Medical News

Helpful Tips for Soothing Your Baby's Eczema

Added On : 23rd January 2013

When your baby has itchy, scaly skin that makes her scratch all day and night, you want to do whatever you can to ease her discomfort. Fortunately, several effective eczema treatments can lead to a happier baby.

Bathe Often

Most pediatric dermatologists suggest giving you baby a bath every day if she has eczema. Baths add moisture to dry skin and get rid of surface bacteria that can cause skin infections.

"It can be fun for baby, and it's good for bonding with the parents," says Amy S. Paller, MD, professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "It's a wonderful way to get hydration into the skin."

Use fragrance-free, mild soaps or soap-less cleansers intended for sensitive skin. Bathe your baby for five to 10 minutes, pat her dry to retain some moisture on her skin, then apply moisturizer.

Moisturize Regularly

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, professor of pediatrics and 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 too thick for summertime. A lighter cream is better in warm weather.

Skip 'Natural'

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 St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. "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."

Consider Diluted Bleach Baths

Silverberg suggests diluted bleach baths for babies over 6 months who have moderate or severe eczema. They're especially helpful if your baby has crusting on the skin. Bleach helps remove staph bacteria -- a known eczema trigger -- without resorting to antibiotics. Talk to your pediatrician before giving your baby a bleach bath.

Use 1 teaspoon of bleach per 1 gallon of water or ΒΌ cup per full bathtub.

Sounds harsh? It's just like taking your child into a swimming pool with chlorine, Silverberg says. And your baby may have fewer flare-ups and less discomfort as a result, she says.

Squelch Scratching

You can put anti-scratching mittens on a young baby's hands to stop her from scratching. But that doesn't work well on older babies and toddlers.

To reduce 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.

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, however, 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 unscented products whenever possible.
  • Detergents. Ask your pediatric 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 her cheeks before mealtime or naptime to create a barrier between the saliva and her skin.

Lisa Fields - WebMD