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Infant Eczema - What you need to know

3 min read

Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis.  It is dry, flaky skin.  In infants it can appear in the first few months of infancy.  Many children simply outgrow it but it is also easily treatable.


What does Infant Eczema Look Like?

Eczema will look different on different babies.  Usually children with lighter colored skin will demonstrate patches of red skin.  For babies with darker skin, it can appear purple, brown, or gray.  It is more often harder to determine in children of color.


Whatever the color, it is dry, itchy, and rough.  Generally it is on the face and in the joints of arms and legs, but can appear anywhere on the body. 


Cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis) is similar.  Cradle cap is generally confined to the scalp, sides of the nose, eyelids, and behind the ears.  It is less itchy and usually clears by eight months of age.


Eczema occurs when the body does not make enough fatty cells which makes the skin lose water and become dry.  Another possible cause is that the barrier of the skin allows too much moisture to seep out and allows germs to creep in.  If a parent suffers from eczema, it is likely the baby will as well.


Treatment of Infant Eczema

The condition usually disappears on its own before school age, but it may persist into adulthood as dry skin.  There are triggers can are easily avoided.

•         Low Humidity – Dry, winter air can make the skin drier and itch more.

•         Irritation – Soaps, laundry additives, perfumes, and scratchy fabrics can all contribute to the itch.

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•         Foods – There is a theory that some foods like eggs, some fruits, and cow's milk can affect eczema.  You can try eliminating those foods one at a time to see if there is an effect.

•         Stress – Stress becomes a factor in many conditions and can trigger eczema flares.


There are some easy home remedies you can try.

•         Moisturizing – Fragrance-free creams or ointments are available over the counter or through a prescription.  Even petroleum jelly will work.  Applied after the baby's bath, it will help retain moisture.

•         Soaps – Switching to mild, unscented laundry products should help.  Antibacterial or scented hand soap can also be rough on a baby's delicate skin.

•         Cleansing – Keep your baby clean but it may not be necessary to wash the entire body with soap every time.  Pat dry rather than rubbing.

•         Soaking – Placing your baby in a lukewarm bath for about 10 minutes can ease the discomfort.

•         Clothing – Always wash new clothes before you put them on the baby.  Don't overdress or use too many blankets because the heat and sweat can cause the condition to flare.

•         OTC – Hydrocordisone may help but please ask your pediatrician before using anything to be sure they recommend it for the condition.


If the condition does not clear within a week, check with your pediatrician.  If the condition worsens, or you see anything new like blisters, make an appointment to have this checked out to rule out an infection or other condition.



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