Keys to Recognizing, Preventing and Treating Baby Eczema
Eczema is an all-encompassing term that loosely describes any one of a number of types of atopic dermatitis, a skin condition characterized by dryness, itching and inflammation. The affected skin, which can occur anywhere on the body, is “leaky,” allowing irritants to penetrate its layers and trigger the immune system’s response. Eczema exhibits as degrees of redness, rash, flaking, weeping, crusting and soreness, all of which are aggravated by scratching. As many as 20% of babies and children are affected with eczema, and approximately 3% of adults. Some experts believe there is an inherited component to eczema while others think it is entirely idiopathic (spontaneously occurring and due to no known cause). Since affected children comprise the largest body of eczema sufferers, it is important to control eczema’s symptoms as much as possible, for it is difficult for young children to resist the urge to scratch inflamed skin, and this is the very behavior which perpetuates and worsens the problem. Eczema treatment for babies and children will frequently include one or more of the following:
Daily Cleansing — It may seem counter intuitive, but experts have found that that eczema responds well to daily bathing. Use non-drying products without potential irritants such as fragrance.
Moisture — Any baby eczema treatment begins with prevention. The use of oil based moisturizers is essential in order to avert as much dryness and irritation as possible. Apply moisturizers as soon as possible after bathing in order to trap the moisture in the skin. The use of a humidifier in the home to combat dry household air, particularly in the winter, is often helpful.
Eliminate Irritants — In addition to fragrances, many with baby eczema react negatively to dust mites, woolen blankets, detergents, and may have dietary allergies that contribute to their condition. A thoughtful trial and error elimination process may reveal particular substances to avoid.
Steroid Creams — Although many prefer to use natural remedies for baby eczema whenever possible, at times it may become necessary to use a doctor prescribed steroid cream to bring the redness and inflammation under control.
The majority of children will outgrow eczema by the time they reach puberty; however a smaller number will suffer from the condition intermittently throughout their lives. While there is not a cure for baby eczema, it is a condition that can be managed, and the sufferer generally kept comfortable. Typically the key to managing any sufferer’s discomfort level involves a multi-pronged approach: finding and eliminating triggers, creating an environment that discourages and prevents outbreaks and promptly treating symptoms as soon as they appear.