Treatments for Baby Eczema

Baby eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an all too common occurrence that is difficult for both babies and parents.  Around ten to fifteen percent of all babies may experience this condition which causes dry, red, scaly skin on the cheeks and joints in the arms and legs, although, it can be found anywhere on the body.  The good news is that many of these babies will outgrow their eczema and there are several ways to treat it.

Before learning how to treat it; you will want to think about the possible causes for your baby’s eczema as this may affect the treatment.  This skin condition is very hereditary, so if Mom and/or Dad suffers from eczema, there is a heightened chance of the baby also having it.  In addition, eczema can be a reaction to certain soaps, detergents, lotions, foods, scratchy clothing, or allergies.  Just getting hot or having dry weather can also exacerbate the symptoms, so how can a parent deal with this challenge?

Moisturize

It is extremely important to adequately moisturize the skin of a baby with eczema.  Remember to keep baths relatively short (about 10 minutes) and keep the water lukewarm.  Hot water can dry out your baby’s skin further.  You may also add some oil or oatmeal bath product to your baby’s bathwater for some extra protection.  When finished bathing, it is important to pat your baby dry and immediately apply a lotion.  Do not rub your baby’s skin dry as that can make the eczema worse.  The lotion you use should be made for sensitive skin and should be free of perfumes and dyes.  Some great ones include CeraVe, Eucerin, and Vanicream.  Repeat this moisturizing as necessary.

Soaps/Detergents

Perfumes and dyes found in most soaps and detergents can be very irritating to sensitive skin.  This means that you should try to make sure that all soaps and laundry detergents are fragrance and perfume free.  Cetaphil and Aveeno, among others, make soap specifically designed for those with eczema or very sensitive skin.

Allergens

Your baby may be reacting with eczema due to an allergic reaction.  You should consider seeing your pediatrician or an allergist if you suspect your baby may be suffering from allergies.  If your baby is eating food, you could even try keeping a food diary or doing an elimination diet to see how eating certain foods affects your baby’s skin. 

You may also notice that your baby gets worse on high pollen days or when he or she is around the family pet.  If you suspect a pet is to blame, try to keep it away from the baby’s room and make sure to wash your hands after handling the pet. 

Dust allergies can also be a problem.  Wrapping the mattress in a protective allergen sheet, frequent vacuuming, and limiting or removing stuffed animals are some essential steps for controlling a dust allergy. 

There may be no correlation to allergies for your baby, but it is something to look out for.

Fabrics

100% cotton is the best material for a baby with eczema.  You should also make sure that clothing is not too tight and try to avoid any rough or scratchy fabrics like wool.  In addition, you will want to wash all new clothing before your baby wears it for the first time.

No Scratching

It is very important that your baby does not scratch his or her eczema.  This can not only lead to making the eczema worse, but it can also cause an infection.  To help prevent your baby from scratching, you should make sure to keep his or her nails trimmed and filed.  You may also choose to put mittens or even socks on your baby’s hands at bedtime so he or she can’t scratch while sleeping.  If your baby will allow it, cold compresses may ease the itching.

Hydrocortisone

If your baby’s eczema will not go away with the above steps, you may need to consider a topical steroid.  You will find 0.5% and 1% hydrocortisone lotion or cream over the counter.  If the eczema is really severe and will not go away, a stronger hydrocortisone may be prescribed by your baby’s physician. 

Further treatments

If over the counter and prescription medicines are not working, then your doctor may even want to opt for ultraviolet light therapy.  Some doctors may try to prescribe creams like Elidel or Protopic for babies.  This medication is not approved for children younger than two and it also has a black box warning from the FDA.  One last thing to look out for is any signs of infection.  Your baby may need antibiotics if any of the eczema becomes infected.

Eczema is a very trying experience for the baby and his or her parents.  The most important thing is to consistently moisturize and be on top of the situation.  If you are diligent in your baby’s skin care, you will see an improvement in the look and feel of his or her skin.