The incidence of eczema is on the rise, with more and more children developing the condition every day. The rise can almost certainty be attributed to aspects of our modern way of life, such as more pollution, processed foods and more chemicals and irritants all around us.
Most children who have eczema inherit it from their parents. It is however not eczema itself that they inherit, but the tendency for their body to over react to certain substances in their environment such as dust, pollen, foods and chemicals.
While the exact underlying mechanism as to why this happens is not known, research has shown that babies who are exposed to allergens at an early age (even in the womb) are more likely to develop eczema than others who are not exposed as much.
Finding out that your baby has eczema is devastating for any parent. Thankfully most children will grow out of their eczema by the time they reach school age, but some won’t, and a parent’s life can be consumed by the endless task of trying to manage their baby and child’s eczema.
Tips To Help Baby Eczema
Although nothing can be done to change your baby’s genetic predisposition to eczema, there are a lot of things you can do to help manage their condition:
• Avoiding various trigger factors will play a significant role in helping to prevent flare ups. Work out what seems to irritate your child. Whether it is dust mites, pollen, certain chemicals or maybe even foods, it will help to keep a diary of your child’s experiences and thus help identify and avoid irritants.
• Keep your baby’s skin well moisturised. Apply a moisturiser several times a day.
• Bathe your baby in lukewarm water, using a few drops of bath oil to soften the water and moisturise the skin. Allow them to soak in the water for 10 – 15 minutes. Avoid using soaps. Use a soap substitute if necessary or just plain water is often sufficient as baby’s skin rarely becomes dirty.
• After the bath, pat the skin dry and apply an emollient to treat the eczema symptoms.
• Dress your baby in loose fitting, 100% cotton clothes if possible. Avoid wool and other course materials as they will irritate the skin and avoid synthetics as they do not breathe and cause the skin to sweat. If you are wearing wool or synthetic, put a cotton cloth over your shoulder when you hold your baby so they do not come in contact with your clothing.
• Keep your baby’s fingernails short to help keep the scratching from breaking the skin. Cotton mits over their hands especially at night will help to prevent damage from scratching.
• Keep pets off beds and other furniture as pet dander is a common allergen. Vacuum and damp dust regularly to keep dustmite at bay and keep windows closed and your baby indoors when lawns are being mowed to avoid excess exposure to pollens.
• In dry or heated rooms, use a humidifier to keep the air moist. If you do not have a humidifier a bowl of water near heaters will help to prevent the air from drying.
• Diet Matters – introduce foods slowly and one at a time so that any sensitivities can be identified. Avoid foods that cause your baby’s skin to develop eczema. Once they are eating most foods keeping a food diary will help to determine if any foods cause an eczema flare up.
• If your baby is still in nappies, at every change ensure the skin is thoroughly cleaned and apply a thick layer of protective moisturiser under the new nappy. Papaw Ointment is a fantastic barrier cream as is Aromababy Barrier Balm or Grahams Sooth-It Balm. It is also a good idea to leave the nappy off and let the skin breath at every chance. Nappy change and bath time are good opportunities for this.
The various complications associated with eczema can be daunting for any parent. Arming yourself with as much information as possible will be one of your most important allies in your efforts to control your baby’s eczema.
Although there is no cure for eczema, a helpful doctor or medical professional, plus a sensible program of skin care, lifestyle and diet will help you control your baby’s eczema and improve their quality of life.