Generally, there is a strong family history associated with eczema. In more than 90 percent of cases, it starts before five years of age.
In infantile eczema, the face, arms and legs are usually affected. If it continues into toddlerhood, the neck, front of elbows and area behind knees, get involved. Sometimes the dry skin patches can also be very localized such as on palms, soles or on limbs. There is also a variety known as Nummular eczema baby and it appears as round itchy patches over arms or legs. This may be hard to differentiate from fungal skin infection at times.
Here are Certain Important Points for Parents to Note
If your child’s eczema starts before nine months of age, there is a high possibility that he/she may have certain food allergies (particularly milk – as it the main allergen an infant is exposed to). It would therefore be worthwhile to see a Pediatric allergist to rule out food allergies. Your allergist may choose to test blood or do skin prick test to confirm the above.
If these dry skin patches ooze fluid or get covered by a honey-colored crust, it means that they have become infected by bacteria. This happens when bacteria from the child’s hands or nails get in through the broken skin while itching. In these situations, you must see your doctor soon for antibiotic treatment. The antibiotic prescribed may be an ointment for local application if the area affected is small or it may be a course of oral antibiotics.
Children with eczema can get sensitized to aeroallergens such as Dust mite/ pollens, etc., through non-intact skin. This can put them at risk for nasal allergies and/ or asthma in later life. Therefore, it is recommended that inflamed skin be treated promptly always!
Suggestions to Help Make Your Child More Comfortable
Use only cotton fabrics – well rinsed with a hypoallergenic detergent.
Pat skin dry after bath. Do not rub it dry. This will help to retain some moisture on the skin surface.
Do not hesitate to use Steroid ointments prescribed by your doctor during flare-ups. This is the main medicine to take away inflammation and heal quickly. Try to use the lowest potency possible for optimum relief.
Avoid known offending agents.
Encourage child to drink plenty of water. By doing this, the water lost through his/her skin is replaced and child will feel overall better.
Address underlying emotional issues as appropriate because these can also cause flare-ups.
With appropriate care and follow-up, this condition can be managed fairly easily and usually improves with each passing year. Do not despair!
According to Mayo Clinic, this condition typically occurs during infancy and childhood. However, some people develop eczema as adults. Eczema can occur anywhere on the body but it most commonly affects the arms and skin behind the knees.
Eczema causes the skin to become dry and flaky. Other eczema symptoms include itchiness, brown patches, and tiny bumps. The number of flare-ups of infant eczema can be reduced by being mindful of what substances come into contact with the baby’s skin. Certain clothing, laundry detergents, lotions, and long baths can make eczema worse.
Treating Eczema with Petroleum Jelly
Parents can try treating eczema by rubbing petroleum jelly on the skin of their baby. Petroleum jelly can help relieve the flaking, itching and dryness associated with eczema because it locks moisture into the skin. This allows oil from petroleum jelly to penetrate the skin leaving it soft and smooth.
Rub petroleum jelly on the baby’s skin right after a bath. Pat the baby’s skin dry with a towel before moisturizing the skin. 1,801 Home Remedies by the editors of Reader’s Digest (Reader’s Digest, April 2004) recommends applying a thick layer of petroleum jelly to the skin and then covering the feet and hands for a more moisturizing effect.
Neem Bark Relieves Eczema in Infants
Bark from the neem tree is commonly used to treat eczema in infants. The neem is a tall evergreen tree and has long been used in India for healing purposes. Small white flowers and a smooth green fruit grow from this tree. Nearly every part of the neem tree is used as a natural medicine. It has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties that make it a popular treatment for skin ailments including eczema.
According A Treatise on Home Remedies by S. Suresh Babu, (Pustak Mahal Publishers, January 2000), neem bark is effective in preventing secondary infections and relieving itching. Put the neem bark in water and boil it. Let it cool down some. Use this mixture to cleanse the affected area, while still warm.
Evening Primrose Oil and lavender oil for eczema
Evening primrose oil or lavender oil for eczema is another treatment that can be used on infants. This plant mainly grows in North America but is also found in regions of the Southern Hemisphere, and Europe. The oil, which is contained in the seeds of this wild flower, is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fat that is necessary for good health. Evening primrose oil is used as a treatment for many health conditions including eczema and simultaneously the lavender oil for eczema has been the best homemade lotion for eczema for decades.
In her book Mother Food for Breastfeeding Mothers (Page Free Publishing, Incorporated, May 2004), Hilary Jacobson recommends alternating evening primrose oil with other oils that are high in essential fats, such as coconut oil and olive oil. This will allow the baby to get the healing effects from a variety of fatty acids. Cut open a 500 mg capsule of primrose oil and massage it onto the affected areas.
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