Even wondered why some newborn babies have flaky patches on their skin, especially during their first few months? This is due to a condition called baby eczema (also called infant eczema). In this write-up, we analyze what causes eczema in babies, its different types and also how it can be treated.
How does Baby Eczema look?
Your baby’s itch rash could very well be eczema. However, the way the condition appears can differ in babies. Those babies with light skin might get patches of red skin while darker-skinned toddlers may get rashes that may look grayish, brownish, or even purplish. It is said that eczema is harder to spot on babies with dark skin since the patches are mostly dry, itchy, and rough. Also, baby eczema can appear anywhere on a child’s body. The common areas include cheeks, the joints of the arms as well as legs. Darkened skin on the eyelids and around the eyes also signs of eczema. If your baby is suffering from eczema, you don’t need to worry. It is a common condition in kids and is very much treatable. In fact, in most cases children outgrow it before they start going to school.
On the other hand, eczema lasts in some kids till they turn adults. The symptoms may not always be there but the dry skin problem persists for longer than usual in some children.
In America about 13 percent of children younger than 18 suffer from eczema, including atopic dermatitis (which is the most common type of eczema), according to a report published in the May–June 2014 issue of the journal Dermatitis. 90 percent of people with eczema experience it before age 5, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
What causes Baby Eczema?
There are multiple causes of baby eczema although researchers are not exactly sure what leads to the condition. It could be a result of family history. If a parent has suffered from eczema, the child is more likely to get it. Also, issues with the skin barrier, which allows moisture to go out and germs to come in, can be one of possible reasons.
Further, baby eczema can be caused in case the body is not making enough fatty cells called ceramides. Lack of ceramides forces the skin to lose water, which is why it becomes drier than usual. Baby Eczema is not contagious. At the same time, infants are more likely to catch hay fever or asthma if they already have baby eczema.
Different types of Eczema
There are several cases of eczema found in babies - atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema and seborrheic dermatitis, also known as “cradle cap”, are the most common ones that affect children.
- Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common form of eczema, which is chronic. It usually appears on a child’s skin in the first six months and can last up to 5 years. Children whose families have a history of atopic dermatitis, asthma or hay fever are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis. Its common symptoms are redness, dry skin and intense itch.
- Contact dermatitis occurs due to the child’s skin becoming inflamed after coming in contact with a substance which triggers an allergic reaction. Contact dermatitis isn’t genetic and is caused by allergic conditions such as hay fever or asthma.
- Dyshidrotic eczema leads to small but extremely itchy blisters on palms of hands, soles of feet and edges of fingers and toes. It is often seen in those who already suffer from another form of eczema and can be related to family history.
- Seborrheic dermatitis is visible in areas of the body that have plenty of oil-producing glands. These include scalp, nose as well as the back. In infants, seborrheic dermatitis is normally seen on the scalp and is also referred to as “cradle cap.”
Things to keep in mind while dealing with Baby Eczema
Following are a few factors that can make eczema in kids worse. So, ensure your child is as protected as possible.
- Dry skin: Babies with eczema should not have dry skin as it will make the child feel itchier. So, try and see to it that the baby’s skin is adequately moist.
- Clothes and soaps: Woolen clothes, which are scratchy, polyester, body soaps, laundry soaps and even perfumes could worsen eczema in kids. Hybrid Cloth Diapers are made while keeping in mind the skin of the baby. Therefore, it is made of good quality cloth material and the washable inserts are also very softly made of cotton while the disposable inserts are made from plant cellulose that is free of any bleach, dyes or fragrances.
- Heat and sweat: Both these factors can worsen eczema in children and can lead to more rashes and accentuated itchy skin.
- Allergens: According to some baby care experts, removing certain substances from a child’s diet could help in controlling symptoms of eczema. Cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, and some fruits are some products which can worsen eczema. However, there is not much clarity over this point. Hence, the significant aspect here is to try and figure out if there is actually any connection between the baby’s food products and eczema flares.
Can Baby Eczema be treated at home?
There are some home treatments that parents can try on their babies to treat eczema. Below are a few of the common ones:
- Apply rash balm to your child immediately after and before diapering. A moisturizing balm with calendula is excellent for baby eczema as calendula extracts have antibacterial properties that soothe a red inflamed skin. Apart from that, any other fragrance-free cream based on bees' wax or coconut oil can also be used. These products aid the baby’s skin in remaining moist.
