New parents are usually distressed when they see the symptoms of infant eczema on their little one. Infant eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, strikes between 10 and 15 percent of babies. This troubling skin rash certainly appears concerning, and the itching it brings can be extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, an eczema treatment prescribed by a dermatologist can usually help the symptoms to subside. The even better news is that most cases of atopic dermatitis clear up within a few months or years, though the individual may continue to have eczema symptoms throughout their life.
What is Eczema?
Infant eczema is a result of a lack of ceramides in the skin. These fatty cells help protect the skin against moisture loss. When too few of them are present, the skin loses moisture far too rapidly. This results in a red, itchy skin rash that is known as infantile eczema. This form of atopic dermatitis most often appears on the baby’s cheeks as well as in the arm and leg joints. However, it’s possible for the symptoms of infant eczema to appear on other body parts.
Common Eczema Triggers
Researchers have identified triggers that may bring on atopic dermatitis. It’s important to be aware of these triggers and also to understand that what is a trigger for one person may not be a trigger for another. Careful observation over the course of days or weeks may help to identify which triggers are bringing on a flare up of infant eczema in your baby.
Perhaps the most common trigger of atopic dermatitis is dry skin. Low humidity is often the culprit behind this condition. This factor is especially prevalent in the winter when outdoor humidity levels are lower. This is combined with the high, dry heat found indoors to create the perfect conditions for dry skin, which can make infantile eczema itchier.
Irritants may be another important skin rash trigger. If your baby develops redness and itchiness after wearing a wool sweater or sleeping under a wool blanket, this may be a trigger. Stick to cotton and other soft, non-irritating fabrics. Other irritants can include perfumes, the soap used in baths and the laundry soap used to wash clothing and linens. Opt for fragrance- and color-free soaps and detergents that are less likely to cause a flare up of infantile eczema.
Heat, sweat and stress may also lead to a flare up of atopic dermatitis. When a child is too heavily bundled up this can cause their temperature to rise. The body sweats as part of a natural cooling response, and this can bring on an attack of infantile eczema. Stress that may cause flushing can even be a trigger for some babies.
In addition to avoiding your child’s infant eczema triggers, it’s important to find an appropriate eczema treatment. It’s advisable to consult with your family’s dermatologist about the best approach to take. Even if your child’s case is a mild one, you can achieve great peace of mind just from having a diagnosis and knowing that you can provide an effective eczema treatment.
Your dermatologist is likely to recommend a lukewarm bath that can cool the skin and offer soothing hydration. Make the water too hot and you risk stripping essential moisture from your baby’s skin. Similarly, it makes a great deal of sense to restrict baths to 10 minutes or less time. Keep in mind that soap does not necessarily have to be used on every part of your baby’s body. Soap the hands, feet and genitals but simply rinse the rest to avoid stripping oils from the skin’s surface. Resist the temptation to rub your baby’s skin dry after a bath. Gentle patting is much less irritating.
It may be helpful to add an oatmeal soaking product to your baby’s bathwater. Moreover, it’s advisable to avoid scrubbers, Epsom salts and washcloths that are too rough. It’s possible that your dermatologist will recommend a bleach bath for your baby. Follow all instructions for a bleach bath to make certain that it is a safe and effective eczema treatment. A bleach bath can be wonderful antidote to infection associated with atopic dermatitis.
Moisturizers can be applied immediately after the bath when your child’s skin is still slightly damp. A product that contains ceramides is usually a good idea, and your dermatologist may be able to provide a prescription-strength product. Over-the-counter moisturizers may also be effective in mild cases. Choose a product that is fragrance and color free or use an ointment like petroleum jelly to bring relief. Moisturizers can be applied throughout the day as needed to help control infant eczema symptoms.
Topical steroids may also be used under the guidance of your dermatologist. An over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream may be all that is necessary to help ease the symptoms of infantile eczema. It may alternatively be possible to use a prescription-strength cream or ointment. Whether you use an over-the-counter or prescription formula, it is recommended to only use it as directed. Overuse can lead to thinning of the skin and other issues.
Other Eczema Treatments
Dermatologists may recommend other treatments for more severe cases of atopic dermatitis. Antihistamines can help to soothe itching and other prescriptions may help reduce inflammation. When a skin rash becomes infected, the dermatologist may prescribe a course of antibiotics as an eczema treatment. If a case of infant eczema is particularly severe, a treatment using ultraviolet light may be performed in the dermatologist’s office.
When your baby has an infant eczema flare up, it’s important to keep him from scratching. Make certain to trim his nails often to lessen the opportunities for scratching. Many parents rely on scratch mittens to help diminish the possibility of scratching that can lead to infection. If you find that your child can remove scratch mittens too easily, try using long socks tucked into a long-sleeved shirt instead. These tend to be very difficult to remove.
Make an appointment with Soine Dermatology today to learn more about infant eczema and an effective eczema treatment that may help your baby.