When my little guy developed infantile eczema at around 3 months old… I was heartbroken. He was born by c-section with not a mark on him. His skin was perfect….. Like… perfect. Then slowly around the 2.5/3 month mark the eczema started. It started with a patch on his chest and you're thinking "oh no big deal, we'll just get some cream to fix this whatever rash right up…"
Eventually it was diagnosed as infantile eczema (atopic dermatitis) and it got worse. Like WAY worse. It spread, it became infected and I had a baby that became highly irritated by everything his skin came in contact with. I kept thinking to myself, my gosh… is he allergic to the air?!?! He had reactions with everything his skin came into contact with…. and even scents seemed to aggravate him as well. Here are some photos from the early days.
If you're a new mom… its natural to get stressed out about things with your baby. Dealing with eczema has been stressful at times and sure its only eczema…. its not like he's in hospital battling a rare life threatening disease….but you still go through all sorts of emotions as a parent. You blame yourself, you blame your diet, you blame the c-section, you blame genetics… and let me tell you everyone has an opinion. We've seen many doctors… and yup…there isn't a whole lot you can do at this point except use your mom powers and try every natural ointment/cream/lotion etc on the market, try every remedy and PRAY something will work. We now know some of the triggers and we know what helps keep things at bay. We know of a few natural methods that work too…but all in all we just manage. They say most babies will outgrow it in the first year… so we're hoping things will work itself out.
So you're not alone if you have a little one battling it. Just know you have to find what works for YOUR little one. What works for one, may not work for the other…. but having a support system is great.
If you're at a loss… I can share a few things that helps us during the highs and lows of infantile eczema.
1) Bathing for us was a good thing. (but some kids react differently and respond better without bathing freqently) Nonetheless…Once a day, luke warm baths, under 10 minutes and as soon as he hits the towel… moisturize moisturize moisturize. Its a 3 minute rule we have >> Right after bath… lather the moisture on to seal everything in (I'll get to what lotions/creams we use in a bit). When his itchy flareups would happen, I made a homemade bath soak that contained 1/2 ground up oatmeal and baking soda. I added about 1/2 cup to each bath. This soothed the itch and was a good thing to do before bed. You can also try Aveeno soothing bath treatment…but that comes at a hefty price tag when you are bathing every day.
2) Now for what to put on your eczema baby is the tricky part. We tried EVERYTHING and there is no shortage of products on the market. Every cream will claim to do the magic trick but all you can do is try. You would think that the miracle coconut oil would have worked… but sadly no. Natural oils tend to irritate his skin the most if you have a sensitive skin baby and the dermatoglist explained that sometimes these with natural oils its easier for bacteria to live in the oil. Whereas when you use things like good old Vaseline… nothing can live in vaseline. So for my baby we use "Vaseline or Aquaphor" to keep his skin moisturized and water sealed in.
I joke all the time saying its a full time job keeping him moisturized and he's developed the nickname "Greasy Garry"
Here are a few others that we've had some mild success with…. Prices have varied from $4 all the way up to $50.
3) For the itch: Now you can try everything on the market for itch… but I was shocked how well Curel Itch Defence works…. And its cheap! AND the important thing is keeping them moisturized so they don't get dry. Dryness encourages itch! Curel Itch Defence is a good one though… give it a try.
4) Washing your babies clothes is another irritant for eczema. You have to think… if your baby has eczema most things are going to irritate his/her skin and laundry soap is a big one. I thought I was safe in the beginning and I had pre-washed all the baby clothes in Purex baby. Well… sadly that stuff is NO good… and nor is Tide Free & Gentle. You're best to head to the health food store and pick up something with absolutely nothing in it but pure ingredients. In fact for the most part, I wash things in hot water with minimal detergent and always always always rinse your load twice. Totally helps get any irritants out.
5) Now this is another HARD part: To watch your baby scratch. My baby learned how to scratch pretty quick. In fact, I'd catch him scratching on objects trying to get some relief. I'll never forget going in one morning and finding his face covered in blood and scratches. I was mortified. So… how do you get them to not scratch? Its a tough one… but for the most part keeping your baby busy helps. We also keep a hat on him during the day to avoid him scratching his head open because the worst is when they scratch and the wounds open up for bacteria. So hats during the day are a must and long sleeve clothing. I do give him "naked time" during the day to let the skin breathe….but always keeping my eye on him and making sure he has lots of toys around keeping his hands busy. For at night I've had to go completely out of my zone and sew socks onto the arms of his pjs. I tried using socks up to his arms for the longest time… but he'd figured out how to take them off at night. I hand sewed the socks onto the pjs… and viola… it worked. He can still scratch…. but not as bad as with nails. Keeping those nails short also helps… and giving them a little buffer on the edges so they aren't so freshly sharp.
6) For my baby… temperature also plays a huge role. Its important he doesn't get too hot at night… therefore trying to find the right clothing at night was a real challenge. Sleepsacs tend to make him way too hot… hence a flareup will happen. The other issue is he can kick out of sleepers with snaps, therefore exposing his legs and therefore waking himself up. So I've done my best to find sleepers with zippers, 100% cotton only. When he's in his crib I place 2 muslin blankets over him which usually he kicks off anyway… but still, eczema babes can't get to hot.
7) I also think a good humidifier in the room is a huge bonus…so we have that going full force at night. I can notice a difference when its not on… so we keep it on at night only.
8) The other thing you might want to consider is putting your baby on a probiotic with the advice of a natropathic doctor or regular doctor. Most are in full favour of it and there is lots of research being done that its important for breastfed and bottle-fed babies. Healthy gut, means healthy skin.
There you have it. Its good to have support with baby eczema… so don't hesitate to get in touch!