream to your baby’s skin regularly which helps provide intensive and lasting hydration to soothe dry skin. Even if there is no visible eczema, you should still be applying the moisturiser to keep the skin supple and combat any dryness.
Stop The Scratch
It’s really difficult to keep your baby from scratching but this will make eczema worse and could even cause infection. There are a few strategies you can try to ease the itch:
- Make sure your child’s fingernails are always cut short
- A cool, damp t-shirt or singlet underneath their clothes may help reduce the itch and inflammation.
- For instant relief, apply a wet towel to the affected area and leave there for up to 10 minutesApply a thick moisturiser like AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Moisturising Cream afterwards.
- If your child is having a particularly severe flare-up, you could apply wet dressings at bedtime. However these should be stopped once the eczema has improved.
Overheating can make eczema worse so take measures to keep your baby cool and comfortable.
Ensure that all bed linens are pure cotton and remove any woollen blankets or materials made from polyester which may cause sweating and over-heating. Don’t overdress your baby and ensure all clothes are made using 100% cotton.
Give your baby a daily bath with a tepid temperature. Remember to use a baby cleanser suitable for eczema prone skin. We recommend AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Wash, which is formulated with natural colloidal oatmeal and oat extract plus ceramides. This unique wash helps soothe dry, itchy skin, and helps to improve the appearance of redness and scaling when used in conjunction with AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Moisturising Cream. This wash contains no added parabens or phthalates and is fragrance and dye-free.
4) How To Treat Eczema
If your child’s eczema is persistent, it’s a good idea to take your child to the doctor to get an eczema action plan.
Treatment may include over-the-counter remedies and prescription topical treatments.
Your doctor may prescribe a cortisone-based cream or ointment. If used as directed, this treatment is very effective in controlling eczema. Seek medical advice before using any cortisone treatments on your baby. Preparations come in different strengths – mild, moderately potent, potent and very potent. Only the mild version is available from the chemist without a prescription.
Does your child suffer from eczema? What has been the best way to control their eczema flare-ups? Tell us in the comments below.
The team at Mouths of Mums is working with AVEENO® to bring you this article. For more than 70 years, AVEENO® has pioneered innovation and leveraged science to deliver real skincare benefits. AVEENO® believes that skincare can play a bigger role in helping children living life to the fullest. AVEENO® products help to protect, nourish and give lasting comfort to baby’s sensitive skin, so they can happily experience the world around them. The AVEENO® portfolio offers solutions for every type of baby skin, even the most compromised one, and the Dermexa range is suitable for eczema prone skin.