Baby eczema can be a frustrating thing for both you and your baby to deal with. What can be especially frustrating are doctor recommendations to treat the eczema with a steroid cream. If you are like me, you'd prefer an option that's more natural and yet just as (if not more) effective.
I battled baby eczema with my 2nd little one for the better part of 18 months and after multiple doctor visits, steroid creams, and Google searches, I've finally found a solution that has kept my son eczema breakout free for over a year.
Here's what I've learned.
1. It's an Allergy
Eczema is actually an allergic reaction that appears on the skin as a rash. It's triggered mainly by the baby's diet (e.g. the consumption of acid-causing foods like dairy, soy, eggs and sugar) and surrounding conditions that can dry baby’s skin (e.g. dry winter months, extremely hot summer months, clothes that trap heat, and lotions that trap heat).
2. The key to treating eczema is 2 fold
(a) Change the Diet:
Take a look at your baby's diet. Or if you're breastfeeding, take a look at your diet. Foods containing cow's dairy, soy, eggs and sugar are known to generate excess stomach acid. For some babies this acid is too much and the result is a skin rash in response to the increased acid. So eliminating cow's dairy, soy, eggs and sugar will help reduce, if not completely eliminate, your baby's eczema.
(b) Take care of baby's skin.
Skin that is too dry or too hot also responds with a rash. To avoid this, make sure your baby's skin is properly moisturized with products that are absorbed into the skin and don't sit on top of it. Moisturizers that sit on top of the skin and aren't absorbed trap heat. Natural oils like coconut oil are much better at being absorbed into the skin vs. petroleum based oils like Vaseline that coat and protect the skin and trap heat. Another thing to watch out for are materials or activities that take moisture out of the skin like bathing too often, or using fleece and/or microfiber on baby’s skin. These things can over-dry baby's skin causing a rash.
Below are 4 things you can do to reduce the incidence of eczema flare ups in your baby (in order of effectiveness).
1 - eliminate acid-causing foods from your baby’s diet. This includes cow's dairy, soy, eggs and sugar.
2 - keep baby's skin moisturized. Moisturizers that contain unnatural ingredients can increase irritation to already inflamed skin. So instead of over-the-counter moisturizers, consider using more natural oils like coconut, jojoba or almond oil. I like to use coconut oil and add lavender and chamomile essential oils to it. The lavender and chamomile cut the coconut smell and are proven to have aromatherapy effects that help calm skin inflammations. I apply the oil twice a day (in the morning and at night after bath time) using a lotion bar I made with this recipe. Another thing you can do to keep baby’s skin moisturized is to bathe baby less often so she retains more of the natural oils in her skin.
3 - dress baby in clothes that breathe. This includes baby diapers as well. Disposable diapers and some cloth diapers have a plastic outer shell. For heat sensitive babies, the plastic can trap heat near baby's bottom and generate a rash. Choosing a cloth diaper made from natural fibers like organic cotton, bamboo or hemp (like Pooters brand diapers), and covering it with an all-natural cover made of wool will allow baby's bottom to breathe and will reduce the incidence of rash.
4 - reduce skin contact with synthetic fibers like fleece and microfiber. These fibers are designed to wick away moisture and keep skin dry. However, for babies with eczema, these fibers can over dry the skin. Instead choose all natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, hemp and natural wool. These fibers allow baby's skin to breathe, don't trap heat, and won't dry out baby's skin.
Tip: To treat open eczema wounds, apply turmeric powder directly to the area or witch hazel with a few drops of peppermint essential oil.