What is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition that is characterised by intense itchiness, redness, dryness, and sometimes blistering, weeping or crusting, arising from inflammation of the skin, on small patches or large swathes of the body.
Eczema and Babies
We’ve talked about eczema and how a good skincare regime can help manage the condition here, but what happens when your baby gets it?
How can you tell and what should you do about it? Here are some questions and answers to help prepare you on what to expect and do.
1) How common is eczema amongst babies?
It is quite common, with around 15% of children suffering from eczema.
2) What does baby eczema look like?
It looks like patches of red, scaly skin that itches and feels rough to the touch. In general, eczema can affect most of the body. However, bear in mind that the affected areas and appearance of eczema may change as your baby grows up:
- Young babies
Looks red and weepy: appearing more often on the cheeks, forehead and scalp.
- 6 to 12 months
Occurs more commonly on the crawling surfaces, elbows and knees. Still looks red and weepy.
- Around two years and above
Appears mostly on the elbows, knees, wrists, ankles and hands. At this age, eczema makes the skin look wrinkled and dry. The affected area also feels rougher and thicker compared to the rest of your baby’s skin.
3) Is there a cure for eczema?
At the moment, there is no cure for eczema. However, most babies tend to outgrow eczema or the condition becomes less severe over time. There are also many treatments to keep eczema under control, so don’t worry!
4) Can I prevent my baby from getting eczema?
While there are no medically-proven ways to totally prevent eczema, knowing what triggers your baby’s eczema flare-ups can help make the condition less distressing.
A combination of a good skincare regime to strengthen your baby’s skin and identifying the triggers can prevent the condition from worsening and reduce the possibility of flare-ups.
5) What can trigger eczema flare-ups?
This varies from baby to baby. Some of the more common triggers include:
Fabrics, dust mites, smoke, scented products, soaps and pets are some of the things that can irritate your baby’s skin and trigger eczema flare-ups.
- Heat and sweat
Both heat and sweat can aggravate or trigger your baby’s eczema.
- Low humidity
Environments with low humidity may cause your baby’s skin to become dry, making eczema-affected areas appear and itch more.
Babies tend to drool a lot. This can cause extra irritation to eczema-afflicted areas like the cheeks, chin and neck.
Is there anything I can do to help my baby?
Milder cases of eczema can be controlled through a good daily bathing and moisturising regime:
- Daily Baths
Give your baby short, warm baths every day. Avoid using hot water and try to keep baths under 10 minutes. Using a gentle baby wash and shampoo is also very important.Avoid using soap, scrubbers, loofahs or rough washcloths too much or too frequently on your baby’s skin. Use a soft towel to pat instead of wiping or scrubbing your baby’s skin dry.These simple bath practices can help prevent your baby’s skin from becoming dry or irritated.
- Use a moisturiser
Immediately after a bath, moisturise your baby’s skin. Ideally, it is best to use a gentle moisturiser to prevent skin irritation. Good moisturisers may also have soothing ingredients that will help calm your baby’s inflamed and itchy skin.Try to moisturise your baby’s skin twice a day, but be careful not to over-moisturise as this may lead to other skin problems.
Consult a dermatologist
For moderate or severe eczema conditions, it is important to consult a dermatologist and follow their advice closely.
Some of the solutions they may prescribe to alleviate your baby’s eczema condition include:
Topical steroids may be prescribed by your dermatologist for use when itching is involved, to help reduce inflammation and itchiness.
- Oral antihistamines
Antihistamines work from within the body to reduce overall itch generally.
- Topical or oral antibiotics
If eczema becomes infected, your dermatologist may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics.
- Diluted bleach baths
Diluted bleach baths reduce bacteria on the skin, decreasing the chances of bacterial skin infections. The doctor will advise on the dilution method.