Being a parent of a child with eczema can feel worrying and overwhelming, as it's never easy to see your child in pain or discomfort, especially if you don't have the answers.
Here are my tips on how to cope with your child's eczema:
What is eczema?
Eczema is a dry skin condition, which is common in small babies, including my own. A baby's skin barrier is thinner than an adults and therefore it's prone to irritation.
There are many different types of eczema, however they all cause itching and flare ups, as well as rashes of red, dry, cracked skin. There are different levels of severity and it can be extremely distressing for little ones. The good news is that many babies grow out of it during childhood.
What causes it?
Our doctor prescribed Hydrocortisone Cream and various lotions. I was told that it might take a while to find a suitable combination to soothe my baby's skin. One of my main concerns however, was to find the root cause of her eczema. Upon researching, I came across many different ‘triggers’. Some are obvious, but there are others that you wouldn't initially think of.
Stress: Stress (such as teething) can manifest itself in many ways , with eczema being one of them. Excessive drooling when teething can also be an irritant around baby's neck and chest.
Weather: Heat in the summer and dry air during winter can irritate the skin.
Perfumes: Perfumes, plus fragrances lotions and bubble baths.
Laundry detergent: Liquid leaves less residue in fabric compared to powder, especially in hard water areas. Always use non bio varieties.
Allergens: Like pollen, dust and animal dander.
Food: For example, dairy and cow's milk. If baby is not on solids yet, certain proteins in formula milk can be a cause. It's best to keep a diary to track flare ups if you believe food to be a culprit.
How can I prevent flare ups?
Whilst trying to find the cause of my baby's eczema, I found out that there are many different ways to ease discomfort.
Be sure that bath water is cool and massage lotion into damp skin afterwards as this helps to lock in the moisture. Adding a bath emollient can also help. Oat baths are an effective, natural alternative and leave skin feeling smooth.
Put baby in breathable fabrics, such as cotton. Keep skin moisturised. As a rule of thumb, apply lotion after every nappy change. Never let baby's skin get dry and keep their nails short to prevent scratching.
Use corticosteroids sparingly on inflamed skin and only for the recommended amount of time. If used incorrectly, they can thin the skin. Although they are safe for babies to use, I found this caused redness in my daughter's skin. After doing some research, I started to use coconut oil instead, which has worked wonders. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, as well as many other benefits.
Aqueous Cream had a similar affect to the steroid cream. New research suggests that they are not good for the skin, causing redness and irritation. As with all products, use with caution. There are many different brands on the market to choose from and what works for one baby may not work for yours and vice versa. Popular brands that parents tend to recommend are Aveeno, Oilatum and AproDerm. I use a combination of the last two. There is also a new brand I've heard good things about called Child's Farm, a cheaper alternative, but just as effective.
Is there a solution?
The main culprit of my daughters eczema was laundry detergent. When back-tracking, I realised that I had changed from liquid to powder around the same time the flare-ups began. The rash was mainly on her torso due to her vests being in close contact to her skin. I have since switched back to the old brand and her skin calmed down within days.
It can take some time to work out what's aggravating baby's skin, but hopefully these tips will help you to start researching and get to the bottom of the problem.
Has your child suffered from eczema? Which tips helped you?
I'm a first-time mother and I've found that I can't go out with my son without somebody giving me advice on how to raise him. There seems to be a general assumption that new parents have no idea about children, and it is everybody's duty to share their wisdom.
I find using ecover or bio d washing liquid and avoiding any products with sls (sodium laurel sulphate or mineral oil which suffocates the skin so that it can’t breathe and any nasty toxins really. I use Arbonne baby range which is amazing on Eczema.