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Caring for a baby with eczema can be tricky and stressful. Your precious baby may be very uncomfortable and itchy.
Learn how to safely manage your baby’s symptoms with these baby eczema natural remedies.
If your little one has recently developed eczema, you are not alone. Studies show 1 in 10 kids have some form of eczema by the time they are five years old (kidshealth.org).
Before you start any treatment for eczema, it’s helpful to learn what eczema is and what triggers it.
What is Baby Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis?
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a dry and itchy rash that typically first appears around 3-6 months of age. It causes redness, swelling, raised bumps, and scaling.
If children have been scratching, the rash may ooze and crust as well.
The itchiness of eczema may make it very difficult to sleep, so babies and kids may be very uncomfortable and cranky.
What Does Baby Eczema Look Like?
Baby eczema is a red, raised rash that typically appears in predictable places.
Although everyone is different, there are some trends about where eczema usually appears.
Babies younger than 1 typically develop eczema on their cheeks or scalp. When you see red chapped and dry looking cheeks, that is often eczema.
Toddlers and children typically develop eczema in creases of their elbows, behind their knees, and on their bellies (Kidshealth.org).
What Causes Baby Eczema Flare-ups?
We aren’t always able to pinpoint the trigger of eczema, but there are a lot of common trends. Typically, sensitive skin is exposed to something that is irritating or drying.
This leads to inflammation and itchiness.
A lot of eczema flares are triggered by:
- cold, dry air
- perfumes and dyes
- allergies to pets, food, or something in the environment.
Do Babies Grow Out of Eczema?
Eczema is chronic which means it comes and goes throughout a child’s life. However, the good news is, a lot of children outgrow it by the time they are in their teens.
This means it may not be a lifelong issue, but a recurrent one until they grow up (kidshealth.org).
Who is at Risk for Baby Eczema?
Although anyone can develop eczema, there are some common trends among people who develop it.
- Babies born into families with siblings or parents with asthma, allergies, or eczema
- Children living in developed countries, especially in cities
- Colder Climates with dry air
Eczema typically appears when the weather begins to get cooler, the air is dryer, and heaters are turned on (kidshealth.org).
Think of your own skin during the wintertime. You are probably a lot drier as well. This is why eczema typically strikes during the cold months.
Treat Baby Eczema with Natural Remedies
Now that we have a better idea of what eczema is, it is time to learn what to do about it.
Since eczema is so common, it is important to be prepared and try to treat it as soon as it appears.
Your precious baby may be really uncomfortable and itchy.
The goals of treatment are:
- prevent infection
- relieve itchiness
- help moisturize the skin.
If you are in doubt if your baby is in fact experiencing eczema, or if your child is not improving with these treatments, it is very important to see your healthcare provider for further help.
Untreated eczema that your child continues to scratch and pick can eventually lead to infections.
Also, many childhood rashes or viruses may look similar to eczema. If your baby has never been diagnosed with eczema, make sure to see your healthcare provider as well.
Once you’re confident your little one has eczema, start treating your baby right away with these natural remedies.
1. Cool Compresses
Apply a cool compress or cool washcloth to the itchy area as needed. Cool water helps soothe the itch. Also, the coldness helps reduce the inflammation and helps the eczema heal.
Apply for a few minutes multiple times per day for instant relief of itchiness. Also, apply the cool washcloth at bedtime to help reduce the itchiness before putting your little one to bed.
This will help your baby feel less itchy and hopefully sleep a little better. Sleep is so important for both your little one and for you. Whatever we can do to help them sleep is a must!
2. Ointment or Cream
The ideal ointment or cream for eczema should be thick and fragrant free. Try to find one with the fewest and most natural ingredients.
This is my favorite ointment that works wonders.
Although a lot of people swear by Aquaphor, I don’t love applying the petrolatum or petroleum to my little one due to the risk of contamination (EWG.ORG). However, I do have to say it is effective at increasing moisture quickly.
3. Virgin Coconut Oil
An alternative to applying ointments is using virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is my go-to for so itches from all sources including bug bites, dry skin, or poison ivy.
This study found virgin coconut oil to be as effective as some prescription creams and ointments. Plus, coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
This means coconut oil may help prevent infection and reduce the swelling of eczema (Source).
Also, I apply extra coconut oil to the rest of my little one’s body that’s mildly itchy or dry. This helps prevent future eczema outbreaks.
4. Wet Dressings
Another way to treat eczema is by using wet dressings. This helps increase moisture and reduce itchiness as well.
Clean the skin and apply a thick ointment or steroid. Next, place a piece of wet gauze on top followed by dry gauze. Use soft tape or a Band-aid to keep it in place.
