What’s silky, smooth and soft and suddenly turns into a dry and flaky red rash all over? Baby’s skin affected by a case of Eczema aka Infant Eczema Research indicates that nearly 10 percent of all infants in the United States have some type of eczema, which is a type of skin rash that generally appears on the scalp and cheeks, but may spread to chest, legs or other parts of the body. Although baby eczema isn’t dangerous or contagious, it isn’t pretty and causes severe itching for your little one.
What is Infant Eczema?
Medically referred to as Infant Eczema, baby eczema can be one of two skin conditions namely:
1. Atopic dermatitis (AD) – a generally inherited chronic skin condition occurs in most cases among babies with a family history of asthma, eczema or allergies.
2. Contact Dermatitis – a rash that is caused when the skin comes in contact with an irritating substance, and generally clears up once the irritant is removed.
Atopic Dermatitis is a skin condition and the most common form of eczema. When affected, it can show up as red, crusty patches on your baby’s skin often during the first few months.
Good news is that this skin rash is very treatable, and infants often outgrow it, but it is important to educate yourself on the symptoms, causes and treatments in order to seek the right treatment and manage the condition wisely.
Given that there are several different types of eczema, and each may look and act differently as your child grows, the only way to be certain on what your baby has is by consulting your doctor.
In this article, we hope to provide you with the information on what is Atopic Dermatitis, its causes, symptoms and treatment methods including home remedies.
N.B: Seek medical assistance FIRST!
What causes Infant Eczema?
Although the exact cause(s) of this type of infant eczema is still unknown, medical professionals are certain that babies who do develop eczema do so owing to a combination of environmental and genes triggers.
They further state that infant AD is caused when external elements trigger the immune system resulting in these red patchy flare ups.
Furthermore, children that come from families with a history of hay fever (known as the atopic triad), AD or asthma are most likely to develop this skin rash. Some children might experience eczema right into adulthood, and sometimes without showing any symptoms, but they may still tend to have dry skin.
Although each baby is different, there are some common infant eczema triggers to avoid including:
Infant stress can result from anger, frustration or fear and they generally react to stress by flushing, which can result in irritated, itchy skin that consequently accelerates their AD symptoms. There are several ways to control baby stress starting with determining the things that cause the stress and some practical ways to help cope with them. In addition, making AD treatment a part of your family’s regular routine can also help or you can seek professional advice.
This can accelerate the itchiness and is often caused by low humidity especially in the winter when houses are well heated and the air is dry.
Things such as baby soaps, perfumes, polyester, scratchy wool clothes and even laundry soaps can all trigger infant rash. This is why it is always wise to use baby safe products including baby safe detergents. To further control irritants, pay attention to the aforementioned products and even certain vegetables, meats or juices from fresh fruit, which can cause your baby’s eczema to flare up.
Although not certain, some medical experts believe that removing peanuts, cow’s milk, eggs or certain fruits from your infant’s diet may help control the symptom of infant rash.
And take note that your baby can get exposed to these foods when mom eats them before or while breastfeeding. There are also a few environmental elements that cause your baby’s skin to flare up such as dust mites, seasonal pollen and pet dander from dogs and cats.
Ways to control allergens include keeping pets off rugs, beds and furniture, using pillow and mattress covers to prevent dust mites from breeding on bedroom carpets and bedding and washing their clothing such as pajamas often with hot water and baby friendly detergent.
Heat and sweating
Some kids affected with child eczema tend to experience a prickly heat sensation or itchiness when they sweat. This can occur when they quickly move from one temperature zone to another or wear too many clothes in bed.
There are several ways to control sweating, most notably refraining from letting your child become overly active when they flare up. Other tips to prevent infant sweating include controlling the heat in rooms where they spend a lot of time and dressing them in soft, breathable clothing.
Viruses and bacteria can accelerate your child’s eczema, and although the list of infections is extensive, staph is the most common and generally affects your child’s arms and legs.
Other contributors to infections include herpes virus, molluscum virus and fungus such as athlete’s foot or ringworm.
There are several ways to control infection starting with learning to recognize the signs and treating them at an early stage. If your child displays signs such as eczema that has puss like bumps or weeps or crusted regions on their skin, they may have contracted any one of these common infections.
