Is your baby scratching all day from an eczemarash? Don't despair. Try these strategies to soothe the itchy skin.
Baths add moisture to dry skin and get rid of bacteria that can cause skin infections.
Use fragrance-free, mild soaps or soapless cleansers made for sensitive skin. Bathe your baby for 5 to 10 minutes. Pat her dry to retain some moisture on the skin, then apply moisturizer. Moisturizing after a bath is very important.
"It can be fun for Baby, and it's good for bonding with the parents," says Amy S. Paller, MD, professor of pediatric dermatology at Northwestern University. "It's a wonderful way to get hydration into the skin."
To soothe dryness and itching, smooth moisturizer on your baby's skin at least twice a day.
Dry skin can make eczema worse and bring out more inflammation, says Lawrence F. Eichenfield, MD. He's the chief of pediatric dermatology at the University of California, San Diego.
Moisturizing often helps break what he calls "the itch-scratch cycle."
Thick moisturizing creams and ointments work better on your baby's skin than lotions, which have more water. If your doctor has prescribed anti-itch cream, apply it before the moisturizer.
You may want to switch moisturizers depending on the season. Petroleum-based ointments are ideal for cold-weather months, but they're too thick for summertime. A lighter cream is better in warm weather.
Organic and natural baby products are popular, but most have herbs and plant-based products that can cause reactions in babies with sensitive skin.
"People think about organic products as being healthy," says Nanette Silverberg, MD, director of pediatric dermatology at Mount Sinai West in New York. "But most kids are going to be sensitive to some extract, fragrance, or flowers."
Her advice? "Ask your doctor for a product line that's been tested in children and is well-proven for sensitivities."
You can put anti-scratching mittens on a baby's hands to stop her from scratching. But that doesn't work well on toddlers.
To ease irritation, keep your child's fingernails cut short and filed with an emery board so they're not sharp. If you notice your child scratching more than usual, take her to the doctor, who can prescribe anti-itch medicine.
If your child is older than 2, you can use hydrocortisone cream to help with mild eczema. You can buy it over the counter or with a prescription and use it for up to 7 days, or according to your doctor’s instructions. For kids under age 2, ask your doctor.
Antihistamines may also help control the itching. Ask your doctor about them.
Keep Clothing Loose
Tight clothes can trap sweat against your baby's skin, which can lead to rashes and itching. Dress your baby in layers of soft, loose-fitting, breathable cotton to keep her skin comfortable.
At night, though, it may help to swaddle your infant in a cotton blanket. Swaddling helps many babies sleep better.
Avoid Eczema Triggers
Fragrances. Products with fragrance can cause reactions. Use fragrance-free products whenever possible.
Detergents. Ask your child's dermatologist to recommend a gentle, fragrance-free laundry detergent.
Rough fabrics. Consider your wardrobe, too -- change out of a wool sweater before cuddling your baby.
Saliva. Babies who drool when eating or sleeping can get rashes on their faces because saliva can irritate sensitive skin. Put Vaseline on your baby's cheeks before mealtime or nap time to create a barrier between the saliva and skin.