Infant Atopic Eczema
With infants, skin problems are quite common. The most common ones are newborn rash and diaper dermatitis. Atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis could be mistaken for newborn rash, but there are several important differences - especially in how long after the birth the rash appears. The newborn rash usually appears somewhere between two weeks and two months of age and is caused by mother´s hormones - that´s why it´s also called infant/newborn acne. Atopic dermatitis appears not sooner than in the third month of a baby´s life. Its manifestation can be various, from areas of dry, reddish skin (usually under knees, on kneck, behind ears, on cheeks etc.) to very dry , irritated or inflammed skin on the whole body. Sometimes skin even starts to peel off.
How to deal with it
In the case of atopic dermatitis, it is essential to use holistic approach. Western medicine tends to heal the skin, but in many cases, patients start to have respiratory problems that can result in asthma. The reason is, that the patient keeps taking in allergen that was causing the eczema. We need to bear in mind that atopic dermatitis is an allergic reaction, just like contact dermatitis. In the latter case, allergen is external and can be easily identified and removed. With atopic dermatitis/eczema, allergen is internal - it is something that we eat, drink or absorb in some way into our system but our body, being allergic to it, tries to get rid of it. And the easiest way is through skin, because it is the larges body organ. But if we suppress the eczema, body will try to find some other way - and most often through our respiratory (or possibly digestive) system. The only way how to deal with the problem is to avoid the allergen.
With babies that are fed with substitute nutrition it is easier to identify the allergen - cow milk protein and cow milk lactose are the most common allergens causing atopic eczema. However, the risk of developing allergies later on is much higher than with breastfed babies.
When a baby is breastfed, it is much more difficult to find the allergen responsible for the eczema. The only possible way is an eliminative diet of a mother. The mother should eliminate all possible allergens from her diet, consuming only 100% safe food like potatoes, rice, carrot (though I´ve met a mother whose child was allergic to carrot and they were able to identify this allergen after four years, because nobody had even thought of it). Be sure to avoid the following:
milk and all milk products, strawberries, all kinds of berries, all citrus fruits, all stone-fruits and all exotic fruit - that is the fruit which is not common in your country, tomatoes, celery, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli ... , fish and all kinds of meat, though poultry is considered to be quite safe, soya-bean and all products made of it, all kinds of nuts, cocoa, all processed food and food containing additives
After four weeks of such radical diet, when the eczema heals, you can start adding new things - one at a time. Try every new component for at least four days and only when there is no negative reaction you can add another one.
To heal the eczema, you might have to use several liniments. Try to use those on natural basis, they have much less side-effects than chemical ones. However, sometimes it is inevitable to use hormonal liniment prescribed by your dermatologist. I have to admit that I didn´t really follow our dermatologist´s advice and used the liniment only once since I had great objections to using any hormonal preparations with an infant, and I used purely natural ointment instead, but I cannot recommend you to do the same. Anyway, follow your instincts, as some dermatologists tend to treat the eczema alone and you need to deal with the allergic cause of it. To do that you might also need to use some antihistaminic preparation suitable for infants. There are some researchers who claim that using small amounts of antihistamine in the first two years of life reduce the chance of developing other allergies later on.
If your baby had the atopic eczema, it is important to be very careful when introducing new foodstuff into his/her diet after the 6th month of age. Basically, follow the same scheme as with the eliminative diet for breastfeeding mothers. And be sure that you start trying the most dangerous foodstuff after the 12th month of age. It is also advisable to introduce flour no sooner than after the 7th month of age, or later.