Statistics show that one in five children suffer from atopic dermatitis. Also known as eczema, this condition first appears in children that are under the age of two. Eczema is a condition that can’t be cured. A lot of children outgrow their eczema when they reach their teen years, but until then, it’s important to know how to manage it.
What causes eczema?
The exact causes of eczema have yet to be determined. Scientists so far have assumed that it has something to do with genes. A main characteristic of this condition is that it tends to appear in flare-ups. This means that while your child constantly has dry skin, the symptoms may get worse during certain periods of time (these are called “flare-ups”). This is the immune’s system reaction to allergens and requires more intensive treatment.
What are flare-ups?
Flare-ups can be a response to a wide variety of triggers, varying from chemicals found in cosmetics, to certain fabrics that trigger allergic skin reactions. If you notice that items such as bubble bath substances or detergents are causing a violent allergic reaction of your baby’s skin, consider switching to more natural options. A general recommendation that doctors give to patient who suffer from eczema is to avoid scratching, but children often can’t help it, which makes the situation even more complicated.
Where can it be found?
Depending on a baby’s age, eczema can be present on different parts of the body. Since babies wear diapers, atopic dermatitis often appears in this area, because of increased moisture. However, when babies start to crawl, eczema can make an appearance on the baby’s elbows and knees. This a time to be especially careful with any potential skin infections, as these parts of the body are rubbed against the floor, and thus more exposed to harsh conditions.
Can flare-ups be avoided?
- Change in diet
- Ruling out allergies
- Talk to your doctor
Depending on the age of your child, an exclusive breastfeeding diet might be recommended. This helps narrow down the potential eczema triggers. A lot of children are allergic to cow’s milk, so that’s always an option to be considered. Ruling out cow’s milk as an allergy trigger should only be done by a doctor, after testing the suspicion.
While there aren’t any conclusive tests to support this claim, some scientists believe that some allergens can be transmitted from a mother to the child through breast milk. If you eat a certain food and, after breastfeeding, your child shows symptoms of an allergic reaction, consult your doctor to further examine the situation. Other evidence suggests that there is a link between probiotic administration during pregnancy, and a decrease in the chances of a child developing eczema.
Natural treatments vs. medication
Pros of natural treatment:
- Less risk of side effects
- Can be done at home
- Less expensive
Cons of natural treatment:
- Doesn’t always work
- Usually only soothes, not cures
Pros of medication:
- Faster solution
- Doctor assured
Cons of medication:
- Risk of side effects
Parents are always skeptical about giving medicine to their children, mostly because of the side effect risks. Just like with adult eczema, kids that suffer from it have a series of natural home remedies to turn to. However, if there are any doctor prescriptions, home solutions should act as a complementary treatment, as the advice of a specialist is not to be neglected.
Since eczema is a skin condition, it’s important to moisturize on a daily basis. Moisturizers that contain ceramides are a good option, and they are available for purchase in drug stores. The important thing is to apply a moisturizer that doesn’t contain any fragrance/perfume because these can irritate the skin. Moisturizers are typically applied after a bath so that the open pores can really absorb it.
Speaking of baths, these are also an important part of the daily routine of someone who suffers from eczema. Baths are an additional means to moisturize dry skin, as long as the water is not too hot. When the temperature of the water is too high, it can cause discomfort, irritate the skin, and make it even drier. Despite being a good way to moisturize, it’s typically recommended to avoid taking long baths: about 10 minutes under water should suffice.
Things to avoid
When you take the baby out of the water, make sure you pat their skin dry instead of rubbing the towel all over. Rubbing is similar to scratching the skin, something you should look to avoid. Make sure that you avoid any scented shower gels, soaps, or deodorants, as they could contain chemicals that are harsh on the baby’s skin.
Parents have a tendency to over-dress their babies, and when said babies suffer from skin-related conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, this can actually worsen the symptoms. An important part of living with eczema is avoiding sweat. Putting too many clothes on your baby can cause them to sweat. Also, pay close attention to the fabric of the clothing, as some materials (such as wool) case a sense of discomfort and make the skin itchy.
A very stressful symptom of atopic dermatitis is itchy skin. Make sure that the baby doesn’t scratch the skin. Trim their nails in order to avoid potential skin irritations. Babies can’t control themselves and will react upon instinct.
Check with doctor
As far as medication is concerned, it’s always best not to give the baby medicine without taking them to see a doctor first. Because of their fragile age, doctors will prescribe soothing hydrocortisone creams for babies, to prevent skin inflammation and itching. Make sure you don’t overuse any of the medication given by the doctor, as there can be long-term side effects.
In case you’ve tried over-the-counter and natural treatments, but your baby’s eczema symptoms don’t improve within a week, consider seeing a doctor. After a closer examination, they may prescribe a more powerful treatment. Always check your baby’s skin for signs of bacterial infections. These typically manifest themselves through pus-filled blister or yellow/brown crust that forms on top of eczema. Such an infection can’t be treated without antibiotics.
Caring for a baby implies an even greater responsibility than caring for your own well-being. Because babies can’t express themselves yet, you have to guess when they’re sleepy, hungry, uncomfortable, and sick. Eczema is a skin condition that often causes such discomfort. While there are high chances of your baby outgrowing it, there are precautionary measures you need to take in order to make their life better and safer.