Poor baby! Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is an itchy skin inflammation, and it’s doubly miserable on the tender skin of an infant or small child. Eczema may appear as tiny red bumps that can ooze and become infected if they’re scratched, or as dry, scaly patches. Either way, it’s an unpleasant experience and the jury is still out about its cause. Here’s what we know about eczema, its triggers and what you can do to treat and prevent it.
Eczema by the Book
Eczema, from the Latin for “skin rash,” is a disruptive and common skin disorder that can affect people of all ages. More than one quarter of babies and small children have eczema, making it one of the most common pediatric skin ailments. While its cause is still considered unknown, there is growing evidence that eczema is an auto-immune disease of the skin. Many children seem to outgrow it around their second year, with others exhibiting symptoms until their late teens or longer.
The rash usually presents on the cheeks and scalp for babies, but it’s not uncommon on other body parts. After the first year, eczema is most common in crease areas, like inside the elbow or behind the knee, and around wrists and ankles. The rash isn’t contagious, but it’s very itchy and uncomfortable. It also isn’t constant, but an ailment that comes and goes. This makes identifying and avoiding common triggers all the more important.
Eczema can be triggered by allergens and irritants, and diet can play a significant role as well. In fact, many people who have successfully treated their own eczema began by eliminating food groups including gluten, soy and dairy. Heat and direct contact with irritants (things like detergents, fabric softeners and finishes, chemical scents, harsh soaps, even temperature changes and even regular dry skin are also common culprits of an eczema outbreak.
Keep household irritants to a minimum by choosing detergents, dish soaps, cleaning products, baby wipes, lotions, body soap and shampoos that are free of dyes and chemically-produced scents. Be aware that most scents advertised on products are chemically produced, so look for scents that occur naturally and then check for those ingredients on the label.
Tip: Skip the chemical-laden fabric softener in favor of a brand that does not use fragrances (natural or chemical), or try adding a cup of white vinegar to your laundry before the wash cycle for naturally softer fabrics.
Treat outbreaks with the right emollient, and choose carefully! They aren’t all created equally, so look for a product that is designed for sensitive baby skin. And consider a balm over a lotion. Lotions can temporarily reduce the itchiness of eczema, but a balm will do the same in addition to sealing the skin for a double whammy of instant relief and healing. Our Intensive Baby Balm is a great choice – hypoallergenic and blended with high-quality organic ingredients to soothe and nourish dry, irritated skin. We sourced natural ingredients like coconut, shea butter, neem and plantain, all of which are known for their hydrating and healing properties. And you’ll find no chemically-produced fragrances or colors, no fillers like mineral oil, and definitely no parabens or sulfates in our products. Remember, the skin is our body’s largest organ. Whatever we apply to our skin is ultimately absorbed into the body, so be very familiar with the ingredients in your skin care products.
At bath time, avoid very hot water, since it’s more drying to skin than warm water. Use a very mild soap or cleanser, and let your little one splash in the tub before you soap him up so he isn’t exposed to the soapy water for too long. When it’s time to towel off, use a patting motion instead of rubbing. This is less irritating to sensitive skin, and it’ll keep the skin damp, which is when you want to apply a balm to hydrate the skin and lock in that moisture.
During eczema outbreaks, make sure to apply the balm for skin relief in the mornings and throughout the day too.
TIP: Diaper changes are a great time to apply balm for skin that is as hydrated as possible. Don’t give your baby a reason to scratch!
Start with the basics – good skincare and minimal exposure to known irritants will go a long way. If outbreaks are still occurring regularly, speak to your pediatrician about possible triggers in your baby’s diet (or yours if you’re breastfeeding).
Tags: baby balm, eczema