Most children get rashes
at one time or another. Baby eczema, however, can be a nuisance
that prompts scratching which make the problem worse. Typically,
symptoms of baby eczema appear within the first few months of life,
and almost always appear before a child turns 5. Approximately one
out of every 10 children develops eczema.
The term eczema refers to a number of different skin conditions
in which the skin is red and irritated and occasionally results
in small, fluid-filled bumps that become moist and oozing. It can
occur on just about any part of the body – in babies, typically
on the forehead, cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp, and neck.
While baby eczema looks drastic and painful in the midst of a flare
up, in most cases it will disappear as the child ages.
What causes baby eczema?
There are many factors. We do know that baby eczema is often inherited.
Your baby is more likely to have it if you or some other close family
member has had eczema, asthma or allergies.
The most common cause is atopic dermatitis, sometimes called infantile
eczema (or baby eczema) although it occurs not only in infants,
but also in older children. The word "atopic" describes
conditions that occur when someone is overly sensitive to allergens
in their environment such as pollens, molds, dust, animal dander,
and certain foods. "Dermatitis" means that the skin is
inflamed, or red and sore.
If the baby has had antibiotics, there is a chance the eczema could
be a reaction to a resulting yeast infection, because antibiotics
destroy the “good” bacteria and infection-fighting cells
needed in our bodies, thus weakening the immune system.
Baby eczema is not necessarily an allergic reaction to something,
but it can be provoked by allergens in the baby's environment or
diet (like cow’s milk), or the mother’s diet if breastfeeding.
Baby eczema can also be aggravated by heat or changes in temperature,
dry skin, and skin irritants like wool, some soap chemicals, lotions
How can parents prevent or treat outbreaks of baby eczema?
It is best to be proactive against baby eczema – this means
avoiding as many triggers as possible and strengthening their immune
As for treatment, mild to moderate cases
of baby eczema can be helped by regular moisturizing. Keep your
child’s skin moist after bathing by applying moisturizer within
- Refrain from overly frequent bathing and
using bubble baths.
- Switch to milder soaps for bathing the child
and washing their clothing.
- Keep bedrooms and play areas free of dust
mites (a common trigger).
- Dress your child in breathable cotton clothing.
- Avoid sugary substances, and all dairy from
cow’s milk. Replace cow’s milk with vitamin-enriched
rice milk or a colostrums formula which resembles mother’s
- Give your baby “probiotics” –
you’ve probably heard of acidophilus which is the most
commonly given probiotic – this will guarantee the proper
balance of “good” bacteria (stomach flora) to counteract
- Start your child on children’s vitamins
as soon as possible.
If the child is scratching, try to limit the use
of hydrocortisone creams. Hydrocortisone is a steroid. Over time,
it aggravates and thins the skin and can cause irritability and
chemical imbalance. Creams made from nature’s sources like
“Tea tree oil” are available at natural health outlets
and bring much relief from the itch.
Is baby eczema contagious?
Eczema is not contagious, so there's no need to keep a baby or child
who has it away from siblings, other children, or anyone else.