As parents, dealing with baby eczema is no easy feat. That is why it is very important to be well-informed and to always discuss things with your health provider. Being knowledgeable and knowing how to manage symptoms of baby eczema on the arms, and other parts of the body make a lot of difference.
I am a parent of a child diagnosed with eczema. Believe me when I say that your attention to detail – every single detail about your baby’s condition will not only make life more comfortable and easy for your kid but to you as a parent, too.
As I mentioned early on, dealing with baby eczema is not easy. In fact, it can take a toll to some parents and/or caregivers especially if you are not well-informed about how to manage it, or if it is your first time.
To be honest, I was there too. I was once like any other parent who didn’t know what to do with their child.
I am working from home. I thought it was just another day for me and my kid. I thought it was just another happy day. But no. I woke up with my baby having rashes on his arms. I did not bother so much about it. I thought it was just an ordinary rash that babies get.
Our baby was crying and fussy, but because it was our first time, I again thought it was just normal. I was even telling my husband as he prepares for work that our baby was just having a bad morning. You know, like with us adults, he just woke at the wrong side of the bed.
But what I thought was normal suddenly changed. It was almost midday. Our son is crying non-stop, and he just wouldn’t calm down. I almost tried everything I know to stop him from crying but to no avail. I then called my husband immediately. I told him I am bringing our son to the doctor. Something just seems not right with him.
To cut the long story short, I drove down my child and had him checked by his pediatrician. After a few check-ups, the doctor came into his final diagnosis. Our son has eczema. Apparently, what I saw was symptoms of baby eczema arms and not just an ordinary rash.
I must say, I felt bad. As a mom, I thought I should have known better. I mean, I should have felt it – that our baby is not feeling right, but I was so naïve and so relaxed. To be honest, when I found out from the doctor that he has eczema, I kind of panicked. I felt so sorry about my baby.
Good thing our son’s doctor was so nice and kind. He discussed to us the condition of our son in a manner that will bring us hope and peace of mind instead of my initial reaction, which was panic. He accommodated all my questions and answered them in the most positive way.
You know, it was then that I realized that knowing what the condition is all about, and how to manage it really helps make us feel better. With that, I am sharing with you some of the basic information that our doctor said – every parent of babies with eczema should know.
Let’s start with some baby eczema basics.
Definition of Baby Eczema
Baby eczema or commonly known as eczema or dermatitis is one of the most commonly known skin conditions that babies acquire in their young lives. Eczema is a skin rash that according to experts, usually appears before a child turns five years of age. The rash usually looks red, dry, sometimes scaly or even weeping an oozing fluid. It also is normally itchy.
Eczema symptoms on babies typically show up on the cheeks and/or scalp, but it may also spread through the arms (which was what happened in my son’s case), legs, chest, back, and other parts of the body. While how the symptoms look is almost the same among all ages, where it appears differs. For instance, when the baby turns a year old, the rashes normally appear on the insides of the elbows, the back of the knees, as well as the child’s wrists, and the ankles. But then again, it can still show up anywhere else in the body.
As I mentioned earlier, baby eczema is very common in babies. In fact, according to the Baby Center website, “about 20 percent of babies and young children have eczema”. The skin condition usually starts in infancy with about “65 percent of patients developing symptoms in the first year of life and 90 percent developing symptoms before age 5,” which I earlier mentioned already.
So, mommies and daddies, if you think you are alone or you feel like asking the universe why your kid has it, think again. You are not alone in this. There are so many other parents out there who are going through the same thing as you. In fact, some are even far worse than what you are going through. So, hang in there.
Symptoms of Baby Eczema
I already mentioned about rashes. But to be more detailed about it, here are some of the characteristics of the eczema rash:
In some cases, worse cases to be exact, the symptoms may be made of small red bumps that ooze or have become infected probably because of scratching. Speaking of scratching, our doctor said that you have to make sure your baby does not scratch the affected skin, because scratching causes the affected skin to thicken, darken, or even scarred over time.
Eczema rash can be very itchy. Thus making the person affected very uncomfortable. I remember when my baby had symptoms of baby eczema arms, I thought he was crying because he was hungry or something. But apparently, he was crying because he feels uncomfortable because of the itchiness. Well, the doctor forgave me. I didn’t know anything, right?
Anyway, baby eczema symptoms or flares normally come and go. How long the symptoms appear will depend on how you manage or treat it, which we will get on to that later on.
Moving on, some parents or caregivers who are not aware of the skin condition would keep the baby away from children who do not have eczema. They thought it might affect other children. But here’s the thing – eczema is not contagious. It is not transferrable to anyone. So, do not keep your baby away from other children or other people. There’s no reason for you to do that at all.
Diagnosing Baby Eczema
To diagnose baby eczema, what doctors normally do is to do a physical examination on the patient. After that, the health provider will ask a few questions to the patient, in the case of babies, he or she will ask the parents.
Some of the most common questions asked are:
– When did the rashes start?
– Is the baby taking any medication? Or have the parent/s applied anything before and/or during the appearance of the rashes?
– Did the baby had a fever? Or did he or she vomit? Etc.
– Does the baby have allergies?
– If breastfeeding, what did the mommy eat at least the past three days?
– Does mommy and/or daddy have allergies or family medical history of eczema?
These are just some examples, but again, it really depends on the doctor – particularly, on what information he or she finds relevant to be able to come up with the right diagnosis. If your baby is suspected to have allergies, further tests may be done.
In my son’s case, the doctor asked for an allergy test to be done. Apparently, based on the result, he is allergic to certain substances.
