One of the most common skin disorders in babies and infants is eczema, which causes excessive dry skin, itching and soreness. Around 30% of the general population in Australia suffers from this skin condition, showing how common it is.
Eczema, or dermatitis, is actually a blanket term describing a range of skin conditions, including a rash, itching, excessive dry skin, redness, and soreness. It is important to note that the symptoms of eczema are not related to a lack of cleanliness.
Let’s take a look at several common types of eczema:
Most common among infants is baby atopic eczema, which is caused by allergens and/or hereditary factors. In fact, many sufferers of asthma also suffer from eczema. This type of infant eczema is found in various places, such as on the head and scalp, the neck, inside knees, elbows, and on the buttocks.
Another closely related type of eczema is contact dermatitis, caused by interaction with an allergen – i.e. a substance to which the person is allergic, such as washing powder. This is the most curable type of eczema as it is cured once the allergen is removed.
One very common type of newborn eczema is baby cradle cap. This condition, otherwise called seborrhoeic dermatitis, causes peeling on the scalp that can be either dry or greasy and can extend to the eyebrows and in extreme cases to the trunk of the body. Cradle cap babies will have a yellow, crusty scalp rash that may look unsightly but is curable.
If you think your baby might have eczema, the first thing to do is consult with your doctor or healthcare provider. A baby’s skin is sensitive in any case, and you want to make sure that you are using the correct type of cream that is the most suitable for your little one’s specific condition.
On the market, you will find a variety of baby lotions, eczema cream, natural treatment products, and other kinds of baby eczema products. Once you have spoken to your doctor, you will probably be given a specific cream that will be most suitable for your baby and you must follow the prescription carefully. However, there are other things that you can do to make your baby’s life easier and more comfortable.
One good way to prevent the further development of dry skin on a baby with eczema is to use emollients and moisturising creams. This is best done after a bath. Once you have bathed your baby, you should pat their skin dry very gently and then you should apply the prescription cream that you have been given. After that, once these medications have been absorbed, put the emollients on your baby’s skin very carefully. This should aid the skin to stay moist and assist the healing process.
Another preventative eczema treatment is to watch out for any allergens in your home. This is particularly relevant if you know that you have allergies in your family. Make sure that your home is as dust free as possible. Dress your baby in cotton clothing rather than synthetics, and try to use natural, scent-free and hypoallergenic soaps and shampoos. Some people recommend using cloth nappies as opposed to synthetic, and in an ideal world this probably works very well. However, this may not be practical in your situation.
Another important factor is diet. If there is a history of allergies or asthma in your family, you are even more strongly recommended than usual to breastfeed your baby as this cuts out the possibility of being allergic to formulas. Breastfeed your baby in this situation for as long as possible, but if you find this difficult or impractical you should aim to do it for at least three months.
When you wean your baby, watch out for the development of the eczema rash. Cow’s milk is a major culprit, so you may want to put your baby on goat’s milk products first. Citrus, wheat, berries, soy, chocolate, peanuts, and fish also cause infant eczema, so you should only introduce these products carefully and remove them from the diet if you see any of the symptoms of eczema develop.
Eczema is not an easy condition to live with, but by using any of the treatments or taking the measures above mentioned, you can treat it or stop it from occurring in the first place.