Baby Eczema: Causes & How to Treat It

Posted by Soteri Staff on

Rashes are widespread in babies. Most of the time, rashes form on your baby’s bottom due to skin irritation from diapers. These rashes often relate to chafing, skin sensitivity, or infrequently changed diapers. 

But, sometimes, skin irritation is more than just a rash. There’s a chance your baby’s itchy and irritated skin is caused by eczema. What is baby eczema? What causes it, and how do you treat it? Read this guide from Soteri Skin to learn more about baby eczema. 

Related: 15 Common Skin Rashes to Know and Identify 

What is Baby Eczema?

So, what exactly is baby eczema? Eczema is a skin condition that affects people of all ages, including infants, and causes dry, bumpy, and itchy skin. Baby eczema is relatively common, affecting roughly 15-20% of babies under two years old in the United States. 

Symptoms of baby eczema typically begin within the first six months. You can expect your baby to have the following:

  • Itchy skin
  • Dry skin
  • Skin discoloration
  • Bumpy rashes 

 

Mother holding baby’s foot

 

What Does Baby Eczema Look Like?

 

It’s important to understand that eczema does not look the same in every baby. Babies with light skin will usually show patches of red skin, and darker-skinned babies typically have rashes that are brownish, purplish, or grayish. Please note that eczema can sometimes be difficult to see on babies with dark skin. 

Babies can get eczema just about anywhere on their bodies. Most often, though, you will see it on their cheeks, arm, and leg joints. Parents often confuse baby eczema with cradle crap, but they are not the same. Cradle cap is typically much less irritated and itchy, and appears on the eyelids, eyebrows, sides of the nose, and scalp. Typically, it clears up within eight months of age. 

How baby eczema manifests also depends on your child’s age. Here’s what it could look like at each age:

0-6 Months 

Eczema will usually appear on the baby’s cheeks, face, chin, scalp, or forehead. It can also spread to other body parts, but usually doesn’t spread to the diaper area. 

6-12 Months 

At this age, eczema usually appears on your baby’s knees and elbows, which are parts that your child can easily scratch or rub when crawling. 

2-5 Years 

Eczema is most likely to appear on the creases of the elbows, knees, wrists, hands, or ankles at this age, and it may also manifest around your toddler’s mouth or eyelids

5+ Years 

Children five years and above will typically get eczema on the folds of their knees and elbows, and some children only get eczema on their hands. 

 

Comparing baby under blanket

 

What Causes Baby Eczema?

There are several different factors that can cause baby eczema. These include:

  • Allergens and skin irritants: Several environmental factors can lead to eczema on your baby's skin. If your child suffers from allergies, eczema symptoms can flare up. Common environmental irritants include soaps, fabrics, and certain foods. 
  • Genetics: Sometimes, your baby’s DNA changes can affect bodily function and development. Specifically, these DNA changes can result in a lack of the proteins that are needed for maintaining skin’s protective barrier. If your child’s skin barrier is weakened, they are more likely to suffer from eczema. Babies are more likely to suffer from eczema if their parents suffer from it. 
  • Immune system reaction: An immune system reaction can also lead to baby eczema. If your baby suffers from eczema, its immune system may overreact and confuse healthy skin cells with foreign invaders. As a result, the immune system will attack your baby’s skin cells and cause eczema symptoms. 

  • Check out this guide to learn the top skin care tips and tricks for babies! 

    Is It Serious?

    Typically, baby eczema is not serious, and it eventually goes away on its own. Both mild and severe symptoms can be treated in babies and toddlers. 

    In most cases, eczema will clear up when your baby starts school, around the ages of 4 or 5. However, some people experience eczema flare-ups throughout their lifetime, which, again, are not life-threatening or overly severe. 

    It can be hard to predict if your child will outgrow the condition or continue to experience it throughout their adult life. Again, genetics can play a role here. If you experience eczema in adulthood, there is a greater chance that your child will experience it as well. 

    What Makes It Worse?

    One of the best things you can do for your baby’s eczema is avoid triggers that worsen it. Each child is different, but common eczema triggers include the following:

    Dry skin: Dry skin can easily trigger your baby’s eczema. Typically, dry skin occurs during the winter, when humidity levels are low, and the air is dry. We suggest placing a humidifier in your baby’s room to help prevent dry skin. 

    Stress: Babies with eczema sometimes react to stress by flushing. This can lead to irritated, itchy skin that triggers eczema. 

    Heat and sweat: Both heat and sweat can make the skin itchy and lead to eczema flare-ups. 

    Irritants: Perfumes, laundry soaps, body soaps, wool, and polyester can contain irritants that can cause eczema flare-ups.

    Some scientists believe that certain foods can trigger eczema symptoms. The foods you may want to avoid include:

    Dairy: One study found that consuming cow’s milk triggered eczema in 39% of children out of 132 participants. 

