First of all it is important to understand eczema, which is an inflammatory skin condition that presents as a red, scaly, itchy rash. It is typically an allergic reaction (immune response) to an environmental trigger. These can be irritants that come in contact with skin such as soaps/detergents or a food allergy that triggers the eczema reaction.
Babies have sensitive skin that hasn't fully developed and therefore are more susceptible to dermatitis like eczema. The ideal method of managing eczema in young children would to be to avoid the triggers. It takes some investigative work to identify the root cause of the eczema. If the patches are in the diaper area, that could be a clue that a food allergy is causing the irritation because the remnants of the offending food is in the urine/stool. An elimination diet could pinpoint the food culprit.
|William Warby [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons|
- Adding oatmeal the bathwater helps calm and soften the skin. I put 1/2 cup of oatmeal in a coffee grinder and add the powder to a lukewarm water in the sink. I let baby soak for 5 minutes. Pat dry, do not rub the skin. Immediately apply moisturizers to hydrate the skin.
- Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize! When the skin dries out it creates little fissures and makes it is prone to eczema. Maintaining moisture in the skin will help it heal faster. Different skin types respond better to certain moisturizers. Try aloe, pure shea butter, coconut oil (with a few drops of neem oil), and calendula cream until you find the right one.
- Give baby supplements that support the immune system. Mix baby probiotics into food or drink. Omega 3 in the form of EPA is also important to skin health. Cod Liver Oil is great for babies who can't chew a gummy or swallow a capsule.
- Give baby a bath daily. This is the new recommendation to help the skin regenerate by removing the dry, dead skin cells. Avoid soap, but if you must use one I suggest Dr. Bronner's Mild Baby Castille Soap or Olive Oil Soap. Remember to pat dry, never rub the skin, and apply a moisturizer right away.
- Create a moisture barrier for baby's delicate skin. I triple moisturize twice a day. First with a layer of a rich emollient (California Baby Calendula Cream), then a layer of restorative oils (I like Seaweed Bath Co. Body Butter because it is a blend of many healing oils, plus it comes in a roll-on for easy application), then a layer of Alba Un-Petroleum Jelly to seal it all in.
- De-tox. Eczema can be a signal of toxic build-up in baby's system. Make sure baby is getting enough water to flush out toxins, especially in the winter when heaters dry out the air. A hazelwood necklace can also help by absorbing the extra acidity when PH levels get out of balance.