Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed, itchy, dry, and prone to discharge from the skin. Babies usually have eczema on the cheeks, forehead, and scalp, and then it can move to the arms and legs, or even the whole body. X National Eczema Association Trusted Source Visit a source Your doctor can prescribe steroid creams that can help reduce eczema inflammation drastically, but there are natural home remedies that can fight the spread of eczema. First, you need to diagnose that your child has eczema (preferably with the help of a doctor), then you need to treat the skin directly with a mild soap and a mild moisturizer. Once you can control the spread of eczema in your child, you can try to identify and eliminate the source of the eczema.
Diagnosing Eczema in Your Baby
Look for areas of skin that are dry, red, and itchy. Most likely, eczema—in various forms—will appear on the face, elbows, back of the knees, and on the baby’s hands and feet. Like most irritated skin, eczema will only get worse if you scratch it. In infants, eczema usually begins to appear around six to twelve weeks of age. The acute type of eczema usually lasts about a month or two and is followed by the chronic type which is characterized by irritated skin with large red patches.
Identify what type of eczema your baby has. There are six main types of eczema. If you can identify exactly what type of eczema your child has, you will be able to better manage the condition. Some types of eczema are the result of allergens such as eggs, milk, soy, wheat, nuts, fish, dust mites, pet skin flakes, or mold spores. Other babies with eczema may simply have a predisposition to a skin condition.
Atopic dermatitis: This is most commonly referred to as eczema, and is common in infants. This type of eczema is a red rash that can be itchy. This condition is usually chronic, or long-lasting.
Allergic contact dermatitis: This type of eczema is often caused by contact with an allergen such as nickel, topical antibiotics, nettle or poison oak and causes a red, itchy reaction on the affected area. It’s not spreading.
Contact eczema: This is similar to allergic contact dermatitis, but is caused by irritation. This type of eczema does not spread once it appears on the skin.
Dyshidrotic eczema: This is a type of eczema that appears on the hands and soles of the feet with medium-sized blisters that are clearly visible and itchy and tend to burn.
Numular eczema: This is a skin condition that produces round coin-shaped lesions that commonly appear on the arms, back, buttocks, and lower legs.
Seborrheic eczema: This type of eczema causes skin with oily, yellowish scaly lesions to appear on the scalp, face, neck, and chest. This type is commonly found in infants.
See a doctor. In most cases, you will need to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and learn about his treatment program. Some cases of eczema are so mild that you can simply ignore them. In other cases, eczema can be a major irritant and really painful for your baby. In this case, visit your doctor immediately. Keep in mind that eczema can cause pain, infection and even scarring, if left untreated.
See a doctor immediately if there are signs of infection on your baby’s skin (increasing redness, swelling, oozing of pus, warming of the skin, fever, or being very irritable). Also see a doctor if eczema does not improve or gets worse, or if your baby is very uncomfortable or unable to sleep because of eczema.
Your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, such as topical steroids or topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs), to treat inflammation. Oral antihistamines may be recommended to help with itching and help your baby to sleep at night. Sometimes, oral anti-inflammatory drugs are needed to treat the most severe cases. In most other cases, your doctor will ask you to prepare a soothing bath and prescribe a moisturizer made specifically for eczema.
Bathing Your Baby to Relieve Eczema
Bathe your baby with warm water. Most experts advise not to bathe your baby more often than usual. Do not use hot water. Use mild odorless soaps (eg Olay, Caress, Camay, Dove, Aveeno, and Purpose). Never rub a baby’s skin. Apply the soap gently, moving the soap in small circular motions. Mild soaps are better than antibacterial products like tea tree oil , which can trigger inflammatory eczema.
The bath should not last more than 10 minutes.
Avoid bath additives that will further dehydrate your baby’s skin, such as Epsom salts.
An oat bath using natural colloidal oats, or an Aveeno oat bath pack, can also help.
Add chamomile, liquorice, or fenugreek to your baby’s bath for an added effect. These three ingredients are anti-inflammatory drugs and will reduce the redness effect on your baby’s eczema. Just add four or five drops of chamomile or liquorice (the root, not the candied) to your baby’s bath. Fenugreek is available in the form of powdered seeds. Just add as much as a teaspoon into warm water for bathing.
