Nothing is worse than when something is wrong with your child. When they are uncomfortable, we are uncomfortable too.
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is a common problem in infants and children. It usually begins, between two months and six months of age, with very dry and sensitive skin that will then become red and extremely itchy. It often starts on the forehead, cheeks and scalp and spreads to the trunk, creases of the elbows, knees and wrists. With scratching the rash may become raw, crusted and weepy.
Statistics vary, but it would seem that upwards of 10 percent of children might have eczema of one kind or another. The good news is that most of those children will grow out of it. Research has shown that 60% -70% of children are virtually clear of the condition by the time they reach their mid-teens. The bad news is that you'll have to find a way to deal with this irritating condition in the meantime.
Taking good care of your baby's skin is crucial if your little one has baby eczema. Here are some tips:
- Try to keep your baby's skin from becoming too dry. Your doctor will have suggestions on how frequent to bathe your child. Wash and shampoo your baby at the end of bath time. You might want to consider purchasing soap and shampoo for your baby at a health food store, as the common brands of baby soap and shampoo have many irritating chemicals in them; despite claims of "mildness". As soon as you get your baby out of the tub, pat your little one's skin dry and then apply plenty of moisturizing ointment, cream or lotion.
- Allow your baby's skin to breathe by dressing him or her in natural fabrics like cotton. Don't allow your little one to overheat.
- Use mild, fragrance-free detergents for sensitive skin to launder your baby's clothes and bedding.
- Rapid changes in temperature can make eczema worse. If your little one does become overheated, do not cool the child down too quickly. Also be aware of the opposite situation; if the child is cold, do not warm too quickly.
- Pollen, dust mites, animal dander and other common allergens can also trigger or worsen eczema. You might want to consult an allergist, who can provide tips on how to reduce allergens in your home. These tips may include more efficient ways of vacuuming and dusting, using air filters, and other strategies.
- Help your baby avoid scratching. Scratching or rubbing can further irritate or inflame eczema. Use the softest sheet possible in the crib, and keep your baby's nails short. You can protect your child's skin by having your little one go to bed with socks or cotton mittens over little hands. If your baby has a lot of trouble sleeping because of eczema, talk with your child's doctor. A doctor may suggest a baby dose of an antihistamine that will cut down on the itchy feeling. It will help make your baby drowsier, too.