Dealing with Mild-to-Moderate Baby Eczema
When the twins were somewhere between 1 and 2 months, we noticed they had what a doctor friend called “normal baby bumps.” Unfortunately for us, the “normal baby bumps” transitioned to a red rash all around their little bodies.
I wasn’t sure what it was at first: eczema, yeast, or some other rash. We talked to the pediatrician at their 2-month checkup and she diagnosed them with eczema. She gave us some ideas to try to help and told us to call if the eczema wasn’t getting better.
A few weeks later, they were covered head to toe with the rash and we were prescribed hydrocortisone 2%. The cream helped immediately, but it wasn’t the whole answer. The eczema would disappear after the treatment but would reappear shortly after a trigger—in our case water.
I thought I was doing everything I could (baby soaps, and lotions, quick baths, etc.), but it turns out there is a lot more that can be done to help manage mild-to-moderate baby eczema.
Here are 7 tips to help you manage your kids’ eczema that have proven very helpful for my twins over that last 2 years.
Talk to your Pediatrician.
Let them diagnose your child’s skin condition because different rashes yield different treatments. Personally, I didn't want to put a steroid on the infants until the doctor prescribed it, and frankly, it really helped us keep it under control until we found a regimen that worked. After we got a solid routine down, we only needed the prescription on stubborn spots here and there. If your child has a more serious case of eczema, they may have to consult with a specialist to get a more targeted treatment.
I used baby detergent from day one and kept all other laundry separate from the baby clothes/sheets. Baby detergent is gentler and has no colors and dyes. In general, most people agree that baby’s skin is sensitive, so make sure you are using a natural or specified baby detergent that won’t irritate their already sensitive skin.
I noticed water was a huge trigger for the boys. Water will not be a trigger for everyone. The first few months, we didn’t bathe them but once a week. As they started getting older, I felt the societal pressure to have bath time be a regular, nightly ritual. At which point, I quickly realized that ritual wasn’t for everyone. We found that twice a week was all the kids’ skin could handle until they neared their 2nd birthday. They now bathe 3 times a week without adverse reactions.
Ditch the fragrances.
I know it might be called “baby lotion” or “baby body wash”, but if it has that baby powder scent or fake lavender smell to it, it is not helping. All of those products and smells that people seem to love is not good for the child’s skin condition. Since the diagnosis of eczema, we’ve had several doctors and friends tell us that Dove Baby Body Wash is the best for a baby’s skin. Once we ditched the popular brands with the great baby smells, we noticed a difference right away.
Oatmeal, Oatmeal, Oatmeal.
First of all: use lukewarm water. Additionally, one of the first home remedies we tried were oatmeal baths and lotions. Aveeno has a total baby eczema line incorporating colloidal oatmeal.
They have a powdered oatmeal packet you can buy to pour in the bath, with which I started to use until I did a little research and realized I could just use regular oatmeal. I skip the grinding step though and just wrap regular old fashioned oats up in a thin wash cloth with a hair tie. I dunk it and squeeze it into the tub until the water is murky. Then, I just let it float in there with the kids.
I noticed no difference between using the powder packs and the washcloth oatmeal ball (except it did save me a lot of money). Note: it is important to wrap it up whether you grind it yourself in the food processor or leave it whole. It will clog your drain. Aveeno’s product is professionally ground and does not clog the drain.
Also, for those that love bubbles and want to share that joy with your little one, TruKid makes an Eczema Bubble Pod primarily made from oatmeal that does not disappoint and does not aggravate my kids’ skin.
We also started using Aveeno’s Baby Eczema Therapy (colloidal oatmeal lotion). We would slather it on the kids a soon as they got out of the bath (application recommended within 3 minutes of exiting the bath) and during a breakout we would put it on randomly during the day. I did settle on Eucerin Baby Eczema Cream (also colloidal oatmeal). I didn’t think I would notice a difference but there was. It is much thicker and definitely worth trying.
With summer right around the corner, it is worth researching sunscreen. There are several for baby that the National Eczema Association recommends.
I ended up trying Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection for Sensitive Skin (SPF 50). I also bought the sun stick (part of the same line) for their faces.
Over the course of the summer, I stuck with the sun stick but ended up using Babyganics spray sunscreen just because I like the spray feature. Babyganics brand is not recognized by the National Eczema Association to my knowledge but uses the same primary ingredient (zinc oxide) and is generally known to use more natural ingredients.
I did not notice any difference between the two sunscreens. (I did notice breakouts when I tried other Babyganics products like lotion, bubble bath, and soap).
Bonus: Salt Baths.
This one I did not try, but a fellow mom did find it very helpful with her kids. She would do a soak using Dead Sea Salt (not Epsom Salt).
I know this may seem daunting at first but let’s simplify it just a bit.
– Make sure the rash on your child is actually eczema from your pediatrician.
– Use a neutral soap and lotion like Dove Baby Soap and Eucerine Baby Eczema Cream.
– Do lukewarm oatmeal baths
– Make sure the laundry detergent is free of dyes and extra chemicals. For us, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
From my understanding, a lot of kids grow out of baby eczema. Around the boys’ second birthday, aside from increasing baths, I also stopped putting oatmeal in the bath. In fact, the only part of the regiment we continue to do is the immediate use of oatmeal cream following bath time.
So far, we have had no breakouts, but I do anticipate a few problem areas come summer with the heat and humidity. Overall, it feels good to have gained some control over this irritating and annoying skin condition.
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Alexandra Brink and her husband of 8 years live in the greater Pittsburgh area. Alex is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Behavior Specialist. She is currently a stay-at-home-mom to her 2 year old identical twin boys. She is an active member of her local church and currently enjoys exploring local parks and playgrounds with her family while watching the boys learn, play and explore.