Causes of Baby Eczema
When my baby’s doctor told us that nobody knows (yes, up to this day we consider as modern age) what causes eczema, it kind of created worries in my head. I admit I felt weird why such a mystery. But then, the doctor said, that while what causes eczema remains unknown, researchers believe that eczema is a condition that can be passed on from one generation to another. Meaning, it is inherited.
Precisely, why he asked if neither of us (my husband and I) has had eczema or if anyone in our families has had it in the past. When we said none that we can think of, he then looked for other possible causes of the flare.
One thing he looked at it allergies. He said that apart from getting it from the genes, an eczema flare is usually caused by an allergic reaction or asthma or hay fever.
After a series of tests, my son was apparently, as I mentioned a while ago, allergic to certain substances.
Furthermore, apart from allergens, eczema rash or flare may, even more, be aggravated by heat, certain irritants that come in contact with the skin, changes in the temperature, and of course, dryness of the skin. Some examples of irritants, by the way, are wool, polyester, and synthetic fabrics; body soaps, laundry detergents, fragrances, lotions, metals, etc. Also, in addition, stress is also said to cause eczema flare-ups.
Treatments for Baby Eczema
Remember what I said earlier? It is very important for parents and/or caregivers of babies with eczema to be well-informed about the skin condition so when flare-ups happen, management is easy and healing comes faster.
Apart from treatments, preventing the flare from showing up is the best thing to do. That way, you get to at least give normality to your kid’s situation, and you also as a parent or caregiver get to live a normal life.
You know, according to research and even our health provider informed us too that eczema is generally considered as a chronic disease. Meaning, it is long-lasting. However, research showed that most children who had it early on in their lives may outgrow the skin condition. But then again, specialist says that in some cases, it does reappear when the person is older. Whatever the case may be, the thing is, you got to religiously follow what needs to be done.
With that said, here are some of the ways to take good care of your baby’s skin and avoid triggers. These too can help treat and prevent flare-ups from showing up.
- Regular Bathing and Moisturizing
The number of times your baby is allowed to bathe will depend on your health provider. So, make sure to discuss or ask your doctor about it.
There are a lot of experts who believe that bathing helps relieve, at the same time, prevent eczema flares. However, it is very important to note that when bathing, you must use warm water. Never use hot water as they may aggravate the situation or may cause flare from happening because it makes the skin dry.
In addition, make sure to use hypoallergenic, fragrance-free baby soap. As soon as you’re done bathing your child, make sure to gently pat dry your skin using a soft cotton towel. Do not rub the skin as it may cause danger to the skin.
Immediately after, apply moisturizer on your baby’s skin. Ideally, within three minutes after bathing. By doing so, it helps lock in moisture on the skin.
- Dressing Comfortably
Invest in cotton-based clothing. It is actually what the doctors highly recommend. Using wool, or any other types of fabrics may be harmful to the skin – it may irritate your baby’s very sensitive skin.
Preferably, apart from using cotton-based clothing, make sure your baby’s clothes are not tight. Loose clothing is ideal as it gives comfort and allows the skin to breathe, which is important for someone who has eczema.
During the cold season, make sure not to overheat your baby by bundling him as it may cause sweat, and sweating is bad for your baby’s skin.
- Use Mild, Hypoallergenic, Fragrance-free Soaps
Whether it be body soap or laundry detergent, make sure not to use the harsh ones, rather, choose the ones that are hypoallergenic and unscented. If you are using shampoo on your kid, do choose the same kind of product as well.
You know, since the symptom of baby eczema arms happen on my baby, and we were informed about our baby’s condition, we immediately ditch all the soaps we are using not only on him but even on us. We opted for milder ones for ourselves, while went for hypoallergenic and unscented soaps for our baby’s skin and clothing.
By the way, it is not advisable to use fabric softener on babies’ clothing. It is also harmful to your baby’s skin.
- Use mittens
Baby eczema symptoms can be very itchy, and some babies are smart enough that they have the tendency to scratch the affected skin off.
What the doctors suggest is to make sure the baby’s hands are covered with mittens (of cotton fabrics). Scratching can cause harm to the affected skin.
However, in case it is already too much for your baby to handle, immediately inform your healthcare provider. Normally, doctors may suggest giving your kid antihistamine. Remember, inform your doctor. Never self-medicate.
- Cool Compress to Soothe Flares
Now, apart from an antihistamine, one way to help soothe eczema flare is to apply a cool compress on the affected skin several times a day. And then, immediately apply a moisturizer. You may resort to this first before any form of medication.
Apart from the above-mentioned ways to manage and prevent flares, one of the most ideal way to keep your baby flare-free is to avoid triggers. These triggers include the following:
– The rapid change in temperature
– Staying away from allergens (like pollens, mold, dust mite, cow’s milk, nuts, wheat, eggs, etc.)
and irritants (such as fragrances, cigarette smoke, metals, chemicals, alcohol, etc.)
– Keep your baby away from stressors and stressful circumstances
If there is one thing I have learned from my baby’s case, that is, to always follow the directive of your healthcare provider. While we can do research all we want using the internet, Googling, and all, no one really knows best but he doctor.
By the way, our doctor created an eczema management plan for us to follow. The plan helps keep us on track of our baby’s needs – what should be avoided, what should be done, how we should react when flares happen, etc.
It is also important that we share the information or the plan not only to family members but even to caregivers or babysitters.
I remember one time, I left my baby to a babysitter because I needed something very important. When I came back home, I saw some symptoms of baby eczema arms. If it was the old me (before the diagnosis and all), I would have panicked, but because I have the plan, I immediately check on what the doctor has noted in there and just followed as written. Thank goodness, it immediately disappeared.
See, it really pays to listen and follow.
It’s been a couple of months now since our baby had a flare, and the One up there knows how grateful I am.