Eczema and food allergy mom Marissa Leitner shares lifestyle tips for managing your baby's eczema, based on her experiences managing her son's and daughter's eczema.
My daughter and son both developed eczema (also known as Atopic Dermatitis) by the age of three months. The signs and symptoms of eczema varied for my children. The eczema presented differently in my son -- it was quite pronounced on his face, neck, behind his knees, in his elbow crease, and ankle crease. For my daughter, it has been predominantly on her wrists, fingers, ankles and behind the knees. The eczema flares caused the babies to scratch incessantly and disrupted sleep, and as a result, affected their moods.
I was able to speak to doctors to manage their skin condition. I learned that the actual causes for eczema are not clear, but may be related to a malfunction in the baby’s immune system and a breakdown in the skin barrier.
I also pored through blogs, articles and joined Facebook groups for additional support. In addition to eliminating any potential eczema triggers, I found lifestyle habits helped manage the eczema and keep my babies as comfortable as possible. The most important habit of all: Remember to moisturize!
Clothing and bedding:
- Dress your baby in loose fitting cotton clothing during the day and at night.
- Wash clothes and sheets before first use.
- Do baby laundry in a separate washing load with fragrance-free detergent.
- Give your baby a bath every day. (Our routine was a bath right before bed.)
- Make sure water is lukewarm.
- Use sensitive soaps and shampoos.
- Immediately pat the skin dry and apply moisturizer within a few minutes after the bath to seal the skin (our favorite is Vaniply ointment).
- Remember, there is no such thing as too much moisturizer.
- Use an air purifier system where the baby sleeps (bonus-it also doubles as a soothing sound machine!) as environmental allergies can trigger eczema.
- Keep temperature comfortable and make sure your baby does not get too hot at night, as sweating makes eczema more uncomfortable.
- Dress your baby in loose pajamas.
- Moisturize the eczema “hot” spots.
- To prevent excess scratching, use mittens or socks on your baby's hands, and socks if feet are exposed.
- Keep babies in the shade and cover their exposed skin when possible.
- For babies older than 6 months old, use sensitive sunscreen with SPF 15+.
- Limit exposure to chlorine and bromine from swimming pools. Have your baby take a bath immediately after swimming and moisturize!
Discuss Options With Your Doctor
When more is needed: from time to time, eczema flares would be severe enough to need topical medicated creams or ointments. My pediatrician prescribed certain topical steroids that really helped, and a little went a long way, especially when used before the flare up got out of hand. There are other non-steroid options too -- ask your doctor if these may be useful for your baby.
Remember to ALWAYS:
- Moisturize your baby’s skin. The goal is to look back at every picture you’ve taken of your child and to see a greased up, shiny baby. Think about keeping ointment next to the diaper changing station as a reminder to consistently apply!
- Keep your baby's finger and toe nails short.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.