Eczema in Babies and Toddlers
Eczema in babies and toddlers is usually much more severe than it is in adults so treatment should be at least as aggressive. Fortunately, most children stop having outbreaks by around age 6, although they can recur later in life. Usually these later occurrences aren’t as severe as childhood eczema though. If your baby or toddler has eczema, here are some tips on what to do.
First of all, make sure to keep your child’s fingernails trimmed very short, as most children will scratch themselves when they itch, regardless of how many times they’ve been told not to. Toddlers simply don’t have the self-discipline necessary to suffer through an itch, and because children’s eczema flare-ups tend to be more severe than most adult’s, it becomes even harder for them to resist scratching. If fingernails are short, there’s less likelihood that children will spread the rash through scratching and also less chance of scarring.
Moisturizing the skin is just as important for babies and toddlers as it is for adults, so after your child’s bath, make sure you moisturize his skin well. It’s also recommended that during the bath, you substitute lotion for soap. At least twice a week, add an antiseptic to baby’s bath water to prevent bacterial infections that could develop in the skin. During after-bath moisturizing, use mineral oil or some other heavy moisturizer rather than lotion, as heavier moisturizers are better for baby and toddler skin during eczema outbreaks.
Keep in mind that using lotion instead of soap in the bath and moisturizing afterward with oil is bound to make your baby or toddler slippery, so make sure you take precautions. It’s best if you can sit on the floor during bathing sessions instead of trying to bathe baby in the sink or in a tub on a counter. Be prepared for accidents! Place a soft mat on the floor and place your bathing tub on the mat, then sit cross-legged on the floor (or any position that’s comfortable and secure) before you begin the bathing ritual. Bathing your baby or toddler daily is recommended, as young skin is more prone to bacterial infections if it’s not kept clean.
Doctors do often prescribe steroid creams for babies and toddlers, so do use those according to doctor’s orders. Don’t, however, use over-the-counter hydrocortizone creams or anti-allergy medications without first checking with the doctor. Some allergy creams that work just fine on adult skin may not be suitable for your baby’s skin.
As with adults, children often have eczema flare-ups after eating certain foods. Keep a food diary for your child and pay attention to what foods your child eats just prior to outbreaks. Often, babies and toddlers are allergic to dairy products. Try goat’s milk instead, or for babies still on formula, opt for soy based formula instead of cow’s milk. Breast-feeding is always best for babies if possible, as it builds a stronger immune system and may minimize eczema outbreaks in babies and toddlers.