Are you seeing dry and itchy skin on your baby, eczema flare-ups with red patches and periods of relief? It could be eczema. In Australia, 1 in 3 children are affected by eczema-prone skin which can be caused by either genetics or external irritants. It can be a frustrating skin condition that often presents when they’re around 2-4 months old. Eczema-prone skin results in extreme dryness and itchiness and requires hydration, soothing and replenishing to care for, protect and heal.
If you adopt a specific skincare routine from birth on, studies1 have shown you can reduce the risks of your baby developing eczema-prone skin.
If you’re a bit confused about what eczema is exactly, it’s basically a condition of recurrent rashes that pop up on the skin appearing as inflamed, cracked, red, dry patches. They are usually due to irritation or allergy. It tends to be very itchy and uncomfortable, but it’s not harmful or contagious.
There are two main kinds of eczema your little one might be facing, contact dermatitis, which shows up when the skin comes into contact with an irritant and goes away when you get rid of the substance. And Atopic dermatitis, where the rash is inherited from other family members’ eczema, allergies, or asthma.
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 like wool, animal hair, pollens, bath products (soaps especially), dry air (use a humidifier), foods and dust.
You’ll usually be able to tell immediately if these patches start to show up on your baby’s body. At first, they might appear on their cheeks, scalp, and behind their ears. Slowly, if left untreated, the patches could start moving down to the elbows and on the backs of their knees. You might also notice them scratching their skin, which means they probably have some itchy blotches. Tiny pimples filled with liquid can show up on top of the patches (which is completely normal).
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:
- Avoiding fragranced products
- Bathing daily with lukewarm water using a soap-free, nourishing and cleansing wash or oil, such as Mustela’s Stelatopia Cleansing Oil (although in some extreme cases, your doctor might recommend bathing less)
- For eczema on the scalp, opt for fragrance-free & replenishing shampoos like Stelatopia Foam Shampoo
- Using plenty of gentle moisturiser, such as Mustela’s Emollient Balm or Mustela Stelatopia Face Cream (for the face)
- Avoiding irritants like synthetic fabrics or soaps with harsh chemicals and fragrances: everything 100% cotton
- 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
While there is no 100% guarantee, it is imperative that eczema-prone skin is kept well-moisturised to avoid flare-ups as much as possible. Scientific research has shown that appropriate care (applying a fragrance-free moisturiser from birth) can reduce the risk of developing symptoms of eczema-prone skin by 33% to 50%2 .
If you’re concerned about their eczema or your baby is extremely uncomfortable and you feel like it is getting worse, you should always speak with your doctor.
1Eric L. Simpson 2014, Horimukai 2014
2Appropriate care from birth can reduce the risk of developing the symptoms of eczema-prone skin by 33% to 50% (source: Eric L. Simpson 2014, Horimukai 2014).
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