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Friday, 18 January 2013


Baby eczema can look a little scary when the red, crusty, almost blistery-looking patches show up on baby's skin, often during their first few months.

Yet baby eczema is not only common, it's also very treatable, and many infants do outgrow it. Not sure if your baby's itchy, irritated rash is eczema? These questions and answers can help you understand what to look for.

What Does Baby Eczema Look Like?

Baby eczema (also called infant eczema or atopic dermatitis) appears in about 10% to15% of children. It shows up as patches of red, leathery, somewhat blistery-looking skin. The skin is almost always tender, itchy, dry, and rough.

While it may appear just about anywhere on baby's body, eczema most often occurs on baby's cheeks, and at the joints of their arms and legs.

Infant eczema can be easily confused with cradle cap, another red, scaly rash of infancy. Cradle cap generally clears up by eight months, and usually appears on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyelids and eyebrows, and behind the ears.

Why Do Babies Get Eczema?

No one really knows what causes eczema. It's an immune system reaction that can be triggered by certain soaps, creams, allergies, and detergents, and may worsen with stress, heat, and sweat.

Heredity is a big factor in whether or not an infant gets eczema. If mom or dad have eczema, baby is a lot more likely to develop it, too.

Does Eczema in Infants Go Away By Itself?

Fortunately most children outgrow the itchy irritation of eczema before school age.

A small number of kids will have eczema into adulthood. Remissions do occur and can last for years, though the tendency to have dry skin often lingers.

What Triggers Eczema in Children?

What triggers one infant's eczema won't trigger another's. Still, there are some common eczema triggers to avoid, including:

  • Dry skin. This is often caused by low humidity, especially during winter when homes are well-heated and the air is dry. Dry skin can make baby's eczema more itchy.
  • Irritants. Think scratchy wool clothes, perfumes, body soaps, and laundry soaps. These can all trigger baby's eczema flares.
  • Stress. Children with baby eczema may react to stress by flushing, which leads to itchy, irritated skin -- and an increase in eczema symptoms.
  • Heat and sweat. Both heat and sweat can make the itch of infant eczema worse.
  • Allergens. There's still debate as to whether food allergies in children trigger eczema. Some experts believe that removing cow's milk, peanuts, eggs, and citrus fruits from a child's diet may help control eczema symptoms.

How Can I Treat My Baby’s Eczema?

Taking care of baby's skin is the first step to managing infant eczema, especially when the condition is mild. 

  • Moisturizers. A good moisturizing ointment like petroleum jelly or fragrance-free creams, when used daily, will help baby's skin retain its natural moisture. Apply immediately after a bath.
  • A lukewarm bath. This helps hydrate and cool the skin, and may reduce itching. Speak with your doctor about using an antihistamine to relieve your baby's itchy skin.
  • Topical steroids. Over-the-counter steroids like hydrocortisone creams and ointments can help reduce the redness and inflammation of baby's eczema, when used as directed. Though these creams are safe, they can lead to thinned skin and other issues if applied for too many days to the same part of the body.
  • Other topical treatments are available by prescription to ease inflammation. Speak with your pediatrician. 

In severe cases of eczema in children, skin care can be complemented with:

  • Ultraviolet light therapy
  • Antibiotics for rashes that become infected

How Can I Help My Baby’s Eczema at Home?

One of the keys to treating infant eczema is to prevent baby from scratching. Scratching can make the rash worse, lead to infection, and cause the irritated skin to get thicker and more leathery.

Be sure baby's nails are trimmed often, and then take the edge off of them with a file if you can. Some parents also slip "scratch mittens" onto their little one's hands. Others try long socks, tucked in under a long-sleeved shirt, so they're harder for baby to remove.

Other things you can do to treat baby's eczema at home include:

  • Bathe baby for no more than ten minutes in warm water. Hot water can strip skin of its natural, protective oils.
  • Use mild, unscented body and laundry soaps. Perfumed, deodorant, and anti-bacterial soaps can be rough on baby's sensitive skin.
  • Use soap only where baby may be dirty, such as the genitals, and hands and feet. Simply rinse off the rest of baby's body.
  • Pat baby's skin dry; don't rub.
  • Apply a moisturizer while baby's skin is wet.
  • Oatmeal soaking products added to baby's tub may make your little one's skin less itchy. Talk to your doctor.
  • To minimize the irritation of clothing rubbing on the skin, dress baby in loose clothes made of cotton. Always wash new clothes before putting them on baby.
  • Avoid putting too many blankets on baby or overdressing your little one. This can make baby hot and sweaty, triggering an eczema flare.

When Should I See a Doctor About Baby Eczema?

Don't just assume your baby has eczema -- get a medical diagnosis first. This not only eases your mind, it can help you treat baby's eczema more effectively.

Once you know infant eczema is what you're dealing with, keep an eye on baby's condition and call your doctor if:

  • Baby doesn't respond to treatment within a week of starting over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams. Prescription treatment may be necessary.
  • A yellow or light brown crust or pus-filled blisters appear on top of the eczema. This could be the sign of a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics.
  • Baby is exposed to anyone with cold sores or genital herpes, both of which baby is more likely to contract.
Entry credited to : WebMD