Baby eczema is a condition that affects up to 20% of babies; 60% of those cases persist into adulthood. Anyone who has a baby suffering from eczema knows that it is absolutely heartbreaking to see their little one so itchy and miserable. So what can you do to help your tiny tot?
Treating baby eczema: Assessing the cause
The first step in treating infant eczema is assessing the cause of flare-ups. This means that a parent should consider both internal and external factors. Internally, the baby may have a weakened immune system that need to be strengthened and restored. Food allergies, including baby formulas, are often directly linked to eczema problems. Externally, babies with eczema may be suffering from allergic reactions from a variety of sources including certain types of fabrics, soaps, lotions, detergents, fabric softeners, dyes and perfumes.
Here are a few things you can do to determine whether the problem is internal, external, or both:
- Have your baby tested for food allergies. In approximately 10% of cases of eczema in babies, certain foods such as dairy products, eggs, wheat, soy, nuts, oats, and fish, even baby formulas may provoke an attack. If you’re breast feeding, your baby may even have an allergic reaction to something in your diet.
2. Keep a food diary. If your baby is already eating solids, note the foods given and the symptoms that arise.
3. Have your baby tested for environmental allergies. Environmental allergens such as dust mites and pollen are common culprits of infantile eczema attacks.
4. Look for other symptoms. Does your baby have an upset tummy, runny nose, sneezing or a cough? All of these symptoms may appear to related to the common cold, but they may also possibly be signs of food allergies.
Baby eczema treatment for immediate relief
Of course, there are measures you can take to provide immediate relief to your little one. For one, you can give your baby an oatmeal bath. Grind 2 cups of oatmeal into a fine powder using a food processor or coffee grinder. Add the powder to a running bath of warm water (not hot) and stir well. Soak for 10-15 minutes, rinsing with clean water and patting dry with a soft towel. Alternatively, you can use 2 tablespoons of baking soda instead of oatmeal. Both oatmeal and baking soda are all natural substances that can help soothe your baby’s itchy skin.
When cleansing during a normal bath, use an all natural soap and immediately moisturize the skin after. Keeping your baby’s skin hydrated is absolutely essential. Moisturizers and emollients, such as lotions and creams should be all natural and hypo-allergenic. Earth mama baby, Burt’s Bees, and California baby makes great all-natural cleansers and moisturizers that consistently receive good reviews. Eucerin, Aveeno, and Exederm are also very effective moisturizers, although not all-natural.
Avoid using steroid creams for relief. If you or your doctor feels that it is absolutely necessary to use steroid cream, do not use it for more than two weeks at a time. Florasone is a great all-natural alternative to steroidal and cortisone creams. You can also apply corn starch to eczema rashes with no side effects. If your baby has a flare-up, you can try applying cool compresses to the areas several times a day, followed by cornstarch or moisturizer.
Make sure your baby wears loose clothing, especially on hot days. Stay away from rough, itchy fabrics such as wool. You may want to consider using 100% organic cotton or other natural fibers for any fabric that comes in contact with your baby’s skin. Replacing your baby’s clothing, towels, and bedding with natural fabrics can help eliminate flare-ups caused by allergic reactions. When doing your baby’s laundry, avoid using any harsh detergent that contain phosphates, dyes, and perfumes/fragrances.
Minimize scratching and skin damage by keeping your baby’s fingernails short. Scratching while sleeping is common, so cover your baby’s hands at bedtime. Young infants may need to have their hands covered at all times as an extra safety measure. You can find some baby clothing that have mitts attached to the sleeve. If not, separate mitts or even socks over the hands can help reduce scratching damage to the skin.
You may also want to consider investing in a quality air purifier to keep the air clean and dust mites to a minimum.
Finding a long-term effective treatment for baby eczema is not easy. But if you follow the tips above, you will be off to a great start!