Baby eczema creams should be applied several times a day to help relieve itchy skin and keep the skin from becoming dry and cracked. It is especially important to seal in moisture following bath-time and emollient creams are preferred, rather than water-based (aqua) creams and lotions which can actually dry the skin out further.
Daily, short, lukewarm baths are recommended as warmer, and longer baths can dry the skin out. Patting the skin dry rather than rubbing will also avoid irritation to a baby’s sensitive skin, and applying moisturiser generously afterwards can lock-in moisturiser and be a great way to bond with baby.
Unfortunately, there is no regulation of the terms ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘sensitive’, making it difficult for many parents to judge the credentials of a baby eczema cream that purports to be for sensitive skin. Checking the labels for some suspect substances can help in the decision-making process and parents are advised to look for a skin cream for their baby that is free from:
- fragrances or perfumes
- colours or dyes
- SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) or SLES (sodium lauryl ether sulphate)
- Propylene Glycol
Many baby eczema creams, such as those from Gentle Naturals, contain natural plant extracts like jojoba oil and calendula to help moisturise the skin and calm inflammation. The addition of vitamins such as A, D, and E can help in quenching free-radical damage in the cells of the skin as well as playing a role in the skin’s immune function.
Aloe vera may also be present in some baby eczema lotions and creams due to its ability to soothe inflammation and itchiness. An aloe vera gel however is not recommended for direct application as it can cause a sensation of tightening the skin which may be uncomfortable for a baby suffering from eczema.
Particular care should be taken when applying skin creams to a baby’s face, which is where baby eczema commonly occurs. Most baby-safe skin creams are formulated to avoid eye-irritation, but others may not be, and even some skin creams formulated for babies can be irritating to sensitive skin. A wriggling and cranky baby may not take kindly to having lotion applied so parents must choose their moments wisely.
Another popular brand of baby eczema cream is made by Aveeno and features oatmeal to relieve itching, encourage the skin’s natural barrier function, and improve skin moisture levels. The Aveeno skin cream has a long history, with clinical testing showing it to be effective for baby eczema. The cream is frequently recommended by paediatricians as well as by thousands of parents who rely on it to keep their baby’s skin as happy as can be. The formula is fragrance-free, and provides a natural alternative to steroid creams for eczema.
Skin creams for baby eczema are not the only important consideration however, as parents should be wary of using fragranced bath products or baby bubble-baths with long lists of harsh chemical ingredients. The use of perfumes, aftershaves, and chemical-laden cosmetics or body lotions by mums and dads can also cause contact eczema in some very sensitive babies and parents may wish to switch to using natural moisturisers and beauty products themselves.
Where baby eczema prevention techniques are not working adequately, and where skin creams cannot relieve the condition, a physician may recommend the use of a steroid cream to bring an eczema flare-up under control. Following the guidelines on steroid creams is important as over-application and prolonged use of these medications can cause thinning of the skin which may exacerbate baby eczema in the longer term. Using natural baby eczema creams in-between steroid cream applications is advised to maintain the skin’s moisture levels.
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