Baby or infant eczema is a very distressing condition both for the baby and mother. It is very common in babies who come from families that suffer from hayfever, asthma, allergies, eczema and migraine. These families are said to be atopic. Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis.
The condition can often appear first on the cheeks and the baby constantly rubs against something to try to relieve the intense itching. It can affect any part of the body. The skin appears red and inflamed and tiny blisters can often appear under the skin surface. The blisters can break and ooze causing crusting. Scratching further damages the skin and it can become infected with bacteria.
The mother may notice that the eczema starts after a vaccination or series of them, when she introduces cow’s milk or starts weaning. The lining of the digestive system in babies is more permeable than an adults. This means that undigested food particles can cross the intestinal barrier and provoke an immune reaction. The reaction causes the skin to erupt as eczema.
Research at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England has confirmed that the majority of children with eczema have food allergies or intolerances. The avoidance of the foods will frequently bring about a complete clearing of the eczema. Chemicals and clothing can also cause it and the baby may be sensitive to both foods and chemicals that he is in contact with.
Some doctors now believe that babies are washed too frequently. Babies skins are much thiner and delicate than adults so daily bathing may not be good for them especially if they are prone to dry skin or eczema. Some soaps even though made for babies contain chemicals that could cause the eczema.
Here are some ways to avoid eczema:
- Breast feed for 6 months if possible as it helps to seal the intestines.
- Consider using hydrolysed milk powders instead of cow’s milk formulas in atopic families.
- Do not wean the baby too early. Wait until 6 months before introducing solid food.
- Avoid giving wheat products like cereal, biscuits and bread, eggs, fish and nuts until at least 12 months old.
- Introduce vegetable and fruit purees first. Buy organic where possible to avoid chemical residues.
- Use gentle natural skin products that do not contain preservatives or perfumes.
- Top and tail when possible instead of bathing daily.
- Avoid wool and scratchy fabrics that could cause skin reactions.
- Avoid regular and biological washing detergents and use special natural products.
Find out more about the underlying causes of eczema and how to treat it naturally.