Babies and Eczema
How Can I Treat My Baby’s Eczema?
Taking care of your baby's skin is the first step to managing infant eczema, especially when the condition is mild. Try:
- Moisturizers. A good moisturizer, fragrance-free cream, or ointment such as petroleum jelly, when used daily, will help your baby's skin retain its natural moisture. Apply immediately after a bath.
- A lukewarm bath. This helps hydrate and cool the skin, and may lessen itching. Speak with your doctor about using an antihistamine to relieve your baby's itchy skin.
- Topical steroids. Over-the-counter steroids like hydrocortisone creams and ointments can help lessen the redness and inflammation of a baby's eczema, when used as directed. Though these creams are safe, they can lead to thinned skin and other issues if applied for too many days to the same part of the body.
- Other topical treatments are available by prescription to ease inflammation. Speak with your pediatrician.
In severe cases of eczema in children, skin care can be complemented with:
- Ultraviolet light therapy
- Antibiotics for rashes that become infected
How Can I Help My Baby’s Eczema at Home?
One of the keys to treating infant eczema is to prevent your baby from scratching. Scratching can make the rash worse, lead to infection, and cause the irritated skin to get thicker and more leathery.
Be sure your baby's nails are trimmed often, and then take the edge off of them with a file if you can. Some parents also slip "scratch mittens" onto their little one's hands. Others try long socks, tucked in under a long-sleeved shirt, so they're harder for a baby to remove.
Other things you can do to treat your baby's eczema at home include:
- Bathe your baby for no more than 10 minutes in warm water. Hot water can strip skin of its natural, protective oils.
- Use mild, unscented body and laundry soaps. Perfumed, deodorant, and anti-bacterial soaps can be rough on a baby's sensitive skin.
- Use soap only where your baby may be dirty, such as the genitals, and hands and feet. Simply rinse off the rest of your baby's body.
- Pat your baby's skin dry; don't rub.
- Apply a moisturizer while your baby's skin is wet.
- Oatmeal soaking products added to your baby's tub may make your little one's skin less itchy. Talk to your doctor.
- To minimize the irritation of clothing rubbing on the skin, dress your baby in loose clothes made of cotton. Always wash new clothes before putting them on your baby.
- Use a mild, fragrance-free detergent to wash your baby's clothes.
- Avoid putting too many blankets on your baby or overdressing your little one. This can make your baby hot and sweaty, triggering an eczema flare.
When Should I See a Doctor About Baby Eczema?
Don't just assume your baby has eczema -- get a medical diagnosis first. This not only eases your mind; it can help you treat your baby's eczema more effectively.
Once you know infant eczema is what you're dealing with, keep an eye on your baby's condition and call your doctor if:
- Your baby doesn't respond to treatment within a week of starting over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams. Prescription treatment may be necessary.
- A yellow or light brown crust or pus-filled blisters appear on top of the eczema. This could be the sign of a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics. Contact your doctor.
- Your baby is exposed to anyone with cold sores or genital herpes, both of which your baby is more likely to contract.