Watching your child suffer through a skin irritation condition is never fun and in some cases quite devastating. Studies show it affects 10-20% of all infants and children. Fortunately there are ways to maintain and even eliminate an eczema rash. But first it’s important to know what it is and then look into ways to treat it.
What does eczema look like and what is it exactly?
I rarely recommend self-diagnosing from the internet, especially because some rashes can look an awful lot like others.
Hopefully a good dermatologist should see the issue. So it is always best when you or your child has a persistent skin rash to get it checked out. Once the doctor diagnoses you, you do have the option at that point, to grab the Rx (prescription) or try natural remedies.
This article on a Visual guide to children’s rashes and skin conditions – Photo Gallery from babycenter shows photos of what different baby rashes look like. Take a close look at number 9 and 10. Also take a look at the rest because you’ll see other rashes like yeast rashes, scabies, and hives can look an awful lot like baby eczema because there are a few types of baby rash. One of the main characteristics of eczema is that it appears the skin is just breaking down and oozing and then crusting over and then repeating this over and over. This cycle can just keep continuing. Some people think that if it’s scabbing and crusting it is healing, but instead it keeps festering.
Normally you’ll see eczema on cheeks, scalp, then a little older baby will have it in the knees, arms, legs (crawling areas). Then a young child will often have it in the body creases like elbows, knees, wrists, etc. Here is another slideshow that shows eczema samples on babies and children.
What are the common causes of baby eczema?
I know it’s frustrating. Your baby is so new to the world and should have the purest and cleanest system, what could possibly cause a skin problem? The most likely reason is a genetic predisposition and then factors in the environment can trigger it. For instance your baby may be sensitive to cigarette smoke, cold weather, heat, and the chemicals in detergents, clothes and skin care products. Also stress in the system can cause a rash to flare up.
Is trying to deal with eczema in babies naturally a good idea?
Even some doctors admit that natural eczema treatment and prevention can actually work well. And then there are countless testimonials across the world where many have said that their natural remedies cured the problem where the doctors could not solve it.
Also there are natural preventative measures that must be taken-see below Number 2 in the 10 Remedies section.
Is my baby’s diaper rash eczema?
Diaper rashes are normally baby skin rashes that are caused by moisture and chafing. These types of rashes are common in nearly every baby, easier to treat, and more directly caused by the diaper’s moist environment. They go away even in the same day or after a day or two when treated right away. You will know if the rash is more serious if it is persistent even with treating and has the festering, oozing, crusting cycle mentioned above. There are also yeast diaper rashes. These typically have a more severe appearance. The way that I’ve tended to troubleshoot a diaper rash is treat it normally for a regular rash – and if this doesn’t go away like it should after a day or two, or at least that I see it going away, then I look into yeast treatments. I would caution against trying to google too many pictures of diaper rashes however, because some are so severe it is very sad. You change a diaper so much that you will begin to see when a rash is forming, and you can take steps for healing right away – this is essential. For diaper rashes, please read my steps for treating a diaper rash.
What not to do with baby eczema
Number 1: Do not ignore it.
Whatever you do, do not ignore a rash. If you see an area starting to break into red dots keep paying attention for a few hours. If it’s persisting, spreading, increasing in intensity etc…these are signs a rash may be forming on your child. Typically heat rashes, hives or flushing will go away after an hour or so once baby is calmer, sleeping or in a cooler area. So if it’s not going away, start looking into treating it right away.
Number 2: Do not over-wash the area.
Over-washing, bathing, etc. can really dry out the skin and further cause more irritation. An occasional bath can be soothing, but even though baths can be soothing, they have been known to exacerbate skin issues.
10 Natural Remedies and Preventative Tips For Treating Baby and Child Eczema
I disclaim that this list is my own and though some things I have I’m sure gleaned from years of experience or getting from other people at some point, these are my own observations of what works for me and my family and I’ve provided some reference links. I just want to share what has worked and if you even take one or two ideas from this list that helps you, I’ll be very happy!
Number 1: Soothe and comfort your baby often
As it is said that stress can trigger and intensify rashes, take a very warm nurturing approach always. Remember your soothing mommy instincts are there for a reason. Definitely give comfort the way your baby likes – whether it’s holding, swaying, rocking, petting, talking, or singing. Recent research shows singing to your baby has powerful comforting effects for your baby. Infants need tons of soothing and toddlers need a good deal as well. If your baby seems more comfortable outside or more comfortable inside take note of this and spend more time inside or outside depending on what your baby seems to need. Clearly this method will not cure and prevent rashes but it will help in the process. Sometimes the change in environment of going outside or going inside can help soothe your baby. Also just changing hands between you and your partner can be comforting.
Number 2: Reduce common triggers
Though you may not really be able to diagnose what all the triggers may be, eliminate common ones. Use a natural non-fragrance detergent for all clothes/towels in the house and no fabric softeners – because your clothes will touch your baby too. Use non-fragrance for any skin product from ointment to shampoo to lotion. Go for baby organic brands but check the EWG for toxic ratings so you can make sure the product has a 0 toxin rating. Eliminate second hand smoke. As mentioned above, keep baths to a minimum. Use greener eco-friendly cleaning products around the house. Use a humidifier to keep winter months from drying out your whole family.
