Have you ever noticed how much parenting and jails have in common?
- We have to monitor the inmates constantly.
- We are constantly breaking up (sibling) fights.
- We silently rejoice that we don’t have to eat what we serve them for dinner.
- The inmates will try to hide things from us. (Filled diapers, extra snacks, etc.)
- Inmates are tucked into their
cribcell and expected to stay there until released the next morning.
There’s one thing, though, that is sorely lacking in our role as Jailer.
A giant wad of clanging keys that announce to the world how prepared we are. Each jangling step is a confirmation to those around us that we have the keys to parental knowledge. The ones that unlock every crisis, that provide escape from every issue.
In many ways, this entire blog is meant to be a collection of keys, attached to your brain with a retractable key chain.
Today, though, I want to concentrate on a specific type of key: The one that reveals the hidden sanctuary that helps you handle that rash creeping up on your baby’s chubby arms and legs, once and for all.
It’s the Skeleton Key that will rescue your baby from The Itchy Dungeon.
Dun dun DAHNNNNN! *jazz hands*
The Itchy Dungeon
Eczema is like being trapped in, what I like to call, The Itchy Dungeon. It’s a blanket term dermatologists use to cover all kinds of rashes.
Inside this dungeon of doom are many different little itchy torture cells with names like “Atopic Dermatitis” (the most common), or “Seborrheic Dermatitis,” or “Dyshidrotic Ezema,” etc., etc. But they all have one thing in common: They are all trapping your baby in a cycle of scratches.
Not sure if your baby is stuck in The Itchy Dungeon? Here are a few clues to watch for:
- Dry, sensitive skin
- Red, inflamed skin
- Little red bumps
- Rough, leathery, or scaly patches of skin
- Oozing or crusting after being scratched
- Swollen skin
Pretty much, it can show up most anywhere. (Bella often gets it on her fingers – something she inherited from her mother, who had to wear gardening gloves to bed every night. )
Since it’s itchy, your baby will want to rub or itch it. When he does, he will cause it to get inflamed, making it puff up and get even more itchy. And thus begins the “Itch-Scratch-Itch-Scratch” torture cycle.
Cradle Cap vs. Baby Eczema
Cradle Cap is different than baby eczema. Cradle cap is dry skin, yes, but it’s not itchy. It just looks bad. Your baby doesn’t even realize he has it. Even so, if you’d like to get rid of your newborn’s cradle cap, you can get treatment ideas here. It also generally clears up by 8 months.
Diaper Rash vs. Baby Eczema
Did you notice I wrote “it can show up most anywhere?” That’s because if you’re seeing little red bumps on your baby’s bum, you’re dealing with a diaper rash, not eczema.
Remember, eczema is linked to dry irritated skin. A diaper rash is caused by bacteria having a party in the warm wet diaper environment. I would recommend a really good diaper rash cream, like Bottom Balm, instead of the treatments below.
How He Got Into the Itchy Dungeon
How did your beautiful baby end up in this Itchy Dungeon in the first place? Doctors don’t know for sure, but they do have some pretty good guesses:
- It’s genetic – there’s a good chance someone else in the family history has spent time in this dungeon too. (Although hopefully they won’t have to wear garden gloves to bed.)
- There seems like there may be a strong link between eczema and asthma, hay fever, or allergies to dairy, soy, eggs, fish or wheat. (My kids were allergic to eggs when they were little.) Eczema itself is not an allergic reaction, but it does seem to be very friendly with existing allergies.
- Environmental issues like 2nd hand smoke, animal dander, dust, or pollen can also make eczema worse.
- An defect in the skin barrier that allows moisture to leave, and germs to come in.
- Colder climates often have more instances of eczema.
The good/bad news is that if your baby is sitting in the Itchy Dungeon, no one put him there. It’s not contagious. He’s there because of the way his body is built.
Obviously, that doesn’t mean we have to leave him there…
How to Rescue Your Baby
And so we arrive to this. The Skeleton Key.
The solution that will dramatically rescue your baby OUT of the Itchy Dungeon and proclaim him as The Clear Skin King.
If your baby’s skin is red, puffy, and inflamed, I highly recommend you head over to the doctor’s office and have him looked over, just to make sure that you’re dealing with what you think you’re dealing with.
I would also recommend talking with your doctor about possible allergy issues, especially if you have a history of allergies in your family. He may recommend some testing or diet elimination.
Medications Your Doctor May Recommend
Once you’re talking with your doctor, here are a few of the medical options he may recommend:
- Hydrocortisone Cream ~ A steroid cream or ointment meant to be use for short term use only. You can pick this up at Walgreens or have Amazon send it straight to you. (My kids always prefer the ointment over the cream, which they insist stings when applied.)
