It started with a little patch on the side of my infant son’s face. It was pink, bumpy, raised and about the size of a nickel. Eczema, my pediatrician said. She suggested I try a heavy moisturizer or hydrocortisone ointment. That would help for a day and then it would come back. Unfortunately, that little eczema patch was a permanent fixture on his baby face for an entire year.
He’s six years old now and still gets eczema. But I’ve learned how to prevent major breakouts and treat the minor ones that come along. I wish I knew then what I know now about controlling it. Here’s what I’ve learned:
First, consult your pediatrician about any issues related to your baby’s skin. You don’t want to begin any sort of treatment without an official diagnosis.
Treat eczema aggressively until it disappears completely. Ask your pediatrician what treatment they recommend, because it may vary depending on your child’s age and the severity of the eczema. Hydrocortizone ointment (not cream) is what I use. If you do find something that works, apply it regularly until you see no trace of the eczema left on the skin. My biggest mistake was stopping treatment when it was nearly, but not completely gone.
Prevention is key. Some children are more prone to eczema in very warm or cold weather. Keeping the skin moisturized is critical in preventing a breakout. Over time you’ll identify problem seasons and problem spots so you can focus on those areas. Use a hypoallergenic heavy duty cream like MD Moms Dry Skin Rescue for eczema-prone areas, and an all-over unscented lotion for the rest of the body.
Use extremely mild, unscented products. Anything that’s harsh or scented can irritate eczema-prone skin. Choose your baby wash, lotion and laundry detergent carefully. I’m a fan of the Mustela products and love that they’re available here at Isis. Their 2 in 1 hair and body wash is perfect for bath time. It’s incredibly mild, and like their entire line, free of Parabens, phthalates and phenozyethanol.
Don’t bathe baby every day. Or if you must bathe frequently (say, if it’s part of your bedtime routine), keep the water lukewarm and skip the soap every other night.
Keep fingernails cut very short. Eczema is extremely itchy, and scratching aggravates it further. Our pediatrician calls it “the itch that rashes”. Of course, it’s hard to keep babies and toddlers from scratching – my son used to scratch his at night while he was sleeping. Keeping baby’s fingernails short keeps them from doing too much damage when they itch. Tips for clipping baby’s nails.
Do your research. Recommendations can change based on the results of new studies, so it’s a good idea to stay informed. Healthychildren.org (the AAP) and the American Academy of Dermatology are excellent online resources for more information about identifying, diagnosing and managing eczema.
Mom of two eczema-prone children