by Kyra Bradbury
Eczema is more common in babies with a family history of allergies or asthma. It begins as a bright red looking rash on the cheeks and then progresses to other areas of the body like behind the ears, and to the neck, arms and legs. After a baby turns six or eight months, the red, scaly rash can move into the diaper area too. Small pus filled bumps will fill up, ooze and then crust over. When baby scratches the itchy areas, the skin can become infected.
It’s important to seek medical treatment for the eczema in most cases in order to prevent complications like infection. About 50% of children will clear up by around eighteen months of age and will become milder by around age three. One third of babies with eczema will also have allergies or asthma at some time later in their childhood.
To help baby cope with eczema, it’s helpful to do the following:
1. Keep baby’s nails trimmed. Keeping baby’s nails trimmed helps prevent the damage that the nails can do to the skin. You can also cover his or her hands with socks as well, especially while sleeping.
2. Keep bathing to a minimum. Babies with eczema should only be bathed up to three times a week for only 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Aveeno Baby makes a great oatmeal bath for soaking that may help alleviate dryness and itching. Check with your baby’s pediatrician for specific bathing recommendations.
3. Lotion. Use a skin cream that your pediatrician recommends on baby after bath time. Never use Vaseline or any type of oils.
4. Control Temperatures. Keep baby out of very cold or very hot weather. Keep your home at a moderate temperature as well and ensure the correct humidity in your home with the use of a cool mist humidifier (that is cleaned regularly).
5. Dress Baby Appropriately. Cotton is best for baby’s skin. Try to avoid any scratchy fabrics or shirts or pants with rough areas that will be against your baby’s skin while he/she wears them. Loose, cotton clothing will help to soothe baby’s itchy skin. Carpet can also be irritating. Spread a cotton sheet on the floor where baby plays.
6. Avoid Contact With Other Children. When your baby’s skin is open in any area due to itching, it’s best to limit contact with other people and other children. Your baby will be more susceptible to other skin infections like herpes.
7. Watch Your Baby’s Diet. If any particular food seems to be causing the allergic flare up, avoid that food with the supervision of your baby’s pediatrician. Keep track of what baby eats as well as the reaction of your baby’s skin. A food diary may help to point to an allergic culprit in your baby’s diet.
8. Continue Medical Treatment. If baby’s eczema continues for any length of time, it’s best to continue the treatment prescribed by your baby’s doctor. If eczema hangs around for years, it can cause thickening and cracking of the skin which will require steroid cream treatment and possibly antihistamines and antibiotics.