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How to Manage Baby Eczema
You watch your itchy baby wake himself up from scratching until he bleeds. He's moody and so sleepy, fighting constantly to keep his eyes open. Or maybe he sleeps fine but if you didn't clip his baby nails and put tiny cotton mittens on his hands, he'll rip through his skin during the night and leave tiny battle scars within the white cotton sheets. 10-20% of babies are born with baby eczema or infant rashes. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was one of them.
Top 8 Free cream created by a mom whose baby had eczema. For extra moisturization, I add about two tablespoons of food grade castor oil or USDA Organic Olive oil and mix well.
Causes of Baby Eczema
As with all health conditions, genetics play a major role in the risk factors of eczema in babies. Other factors that play a role in development of eczema in infants include environment and infant nutrition (allergy to specific foods or lack of certain nutrients in the womb) while a study proves using emollient from head to toe daily can prevent eczema in babies! Conclusion: chronically dry skin can definitely contribute to the development of baby eczema.
Skin infections can also cause skin eczema. This is why many allergists now have a bleach bath treatment which kills all staph bacteria on the skin and alleviate eczema symptoms over time. Although this treatment has proven effective, there is a bit of controversy over whether the chemicals being absorbed into a baby can be harmful, even at it's diluted concentration. More natural remedy for eczema is extra-virgin cold-pressed organic coconut oil, which contains antibacterial and antiviral properties (if the baby is not allergic to tree-nuts) and a drop or two of tea tree oil (any more than this can be toxic) in the bath to kill the same bacteria and possibly prevent future eczema outbreaks. Never let a baby ingest tea tree oil and always make sure to store far up and away from his or her reach!
Another form of eczema known as contact dermatitis is caused by dust, pollen, ragweed and dander in the environment. The key to making eczema on a baby go away is by eliminating these triggers in the air and anywhere that the baby could possibly come in contact with.
Hypoallergenic mattress protectors and pillow protectors are a must for your bed if you are sleeping with your baby. Every place the baby sleeps must be covered with a dust mite cover then 100% cotton sheets so that other materials do not aggravate her face eczema and body's open cuts and scratches.
One of the highest-rated HEPA air purifiers on Amazon removes dust, pollen, dirt and dander to help relieve baby eczema symptoms!
How Do You Prevent Baby Eczema?
Over the past two decades, numerous studies were conducted to find out what causes baby eczema and atopic dermatitis symptoms in babies. Some believe that infant eczema prevention begins during pregnancy however, most of the research and clinical studies that involve methods or foods to prevent baby eczema are things parents and caretakers can do once the baby is already born.
Stop Sanitizing Everything
This does not mean it is ok not to clean, since dust mites and environmental allergens are a leading cause for eczema reactions. However, you might want to get rid of those chemical germ-killing wipes you use on everything and switch to something natural. Several studies say babies that live in surroundings with a lower prevalence of bacteria on surfaces have a higher risk of developing eczema as they get older (Bloomfield et al., 2006). To put it simply, the bacteria ends up in the baby's gut or stomach which strengthens the baby's immune system; certain common bacteria may even prevent food allergies (Uchospitals.edu, 2014). According to many health professionals, the body's immune system resides in the digestive tract which is why naturopaths and an increasing number of doctors recommend probiotics to strengthen the immune system of older children and adults with atopic dermatitis or eczema.
Another study in Sweden supports this theory with the fact that pacifiers cleaned by the parents' then slipped back into babies' mouths lowered the development of baby eczema significantly (Zimmerman, 2014). This odd little parental act of love might be the key to strengthening your baby's immune system!
Read Product Ingredients Carefully. Even Prescribed Creams and Medications
The first eczema face cream you might sparingly apply on your baby face rash is the one prescribed by your pediatrician or allergist. Most people blindly follow their doctor's advice not realizing that sometimes there are allergen derivative ingredients in the product. Even many doctors don't know this and many eczema patients (like myself) end up learning the hard way.
In the USA, food allergy labeling has a long way to go; oils and many derivatives do not need to be labeled for undeclared allergens because there is such a tiny amount of the protein. Since they believe the majority of the population does not react, these small amounts in foods, medications and topical creams are not labeled for allergens. For example, if you have a baby with soy allergy you might have to look out for glycerin, vegetable oil or stearic acid, since these are usually soy-derived. Over the years, when I asked what derivative the ingredient was made from, pharmacists never knew the answer; instead, they told me to contact the pharmaceutical manufacturer.
The same rule applies to any products you put on your baby's skin! If you are using a product with olive oil, you need to know the olive oil source since many imported olive oils are 'faked' using cheaper oils and chlorophyll. If you're in the USA, you can ensure you're getting what the label says if you buy only USDA Certified Organic products with the certification seal. If you're anywhere else in the world, try to only buy from countries with strict organic certification processes.
Avoid Heat With Eczema
High temperatures can trigger eczema flare-ups and the stress the body goes through from an allergic reaction can cause the body temperature to increase. When I was little, I had to have a fan on me at all times, so keep this in mind when your baby is itching. If the baby is sweating, it might be a good idea to remove a blanket or layer of clothing to allow the skin to breathe. There is also a condition known as heat urticaria or heat rash, which might be a trigger for your infant's eczema. Some people have the same experience with cold, so it is important to observe your baby and report any important info to your pediatrician, family doctor and allergist.
Another easy natural remedy for itchy skin is an ice pack wrapped with a clean cotton cloth. The cold will help 'numb' the itch and help calm nerves, too, due to the relief.
Think Outside The Box
Sometimes, it doesn't take medical studies to prove what could be causing a baby eczema outbreak. If you still cannot figure out what is triggering eczema outbreaks in baby, ask yourself these questions.
- Has the baby been blood tested for food allergies and is the baby breast-fed? If so, are you consuming the allergens on the same days you feed the baby? Allergens in breast milk can definitely cause baby eczema.
- Did your husband or anyone holding the baby use a shaving cream or aftershave? Most products contain ingredients which will aggravate baby sensitive skin.
- Did anyone kiss the baby after eating a handful of peanuts or trail mix? Allergens can make the baby's face immediately itchy and cause baby face eczema.
- Are you washing baby clothing and sheets in hypoallergenic dye-free fragrance-free detergent?
- Are you using the hottest setting on the washing machine to kill lingering dust mites? Only 6.5% of regular warm temperature kills dust mites. When you use extra-hot or 'sanitize' setting you kill 100% of dust mites!
- Simpson, E., Chalmers, J., Hanifin, J., Thomas, K., Cork, M., McLean, W., Brown, S., Chen, Z., Chen, Y. and Williams, H. (2014). Emollient enhancement of the skin barrier from birth offers effective atopic dermatitis prevention. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 134(4), pp.818-823.
- Bloomfield, S., Stanwell-Smith, R., Crevel, R. and Pickup, J. (2006). Too clean, or not too clean: the Hygiene Hypothesis and home hygiene. Clin Exp Allergy, 36(4), pp.402-425.
- Uchospitals.edu, (2014). Gut bacteria that protect against food allergies identified - The University of Chicago Medicine. [online] Available at: http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2014/20140825-nagler.html [Accessed 30 Dec. 2014].
- Zimmerman, R. (2014). Suck On This: Pacifier-Licking Parents Have Less Allergic Kids, Study Finds. [online] commonhealth. Available at: http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2013/05/suck-pacifier-allergy-study [Accessed 30 Dec. 2014].
© 2014 Maya Marcotte