Consider bathing with bleach. Some doctors will recommend a bleach bath for babies with extreme eczema. Bathing with bleach helps prevent infection. Staphylococcus aerus is a bacterium that lives on the skin of many children with eczema and can sometimes cause inflammation. Bathing with bleach fights these bacteria. If your doctor recommends it, replace your regular bath with a bleach bath twice a week.
Pour 1/4 cup of bleach into a half-filled bath tub with warm water. This amount is equivalent to one or two teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water. A little bleach added to the bath will make the water feel soft to your baby, not harsh.
Be sure to dissolve the bleach before touching and avoid contact with eyes.
Gently pat your baby’s skin dry. Rough drying will only make your baby’s skin condition inflamed. Take a soft towel and pat your baby until his skin and hair are dry.
Using Softeners to Relieve Eczema
Choose a softening cream ( emollient ). The softening cream will prevent dryness of the baby’s skin and provide a layer of protection. Apply it on your baby’s skin twice a day. The best time to apply it is right after bathing. Since your baby’s pores will still be open from the warm bath, a softening cream will work better. There are many softening creams to choose from in many stores. Aquaphor, Elta, DML Forte, Moisturel, Aveeno, Curel, Purpose, Dermasil, Neutrogena, Eucerin, Cetaphil and CeraVe are good products that will lift chronic itchy and dry eczema skin. Look for ointments and creams instead of lotions.
Make a moisturizer out of coconut and lavender. Coconut oil is a very useful moisturizer and has antimicrobial properties. Coconut is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for healthy skin. Lavender oil is soothing and has antibacterial properties.
Mix 1/2 cup of coconut oil with two to three drops of lavender essential oil. You can use a cup and spoon to mix the solution. Store in a closed jar and away from light. Warm the oil in the microwave to lukewarm before applying it to the irritated area, making sure it doesn’t overheat.
Use aloe vera. Aloe vera has often been used to treat burns and can help heal wounds. You can buy aloe vera at your local pharmacy or buy aloe vera plants from garden service providers around you. Cut the leaves and rub them gently on your baby’s skin.
Try cocoa butter ( cocoa butter ). Cocoa butter is rich in vitamin E, which will increase skin elasticity and moisture. You can buy them at your local pharmacy or beauty supply store. Take a small spoonful of cocoa butter and apply it on your baby’s skin.
Dab some sweet almond carrier oil. Apart from smelling delicious, almond oil is also rich in vitamins and contains ursolic and oleic acids, both of which are anti-inflammatory and can repair damaged skin. Massage your baby’s eczema areas before and after bath time to prevent dryness.
Adjusting Your Baby’s Diet
See an allergist. Ask if your or your baby’s diet may be causing eczema. If your baby is still breastfeeding, you need to take care of your diet. If your baby has an allergic reaction—in the form of eczema—to what you eat, prevention will be necessary.
Your allergist may recommend a special vacuum cleaner or a cover that protects against dust mites if your baby is sensitive to dust mites or if you have pets.
If your baby drinks formula, make sure you choose the type of milk without ingredients that your baby is allergic to. Talk to your doctor about using hypoallergenic formulas such as Enfamil A+ HA, Similac LF, and Nutrilon HA if your baby is allergic to milk.
Similarly, your child may also develop eczema if his food is prepared with too many chemicals or pesticides.
Eat foods rich in vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of eczema.
Foods such as trout , salmon, portable mushrooms, tofu , butter, skim milk, pork, and hard-boiled eggs are rich in vitamin D.
Consider introducing nuts into your baby’s diet at around six months of age. Certain nuts (such as almonds) have anti-inflammatory properties. Since eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, eating nuts can help fight its spread naturally.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised parents to be wary of nuts because many children are very allergic to nuts. Be aware that the nature of nuts for treating eczema and whether you should feed your child nuts is always changing. In addition, babies may choke on hard small foods such as nuts.
Avoid common trigger foods. This includes the food to give your baby and what you eat if you are breastfeeding. There is no fixed list of foods that cause eczema. Regardless, doctors agree that there are common trigger foods to avoid. Citrus fruits, pasteurized dairy products, tomatoes, processed sugar snacks, alcohol, sugar, yeast, and black tea can all cause eczema.
Pay attention to your baby’s diet and see what foods are causing eczema. Try eliminating these foods from his diet if your baby’s eczema is the result of a food allergy, and you’ll eventually find the cause.