Baby Eczema: The Facts September 2018

How to prevent your baby getting it, and how to treat it if they do
Words by Lisa Oxenham


 

 

 

My friend Liz phoned me last week in a bid for help: “I feel so frustrated; my baby is constantly itchy - and nothing I seem to do helps,” she cried down the phone to me. Her son Leo has Atopic Dermatitis or eczema as it is commonly named, and this hellish condition is part of his everyday life. “Telling your baby to stop scratching is like telling them to stop blinking,” says Liz.

 

The answer isn’t clear cut primarily because it is not fully understood exactly why twenty percent of babies develop this very patchy, flaky, dry, itchy, and inflamed skin condition - and even were that understood, it doesn’t have a ‘cure.’ Thankfully, 75% of babies grow out of eczema by their teens and it is therefore suspected that it is the result of a defect in the skin barrier that doesn’t allow it to retain moisture. Skin does not function efficiently so environmental factors such as heat, dust or soap can make it worse by entering the damaged barrier.

 

I shared the below tips and information with Liz and would suggest you take note if you’ve a baby in a similar boat:

Does it run in the family? Atopic disease is in the same family as hayfever or asthma and other allergies. They are often hereditary so you can be prepared if you suffered - but note that it isn’t infectious.

Identify triggers. Dust and pollen can irritate the compromised skin barrier further and food allergies can also prompt flare ups. Avoid environmental pollution and try tinkering with your baby’s diet by reducing and potentially eliminating common culprits dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds, wheat, and soy products one at a time.

Avoid heat. Dress your baby in cool cotton and loose layers and keeping aloe vera gel in the fridge can help to soothe itchiness. Equally cold air temperatures can dry the skin, and further agitate eczema so regulate the room temperature, keeping it at around 18 degrees.

 

Daily bathing is a must. You may have heard not to bathe your baby too often but in the right way, cleaning actually helps soothe the skin and keep it hydrated. Use warm (not hot) water, and a few capfuls of Mustela Stelatopia Bath Oil, which compensates for the drying effect of hard water and will also replenish lipids. Do not rinse the skin but pat dry without rubbing, and apply an occlusive cream within minutes of bathing while the baby is still damp to seal in moisture to bolster the skin’s barrier.
Protect skin barrier. Slather on Mustela Stelatopia Emollient Balm up to three times a day. In its mildest form, eczema erupts in dry, patchy areas and this thick balm is rich in replenishing patented natural ingredients sunflower oil distillate, avocado perseose and planet-based carnauba wax, which will together trap in moisture, soothe flare-ups, reduce inflammation and provide the immediate sensation of softness and comfort.

 

Prevent scratching. This is important to reduce the risk of infection. Keep their nails short and try socks or mittens on their hands.
Use a humidifier. Boost moisture in the air in the playroom, during nap-time and overnight.
Be calm. Stress has been shown to bring out itchy, red patches on the baby’s skin, so try to reduce stress in the household.
Have patience. There’s no cure or one treatment that works for everyone, and sometimes, a treatment will work for six months, then suddenly stop working. If this is the case, visit your doctor.

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