Baby Eczema :: Treating It Naturally

I had the most lovely day today. I played nanny for my favorite youngest niece. It's been such a blessing for my sister and her two daughters to be here with us in San Diego but nothing was better than my day today.

We went on a long walk, went shopping, sat out in the sunshine and took pictures together.

Here are a few pictures of  my photo shoot.

Anyways, my little baby niece, Finley, also has baby eczema. Baby eczema is very common amongst the little ones yet there is no real solution, besides the plethora of steroid creams that just aren't good for our babies skin.

And my facialist, Jennifer Laz, {remember her last amazing guest post?} is here to help explain this and help those parents looking for a more natural soothing treatment for their little ones.

What is Infant Eczema? 

Eczema can be a confusing skin condition, mainly because there is no one cause or description for it. The word eczema is used to describe a class of skin irritations where a dry, red patch of skin is present. Sometimes these irritated patches of skin can become inflamed, raised and even weep. Not fun! Even less fun for a mother who sees her babe's sweet, smooth skin affected by eczema. No mom wants her child to be uncomfortable in their own skin, but is there a natural solution for infant eczema?

Eczema isn’t a contagious disease, however it is a very irritating, dry, scaly, and itchy skin condition. This causes the skin to become irritated, if this is scratched it can even lead to the skin becoming infected and leading to complications. Eczema dries the skin, making it less of a protective barrier from external temperatures as well as possible bacterial infection.  

Infants can develop eczema at any time and anywhere on their body. The most common areas seem to be behind knees, elbows, chest, tummy, and face. For many children, eczema is temporary and outgrown by Kindergarten. For others, it can be a lifelong condition needing further treatment. 

How Is Infant Eczema Commonly Treated?

Topical steroid creams are the main go-to  in the medical field any time skin irritation is brought up. *My professional opinion is that topical steroid creams should only be used when absolutely necessary – as in 'life or death' situations and serious allergic reactions. They are not healthy and should never be used as an on-going treatment. 

Steroid creams work by calming inflammation caused by the histamine factors in the skin. They only work temporary making it necessary to continue use daily (or more often) for skin conditions like eczema. However, when used continuously, they also weaken the immune system and can cause issues with yeast, parasites, and bacterial growth. You may now be wondering: “But I'm applying these steroid creams topically, how could that affect my child internally?” 

Good question! Your skin is porous, meaning that if the molecular size of an ingredient is small enough to fit through the skin's pores, it will travel down through the skin and eventually make its way into the bloodstream. Using a topical steroid cream every day for a significant period of time will most likely result in that steroid hanging out in the blood and therefore circulating throughout the body.  

Natural, Gentle Treatment Alternatives

True eczema is, in many cases, diet-related. Certain foods can be more difficult for our body to digest, triggering inflammation or the build-up of yeast or bacteria. Food allergies can also take the form of skin irritation and rashes. For a breast-feeding infant, we need to look into mom's diet for possible culprits. 

Beyond simple food allergies: MSG (mono sodium Glutamate – a flavoring agent,) pesticides, preservatives, dyes and other synthetics can be irritating if too prominent in the diet. For more information on diet, food allergies and infant eczema, I recommend talking with a Naturopath in addition to your pediatrician. 

While looking for the internal source of infant eczema, there are simple steps you can take to minimize any discomfort for your little one:

Restrict baths to twice or three times a week to help keep skin from dehydrating. (Let's be real: babies don't really get dirty enough to necessitate a daily bath, do they?) For the bath itself, use a water filter to limit the amount of chlorine and harsh minerals normally found in tap water. They make special filters for bathtubs! 

Use a mild soap, free of synthetic dyes, perfumes or harsh surfactants. I really like Dr. Brauner's Baby but there are lots of others. Unscented organic baby lotion or oil is essential for keeping baby's skin protected and moisturized. This can minimize the eczema patches and keep them from getting worse. 

Make sure your laundry detergent contains no bleach or perfumes (and preferably no dyes)

Clothing and crib sheets should be natural fibers, preferably cotton or muslin for breath-ability - bedding should also be hypoallergenic and organic when possible

Be green when it comes to cleaning house, using gentle cleaning products and natural home fragrances

 *It is not recommended to stop a prescribed medication without consulting your doctor. This information is based on my professional skincare background and does not replace medical advice. For more information, consult your pediatrician as well as Naturopath or Holistic specialist. 

Quick Check List

  • Use a laundry detergent that uses no bleach or perfumes. 
  • Use a dryer softener that uses no perfumes. 
  • Use soap such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser that has no perfumes. There are some Cetaphil products that contain almond oil. If your child has tree nut allergies, make sure to read the label to ensure no almond oil is in the product you are purchasing. 
  • Use lotion such as Eucerin paste that has no perfumes. 
  • Have your child wear cotton clothes.  Don’t allow your child to wear wool or lamb’s wool clothing.  Some polyester bothers my son, as did flannel sheets when he was a baby. 
  • Your child’s pillow should be hypoallergenic and certainly not filled with down or feathers. 
  • Keep stuffed animals out of your child’s bed, and any other cloth toys.  You might need to keep all stuffed animals out of your child’s room completely if they are exhibiting asthma symptoms. 
  • Don’t spray chemicals in your child’s rooms, such as pledge furniture polish, carpet cleaners, or exterminating sprays. 

*Many of the organic mattresses I found were often blended with non organic materials, or sprayed with fire retardant chemicals. Be diligent when researching and purchasing items for your baby.