- Giving your baby a bath with lukewarm water will keep the skin cool and can also reduce itching. Keep in mind though that the water shouldn’t be too hot. Also, make sure that the soap being used is mild and unscented. Antibacterial soaps and deodorant are likely to adversely affect the baby’s sensitive skin.
- It is also important to clean the baby carefully. Soap must be applied only on the areas where the baby is likely to be dirty. This includes genitals, hands, and feet. The rest of the child’s body can be rinsed off with plain lukewarm water.
Specific clothes to deal with Baby Eczema
Dressing is a key component in reducing your child’s eczema woes. It is important that he/she is dressed comfortably and not covered-up unnecessarily. Overdressing for making use of too many blankets may make the child feel sweaty. This could also aid the eczema to grow and trouble the kid further.
Wearing loose clothes that are made of cotton can significantly reduce the annoyance of clothing rubbing on the skin of the child. Also, remember to always wash new clothes and cloth diapers before you dress your child and ensure to use a mild and fragrance-free detergent.
Organic Cloth Diapers will cause no harm to the baby’s skin and the baby will also feel comfortable while wearing it. Bdiapers organic muslin bibs and swaddles are great to keep the baby skin airy and free of lays certified organic muslin is a great fabric for baby’s clothing and blankets as it is free of any chemical dyes and the muslin fabric itself is extremely therapeutic in all climates.
Can babies with Eczema go into the swimming pool?
As we are all aware, chlorine is used in swimming pools, which causes skin dryness. However, recent research suggests that using the diluted version of the bleach can reduce bacteria on eczematous skin. In fact, it can even prove helpful for some people with eczema. Skin irritation occurs because the skin reacts to chlorine and the chemicals used to sanitize the swimming pool water. If your child seems irritated in a particular water pool, try some other place, which has better chemical-treatment mechanisms. It is believed that a salt-water chlorinated pool may be better for kids with eczema as opposed to regular chlorinated swimming pools.
Stop your baby from scratching itchy skin
As we all know, scratching the itchy portion of a skin only makes the condition worse. But babies cannot be expected to know the same. Hence, it is up to the parents to ensure that their child is not engaging in a scratch match. Remember, scratches can even cause infection and the itchy skin can end up becoming even thicker.
To stop your baby from scratching the itchy skin affected due to eczema, trim their nails on a constant basis. Some parents make use of "scratch mittens", which can be placed on children’s hands. Others utilize long socks, and tuck it in under a long-sleeved shirt, as the babies will find it very difficult to take off.
Medicines to treat Baby Eczema
If you’re seeking over-the-counter treatment, there are hydrocortisone creams and ointments, which can reduce the baby’s itching and inflammation. However, considering that children have sensitive skin, parents must be mindful not to overuse these creams as they may end up having adverse effects on the baby’s skin. Some medicines with doctor’s prescription may be used if the above methods do not alleviate the child’s eczema woes.
A parent should consult a doctor if over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams do not have any effect for the good on the child even after a week of starting it. Further, if there are pus-filled blisters on top of the eczema, this could be an indication of bacterial infection, which also must be treated on priority basis. Ensure the child isn’t around anyone who has cold sores or genital herpes. As the child is suffering from eczema, he or she is more prone to get infected with germs.
Can Hybrid diapers help children suffering from Eczema?
A hybrid diaper is a diaper which can either be used both as a regular cloth diaper with cloth diaper inserts. Alternatively, it can be used with disposable inserts, which then acts as a premium disposable diaper. Since a hybrid diaper is rash free, it could help a child who is suffering from Eczema. Hybrid diapers allow for the passage of air, thereby reducing the growth of bacteria. Other diapers (modern cloth diapers and disposable diapers) create a vacuum seal in the diaper area that traps heat and moisture. Due to the overuse of these diapers, babies develop rashes which sometimes leads to eczema. Hybrid diapers are also good as these can be used with cloth and disposable inserts helping break the cycle of exposure to chemicals. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the diaper must allow air to get into the skin so that it has a greater chance of healing.