Symptoms of Infant Eczema
As mentioned earlier, a considerable number of babies suffer are affected by eczema, and regardless of the type of infant eczema, the best solution for infant eczema is to control the symptoms of baby rash.
This baby skin itchiness condition generally occurs during infancy with nearly 60 percent of babies developing symptoms of infant eczema during their first year and roughly 85 percent before the age of 5.
Symptoms of this skin rash condition are fairly easy to spot, with mostly all affected babies showcasing dry, scaly and thickened skin.
These patches of red or dry skin are almost rough and itchy, and can appear anywhere on your infant’s body, most commonly on their cheeks and joints of their arms and legs.
Speaking of symptoms and worth noting is that AD or infant eczema is not to be confused with cradle cap as it is less red and scaly and generally appears on the scalp area, eyelids and eyebrows, behind the ears and sides of the nose.
Cradle cap tends to go away by the end of a baby’s first year so it is not really a baby skin rash condition to be overly concerned about.
Also, it is important to note that the symptoms of eczema change as your child grows so it is important to know what to look for at each stage. For babies between 0 and 6 months, baby eczema generally appears on the forehead, chin, cheeks, face and scalp.
However, it is highly unlikely to appear in the diaper area owing to the fact that moisture protects the skin in that region.
For babies between 6-12 months, eczema appears on areas that are easy to scratch as their crawling such as elbows and knees. Eczema that is infected at this stage may form a yellow crust or little puss like bumps on the skin.
Eczema in toddlers between the ages of 2 and 5 years is more likely to appear on their wrists, creases of the elbows and knees or ankles and hands.
At this stage, your child’s skin may begin to appear dry and scaly, and turn thick with deeper lines also known as ‘Lichenification’.
For kids over the age of 5, eczema usually affects the creases of elbows and knees and symptoms include redness and itchy patches. Since there are several different types of eczema, it is wise to consult your doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
How to treat Infant Eczema?
Although there is no single known cause of this infant skin condition, good news is that there several prescription and home remedies to keep it under control.
Before getting into infant eczema treatments, it is important to note that every infant or toddler is different hence will be affected differently by eczema.
The best way to manage your child’s skin rash condition is by knowing the symptoms that trigger it, and while there are several things you can do at home to provide relief for baby eczema, you should visit your doctor if the condition becomes worse or infected.
Just like most skin conditions, treatments for baby skin rash will depend on its severity, where for severe cases doctors usually prescribe antibiotic medication until it improves or advice to use emollient cream, lotion or ointment along with a course of mild steroid cream in mild cases.
But even if your child doesn’t have eczema, it is a good practice to moisturize their skin regularly in order to prevent dry skin.
With regards to steroid eczema creams, they are safe to use, and the main side effect that might result from usage is thinning of the skin when used inappropriately.
For extremely itchy eczema, doctors may prescribe oral antihistamines, which cause drowsiness so it is best to use them at night. If your child isn’t responding to treatment from your physician, you will most likely have to seek advice from a specialist dermatologist.
Listed below are some of the best solutions for infant eczema including home remedies.
Topical steroid cortisone cream
Steroid creams for baby eczema are available in varying strengths including extremely mild over-the-counter hydro-cortisone cream to strong and very strong steroid solutions so it is best to seek medical advice in order to get the right one.
If your baby’s eczema is well controlled, using this cream is not required, but contrarily if your child is experiencing moderate to severe symptoms, this cream works miraculously when used on a daily basis. Start with the mildest form and then move up as the need arises.
Most if not all children will experience some level of flare ups when affected by eczema, which can vary from mild to severe all over the body. For this, 1 percent hydro-cortisone cream is well suited when used twice a day or until the rash subsides.
If your child’s rash is moderate where the affected areas appear to be more red and inflamed, and bleeding slightly due the scratching, mild prescription cortisone cream is an excellent solution.
For severe cases where the areas ooze, bleed and are very red and irritated, treat these areas with a doctor prescribed medium strength prescription cortisone cream. It is best to use the cream until the rash is gone, and you can lower the cream strength as the rash shows signs of relief.
Applying the cream must be done after a bath and to damp skin, and before applying a moisturizer. When using steroid cream for infant rash, you may notice one of two side effects – on the skin and internally.
Side effects on the skin include stretch marks, infections and thinning of the skin, whereas and extremely rare is when absorbed through the bloodstream may reduce growth rate.
