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Quick Review of Common Eczema Products for Children: Our Story

Updated on April 4, 2014
It may not be as obvious as it was in real life but you can see her cheeks are all red from the eczema.
It may not be as obvious as it was in real life but you can see her cheeks are all red from the eczema.

Background

Eczema was described to us by our doctor as the itch that rashes. It starts as a skin itch, but when the baby (or whoever) scratches it spreads the itch like a rash which just becomes a vicious cycle of itching and scratching and rashing. It can get quite bad looking if allowed to go unchecked (see photo).

Our daughter first showed symptoms of eczema at around 6 weeks but it didn't get really bad until about 3 months or so. The cause of eczema is unknown, although WebMD says about 10-20% of infants get it. According to some, it is inherited by children born to families with a history of allergies but it seems like if you look hard enough you wouldn't find a family that doesn't fit that bill.

You can find detailed information if you google search eczema but this Hub is more about our personal experience.

My experience with eczema is:

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Products

I have lost count of the amount of money we have spent treating this eczema. Of course, our daughter's skin requires nothing but the highest quality products (lucky us!). I thought I'd review some of the products we have used and hopefully that will help you narrow down your options.

  • Hydrocortisone: Hydrocortisone works the best. Unfortunately, it is a steroid so you really don't want to use it any more often than necessary. If used too often it will turn even fair skin white which according to our doctor is permanent. I don't even want to see what overuse would do to dark skin. Our daughter was getting it so bad we had to move up from the 1% over-the-counter hydrocortisone to a prescription strength 2.5%. Thankfully, we use it as sparingly as possible and have not seen any white skin yet. We usually only use the 2.5% once a day and if we need more hydrocortisone more than that we use the 1%.
  • Vaseline: After some failed attempts at finding something that worked and not wanting to overuse the hydrocortisone, the dermatologist recommended Vaseline. I have no problem with the product in general but seriously, how are you supposed to use this stuff? Our daughter needed stuff all over her body, including her face. Vaseline is oily and doesn't soak in quickly meaning it got everywhere and on everything. Plus, it stains any clothes it gets on. Vaseline might work if you had a newborn who couldn't scratch yet and you live in a warm environment where you can keep the baby naked all day, but we couldn't make it work for us.
  • Aquaphor: We bought a thing of Aquaphor but it is oily like the Vaseline. It just wasn't practical for us on uses for areas other than her diaper area. We do use it for diaper rash related stuff and it does seem effective for that purpose. We also use Aquaphor bath soap which works nicely.
  • Eucerin: We never really used Eucerin. Not sure why. Guess we just found something that worked before we happened upon this one, but it is commonly used and was recommended to me by a pediatrician friend of mine.
  • Cetaphil: We use Cetaphil for bath soap but we don't really use the lotion. Not sure why. It has been several months since we went through all the possible solutions so I can't remember if we even tried it at all as a regular lotion.
  • Baby powder: As we all know, baby powder helps keep the skin dry, especially in the diaper region. We used baby powder for our daughter but it didn't help as much as I would have liked. After our daughter had a yeast infection our doctor prescribed a baby powder called NyStop (as seen in the photo). The NyStop works well and we asked the doctor to renew the prescription when she began to get red on a regular basis this winter. I have heard that corn starch can work pretty well as an alternative to the normal Johnson's stuff.
  • Johnson's: It is hard not to imagine a baby shower without a cute basket of Johnsons bath and lotion bottles. Problem is that they often contain perfumes and alcohols. A pediatrician friend of mine was saying how bad these are for babies, especially in our cold environment. They do have Johnson's products that don't have these in them but for us no Johnson's product was going to cut it.
  • CeraVe: This came recommended to us by our pediatrician who also has a daughter who has eczema. We tried it and it worked ok at first, but it is more effective at keeping the eczema under control rather than getting under control, so once we got the rash mostly gone with the hyrdrocortisone we used the CeraVe on a daily basis. I prefer CeraVe because it is more like a regular lotion: comes in a regular lotion bottle, isn't oily to the touch, and soaks in quickly. Thankfully it is about mid-range in cost when it comes to eczema products.
  • Other: I know there are other products out there that we haven't tried so if none of these work for you, keep looking!

The Literal Cost

Product
Price (according to Walgreens)
CeraVe
$12.99/12 fl oz bottle
Aquaphor
$16.99/14 fl oz jar
Vaseline
$5.79/ 13 fl oz jar
Eucerin
$10.99/ 16 fl oz bottle
Johnsons
$7.99/ 27 fl oz bottle
NyStop
$15/ two small bottles with our insurance
Cetaphil
$13.99/ 13 fl oz bottle
Hydrocortisone
$5.29/ 1 oz. tube

Tips

Here are a few things we have learned along the way.

1. Most of the eczema was and still is found on her face, diaper area, hands and wrists, elbows, knees, and feet - basically places that are the most moist due to sweat or for whatever other reason.

2. Winters are worse than the summer in that her skin gets more dry so it is more prone to itchiness just in general. In the winter we lotion her at every diaper change and keep a humidifier in her room. We live in a cold climate (highs in the 30s in the winter) so everyone has dry skin. In the summer we only had to lotion her in the morning and at night. This past summer we just had to keep shorts on her at all times or else she would scratch away at her diaper region.

3. I have heard that eczema gets less severe with time and it look like it is shaping up that way. So far this winter it is getting worse than it was in the summer but it is nowhere near as bad as last winter.

4. Our daughter had what looked like to be a severe bought of eczema but it turned out to be a bacterial infection. The doctor said it probably started as eczema but the scratching let in a yeast infection. I would suggest you know what an infection looks like and/or pay attention to what your child's skin is doing.

5. We have noticed that most bath soaps or laundry detergents don't cause her a problem (though we do use the ones designed for sensitive skin) but she will break out if she wears fleece material.

6. We had a dermatologist look at our daughter's skin but she wasn't able to help us any more than our pediatrician was. All she did was confirm what we already knew: our daughter has eczema, and she recommended a few products, including the vaseline :/

7. It helps to keep your infants nails clipped short. I wish you all the best of luck with that, since that is my very least favorite thing to do for her.

Potty Training

We are using John Rosemond's Guide to Toilet Training, and for specifics you can get his book. Like other techniques out there, it requires that the child spend the day pant-less. I love his method, and we are pretty much in the home stretch after just 4 weeks, but keeping our daughter from scratching away at all her newly exposed skin has been hard work. We have been having to lotion her pretty much constantly. Before then, I was only using the hydro cortisone once a day but I had to bump it up to morning and night. We are making it through and we are about ready to go back to wearing bottoms, but this is something to keep in mind when you get to this lovely stage.

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