Parents may suspect specific food triggers causing baby eczema but significant dietary changes can be problematic in infants and should be supervised by qualified nutritionists or dietitians to avoid possible nutrient deficiencies which could themselves make baby eczema worse.
The use of natural remedies for baby eczema is also very tempting for parents but some adult eczema treatments may be unsuitable for small children and should be discussed with a medical practitioner prior to application.
Baby eczema treatment depends on the extent of the symptoms as some children with mild eczema may be able to use a baby eczema cream to relieve the itchiness and keep the skin moisturised without requiring any further intervention. However, a steroid cream may be combined with an emollient for some cases of baby eczema where a flare-up occurs. Such steroid creams are usually only used for short periods however, due to their potential side-effects. Stronger steroid creams may be used in severe cases of baby eczema but are usually restricted to use in children over two years of age.
Topical Immunomodulators and Steroid Creams for Baby Eczema Treatment
Topical immunomodulators (TIMs), including tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, are prescribed in a small number of cases to bring an acute flare-up under control. Adhering to the usage guidelines is very important as long-term use of steroid creams, particularly for babies, can cause side-effects. Otherwise, steroid creams are considered very safe, even for children, when used sparingly in cases of baby eczema, at the prescribed dosage (usually twice a day), and only on the area for which the steroid cream was prescribed. Thinning of the skin is the main adverse effect found when such creams are used for extended periods and emollient creams for baby eczema should be used instead of steroid creams for the majority of the time.
A key factor in controlling eczema symptoms is the moisture level in the skin. Baby eczema may be worsened by frequent bathing, especially where prolonged exposure to hot water occurs. This has the effect of drying out the skin and can cause the skin to crack, weep, and bleed. Shorter, cooler, baby baths are recommended with the addition of a bath oil that is non-allergenic. It is important to moisturise a baby’s skin after bathing in order to ‘lock in’ the moisture and avoid exacerbating eczema as the skin dries out. Other tactics used to manage or treat baby eczema include the use of natural fabrics such as cotton for swaddling or dressing an infant. Loose cotton fabrics are advised, as wool can be irritating to a child’s skin, and synthetic fabrics may prevent the skin from breathing.
Baby Eczema Oral Antihistamines
Oral antihistamines may be prescribed for a child whose scratching is uncontrollable, or who is particularly upset by severely itchy skin. Where sleep disturbances are resulting from baby eczema this can significantly affect a baby’s confidence, mood, and development, and oral antihistamines may be prescribed to relieve itchiness. The antihistamine medications available for children often cause drowsiness and are usually given at bedtime. Antihistamines should only be given to an infant following a doctor’s recommendation.
Wet-Wrapping for Baby Eczema
Wet-wrapping is another possible treatment for baby eczema which has the double benefit of keeping the skin moisturised and reducing the incidence of scratching by the infant. This technique involves soaking bandages in emollient, or a prescribed steroid cream where appropriate, and wrapping them around the itchy and inflamed area. Dry bandages are then applied on top to encourage the skin to soak up the moisture from the emollient or steroid cream. Natural remedies for baby eczema are also popular with many parents keen to avoid synthetic chemicals or steroid medications. These should be approached with caution however, as research into their effects on children is often lacking, and apparent safety in adults does not necessarily mean that many remedies are safe for babies or small children, even in lower doses.