Understanding eczema in babies

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Eczema can be a frustrating skin condition for newborns but it is very common, and in most cases, they grow out of it. Your child might start showing signs of eczema from two to four months of age with red, dry patches appearing on the skin. Seeing their soft and silky skin turn red and dry and itchy can be difficult. 

What is eczema?

First, if you’re a bit confused about what eczema is exactly, it’s a condition of recurrent rashes that pop up on the skin appearing as inflamed, cracked, red, and dry patches. They are usually due to irritation or allergy. It tends to be very itchy and uncomfortable, but not harmful or contagious. 

There are two main kinds of eczema your little one might be facing:

1. Contact dermatitis

The rash shows up when the skin comes into contact with an irritant and goes away when you get rid of the substance.

2. Atopic dermatitis

The rash is inherited from other family members’ eczema, allergies, or asthma. 

What are the causes?

Eczema typically comes from inherited dry and sensitive skin. Food allergies, especially to cow’s milk, can also cause irritation. Otherwise, flare-ups will happen when their skin comes into contact with irritants such as:

  • Wool
  • Animal/animal hair
  • Pollens
  • Bath products (soap especially)
  • Dry air – use a humidifier!
  • Foods
  • Dust

How do I know if my baby has eczema?

You’ll most likely be able to tell immediately if these patches start to show up on your little one’s body. At first, they might appear on their cheeks, scalps, and behind their ears. Slowly, if left untreated, the patches could start moving down to the elbows and on the backs of their knees. On top of that, if you notice them scratching their skin incessantly, it is pretty clear they may be suffering from some itchy blotches. Tiny pimples filled with liquid might also show up on top of the patches. 

How to treat it

Treating eczema quickly is key. Leaving it to become more inflamed or irritated will cause your child to keep scratching and spread it further. Some things to start doing are:

  • Bathing daily with lukewarm water (although in some extreme cases, your doctor might recommend bathing less)
  • Using plenty of gentle moisturiser (fragrance-free)
  • Avoiding irritants like synthetic fabrics or soaps
  • Keep their nails short to stop them from scratching too much or put mittens on their hands
  • Make sure they stay cool and moisture-free – being wet for too long can trigger inflammation

Can it be prevented?

There is no sure-fire way to prevent eczema as it can be inherited or due to natural irritants. However, you can keep them as moisturised and their skin as dry as possible to avoid breakouts. Noticing any small irritations to fabrics or soaps can help you mitigate the problem early. Other than that, babies often tend to grow out of it with age.

If you’re concerned about their eczema or your baby is extremely uncomfortable or you feel like it is getting worse, you should speak with your doctor. They may be able to prescribe medication to help ease the discomfort.

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