“Baby soft skin” is a saying we all hear.
We expect our little ones to have smooth, clear skin. But for some babies, the smooth skin doesn't last long.
Baby eczema can leave your baby's silky smooth skin looking sore and dry.
If your baby's newborn skin becomes red, dry, bumpy and itchy, eczema is often the culprit.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a term for chronic skin conditions that cause redness, bumpiness, dry skin patches and itchiness as the result of inflammation. This inflammation is often due to allergies and sensitivities.
Is Eczema Preventable?
New research suggests that women who take probiotics during the last trimester of pregnancy may reduce their infants risk of eczema by 29 percent.
Women who take probiotics while breastfeeding may reduce the risk of eczema by 40 percent.
Infants and young children who are given probiotics directly may also have a reduced risk of eczema by 20%.
Probiotics are good bacteria. Good bacteria is essential for gut and immune system health. Having a good balance of healthy bacteria helps our bodies to function at their best. While probiotics can't guarantee your child will be eczema free, it can reduce their risk. Probiotics don't have concerning side effects so it a safe option to help reduce your infants chance of eczema. If your little one has eczema, probiotics might still help control breakouts.
Prevention is great, but it doesn't always work. Some infants have very sensitive systems and skin. They may simply be prone to eczema no matter what preventative steps were taken during pregnancy. Fortunately for these sensitive little ones, there are many options to help treat and eliminate eczema symptoms and flares.
Here are 6 tips for reducing and healing eczema flares:
Baby Eczema Tip #1: Steer Clear of Dyes, Fragrances And Chemicals
If your little one has eczema, avoiding dyes, fragrances and chemicals can help reduce eczema flares. Fragrances, even natural ones can be an allergen for many with eczema.
Commercial dyes in detergents, soaps and shampoos often contain many chemicals. These chemicals can be very harsh to any skin, but especially those with eczema. Use dye-free products whenever possible. While eczema is on the skin, things we ingest can still cause flares. Avoiding dyes in food can also help some infants avoid flares.
Whenever possible, use natural soaps, detergents and oils. Commercial lotions, even those labeled for baby, often contain a lot of chemicals. Some infants with eczema do well with natural oils like coconut and even olive oil.
Baby Eczema Tip #2: Test For Food Allergies And Avoid Triggers
Eczema is topical, but everything we ingest can impact our entire body. Many infants with eczema also have food allergies or sensitivities. Some parents ask their doctors to order a food allergy test and others utilize elimination diets to find the culprit.
Around 2-8% of infants are allergic to cow's milk (sometimes this can be incorrectly diagnosed as lactose intolerance). Among exclusively breastfed babies, around 0.5% are allergic to cow's milk. It isn't uncommon for anyone to assume fussing breastfed infants are sensitive to something in mama's diet, but often fussing and gas is normal newborn adjustment. If your baby is spitting up, has chronic nappy/diaper rash, cries in pain and has eczema, it's worth looking into food triggers.
Soy and wheat are also common sensitivities and allergies in infants. Any food can be an allergen though so it is a good idea to talk these possibilities over with your pediatrician, allergist or other healthcare provider.
If you are breastfeeding, trying an elimination diet, and watching for symptoms in your infant is usually the recommended step when allergy concerns arise. In cases where it is hard to pinpoint, allergy testing might be ordered.
If baby is formula fed, your doctor might recommend trying a dairy free-formula, a formula with broken down soy and dairy proteins, or an elemental formula.
Baby Eczema Tip #3: Stick With Cotton Fabrics
Synthetic as well as animal based fibers can trigger eczema in sensitive individuals. Buying 100% cotton clothing, blankets and even nappies/diapers in very sensitive babies, is often recommended by dermatologists.
Be sure to wash all new items in a dye-free, fragrance free and low chemical detergent before letting it come into contact with baby. Many fabrics are processed with a lot of chemicals so washing is a must. If your baby is very sensitive, it is a good idea to stick with 100% cotton clothing for yourself.
Baby Eczema Tip #4: Eat a Whole Foods Diet
Unfortunately, many processed foods contain a lot of preservatives, dyes and even chemicals. These things can cause inflammation in sensitive individuals. Avoid giving these items to your baby once they begin solids, and if you are breastfeeding consider avoiding them yourself.
The nutrition in a whole foods diet also helps our bodies to function at their best. It helps facilitate good gut and immune system health. Both of which can help with autoimmune responses, such as eczema.
In our fast paced world, avoiding all processed foods can be difficult. If you are breastfeeding this isn't something to stress over. Even if you consume processed food on a regular basis, your breast milk is still an optimal whole food for your little one!
Here are 6 steps to introducing solids, the easy way.
Baby Eczema Tip #5: Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise – Keep Their Skin Moisturised!
Did I mention to keep baby's skin moisturised? Keeping the skin moisturised can help heal baby eczema breakouts, reduce itching and even prevent breakouts. Some providers recommend moisturising at every nappy/diaper change. It's a simple way to remember to moisturise often.
Avoid creams and lotions that have fragrances, dyes and a lot of chemicals. If you need a science degree to understand the ingredients, it's not a good sign. Even the popular sorbolene cream is often made from petrochemical byproducts (including mineral oil), and merely acts as a barrier.
There are many creams and lotions marketed for eczema. Some find these helpful, others find they have a lot of additives. Pure aloe vera, virgin coconut oil, and some natural oils work well for many with very sensitive skin. Calendula is also very soothing and healing. Just be careful of additives in these products (always read the labels) and buy organic if you can.
If breakouts and flares are not clearing with regular moisturising, sometimes a prescription medicated cream, ointment or gel is necessary. You can discuss this with a pediatric dermatologist to decide if these are necessary.
#6: Avoid Overheating And Unprotected Sun Exposure
Sweat can cause eczema flares in some infants. Many infants have adorably chubby legs, arms and bellies which can trap sweat in crevices causing the skin to become irritated. Keeping infants in the shade and limit heat exposure can help keep flares under control.
A few very sensitive infants can have photosensitive eczema which means sunlight can cause a flare. If baby seems to flare after being in the sun try to limit sun exposure. Hats, sunscreen, shade etc are great to reduce sun exposure.
Dealing with baby eczema can be frustrating and challenging. Figuring out the different triggers and what works for healing can be a process. Fortunately, many infants become less sensitive after their triggers are found and avoided. If you're still expecting, there might even be a possibility you can avoid the troubles that come with infant eczema.