Watching a tiny tot suffer from toddler eczema can be heartbreaking for a parent, sometimes feeling helpless. Toddler eczema roughly occurs in 15-20% of children, and usually goes hand in hand with allergies and asthma. Fortunately, there is a good chance that your tot’s eczema may disappear as he/she gets older since most children grow out of eczema by the time they’re six years old. But in the meantime, there are some proactive steps you can take to heal your toddler’s eczema, and give your little one much needed relief.
Keeping your toddler’s skin moisturized at all times is the first line of defense against eczema. You can help keep the skin hydrated, soft, and supple by bathing your toddler everyday. Some parents avoid bathing their eczema toddlers on a daily basis for fear of drying out out the skin. To avoid this you should:
- Use warm, not hot water. Hot water may worsen skin itching.
- Use a mild, non-drying soap or soap substitute. Soap free cleansers without fragrance/perfume, aqueous cream, and emulsifying ointments are the best cleansers for your baby.
- Add a fragrance-free bath oil in the water. Good examples of bath oils are Oilatum, AlphaKeri, and, Aveeno.
- Add an antiseptic to a bath no more than twice a week to keep bacteria from colonizing on the skin.
- Limit bath time to the time it takes to wash off the cleanser. You can shorten time in the bath by covering your child with cleanser before getting in the bath, then quickly rinsing.
- Gently pat, not rub, the skin dry with a soft towel.
Apply a good emollient/moisturizer immediately after giving a bath to lock in the moisture. Continue to moisturize your child’s skin throughout the day as needed. Keeping moisturizers in the fridge (especially creams) will keep them cool and have a soothing effect on your baby’s skin.
Using fresh aloe vera from a plant is a great natural toddler eczema treatment that will soothe and hydrate the skin while preventing a bacterial infection. Pure aloe vera is also an anti-inflammatory that can penetrate to the inner layers of the skin. Applying aloe vera topically will protect your baby’s skin as it forms a thin film on the surface. If you’re unable to get fresh aloe, you should be able to find organic or natural aloe vera juice at your local health store or online.
Wet wraps are good at softening hard, scaly skin and they are easy to apply. You only need to wrap damp bandages over moisturized skin, then cover with dry bandages. Wet wraps are great for preventing scratching and keeping moisture in the skin.
Some toddlers with eczema may have an underlying food trigger. In fact, food is a contributing trigger in about 30% of children in eczema and is the main trigger in 10% of case. The most common problem foods that trigger eczema are cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts and fish. If you suspect that certain foods are provoking outbreaks, you should have your baby tested for food allergies. You can also keep a food diary, observing and taking note of foods given and any symptoms that occur. Eliminate any suspicious foods one at a time, giving each test a few weeks to get all traces of food out of your toddler’s system.
Limit the amount of junk and processed foods your baby eats, and make fresh whole fruits and vegetables the focal point of the diet. Adding probiotics (good bacteria) is also known for eliminating eczema symptoms.
External factors that provoke eczema in toddlers
Toddler eczema may be exacerbated by a number of external stimuli, including chemicals, allergies, and fabrics. Here a few tips that may help:
- Avoid any products that contain perfumes, including soaps, washing detergents, lotions and shampoos.
- Use washing detergents that are free of dyes and perfumes and avoid using fabric softeners.
- Dress your child in loose, natural cotton clothing to allow the skin to breathe and remain cool. Avoid harsh fabrics such as wool and other scratchy materials.
- Use the softest sheets possible on the bed.
- Invest in an air purifier to reduce dust mites, pollen, and mold.
- Use a dust-mite proof mattress
- Keep the air moist in the home with a humidifier
- Avoid rapid changes in temperature
To prevent your toddler from scratching you should:
- Keep the nails short
- Put cotton mittens on hands and socks on feet at bedtime
- Ask your pediatrician for an anti-histamine if your child has trouble sleeping because of severe itching.
- Apply cool compresses during a flare-up, followed by a cool moisturizer.
Even though there is no magic bullet treatment for toddler eczema, you don’t have to continue to see your little one suffer. If you keep your baby’s skin moisturized, feed her a healthy diet, and eliminate external irritants, you should see a happier toddler in no time!