6 ways to soothe your baby’s eczema
As a parent, you will agree that having a baby who is itchy and in pain is one of the worse things to see experience and you’ll do anything to help her feel better. Four experts evaluate what really works.
Seeing your baby cry uncomfortably with red, irritated skin and eczema can drive you completely crazy, so we asked experts for advice on how to get the itchy condition under control.
1. Stick to the basics.
The most recommended emollient for locking moisture in the skin of babies with eczema is plain old petrolatum jelly -- it is one of the least likely to trigger a reaction and is also the cheapest option. But if you want to try something else, you can find a list of moisturizers that have been reviewed by the Eczema Society and that are free of common irritants like fragrances on eczemahelp.ca. "When you try any new moisturizer, test it on a small area of the skin to see if the baby reacts before applying it to the whole body," suggests Amanda Cresswell-Melville, executive director of the Eczema Society of Canada. And start early. Research suggests that the daily application of emollients, from birth, can actually reduce the risk of developing eczema by the age of six months by as much as 67% in children with a strong genetic predisposition to the condition.
2. Reduce bath-time irritants.
When your child has eczema, soap crayons and bubble bath are prohibited, as they contain strong soaps and dyes that can dry and irritate the skin. But that doesn't mean your baby can't have fun in the bathtub. Invest in some colorful bath toys or sing songs while rub-a-dub-dubbing. And speaking of rubbing, don't do it. Pat dry with a soft towel and leave the skin slightly damp, then moisten.
3. Stop the scratching.
Even if the baby accidentally scratches his/her skin, it will cause itching. You should keep your child's nails short and smooth. In case of night scratches, put cotton mitten or socks on your child's hands to reduce skin damage. But this should be a short-term solution. If you frequently use mittens, this can prevent motor development and indicate that eczema is not under control. “When they’re flaring, you need to be aggressive with the topical medication and use it two or three times a day until the flare calms down,” stresses Janice Heard, a Calgary pediatrician, and Canadian Paediatric Society, spokesperson. If you are already using a medicated cream according to the instructions, tell your doctor immediately that it’s not doing the job.
4. Keep her cool.
Everything you need to know about eczema. Heat, and in particular sweat, can irritate the skin, so if the child becomes sweaty, rinse him/her off (sponge baths are fine) as soon as possible and apply the moisturizer again. Even in winter, keep your baby's room cool: it must be warm enough to make her/he feel comfortable in light pajamas or a onesie without a blanket. In summer, dress your child with wide and light layers to avoid sweat. If it's so hot and muggy that sweating is inevitable, a wet shirt can help keep her/his skin cool. To make the moisturizer and medicated cream more relaxing, try storing them in the refrigerator or an insulated lunch bag with a cold pack.
5. Choose gentle fabrics.
Avoid woolen and scratchy lace fabrics and opt for soft and breathable fabrics, such as cotton or cotton blends. If your clothes seem to irritate your baby's skin, you can also adjust your washing routine. Try switching to detergent or fragrance-free soap and fabric softener or dryer sheets. Get ready to experiment: some children get itchy when you don't use fabric softener.
6. Add a protective barrier.
Apply an extra coat of Vaseline to the child's cheeks and nose before the winter walk to avoid cracking and irritation from the dry winter air. If your child has an outbreak of eczema in the mouth area, apply Vaseline or another thick cream before meals and snacks to the area, says Michele Ramien, a dermatologist at Children's Hospital in Eastern Ontario, Ottawa. "Children with eczema can develop allergies because of their genetics, and one of the main causes of allergy is exposure to damaged or broken skin," he explains. The barrier also prevents acidic foods such as strawberries and ketchup from irritating the skin if they inevitably spread on the child's face.