The term eczema covers a broad spectrum of things. Basically, it is skin irriation. With eczema, no matter the cause, the skin will get irritation, inflamed, and often has a rash. Skin is often dry. It can blister, crack, and bleed. Eczema is typically itchy. Eczema is itchy before the rash appears. I found this picture on Wikipedia. It states this is mild:
There are lots of theories on what causes Eczema, and the exact cause isn't exactly known.
- Eczema is itchy before it rashes. The rash comes out after it has been itched, rubbed, or irritated.
- It might be caused by the body overreacting to some trigger.
- For some, it is an allergic reaction. Many times, this happens in families where asthma and hay fever are common. It can be a reaction to a food allergy or another allergen.
- For some, it is caused by an irritant like the type of laundry detergent used.
- Dry weather can have an affect.
HOW DO I TREAT ECZEMA?
First of all, Eczema is not contagious. Second of all, it cannot be cured, which is why I titled this section how to "treat." The problem with eczema is that it is itchy and sometimes painful. If the person with eczema is capable of scratching, she can scratch to the point of causing an infection in the skin. Let's take the treatment one section at a time.
The "traditional" advice on bathing is to bathe as little as possible. The idea is that it dries the skin out and makes everything worse.
A study published nearly a year ago used diluted bleach water each day. Half of the group used bleach and half a placebo. The bleach worked so effectively that they terminated the study early in order to provide the other half the relief.
First, note that true "soap" is not a good idea. It is drying. Body washes/creams/cleansers are what you are after. There are a lot of soaps out there. A lot. And they are expensive. Unless you have a lot of money floating around, it is hard to figure out which one is "best" for your child. For that reason, I created the polls on which worked best.
2015 Update: My number one recommendation to try first is Goodness Bee Eczema Balm. They have a 100% money back guarantee.
I think there are a lot of products because different products work for different children. If there was an overall bad product out there, it wouldn't be long before it was out of business. But seeing a poll might give you a good starting point. For bath wash I did the following poll on which bath wash worked best:
If your child has eczema, she might also have dry scalp, dandruff, cradle cap, etc. While I don't think the soaps matter much, the shampoos do.
Aveeno: 68 votes (25%)
Aquaphor: 26 votes (10%)
I highlighted the top two vote getters--other than the "other" since that doesn't give you anything concrete. My vote on this poll was for Burt's Bees. We had tried Head & Shoulders and Burt's Bees at the time. After seeing the results to this poll, I decided to try Aquaphor and Aveeno.
Another thing to consider with baths is the softness of the water. We got soft water about a month after McKenna's symptoms showed up. It made a huge difference! It has gone out since, and when it did, her skin got much worse, then improved when it was fixed. With the water softener, I only have to lotion her once a day. With hard water, I need to lotion her twice a day.
I wrap McKenna in a towel and just pat her dry. Do not rub. Make sure the towel is washed in appropriate laundry detergent, as discussed below.
This is how I do post bath. I lay her on her towel and wrap her up. Then I carry her in a cradle hold. As I walk to her room, I rub her head to dry her hair. Once we are in her room, I pat her diaper area dry. Then I put her diaper on. Then I start the lotioning. I don't need to dry any other area of the skin.
Medicated Creams, steroids, and antibiotics need to go on before you apply any lotions. When McKenna has a flare up, I use Hydrocortisone Cream. I don't use it every day, but do when she needs it.
Once your creams and steroids and all that (as needed) have had a minute or two to set in, start the lotioning.
With lotions, choosing the right product is important.
Aveeno: 56 votes (21%)
There is definitely more to do beyond the bathing and lotioning.
If your child has eczema, you will find some diaper rash creams/ointments definitely work better than others. There are a whole lot of options out there, and you will notice that there are not really a high concentration of votes like in the other polls:
When you do laundry, make sure you wash your child's clothes, sheets, towels, etc. in "free" detergents. There is All Free and Clear. I use Dreft for McKenna and that has been fine--no problems. I have also used All Baby for McKenna with no problems.
When dressing your child, try to use 100% cotton clothing. It breathes better. It is a natural fabric. Avoid scratchy materials like wool. You also want to avoid overheating your child.
Use a humidifier if you live in a dry climate.
There are supplements you can try. One is fish oil. You can take fish oil supplements if you are breastfeeding and it will transfer through your milk. It is fat soluble, so it will take a couple of weeks to make it through. If you are not breastfeeding, you can try adding it to bottles or food, but be sure to consult with a doctor first. You can also feed your child fish if she is old enough. Studies have found children who eat fish do better with eczema.
A recent study suggests that Vitamin D3 helps improve skin. This vitamin is found in the sun, so during the winter, many people will not get enough. Again, if you are breastfeeding, you can take about 2000 IUs a day. It is also fat solubleso expect two weeks before seeing improvement. One of my best friends growing up had eczema, and her skin always got better if it had some exposure to the sun, so I believe this has some validity to it. If your child is not breastfeeding, talk to you pediatrician about ways to get more D3 into your child in the winter.
As a summary, to treat eczema:
- Figure out the best way to bath baby and which products to use.
- Figure out which creams and lotions are best. Use steroids if needed (as discussed with a doctor).
- Find the best diapers for your baby.
- Figure out the best diaper rash ointment for baby. You will likely need to use it at every diaper change.
- Do laundry in a "free" detergent.
- Dress in cotton as much as possible.
- Use a humidifier if needed.
- Try to find the cause of the eczema. If it is caused by an allergy, then you can greatly diminish if not eliminate eczema. Most babies with eczema just have eczema, but some have it because of allergies.
- Take supplements as desired
I will be taking all previous comments from readers on eczema and putting them into their own post, so if you have posted your tips before, don't feel like you have to do it here. You are welcome to, it won't bother me in the least, but you don't need to.
There is also a lot of great info in this group on Babycenter. You don't need an account to read the info, just to post questions/comments.
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