October is National Eczema Awareness Month, and Ready, Set Food! is here to help with tips for baby eczema care. Bathing and moisturizing your baby's skin is a crucial part of caring for their eczema. Learn tips for bathing eczema babies.
When your baby has eczema, keeping their skin moisturized is vital to getting their eczema under control. This is because their skin has a compromised skin barrier. It's easy for irritants to get into their skin, and for moisture to escape from their skin, which can lead to dryness and itchy eczema flares.
Two crucial steps in baby eczema care are regularly bathing your baby, and using moisturizer on your baby's skin. This way, you'll help keep their skin from drying out and flaring up.
The best way to bathe your baby, and prevent dryness and flares, is to use the "soak and seal" method. In the "soak and seal" method, you bathe your baby daily, and apply moisturizer right after the bath.
Here's how to bathe your baby with eczema using the "soak and seal" method.
Soak and Seal: The Soak (Bath)
The "soak" part of the "soak and seal" method refers to your baby's bath. Make sure to bathe your baby once per day.
Don't skip baths, as bathing is one of the most important steps to managing baby eczema! Here are some tips for giving your baby a bath that effectively treats eczema:
Time and Temperature
- Use warm (not hot) water, and let your baby soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Pay close attention to the water temperature---buying a bath thermometer will help.
- If the water is too hot for your baby's skin, and baby stays in too long, this might make their flare-ups worse.
- Your baby's skin hasn't fully developed, so repeated hot baths can make babies' skin dry out more, compared to adult skin.
- Mustela recommends making sure that the water temperature isn't higher than 98.6℉ (the average body temperature).
- The most comfortable bath water for a baby eczema soak is usually between 97℉ and 98.6℉.
- Use a mild, unscented, fragrance-free and dye-free liquid body wash to cleanse your baby's skin.
- Liquid cleansers clean your baby's skin without affecting the skin's PH, so they don't dry out the skin.
- Do not use soaps, as they will mess with skin PH and dry out your baby's skin even further.
- Also, stay away from any scented, fragranced, or dyed cleansers.
- Fragrances and dyes are common irritants that can make baby eczema worse.
- Gently wash your baby's eczema areas. Don't scrub too vigorously, as this may make the affected areas worse.
Gentle, Partial Towel Drying
Once you're finished with the bath, pat baby lightly with a towel. Only partially dry baby -- let some of the water stay on, so their skin remains somewhat damp. Keeping some moisture on the skin will help moisturizers sink in.
Soak and Seal: The Seal (Moisturizer)
Careful, intentional bathing is only half of the "soak and seal" method. After your baby's bath, moisturize their skin right away to "seal" the remaining moisture of the bath into their skin, and keep it from escaping.
- Remember the 3-minute rule: use a moisturizer on your baby's skin within 3 minutes after the bath. If you wait too long to moisturize, the moisture of the bath will quickly escape from your baby's skin.
- Recommended moisturizers include coconut oil (which can hold in moisture and ease swelling), moisturizers with ceramides, and alcohol-free ointments.
- Avoid creams that contain alcohol, as the alcohol can sting and burn your baby's skin. Look for ointments instead, as they usually contain no alcohol.
- If you plan to dress your baby's skin or use wet wrap therapy, first let the moisturizer soak into your baby's skin for a few minutes.
- Intentionally moisturize your baby's skin more times per day than just after the bath. Spritz your baby's skin with water at least twice a day, and apply moisturizer immediately afterwards. This helps baby retain the moisture from the bath more effectively.
Bleach Baths for Baby Eczema
If your baby's eczema is prone to flare-ups, your dermatologist may recommend a special type of baby eczema bath, known as a dilute bleach bath.
A bleach bath helps clean off harmful bacteria that may aggravate your baby's eczema, including the bacteria responsible for staph infections. Research shows that bleach baths may not only clean off this bacteria and reduce infections, but also directly stop eczema flares.
A dilute bath contains a small concentration of bleach, and is gentler than the water in a public swimming pool. It usually won't sting your baby, even if they have open skin from an eczema flare.
Here are the basic steps to safely giving your baby a dilute bleach bath.
Please talk to your dermatologist before giving your baby a dilute bleach bath, and follow any directions they give.
- According to the American Academy of Dermatology, when bathing your baby in a baby/toddler bathtub, you should use one teaspoon of regular strength bleach per gallon of water. If you use a standard bathtub that's half-full of water, mix in ¼ cup of bleach.
- Measure out the bleach with a measuring spoon or cup, and mix it with the bath water as the tub is filling up. Only place baby in the bath after the tub is filled and the bleach is mixed in. Never apply undiluted bleach directly to baby eczema!
- When you bathe baby in the bleach bath, make sure plenty of bleach water gets on baby's hands and feet, because these areas can be especially prone to bacteria growth.
- Gently apply the bleach water to your baby's head and neck with a washcloth. These areas might not soak directly in the bleach water, but will benefit from its application.
- Follow your dermatologist's recommendations for how long you should have baby soak in the tub. Most dermatologists recommend a 5-minute to 10-minute bleach bath.
- Just like after all baths, pat your baby dry so some moisture remains on the skin, and apply moisturizer within 3 minutes after the bath.
- Bleach baths work best as an ongoing treatment. Bathe baby in a bleach bath multiple times per week, or as directed by your dermatologist.
Learn more about how to safely prepare a bleach bath for your baby in the video below, from the American Academy of Dermatology:
Babies with eczema are at highest risk for developing a food allergy. Up to 67% of babies with severe eczema, and 25% of babies with mild eczema, will develop a food allergy. Learn more about the close link between eczema and food allergies.
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