Infant eczema ranges from slight redness of the skin to severe, irritating itching. The most important factors to consider for preventing infant eczema include moisturizing, nutrition, hygiene, and allergy awareness and prevention. However, when an infant's parents have eczema there is an 80% chance the baby will also develop eczema.
Eczema on babies can appear anywhere: on the face, neck, belly, chest, and most often at the creases on the back of the elbows and knees. If the eczema appears on the infant's belly it's possible the infant has an allergy to the detergent or fabric softener used since their belly is the main contact point with the fabric. If any sudden onset of eczema occurs, take note of changes that could have triggered the outbreak. Baby eczema can also be triggered by food allergies, usually dairy products. If the mother is breastfeeding then food allergies can derive from something the mother has eaten. Some parents find it helpful to keep a journal of changes around the home and of food ingested to aid identification of possible allergens to the infant.
The majority of infant eczemas are identified as atopic eczema. As with adults, the infant eczema itself is not as much of a problem for babies as is the scratching, which can cause infection. Scratching which results in wet, or oozing sores is likely to become infected. Bacterial "staph" infections are common on arms and legs and are characterized by oozing, crusting and also by small pus bumps. Any eczema lesions which look different than usual, are weeping or feel hot to the touch, are important to treat as soon as possible. Antibiotics can be prescribed to help the infant's immune system fight the infection.
A normal and common type of baby eczema appears on the infant's scalp and is called cradle cap. Cradle cap is manifested as patches of greasy, yellow, scaling skin on the scalp. Sometimes the scales may cover the whole scalp. Cradle cap is not caused by infection, allergy or poor hygiene but may have to do with over-active oily glands in the newborn's skin caused by the mother's hormones still in the baby's circulation. If the cradle cap is very bad, a small amount of baby oil or anti-dandruff shampoo can be gently massaged into the affected area, left on for a few minutes and then thoroughly rinsed out. Babies are usually not irritated by cradle cap. It typically resolves within a few months when the scales become very flaky and rub off.
Since eczema robs moisture from the skin, it is essential to keep the infant's skin moisturized as much as possible. One solution is to add baby oil to the infant's bath water. Or, as soon as the baby gets out of the bath, pat the skin dry, paying extra attention to drying the legs without rubbing. Then quickly apply a very mild unscented baby lotion to take advantage of the baby's open pores after the warm bath, which is the best time for moisture to be absorbed. When this is done before bedtime, the infant is more relaxed and can more easily sleep through the night. Also, the infant's room should be kept humid. This is best done by keeping the heat turned down. If the baby gets cold it's best to add clothing rather than turn the heat back up. Pure cotton clothing is recommended for the infant with eczema.
Many babies grow out of eczema themselves without any medical intervention well before they are 5 years old. While there is no cure for eczema, it is possible to treat it in such a way that your baby does not experience too much discomfort.
Ultra Balm has become increasingly popular with Mothers, with many of them claiming that scales and dandruff from their babies scalp eczema has fully disappeared since using Ultra Balm for just a few days to a week.