Does my baby have Eczema? Or Something else....


It was scary for me when I realized a few red patches on the skin of my then 4-month-old baby. 

It didn’t click my mind that it could be eczema because it was not in our family history, and moreover, I always kept my baby clean.

I was so ignorant. Not knowing much about skin conditions, I assumed it was a mild rash because of hot weather and will go away in some time.

When it started spreading and the patching started appearing white in colour I was sure it was not a regular rash but a bit more than that.

The next thing I did was obviously dialling GP like any other parent would have done. 

Initially, we were told that it was vitiligo. Yes, Vitiligo is a skin condition causes due to loss of skin pigment and is uncurable.

But my husband and I were not convinced so we started gathering more facts and making appointments with some dermatologists. 

Luckily we met a great dermatologist. She prescribed a few steroids/ creams and in a month, all the patches started fading. And eventually, my baby’s skin was back to normal.

The dermatologist also told us that once you get eczema it is quite possible you get it again. So, this was something for us to keep in mind and be prepared for. 

Let’s know more about what eczema is, what causes it, what can be done to prevent it and how to treat it.

What is baby eczema? 

Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a common skin condition in children.

1 in every 5 children in UK are affected by eczema at some stage. 

Experts say that it happens when the body loses moisture and becomes dry.

How to know if your baby has eczema?

If baby’s skin appears crusty, dry, flaky, itchy, patchy, reddish in colour and eventually turns into white then it is most like eczema.

Eczema doesn’t have the same appearance on all babies. The rash might look red, purple, brown or grey. 

It could be anywhere on the baby’s body though it is common in areas like behind the knees, elbows, neck, face.

What are the “Causes of Eczema”?

Eczema is more likely to be caused by environmental factors or if someone has a family history. And this skin condition is not contagious.

Babies can also get eczema if it’s in one’s family. 

It can come and go. There is no one time cure for a skin condition like eczema but it is treatable

What worsens eczema?

1. Sweating:

Hot weather and sweat both can make eczema worse.

2. Scratching: 

Itching can lead to scratching which can worsen the rashes. 

Keep baby from scratching when it itches. 

Use mittens, cut nails of the baby, don’t dress baby in woollens or polyester.

3. Stress: 

Babies with eczema could be fussy. This stress can lead to the itchiness of the skin.

It is important to keep the baby calm. Keep them in a comfortable environment, well moisturised, make sure their needs are met on time. 

4. Allergens: 

Don’t give the older babies any cow milk, nuts, eggs or certain fruits for some time. 

Doctors usually advise you to stay away from certain foods. 

Environmental allergens like pollens, household dust can also trigger eczema. 

How to prevent eczema from happening?

Your baby needs special care to prevent eczema. Let’s see what things to keep in mind to stop eczema from happening.

1. Keep the skin “Moisturized all the time”:

a. You need to apply a moisturizer several times a day.

b. Make sure to apply moisturizer immediately after bath – as the baby loses moisture quickly.

c. Go “Fragrance-free”. Avoid scented lotions and creams.

d. If you think your baby loses too much moisture you can consider using petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly can be a thick protective layer to sensitive skin.

2. No to too warm water baths:

a. Keep baby baths comfy and short.

b. Use cool or lukewarm wate as excess heat & dryness can lose a lot of moisture from the baby’s skin.  

3. Fragrance-free detergents for laundry: 

a. Scented detergents or soaps are made with a lot of harsh chemicals.

b. These chemicals could irritate a baby’s sensitive skin and respiratory system. 

c. So, stay away from all detergents or soaps that have got fragrance in them which can trigger skin irritation & set off an eczema outbreak. 

4. Don’t use soap/ shampoo every day:

a. Babies not always need to use soap or shampoo every day as they don’t sweat like us and get dirty. 

b. Too much soap and shampoo can dry out their skin.

c. Use mild unscented body wash/ soaps/ shampoos only. 

d. The use of anti-bacterial soaps also can make the baby’s skin too dry. 

5. Don’t rub baby’s skin rather pat it dry: 

a. Rubbing a baby’s skin with a towel can cause friction which can make the sensitives skin red, dry, prone to the risk of skin peeling. 

b. It is often advised that dry the baby’s skin gently by patting with a soft towel rather than rubbing. 

6. Use breathable fabrics: 

a. Picking the right fabric for your baby is more important than just fashion. 

b. Stay away from tight-fitting and synthetic clothes.

c. Dress in breathable, lightweight, clean, anti-itch, soft, natural fabrics like linen, cotton etc. 

d. In winters add layers and stay away from itchy woollens. 

7. Try drying baby’s clothes inside the house:

a. When laundry is hung outside for drying, pollens or other allergens can possibly stick to the fabric which can trigger eczema-prone skin.
b. Use a dryer or cloth airer or cloth liner to dry the laundry inside the house.

8. Keep baby at right room temperature:

a. Unusual hot or cold environment could be a problem. The baby should not feel too hot or cold.

b. Try to keep the baby in the right temperature. The appropriate room temperature for the baby to feel comfortable is between 16 – 20 degrees Celsius. 

How is eczema treated in babies?

Eczema showed up on my baby’s skin when she was around 4 months only. Our pediatric dermatologist asked us to apply a few creams, cleansers and emollients. 

Generally, eczema in babies can be treated using these products:

1. Emollients:

a. Whether you have eczema or not emollients can be used to keep the moisture intact on your baby’s skin if you think the skin tends to get dry often. 

b. Emollients are a moisturising treatment and could be a cream, lotion or a cleanser to be used instead of soap.

c. Emollients are considered an essential part of therapy for dry skin conditions. You can apply emollient all over and not just the affected areas.

d. Emollient can be used after eczema gets better as a moisturising agent. 

2. Dermatologist recommended Steroid creams/ ointment:

a. For eczema in babies, steroid-based creams can be effective. 

b. Using steroids is not recommended for babies bit a smear amount can help relieve inflammation and can control eczema. 

c. If you use a more quantity of steroid than needed it may harm your baby’s skin and lead to skin thinning and darkening. 

3. Petroleum jelly:

a. It said that petroleum jelly is a protective layer made up of oils and waxes to keep skin moisturised for longer. 

b. It helps the skin to heal scrapes and burns and retain moisture too.

c. Using petroleum jelly right after a bath can prevent skin from drying out. 

d. But, make sure you disinfect the jelly or clean your hand before applying it because bacteria/germs can get trapped inside it.  

Some of the topical creams & washes I could remember for the treatment of baby eczema were:

Oilatum Liquid Paraffin (bath emollient)

Boots Aqueous Cream (also helped with the gentle removal of cradle cap)

Deprobase Ointment and cream with some other steroids. 

Disclaimer: (I am not a doctor or from any medical background. I had to gather information because my little one had eczema when she was around 4 months old. I am just sharing my experience and facts with you so that you get a slight idea about eczema in babies. Please consult your doctor to know more details for eczema in babies.)

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