Eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects up to 20 percent of all babies, particularly those with a family history of skin irritations, asthma, or allergies. It is usually experienced as periods of flare-ups followed by periods of no or few symptoms. In babies, it often appears as a red, irritated, itchy rash on the face and scalp. In some cases, certain foods (such as cow's milk, eggs, wheat or oranges) may provoke an attack.
In babies, eczema often appears as a rash on hands, face, neck, elbows and back of the knees, but may spread to other areas. You should definitely talk to your baby’s doctor about treatment if the condition is severe, but here are some tips for dealing with eczema, as well as extremely dry or sensitive skin:
- Avoid the things you think may cause itching, such as dust, grass, weeds, wool clothing and certain soaps, detergents, fabric softeners and perfumes. It may help to keep a diary to determine the cause.
- Give your baby short baths - no more than 5 to 10 minutes - in water that is warm, not hot. You may want to add a specially formulated oil to the bathwater.
- Use mild skin cleansers or shampoos specially made for babies with sensitive skin. Be extra careful on areas often exposed to the environment.
- Dry the skin after a bath by patting with a soft towel, and then immediately apply moisturiser. Do not rub the skin.
- Moisturise frequently throughout the day, especially after bathing.
- Use an emollient cream, smoothing it into the skin in a downward motion.
Although eczema can be an irritating condition, especially during periods of flare-ups, by following these tips, you can help to make your baby more comfortable.