- Antihistamines ~ this can help if your baby’s eczema is being inflamed by environmental allergies. The most common antihistamines are Benadryl (which can cause drowsiness) and Zyrtec (which doesn’t). Make sure you talk to your doctor before using these, as the dosage needs to be precise.
- Corticosteriods ~ You can learn more about these fascinating things here.
At-Home Treatments for Baby Eczema
I have a LONG history of rescuing my children from The Itchy Dungeon. It’s like I’m on a 24/7 Search-and-Rescue mission. Here are a few recommendations I have for more effective rescue missions:
The first thing I would do is to remove any baby lotions, soaps, or shampoos with artificial additives. Children with sensitive skin may react to some of those ingredients and flare up. Also, make sure you wash any clothing or towels before letting them be worn.
The second thing I would do is have a daily skin care regimen. After you bathe your baby, use Aquaphor to lock the moisture from the bath into your baby’s skin. This will help avoid the skin from drying out and becoming itchy.
The third thing I would do is get a Scratch Me Not and use it at night to limit your baby’s involuntary scratching. This will help keep the eczema from flaring up into that bright red heart-breaking rash. (Heck, it beats garden gloves!)
The fourth thing I would do is begin giving your baby probiotics. Scientists are realizing more and more what a HUGE difference a healthy gut has on overall health.
These things are great in preventing the eczema from flaring up. But what do you do when you’re already sitting in the center of The Itchy Dungeon of Doom? How do you ESCAPE?
How do you find the loose cobblestone that will allow you to start tunneling to freedom like the Count of Monte Cristo?
Here are 9 of the best baby eczema products I’ve found to unlock those heavy doors and propel your baby into the sunlight of freedom, joy, and clear skin.
#1 – Triple Cream Severe Dry Skin/Eczema Care ~ Over 230 parents gave this 5-stars on Amazon, praising it for being non-greasy, coming in a container instead of a tube (so you know you’re getting every last bit), and doing a great job soaking into the skin throughout the day.
#2. TruBaby All Natural Soothing Hair & Body Wash ~ This gentle wash is steroid-free with no fragrances of chemicals. It’s pH balanced, so it doesn’t irritate the eyes.
#3. Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy ~ Aveeno has been a leading baby lotion/body wash company for decades. This particular cream is an intense moisturizer enriched with the lipid ceramide, which helps to enhance the skin’s natural defenses.
#4. Wild Naturals Eczema & Psoriasis Cream ~ Wild Naturals is made without any animal or petroleum ingredients, fragrances, parabens, alcohols, or dyes. Designed around Manuka honey, a powerful moisturizer found only in New Zealand, they also offer a full money-back guarantee.
#5. Cetaphil Eczema Calming Body Wash ~ This powerful cleanser is designed for babies over 3 months. It’s gentle enough to be used on the face, but powerful enough to have earned five stars by over 640 parents.
#6. Eucerin Eczema Relief Body Creme ~ This cream is very thick and absorbs slowly, so best to put it on before bed. Highly recommended by dermatologists, for babies over 3 months.
#7. Cortiosone 10 Intensive Healing Eczema Lotion ~ This is best used for severe flare-ups, since it does contain 1% hydrocortisone. If you apply it immediately after bathing your baby, it usually clears things up within a few days. Call your doctor, though, before using it longer than a few days.
#8. Coconut Oil ~ Apply after a bath and let it soak into the skin overnight. (Can be greasy.)
#9. Epsom Salts ~ Adding a small cup of Epsom Salts to a bath can really soothe inflamed areas. Just make sure you pat dry, and don’t rub the affected areas.
Bath Time Bonuses
Besides these creams and lotions above, treat your baby to a special bath once a week.
- An Oatmeal Bath ~ Spoon 1 cup of oatmeal into a cheescloth, tying it into a bundle. Then hang it below the faucet while filling the bathtub. Put baby into the bath for 10-15 minutes before patting (not rubbing!) dry and adding one of the lotions above.
- A Chamomile Bath ~ Follow the oatmeal instructions above, only use 4 Tablespoons of dried German chamomile instead.
Breaking Out of the Big House
Remember, baby eczema can be caused by lots of things, so it makes sense that how you treat your baby’s eczema may look different than the mom down the street.
The key to breaking your infant out of the big house of baby eczema is to know what you’re up against.
Experiment. What causes flare ups? What solutions can you use to keep the eczema contained, managed, and stuck in solitary confinement?
The more you experiment, the more you’ll be able to find the Skeleton Key and keep your baby eczema-free.
Have you struggled with baby eczema before? What was the key you used to get out of that Itchy Dungeon?
Meet Heather Taylor
Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007. She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others. If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.
I ♥ Citations
National Eczema Association
Natural Remedies for Eczema
Eczema: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Eczema for Infants and Toddlers
What Does Baby Eczema Look Like?
Causes and Triggers for Eczema
Understanding Eczema Treatments