Eczema on babies is very common. It usually starts with a skin rash that appears before they reach 5 years old, some as early as 6 months. There are more babies than adults who are affected with the skin disease and this could be due to their sensitive skin.
The areas most affected are the scalp and cheeks, but the skin rash may also appear on the chest, arms, legs and other parts of the body. Once a child turns one or older, eczema generally appears on the wrists, insides of elbow, back of knees and the ankles, but it can also affect other areas.
Eczema on babies is characterized by a rash on dry, thickened skin that could appear scaly. Sometimes it would look like tiny red bumps on the skin. Skin will itch so you will notice your baby scratching or trying to rub the affected skin on the pillows or bed.
Once scratched, the tiny red bumps may become weepy and infection may set in. Continuous scratching may also cause the skin to thicken and darken over time. Eczema is not contagious, but it can leave your baby’s skin damaged and scarred if left unmanaged for long.
Eczema on babies usually goes away on its own, typically when a child reaches two years old. However, there are cases when the skin condition continues sporadically towards adulthood.
Doctors still do not know the exact reason why eczema occurs on babies or even in adults. However, they suspect that it is largely inherited. If eczema, allergies or asthma runs in your family, there is an increased risk that your baby may develop eczema.
Eczema on babies may be aggravated by factors such as heat, chemicals and clothing made of wool. These could irritate the baby’s sensitive skin and cause rashes that eventually become a full-blown eczema. Avoiding these factors is recommended.
Bathing and Moisturizing
Proper bathing and moisturizing is very critical in the management of eczema on babies. Use only mild soap or soap-less cleanser that will not irritate your baby’s skin. You should also avoid letting your child sit too long on soapy water. To do this, it is recommended to quickly rinse the baby or apply shampoo only at the end of bath time. Also make sure that you use a gentle shampoo that does not contain sulphates.
After bathing, gently pat your baby’s skin dry with a soft towel. Never rub the skin. Right after this, while the baby’s skin is slightly damp, you have to apply a liberal amount of emollient or moisturizer to lock in moisture in the baby’s skin. Ointments are highly recommended as they are thicker and contain more emollient compounds compared to cream or lotion.
Ask the pediatrician or dermatologist as to what soap, shampoo and emollients to use.
The pediatrician or dermatologist may prescribe certain medications for eczema on babies especially if the condition persists. The most common treatment is a mild topical steroid that can be bought over the counter. If the initial medication won’t work, the doctor may prescribe a stronger steroid. Talk to your doctor on how to manage your baby’s eczema.