Eczema rash affects babies’ overall well-being. For a mom who has been battling baby eczema with my son who is now in grade 1, I exactly know how to bring this annoying thing down. Yes, my kid has had eczema from infanthood up to present.
We’ve experienced the worst flare-up and that made me work on a routine that helps us manage it on a day-to-day basis.
What is eczema in babies
Eczema is a bumpy patch on the skin. It usually is red especially when it flares up. It can appear almost anywhere in the body.
When my son is around 3 months old, it first appeared on both cheeks. Being a first-time mom who grew up in a tropical country, I wasn’t very familiar with eczema.
This condition can progress easily if you have no idea how to remedy the itchiness and drying of the skin.
Eczema rashes get worse during winter months. Living in Canada with almost half of the year being cold, eczema rashes for us seems like a whole-year-round battle.
As a baby, my son’s eczema initially appears as bumpy, red spots in clusters. He would scratch it hard which made it worse and eventually made his skin raw. It was heartbreaking for us parents to see his condition.
As he grows older, the patches aren’t so red anymore, they have become darker (greyish) in shade. However, the itchiness is still the same.
I co-sleep him so that I can prevent him from scratching the rashes almost all night which results in bloody wounds in the morning.
Why does eczema occur in babies
- skin barrier problems
- environmental triggers (dry air, pollens, soap, wool fabric, animal)
The most common risk factor for eczema is heredity. If allergy runs in your family, this can be a reason for your baby’s eczema rashes. We are a family of respiratory allergies such as asthma and rhinitis so this eczema thing for us is a “given”.
Dysfunction in normal skin barriers can also cause eczema. A study in the US National Library Of Medicine concluded that when the epidermis (defence layer of the skin) has issues, allergens and microbes can enter the body easily.
Another condition that may cause eczema is when the body releases insufficient ceramides (fatty cells). This makes the skin lose water and become drier.
Dry skin is our focus in managing eczema rash for my baby which has worked well.
What foods can cause eczema in babies
Medical organizations are considering the possibility of food that can act as triggers for eczema. According to WebMD, 1/3 of babies with eczema rash is also allergic to food.
Food allergy can only be ruled out by a professional Allergist. If you already know what food causes your baby’s allergy, that would help in avoiding eczema flare-ups.
Foods that may cause flare-ups:
- Tree nuts
What triggers eczema in babies
Eczema appears when the skin is dry; the reason why eczema is worse in winter than during warm days.
At first, I had no idea why my baby had this awful red, patches that he scratches often. The constant scratching then made his skin raw and shiny. It looked like the first layer of his skin had been wiped by the frequent rubbing of his mittens against the skin.
We went to the doctor and were told that it’s common for Asian babies to have eczema in cold countries. The doctor prescribed a topical medication.
The cream indeed helped in getting rid of the flare-up. But it was only temporary. I realized that I can’t put the strong cream on his face every time so I looked for a more skin-friendly remedy.
Will eczema go away
In most cases that I have personally known, they went away when their babies are around 2 years old. However, our own case is different. In each year (winter time), my son would have eczema rashes in varied areas of the body.
It did not totally go away for us. One of my friend’s daughter had also a worse type of eczema as a baby but it slowly faded. She’s now 2 years old and there’s not a hint of eczema on her body.
Is there a cure for eczema
There is no cure for this skin condition. The treatment is supportive; managing the affected area.
As mentioned above, physicians will only give you a cream to use with flare-ups, but it does not “cure” it. The cream is a steroid so if your doctor will prescribe it, be cautious in using it. Make sure that you follow the doctor’s instructions.
When does eczema start in infant
Eczema’s appearance varies from child-to-child. It may start in the first month of life or later.
If you notice that your baby is starting to have red patches that he/she itches all the time, make sure that his/her skin is well moisturized. Otherwise, it will flare-up in no time and can disrupt normal activities such as sleep.
How do you treat eczema rash in babies
Supportive and precautionary measures are important in managing eczema rash for babies.
Use natural, baby-friendly remedies as much as possible.
Our eczema routine that has worked through the years
If we look closely at how eczema starts – it always comes from dry skin. If the baby’s skin isn’t moisturized well with the presence of triggers, eczema may start appearing especially if you have a family history of allergies.
I use my own formula “dry skin + unmoisturized skin = eczema”. You may ask, “Well, isn’t that redundant?”. No, because there are people who naturally have healthy skin with ample moisture in it.
For example, if you have a dysfunctional epidermis layer, your skin is more prone to drying as the layer is supposed to hold moisture. Failing to moisturize this type of skin is indeed prone to eczema.
Now, we wash our babies a couple of times a day. Washing, especially with soap, can lead to drying of skin afterwards. And when there’s already risk factors such as dysfunctional epidermis, the drying of skin is worse. Imagine if you don’t moisturize it right away.
It would become so itchy and the baby would, of course, scratch it. That’s when eczema flares up. If this happens again and again because as I’ve said, we tend to wash our babies many times a day, the condition will only get worse. I hope you are following my concept.
So what I did?
Every time I wash my baby’s face, for example after eating, I make sure that I moisturize it RIGHT AWAY. I mean, within 10-20 seconds after washing or wiping his face with a wet cloth.
I know it sounds absurd. But it works! Do this every single time you introduce water to his/her skin and you will notice the difference.
In between washing, you need to lotion it up as well. A thicker type of lotion that is hypoallergenic (marked “for sensitive skin”) is best to use. We personally use Cetaphil.
If you are concerned about the use of lotion on the cheeks, use a natural product such as Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO). Look for an edible one to make it safer. But make sure that your baby has no allergy to this product before using it.
When my son was 2 years old, his eczema was located around his mouth. I could not use any topical product on it so I only use food-grade VCO.
I put a portion of the VCO jar into a small jar or bottle and I brought it with me everywhere we go.
What else helped us in managing infant eczema
A swaddle will also prevent from scratching the eczema rash on babies. We used a certain type of swaddle that the arms could not “break-free”.
The trigger of eczema is only one factor. Eczema flare-ups can be prevented by properly moisturizing the skin.
After bathing or washing an area of your baby’s body, moisturize it right away – within a couple of seconds. Because when you wait too long, the moisture have already escaped the skin and lotioning up isn’t very effective anymore.
The idea is to trap the moisture before it dries up, so time is essential to manage eczema.
Do you have a working management routine for eczema? We would love to know it in the comments below.