Baby eczema, also known as infantile eczema or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that affects infants and young children. It is characterized by patches of dry, itchy, red, and inflamed skin.
Baby eczema can appear on various parts of the body, including the face, cheeks, scalp, arms, and legs.
The National Eczema Association describe eczema as the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed.
According to the Association, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema and seborrheic dermatitis, also known as ‘cradle cap’ in infants, are the most common types of eczema that affect children.
It explained that atopic dermatitis often appears in the first six months to five years of a child’s life. Along with itchy skin, eczema can cause more severe allergies because it weakens the immune system, can cause blisters, and breaks down skin barriers that protect from skin disease.
The exact cause of eczema is said to be unknown, as researchers do not know why babies develop eczema. They do know, however, that it is due to a combination of environmental allergens and genetics.
certain cleansers, soaps and shampoos., dry air and ointments can trigger eczema in babies
A variety of environmental factors, they say, can trigger eczema in infants, including certain cleansers, soaps and shampoos. Dry air and ointments can also trigger baby eczema.
However, both mild and more severe symptoms of eczema can be prevented and treated in babies and toddlers.
A dermatologist, Lawrence E. Gibson, says daily bathing and moisturizing are key to treating baby (infantile) eczema (atopic dermatitis).
He added that a mild cleanser and warm water can be used. “After a bath of no more than 15 minutes, rinse completely, gently pat your baby dry and apply a fragrance-free cream or ointment such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline), while the skin is still damp.
“Moisturize at least twice a day, perhaps at diaper changes. When trying a new moisturizer, test it on a small area of the child’s skin first to make sure it’s well-tolerated. Baby eczema signs and symptoms may also be eased by avoiding irritants, such as itchy fabric and harsh soaps as well as extremes in temperature.”
daily bathing and moisturizing are key to treating eczema in babies
To prevent a child from scratching the rash, Gibson said it may help to keep the baby’s nails clipped short or to put on cotton mittens during sleep.
The expert further suggests that a baby be examined if the condition persists or the rash is purple, crusty and weepy or has blisters; noting that a child who has a fever and rash may need evaluation.
While he stated that most children outgrow infantile eczema by three to five years of age; he advised parents to talk to their doctor about using a medicated cream or ointment or trying bleach baths to ease symptoms.