Helping your baby survive the summer heat can be challenging when they have eczema. That's especially true if the heat is a trigger for their flares, like it is for many eczema babies. Not to worry, though. We've got your back with our top 12 tips for surviving the summer heat with baby eczema.
1. Understand why heat can lead to flares.
If baby's eczema flares up in the heat, it's probably because they're sweating.
Sweating means baby's skin is losing fluids and drying out. And sweat also contains other minerals that could be irritating to your baby's skin – including sodium, which can both dry out the skin and irritate it.
Unfortunately, this dryness and irritation could lead to an itch-scratch cycle that causes the flare spots to get even more inflamed.
Most of the tips on this list will help ease sweating for baby – and help soothe any eczema flares that are triggered from sweating.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
The best way to cut down on baby's sweating, and prevent overheating, is to keep replenishing their fluids. Good hydration helps keep baby's body temperature balanced.
This means feeding breastfed babies on demand, and scheduling frequent feedings if baby drinks formula.
If baby is over 6 months old, you should also supplement the breastmilk or formula with small amounts of water. Prioritize the breastmilk or formula, but add the water as a secondary hydration source.
3. Opt for loose cotton.
Cotton is already one of the most eczema-friendly fabrics. But loose cotton clothing becomes even more important in summer. The lightness and the loose fit of the clothing will help keep your little one cool and minimize sweat. And the cotton will minimize irritation. So, stick with loose cotton both during the day and during the night. And make sure baby's bedding is made of cotton as well.
Stay away from tight clothing, as that can make baby's body store more heat and lead to sweating. And skip synthetic fabrics like polyester, as they tend to irritate skin and could cause flares.
4. Apply a cool compress often.
Whether baby's actively flaring up or you're being proactive to help prevent a flare, applying a cool compress to baby's body can help bring their body temperature down. You probably already have a cool compress in your freezer – an ice pack is one type of cool compress. If baby's eczema is flaring up, the ice pack can help distract baby from the discomfort of their flares, and relieve itching.
5. Give baby's moisturizer a cooling upgrade.
You're already moisturizing baby's skin often to keep it from drying out. For extra cooling comfort on a hot day, or soothing cool relief from flares, try refrigerating baby's moisturizer for at least a few hours and then applying it. Store the moisturizer in the fridge throughout the summer.
(This tip is meant for store-bought moisturizers only. Don't try this technique with baby's prescribed eczema treatments unless you get the ok from your doctor.)
6. Think about wet wrap therapy.
Wet wrap therapy is another soothing technique that can help cool baby and relieve irritation. It involves dressing baby in damp cotton clothing overnight, or for at least 2 hours, to rehydrate their skin and soothe any flares.
If baby gets hot, you can also bring them inside and dress them in cool, damp cotton clothing for a shorter period.
7. Become best friends with the shade.
Shade isn't just a cooler spot on a hot summer day. When your little one has eczema, it's also a way to cut down on sweating and help minimize flares. So, keep baby in the shade as often as you can when you’re outside, whether that's under a tree, under an umbrella, or under a tent.
8. Avoid the sun at the hottest times.
During the hottest parts of the day – 10 AM to 4 PM – stay in the shade completely and don't expose baby to direct sunlight. Or, just stay inside completely during those hours (preferably somewhere with air conditioning!), and opt for an early morning or an evening outdoor time with your little one. Since you're avoiding the peak heat, this should help cut down on sweat.
9. Choose the right sunscreen.
When baby's out in the heat, you'll also need to protect their skin from the sun's harmful UV rays. If baby has eczema, though, some sunscreens can make baby's skin flare up just like the heat does.
What to do so you can guard baby against the sun and flares? Stick to a mineral based baby sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, as these ingredients are less likely to irritate the skin. Or, choose a baby sunscreen that's recommended by the National Eczema Association. Be sure to test the sunscreen on baby's skin at least 5 days before using it outside, to make sure it's not an irritant for baby's eczema.
(For more tips on sun protection for eczema babies, don't miss our previous article!)
10. Prepare baby's bedroom.
Baby's bedroom should be at a comfortable temperature on any night, but especially after a hot day. Try to keep their bedroom temperature between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
You should also keep a cool mist humidifier in baby's room to help moisturize their skin. At the warmest times of the year, it's best to run it each night as baby sleeps (or as often as your dermatologist recommends). The moisture level of baby's bedroom should be over 30%.
11. Watch for signs of too much heat.
If baby is overly tired, especially fussy, or shows signs of sunburn or other change in skin pigmentation, bring baby inside immediately. These are signs that baby is getting overheated, and that they may be dehydrated. Give baby breastmilk, formula or water immediately.
12. Stick to the foundations of eczema care.
Since heat can easily lead to skin irritation, it's more important than ever to continue good baby eczema care habits. This means bathing baby daily, moisturizing within two minutes after a bath, and applying moisturizer at other times throughout the day as often as baby's skin needs it. Even if you're away from home during the summer, keep up with baby's regular bath and moisturizer routine.
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