    Fish and shellfish: Shellfish allergies are common in children, and consuming shellfish can often trigger eczema symptoms. 

    Soy: While soy allergies are not as common in babies, if your child is sensitive to soy, keep in mind that it’s a key ingredient in many processed foods, like soy sauce and tamari. 

    Eggs: Some babies and toddlers have an allergy to the protein found in eggs, which can lead to eczema symptoms. 

    Tree nuts: Tree nuts include cashews, almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Tree nut allergies are common and affect up to 5% of the population. 

    Wheat or gluten: Wheat is found in pasta, bread, and baked goods, and gluten is a protein found in barley, wheat, and rye. If your child has celiac disease or an autoimmune condition, they may experience eczema symptoms when consuming wheat or gluten. 

    Peanuts: Research shows that peanut allergies are very common in babies. Avoid peanuts to prevent eczema flare-ups.  

    What to Do About Itching

    One of the most frustrating parts about baby eczema is that it leads to itchy skin. Your baby will be tempted to itch its skin to relieve the discomfort, causing the eczema symptoms to worsen. 

    Keeping your baby moisturized is one of the best things you can do to help them deal with itchy skin. Make sure to select a moisturizer that is baby-friendly. We recommend out gentlest formulation, BÉBÉ SKIN. You may also want to give your child a lukewarm bath. 

    How to Treat Baby’s Eczema Naturally

    While there isn’t a single cure for baby eczema, there are some things you can do to treat your baby’s skin naturally. Here are our top tips:

    Use Moisturizers

    Applying moisturizer to your baby’s skin is one of the best ways to relieve eczema symptoms. Moisturizers can help soothe itchy skin, so your baby isn’t as tempted to scratch themselves. Ensure the moisturizer you use is fragrance-free, so it doesn’t irritate your baby’s skin. We recommend applying moisturizer several times daily and reapplying immediately after baths. 

    Soteri Skin BÉBÉ SKIN

    Soteri Skin offers the perfect product for treating baby eczema. The gentle eczema cream can help your child deal with eczema flare-ups and other sensitive skin issues by restoring the skin’s natural pH level. The formula is extra gentle and nourishing, so it works great on babies with sensitive skin. Ingredients include coconut oil, sunflower oil, shea butter, ceramide, and niacinamide.  

    We recommend applying this cream twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, after applying topical medications. You should also reapply after each time you bathe your baby. The cream works best when used long-term, but many parents start to see results within 1-2 weeks. 

    Applying the cream might sting a little bit, depending on how irritated your baby’s skin is. However, rest assured that the sensation is temporary and harmless, as all the ingredients used in the cream are gentle and safe. The stinging sensation should fade as your baby’s skin heals. 

    To keep the eczema cream fresh, avoid unscrewing the cap, and instead, use the pump bottle. Also, use the product within six months of opening for maximum freshness.  

    Related: Shea Butter: Benefits and Uses 

    Take Lukewarm Baths

    A lukewarm bath can also help heal your baby’s eczema. Baths hydrate and cool the skin and ease itching. Ensure the water isn’t too hot, and keep bath time under 10 minutes. You can also add oatmeal soaking products such as colloidal oatmeal into the bath to further ease symptoms of itchiness. 

    Use Mild and Unscented Body/Laundry Soaps

    We recommend sticking to mild, unscented body and laundry soaps, as perfumed soaps can be irritate your baby’s skin. 

    Be Careful Cleaning

    You also want to make sure you’re careful with the household cleaning products you use. Cleaning products with strong chemicals can come in contact with your baby’s skin, leading to irritation and eczema flare-ups. Try to stick to cleaning products with gentle ingredients

    You should also make sure you wash your baby carefully. Only use soap in areas where your baby may be dirty, such as the genitals, feet, and hands. You can rinse the rest of baby’s body with warm water. Gently pat baby’s skin dry and avoid rubbing.

    Buy Loose, Relaxed Clothing

    Dress your baby in loose clothes made of cotton to prevent irritation from clothing rubbing against their skin. You should always wash new clothing before putting them on your baby. 

    Related: Home Remedies for Dry Skin 

    Do You Need Medicine?

    If the above natural solutions don’t work, you can look into using over-the-counter medications to treat your baby’s eczema. Hydrocortisone creams are excellent for targeting itching and inflammation. However, make sure you read the instructions and don’t use the medication for too long, as overuse can thin the skin in the affected area

    When to Consult a Doctor

    If your baby’s eczema doesn’t start to get better within a few weeks of treatment, you may want to consult your doctor about getting a prescription medication. If there are puss-filled blisters or a yellow-brown crust on top of your baby’s eczema, your baby may be suffering from an infection, so you may need to use antibiotics. 

    Conclusion 

    Now that you know more about baby eczema, it’s time to start treating your child. As you can see, eczema is not a life-altering issue, as there are plenty of things you can do to make your baby more comfortable. 

    Click here to discover the ingredients you should avoid for dry skin!

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