what exactly is eczema?
Eczema is the scientific name for a wide range of skin conditions that aren't infectious. Most children who have eczema grow out if it naturally before hitting their teens. If your family has a history of allergies like hayfever and asthma, your baby is more likely to develop eczema.
what causes eczema?
Eczema is caused by the skin's barrier layer not working as well as it should. It can't hold onto moisture, so it gets really dry. Infections and allergens can get into the skin easier, causing your little one's immune system to react with itchy and irritating flare-ups.
what does eczema look like?
Eczema usually pops up on babies' hands, faces, necks, elbows and at the back of their knees. It usually looks red and dry but during flare-ups it becomes swollen and really itchy. Flare-ups can be caused by things like chemicals in soap and fabric conditioner. Babies can't resist the urge to scratch, and if their skin gets broken there's the chance of infection. Infected eczema might bleed or go a bit crusty. If you think your baby's eczema is infected you'll need to visit the doctor for some mild antibiotics.
what are some good baby eczema treatments?
It's a good idea to take them to the GP so that they can recommend the best treatment. They'll give you a prescription based on whether the skin is cracked and weeping, dry and scaly or dry and thick. Their advice will depend on how bad the eczema is. Your doctor might recommend a soothing lotion, or they might prescribe a low-strength steroid cream or mild antipruritic lotion. In some cases corticosteroid creams are prescribed, but only under supervision. Some foods can trigger eczema, but you should speak to your GP before changing your child’s diet.
is there anything else I can do to soothe my child's eczema?
There are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your baby's skin condition:
- keep their bedroom cool, as sweating can cause flare-ups
- synthetic fabrics can irritate the skin, so use special eczema clothing for babies made from natural fabrics like cotton
- keep your little one's nails trimmed (or their hands gloved) during flare-ups so they're less likely to break the skin when they scratch
- apply unperfumed moisturiser to the area throughout the day.