Infant Eczema: Causes, Prevention And Treament

Your baby's skin is beautiful and soft, so you can be dismayed to discovered dryness, redness or rashes that suddenly appear. Eczema is one of the most common childhood skin conditions. It appears nearly anywhere on your baby's body. It can look like patches of dry skin, but more severe cases can look like a red, scaly cluster of bumps. Eczema is itchy and it can bleed if it is irritated. 

Look For Triggers

The first thing you should do is try to reduce triggers for eczema. Sometimes, this skin condition can be aggravated by certain environmental triggers. You can try

  • washing your clothes in a gentle detergent like Dreft, which is designed for babies. Some babies with eczema are very sensitive to the residue left by harsher washing methods. Fabric softener may feel and smell good, but it can also be an irritant. 
  • decreasing your baby's exposure to cigarette smoke or other types of smoke. 
  • keeping your baby out of the heat. Dress your child in breathable materials that are soft on the skin to allow cooling air flow to reach trouble spots.
  • looking for food triggers Some foods can be irritating to the skin. For example, strawberries appear to be a common trigger for eczema flare ups. If your baby is on solid foods, take note of which ones tend to make the condition worse. Sometimes, your baby can also have aggravated eczema from foods that you eat if you are breastfeeding.
  • reducing stress. Stress can also make eczema worse in some children. For babies, stress comes largely from pain (like teething or colic) or fear (like being left along to cry in a crib). Do what you can to help your child feel more peaceful. Skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding or cuddling, and getting enough rest can help with infant stress levels.


You can also help battle eczema by making sure your baby's skin stays moisturized. Normally, your baby's skin is able to keep itself hydrated -- the need for external moisturizers is rare. But eczema sufferers have trouble keeping moisture in the skin. When moisturizing, be sure to use an emollient that is intended for a baby's skin. Look for a cream or ointment that has a low water content and a high fat content. These can be greasy, but they are better a trapping moisture in the skin. Adult moisturizing lotions often contain alcohol or scent agents that make infant skin irritation more severe. Lotions also have more water, which means they are generally less effective at holding moisture in the skin. 

The best time to moisturize your baby's skin is right after bathing. Pat your baby's skin dry, but don't wait for the dampness to fully evaporate. Instead, trap the moisture in the skin by rubbing emollient all over your baby's body, especially targeting trouble spots that frequently flare up. Don't be afraid to bathe your infant on a daily basis -- the bath itself won't dry out the skin. However, remember to use little, if any, soaps, as these can dry out the skin. Also, keep the water temperature tepid instead of very warm because hot water also has a drying effect. 

For more severe cases of eczema, you can see a dermatologist for a more aggressive medicated cream that will help treat painful flare ups. Sometimes, a steroid cream is needed to control painful areas, especially if your infant is having trouble sleeping or is bleeding because of scratching the itchy patches. Thankfully, eczema is not often a lifetime condition -- many children outgrow it as they reach adulthood. For more information on this skin condition, contact a dermatologist at a location like Center Of Dermatology PC/Herschel E Stoller MD for more information.