This new innovation for treating moderate to severe eczema shows great promise. It is available in two strengths, and is to be applied topically over the affected area (s).
This eczema ointment is as effective as some steroid creams without the side effects and is generally prescribed by a skin specialist.
Home Remedies for Baby Eczema
Sea Spray or Magnesium or Detox Baths
Sea spray according to some parents works well for treating baby eczema and is generally found at the beach. Good news is that if you can’t get your hands on sea spray, you can make it in the comfort of your home.
The ingredients you will need are a tablespoon of sea or Himalayan salt, dab of Epsom salt, a cup of distilled water and some essential oils for scent.
Start by heating the water to almost boiling point, then add the Epsom salt, salt, and your choice of essential oils (lavender and mint are great).
Next, stir all together until the salt is completely dissolved. Set aside and let the mixture cool, after which empty into a spray bottle and apply on any symptoms of eczema with cotton just like you would with a toner.
The Vitamin D in the salt is the magical ingredient in this mix, and is generated once the mixture becomes hot just like water at the beach.
Cod Liver Oil and Oats
FCLO abbreviation for fermented cod liver oil is recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation, and is extremely effective for several aspects of your health.
Cod liver oil is rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and the anti-inflammation properties in it are what prevent eczema. Oats have excellent moisturizing and antioxidant properties, and there are several ointments available that combine the best of both worlds such as Robertson’s Skin Repair Ointment.
Coconut oil is basically an all rounder, and works well for eczema and myriad other skin conditions owing to its vitamin and mineral content and antioxidant properties.
To treat infant eczema, it can be used by itself or in combination with other ingredients such as Epsom salts, oats or magnesium blended together to make a balm.
Owing to the fact that eczema is an inflammatory condition, it is best to pay attention to your baby’s diet and correct the issues related to their gut’s health.
Start by including natural products in their diet such as yoghurt, which provides healthy bacteria to their digestive system.
Other Forms of Infant Eczema
As mentioned earlier, contact dermatitis is another common type of baby eczema and is slightly different from atopic dermatitis in the way that it s caused.
Also known as irritant contact dermatitis, this skin condition is caused by prolonged exposure to an irritating foreign substance such as latex gloves, jewelry such as nickel and gold, poison oak or poison ivy.
It can also be caused by exposure to acids and solvents in detergents, which is why it is highly recommended that you use diaper friendly detergents.
Symptoms of contact dermatitis include a row of tiny, scaly blisters that crops up on the area that comes in contact with the allergic substance. It can show up on the hands or face where contact has been made, and can vary from mild to severe with large oozing bumps.
Regardless of the severity, the rash can be very itchy, but on a brighter note isn’t contagious. Types of contact dermatitis include drool rash, diaper rash and poison ivy.
After diagnosis, your doctor will peruse your child’s diet, habits and home environment, and may order a patch test for ACD (allergic contact dermatitis).
The best step you can take to prevent ACD is to avoid your baby’s skin from coming into contact with the irritant. This may mean using rubber bangles instead of rubber jewelry or cutting tags from clothing.
Seborrheic dermatitis is different than both atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis in that it affects the areas where there are a lot of oil-producing (sebaceous) glands present such as nose, scalp and upper back.
Although the exact cause of this type of eczema is unknown, genes and hormones and even some types of microorganisms are claimed to play a role in its conception.
Also known as cradle cap in infants, triggers for seborrheic dermatitis include cold, dry weather, harsh detergents, solvents, stress, hormonal changes or illness.
Symptoms include white or yellowish crusty flakes, swollen, greasy skin, redness and skin with itchiness or burning sensation.
Treatment for mild cases of cradle cap includes medicated shampoo or topical anti-fungal cream or a prescription from your doctor for corticosteroid medication in severe cases.
The content provided in this article is to educate you on the different types and symptoms of infant eczema, but it is best to seek medical help if you notice even the slightest symptoms of this skin condition.
Not to be confused with adult eczema, infant eczema can be easily set apart from other forms of diaper rash. But take note that my guide is only a great way to know what symptoms to look for, and then seek medical attention. There are a few diaper rash creams that can provide temporary comfort, but since this is a medical skin ailment that literally affects millions of kids around the globe, consulting your family doctor upon first notice is a wise decision.