What is Infantile Eczema?
Infantile Eczema is also termed as atopic dermatitis or simply ‘Eczema‘. It is characterized by inflamed, red, itchy and dry skin which commonly affects infants and children.
This condition is caused by genetic and environmental factors. Genetic causes usually include differences in proteins from individual to individual. Proteins form the skin barrier. When this barrier is broken down, the skin loses its moisture easily thus becomes drier, irritable and hypersensitive. The skin thus becomes prone to infections with bacteria, virus or fungi. Environmental causes triggers such as pet dander, dust mites, pollution, etc.
Symptoms of Infantile Eczema:
Generally infants with atopic dermatitis experience a dry red rash on the cheeks and around the mouth that is often made worse by drooling. At times, they may experience dry, darkened and thickened skin. Hyperpigmentation may also be possible. As infants grow, in case of no proper care, the rash may spread to arms, legs, or in other areas as well. The places where the baby scratches can see an increase in the rash. There is no cure for it. However, there are recommendations to help manage infantile eczema.
Guidelines to Treat Infantile Eczema:
1. Care for your baby’s skin to prevent dryness:
i. Give your baby a bath every day to wash off dirt and other irritants
ii. Use warm water for your baby instead of hot water
iii. Limit the bath to 5-10 minutes
iv. Dry your baby’s skin and apply moisturizer when the skin is still slightly wet. Therefore, moisturizer provides a seal to hold the water in the skin.
v. A moisturizer that is thick
vi. Ointments are more effective than creams and creams are more effective than lotions. Creams are the better options during summer when thick greasy ointments can get uncomfortable
2. Treat the rash immediately:
If you find any rash on your baby’s skin, apply the ointment or cream provided by your pediatrician or a dermatologist. After a week of using, if you still find the rash, see the doctor right away.
3. Get rid of itching:
Tell your doctor if your baby is itchy or if the itch is affecting sleep. Oral anti-itch medicine(s) such as anti-histamines could be helpful to reduce itching and make your baby comfortable.
4. Avoid triggers that cause itching:
Few children may come across things that trigger episodes of itchiness and rashes, while others may have none. Triggers may even change or reduce over time. Common triggers:
1. Excessive bathing without moisturization
2. Low humidity
3. Cigarette or wood smoke exposure
4. Sweat, friction and overheating of the skin
5. Exposure to certain products such as wool, harsh soaps, fragrance, bubble baths, and laundry detergents, etc.
Therefore, dear new parents, aim to prevent dry skin, treat the rash, improve the itch, and minimize the exposure to triggers that cause itching. Always ensure to keep your baby’s skin smooth and supple.