Parents want to keep their babies safe and healthy. Splotches of red and inflamed skin on a little one can be concerning, especially when it causes pain and discomfort. It is essential to determine if an irritation is a simple baby rash or baby eczema. There are some telltale signs, but ultimately a doctor can determine whether a baby has eczema.
Eczema refers to several inflammatory skin infections. These include seborrheic dermatitis (cradle cap), dyshidrotic eczema (foot and hand eczema) or eczema atopic dermatitis. Eczema is a reaction to some irritation. Typically, the cause is not apparent. The subsequent reaction results in red, inflamed and itchy skin.
The terms eczema and atopic dermatitis are generally used interchangeably, although technically they are slightly different. For purposes of this article, the terms will be treated as the same. Atopic dermatitis refers to eczema. Atopic means a genetic disposition to develop an allergic response when exposed to various substances including anything from cow’s milk to pet dander. Dermatitis refers to the skin becoming red and irritated.
Baby eczema is common. It typically appears on the cheeks and chin, but the red rash may appear on any part of the body. The symptoms differ from one child to the next. Most babies outgrow this condition as they get older.
The Causes Of Eczema
There is no clear indication as to what causes baby eczema, but scientists and researchers theorize that genetics and environmental factors may contribute to the problem. Infants whose parents or other family members have a history of hay fever, eczema or asthma are more likely to develop this condition early in their lives. Eczema may also be triggered by an immune system dysfunction that affects the skin’s ability to hold moisture .
Other possible causes for baby eczema, such as in the case of allergic eczema, include pet dander, mold, pollen and certain types of food. With regards to contact dermatitis, babies may experience an eczema flare when they are exposed to certain allergens due to their sensitive skin. These irritants vary from one person to the next, but they may include sensitivity to fragrances, synthetic fabrics, dyes and cigarette smoke. Babies can also experience eczema if they develop a skin cut that becomes infected with staph bacteria.
In fact, those with eczema are more prone to skin infections. Breaking the skin barrier allows viruses and bacteria to enter more easily. Recent studies show that bacteria on the skin of those with atopic dermatitis is highly abnormal with an abundance of staph . It should be noted that eczema is not contagious.
The Symptoms Of Baby Eczema
The signs and symptoms of baby eczema can look different as a child ages. For babies who are two to six months of age, the skin tends to break out in a red, itchy rash with small bumps appearing on the forehead, scalp and cheeks. Other symptoms include a slightly raised, circular and itchy rash that may appear as scaly skin at the back of the knees, elbow bends, ankles and wrists.
As a child gets older, symptoms may worsen. An atopic eczema rash can become scalier until the skin becomes extremely dry and itchy. Allergens such as house dust mites, pet dander or a food allergy can make eczema symptoms worse. These allergies can cause the immune system to overreact, triggering skin irritation. Often, children with eczema try to relieve the symptoms by scratching the skin which can exacerbate the condition.
Atopic Dermatitis versus Cradle Cap
Some parents confuse atopic dermatitis and cradle cap. Cradle cap is also referred to as seborrheic eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. It usually appears as patches that are yellow, oily and scaly on the scalp. However, cradle cap can also appear on the nose, eyelids, armpits, behind the ears and behind the knees. These dry and scaly patches usually disappear after eight to twelve months. Atopic dermatitis appears as red rashes on the skin, specifically on the cheeks, but they may also appear on the scalp .
How Long Does Eczema Last?
Baby eczema typically lasts from eight to twelve months. However, the condition can remain for the life of an individual. Eczema can go into remission until an allergen is introduced. There is no cure for eczema, but there are steps to alleviate the irritation on a little one’s skin.
Natural Remedies for baby eczema
When eczema symptoms develop, it is understandable to want to make a child feel more comfortable. Try treating this skin condition with natural remedies.
Coconut oil has anti-bacterial and moisturizing properties that help alleviate the symptoms of eczema. Applying a small amount of this oil on a child’s dry skin reduces the appearance of red patches.
Another baby eczema treatment is an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal can soothe a baby’s skin and reduces inflammation and irritation.
When purchasing creams and ointments to fight eczema in infants, consider calendula cream. Calendula is effective in treating several skin conditions including baby eczema. Apply the cream on the irritated parts of a baby’s skin to help nourish and moisturize.
Change in diet
For breastfed babies whose atopic dermatitis is triggered because of dairy, changing the mother’s diet to include dairy-free foods may help reduce the appearance of dry, itchy skin. If it is unclear what triggered a baby’s dry skin, keep a food log. This can help eliminate possible triggers.
Tea tree essential oil
To alleviate the symptoms of eczema, try a tea tree essential oil bath. Dilute the oil in lukewarm water as a baby has sensitive skin. Tea tree is quite useful in nourishing dry skin. Tree tea essential oil has antibacterial properties that keep infections at bay. Another plus to tea tree oil is it hydrates and soothes irritated skin and repairs skin damage as well.
Installing a humidifier in a baby’s bedroom can help hydrate the skin. Combine the humidifier with a moisturizer that is specially formulated for a baby’s sensitive skin, and the symptoms of baby eczema may gradually fade.
Sea salt bath
Babies with eczema may feel some relief when soaked in a lukewarm sea salt bath. Sea salt is known for its antibacterial properties which protect against infections. The minerals present in the salt can improve a child’s skin condition. To prepare the bath, mix a few tablespoons of sea salt into the water, and mix until the salt has dissolved.
Other Ways To Treat Eczema
Eczema sufferers have a different bacterial flora, so adding healthy bacteria may be useful. The American Academy of Family Physicians has indicated that probiotics may reduce incidences of eczema in infants . Check with a pediatrician before adding probiotics to a child’s diet.
Wet wrap therapy
Wet wrap therapy involves soaking in a bath, then sealing the skin with an organic cream. After applying the cream, some wet wraps are dampened and applied to cover the skin. This alleviates severe itching or pain and also rehydrates the skin.
In children under the age of four, food allergies can cause eczema. However, this is rare after the age of three or four .
Apply a moisturizing skin cream or lotion that is specially made for a baby’s sensitive skin. Ensure that the cream does not contain any harsh chemicals that could worsen discomfort and be absorbed into the skin .
Best Lotion For Toddler Eczema 2019 – MADE OF Moisturizing Organic Baby Lotion
When treating a baby’s atopic dermatitis, it is important to understand what is being put on the skin. Petroleum jelly is an occlusive agent that forms a protective layer over the skin to protect it. However, it also leaves a greasy layer. MADE Of Moisturizing Body Lotion is made from several organic ingredients such as aloe vera, avocado oil, argan oil and organic oats. When applied to a baby’s skin, it boosts the lipid barrier to prevent irritation and chafing while increasing moisture. There are no sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances or other harmful ingredients which further aggravate rashes. The contents of MADE OF lotion include no GMOs, soy, bleach or nuts. MADE OF Moisturizing Organic Baby Lotion is nourishing for all age groups from infancy to toddlerhood to adulthood. It may not be possible to prevent a child from getting eczema, but there are ways to try to control it.
Best Lotion For Toddler Eczema Resources: Kids Health from Nemours; Eczema, Patrice Hyde, MD, June 2015.
 National Eczema Association; Understanding Your Child’s Eczema.
 Kids Health from Nemours; Eczema, Patrice Hyde, MD, June 2015.
 National Eczema Association; Eczema Causes and Triggers.
 Raising Children; Prevention of eczema.
 American Academy of Dermatology; Can anything prevent my child from getting eczema?.