Baby eczema can be exacerbated by skin allergens including numerous household chemicals. Laundry detergents, shampoos, fabric conditioners, and soaps can all cause contact eczema, or dermatitis, in some children and preventing baby eczema may be possible where a specific trigger is the cause of the symptoms.
Baby eczema may, however, co-exist with contact eczema and be present to some degree whether the specific allergen is present or not.
Reducing exposure to a skin allergen may make it easier to control and treat baby eczema symptoms and avoid the need for steroid creams or topical immunomodulators (TIMs). Identifying specific skin allergens can be extremely complicated however as we, and our children, are bombarded daily with all manner of chemicals, both natural and man-made. A dermatologist may be able to help identify a possible trigger for contact dermatitis and give advice on avoiding it in the future.
Some children, and adults, suffer a contact dermatitis reaction to nickel in jewellery, and others cannot tolerate fragrances in soaps, or certain natural fibres such as mohair. Isolated areas of contact eczema may reveal a clear pattern that easily identifies the culprit, such as a watch-strap, or itchy ear from a certain pair of earrings. However, some cases of contact eczema can spread away from the area of exposure and cause a more widely disseminated skin rash.
The reaction to poison ivy is probably the best known example of contact eczema, leading to itchy, red, blistered skin that can be more painful than pruritic. The culprit in this case is urushiol, a chemical constituent of the plant, and it is possible to suffer the reaction after touching something that the plant has had contact with, as well as the plant itself. Washing the skin after contact means that the irritant should not cause another reaction.
Allergic contact eczema commonly results in symptoms 24-48 hours after exposure and the reaction usually goes away within two to four weeks, with or without treatment in most cases. Where baby eczema has already compromised the health of the skin, allergic reactions may be more common and pronounced as the skin’s barrier is not functioning optimally. Extra care should be taken to avoid common skin allergens if they are thought to trigger a flare-up of baby eczema.
Common skin allergens that can cause eczema include:
- rubber (latex) products
- neomycin (an ingredient in antibiotic creams)
There are, of course, many other skin allergens with the potential to exacerbate baby eczema.
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