Number 3: Always use lotion, creams or ointments after bathing or wiping
After wiping your baby or after bathing your baby or child, always apply lotion especially to the dryer problem areas. Use a natural lotion. Again no fragrance. For extra effectiveness creams and ointments naturally have more emollient properties to help seal in moisture. There are a lot of great DIY healing ointments, this is one healing ointment I have used.
Number 4: Never Scratch
The worst part about eczema is it is extremely itchy and a baby or child will definitely try to scratch the spot. Therefore you have to make sure to keep their nails trimmed and have them wear baby mittens and socks when things are intense, especially at night or during naps.
If your baby has moderate to severe eczema try using cold compresses – but put a soft fabric on the compress to avoid direct contact. Scratching is a big no no as it will exacerbate the issue. Therefore part of the eczema treatment process is to find a way to start by making the area less itchy….which is why you want to use the healing ointment above.
Number 5: Use Bleach To Treat Eczema in the Bath
What?! It sounds crazy at first, but a study from Pediatrics magazine showed that kids 6 months to 17 years who soaked for five to ten minutes two times a week in a diluted bleach bath were five times more effective at treating eczema than plain water (used by the placebo group). Because of this immediately significant result, the researchers stopped the study early to allow the kids in the placebo group to benefit from the bleach baths. The reason it is said to work so well is because bleach is a disinfectant that kills germs – like a chlorinated swimming pool – and killing some of the bacteria in the eczema rash can help treat it. HOWEVER, read carefully below how to do it properly–bleach in its concentrated form is poisonous!!
What you do: Two teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water (or 1/2 cup per full bathtub) at least twice a week, taking these precautions: 1) Make sure your child doesn’t drink the water. 2) Disperse the bleach in the water before putting your child in the tub (you don’t want undiluted bleach to get on her skin). It’s VERY IMPORTANT that the bleach is dispersed and diluted and mixed fully in at these very small concentrations. No direct bleach should touch your child. I’m repeating myself but it’s important. Rinse after in plain running water to rinse off the smell.
However, if you are wary of using bleach despite the study’s significant results, you can also simply go with some natural detox bath alternatives.
Number 6: Your child may benefit from a new diet
Though you will want to reduce food allergens that may trigger the eczema rash if you are breastfeeding or for your child if they are eating foods (see number 2 above), your child also may benefit from a specific diet tailored to his/her specific issues. For instance a lot has been written recently about the gut’s role in health and wellness. These days a ton of articles are being written about gut flora, and what it means for our immunity and general overall health. Because this can start in the womb or even with childbirth, it could be a good idea to look into optimizing your child’s gut. You may also have noticed at the store more and more products popping up for baby probiotics. You can read this article on how to improve your child’s health through their gut which provides great tips.
Number 7: Make and Serve Bone Broth
What’s bone broth? Bone broth is normally made with bone-in meat – using mostly the bone. The bone is roasted, prior to the simmering broth process, which is commonly over 24 hours, to help weep the gelatin and minerals from the bones – so the bones are practically broken down at the end of cooking.
Why bone broth? Bone broth is high in protein and minerals. Glycine in bone broth helps the body’s natural detox system, and also aids in digestion, which is why it is used in the GAPS diet. It is also rich in proline and gelatin, which improve skin health. For these reasons, it is one of those super-foods for a child with a skin condition like eczema.
How to make bone broth: here is a basic homemade bone broth recipe. In addition, you can simply buy it at the store.
Number 8: Use soft organic and natural fabrics and materials as much as possible
Near and dear to my heart is using organic cotton and bamboo. I love natural materials – organic cotton is softer than conventional cotton. Bamboo is even softer due to its fine fibers. Bamboo is an amazing fabric for babies. It is also hypoallergenic. Therefore if you can find organic cotton clothes for your baby and use bamboo washcloths for wipes, you are helping keep them safer from chemicals and using soft material that is soothing. Same idea should apply to your bed sheets, towels and blankets – any fabric baby/toddler is going to be in touch with a lot.
Number 9: Stay away from common food allergens and look into allergy testing
If you are breastfeeding, eat non-allergenic foods – most common issues arise with cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, and fish. If your baby is on solids already, do the same. Keep all foods organic to reduce pesticide exposure. Try to make your own baby food as much as possible to reduce preservative consumption. If you want to, you can also have your doctor test your child for food allergies. If a specific culprit is found, this can help a lot.
Number 10: Keep the temperature at home comfortable and dress child in loose clothing
Pay close attention to changes in temperature. As adults sometimes we take for granted how we can handle some temperature extremes but equator temperatures may be incredibly tough for a baby with sensitive skin issues. Likewise extreme cold temperatures can make a baby or child very uncomfortable. Do you best to avoid these extremes. In addition make sure you check the bath temperature and make sure it’s a little more lukewarm and cooler than maybe you like it yourself. We grow to appreciate hotter showers and baths as we get older but a baby and small child should bathe in a very neutral water temperature. In addition look into a good humidifier for your baby’s room and keep it cleaned often to avoid mold. Dry air can be very irritating to sensitive eczema-prone skin.
And that’s it! Hope you found this article on my 10 Effective Natural Remedies For Baby and Child Eczema useful! Let us know your experience – and what natural tips you’ve used to treat your baby and child’s eczema.