I prefer these non-woven gauze pads because they don’t get stuck in the skin as it dries. This makes it easier to take off in the morning without any discomfort.
The wet dressings help eczema heal quicker by increasing moisture.
Plus, when eczema is covered up, your little one won’t be able to scratch which will also helps it heal.
5. Socks or Gloves on Hands
Although your baby may not like this, try to put socks on their hands while they are sleeping. This helps prevent them from picking and scratching at the eczema.
Also, if your child has eczema on her palms, you can use socks or gloves as a dressing instead of cotton. Apply ointment and place the gloves on. This will help keep the moisture in and improve the rash.
You can try to apply them during the day at well, but if your little one is anything like mine, they will not be happy!
Once your heater turns on for the winter, it is time to take out your humidifier again. Home heaters are very drying which makes everyone’s skin drier.
For kids with eczema, this makes things even worse.
Place a humidifier in your child’s bedroom to increase the moisture and humidity. This will help them feel less itchy and heal quicker.
7. Avoid Hot Baths and Limit Length of Baths
Originally, pediatricians recommended trying to bathe your child less often to prevent eczema. However, recent studies have shown that bathing every 1-2 days is okay as long as the water isn’t too hot.
Try to limit baths to about 10 minutes to prevent too much drying of the skin.
The warm bath will soothe your little one’s itchy skin and give them some relief.
Make sure the water is not too hot though. This can irritate eczema, dry the skin more, and make it worse.
Aim for warm enough that your child is comfortable, but as cool as possible.
8. Encourage More Fluids
If your little one has begun drinking water, I recommend you encourage them to drink as much as possible.
Water is the most important nutrient in our bodies. If we are dehydrated, our skin actually suffers and becomes drier.
Find a fun straw or new cup to get your kid to drink more water. You can squeeze some lemon in it for a fancy water too in order to encourage them to drink more.
If your baby is still nursing, allow them to nurse as much as they’d like. Breast milk is very hydrating as well.
Also, you can apply some breast milk to the eczema itself. Studies are mixed on the effectiveness of this. But, they all show that there is no harm in trying.
9. Look for Food Allergies
Many times, eczema is triggered by allergies to different foods. If you or your spouse suffer from food allergies, your child is at greater risk of developing them.
Look for any other potential allergy symptoms such as diarrhea, upset stomach, or bloating after certain foods.
Also, you can take your little one to an allergist for official testing.
Additionally, if your baby is formula-fed, look into the ingredients of their formula. They may have an allergy to something in the formula which is causing the outbreak.
Try to address your baby’s diet to help reduce eczema.
10. Avoid Fragrances in Soaps, Lotions, and Detergents
The skin of your little ones is naturally very sensitive so you have to be very careful of what you expose them to.
Also, perfumes are very drying for all skin types, especially those with eczema.
Try to switch to natural products as much as you can. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid any fragrances, artificial dyes, or harsh chemicals such as bleach or alcohol.
My favorite lotion for my little one is this Babo Fragrance-free sensitive lotion. We also love Babo’s shampoo and body wash.
My go-to fragrance-free detergent is Babyganic Baby laundry detergent.
These have all worked wonders for my baby and my own dry skin. Even if other family members don’t suffer from eczema, these products work well to keep your skin moist and healthy.
11. Steroid Creams
If these natural techniques don’t work, it might be time to try some steroids. Apply steroids on the skin to help reduce the inflammation and itchiness.
Be sure to check with your health care provider before applying on babies less than 2.
You can buy hydrocortisone over the counter or ask your healthcare provider for a stronger one. Also, depending on where the eczema is, a different type (ointment, cream, or liquid) may be more useful.
Have you ever had a bad itch that is driving you crazy? Were you able to sleep that night?
Your poor child is feeling the same way! Children older than 2, can try a little bit of Benadryl at bedtime.
This will help them sleep better and itch less. Hopefully, this means you will get more rest as well.
When Should You See Your Pediatrician?
If the eczema continues or you start noticing a fever, thick white discharge or pus, it is time to see your healthcare provider. These are all signs of infection and will require further treatment.
Also, if you notice swollen lips or a wheezing sound when your little one is breathing, it is time to see your healthcare provider.
Your provider will guide you towards the next point of action.
Baby Eczema Natural Remedies
You did it! The eczema is finally gone, now what?
The most important thing to do is try to break the cycle. Apply lotion and use a humidifier all winter long.
Keep your little one’s skin nice and hydrated the rest of the winter to prevent a recurrence.
If you are looking on more tips on caring for your baby, you may like this post on 4 month old baby development and milestones.
Please share this post with friends and family who may be suffering from eczema as well.
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