Learn the most common types of eczema in babies, how to tell the difference between each type, and the best ways to manage each type.
Eczema affects 1 in 5 children and 60% of children develop eczema in infancy. Eczema looks like red, rough itchy skin and it needs to be treated in order to improve. There is no cure for eczema and sometimes it will get better while other times there can be flares. There are ways to manage and control your child’s eczema flares and monitor the skin to reduce rashes. There are several types of eczema that children suffer from but the three most common types of eczema are atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis.
Learn more about how eczema can increase your child's risk for developing food allergies here.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema in both children and adults. The classic symptoms of atopic dermatitis are dry, red, itchy, and scaly skin. It can appear on any area of the body, but in babies up to 6 months old, you can usually find these symptoms on the scalp and face. When they start crawling, eczema may show up on the elbows and knees. It can also appear on the neck and crease between legs and buttocks. When the affected part gets infected, it can bubble up, become crusty and ooze pus. It’s rare to get atopic dermatitis in the diaper area.
If your baby is diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, your doctor might recommend using a gentle cleanser and moisturizing lotion that are recommended for babies with eczema. It is important to keep your baby’s nails regularly trimmed to prevent causing irritation and infection from scratching. Learn more about caring for your baby’s eczema here.
The symptoms of contact dermatitis are similar to atopic dermatitis. Red, dry, itchy, and swollen skin may also appear. It may also be painful. Bleeding, oozing, and blistering may also be present. However, contact dermatitis is different because it is mainly triggered by irritants and allergens. When your baby’s skin comes into contact with irritants like saliva, urine, or perfumed soaps and detergents, they may develop contact dermatitis. Having atopic dermatitis increases your risk for contact dermatitis.
Common allergens such as poison ivy, metals, latex, cosmetics, and certain medicines can cause contact dermatitis in children.
The best prevention for contact dermatitis is the avoidance of the triggers. If your baby does develop contact dermatitis, there are various treatments available but it would depend on the severity of the symptoms. Wash your baby’s skin with soap and water if it ever comes into contact with known triggers. A cold compress can help reduce symptoms. Your baby’s doctor may prescribe corticosteroid creams or antihistamines for moderate to severe symptoms.
Your baby’s cradle cap is a type of eczema called seborrheic dermatitis. In adults, this is dandruff. Aside from the scalp, seborrheic dermatitis may also appear on other areas where there’s an abundance of oil-producing glands like the back, nose and around the eyes.
The main symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are inflamed, red skin with white or yellow flakes, yellow crust, and pink patches that join with the red skin. If your child has cradle cap, the National Eczema Organization recommends applying plain mineral oil or petroleum jelly to your baby’s scalp an hour before giving them a bath. This will loosen up the scales. You may also wash your baby’s scalp and hair with an anti-dandruff shampoo. Just be careful not to let it get into your baby’s eyes.
How Is Eczema Diagnosed?
If you see eczema symptoms that last for more than a week, see your child’s doctor. The doctor will examine your child’s skin and ask about your family health history.
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