Baby eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition affecting infants that is characterized by a red, itchy rash. This rash is generally accompanied by dry skin that may sometimes scale or flake. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to have a genetic component and may be related to allergies such as hay fever. Treatment for baby eczema focuses primarily on keeping the skin properly moisturized, even when there is no active outbreak.
The rash that is characteristic of eczema in children may show up on any portion of the body and tends to come and go in no particular pattern. While the skin on and around the rash is usually dry, it may ooze a clear liquid if there is an infection present. In this case, a doctor should be consulted to find out if oral or topical antibiotics are necessary. Otherwise, treatment for baby eczema can generally be taken care of at home.
The most effective preventative measure and treatment for baby eczema involves keeping the skin moisturized, particularly in areas that are more prone to outbreaks in the individual patient. Soaps and shampoos have a tendency to dry out the skin, so a thick layer of gentle moisturizer should be applied just after bath time. It is important to pat the baby's skin dry instead of using a rubbing motion, as this could further irritate the skin.
When considering treatment for baby eczema, it is important to use soaps and lotions that do not contain added fragrances, as these chemicals can cause further skin irritation. The skin should be cleansed gently without any type of scrubbing. The laundry detergent used to wash the baby's clothes should also be fragrance-free.
If the infant has an active outbreak, the bathing and then moisturizing routine is recommended twice a day if possible in lukewarm water. Adding salt to the bath water may take away some of the stinging caused by the bath water. During these outbreaks, petroleum jelly may be used as a treatment for baby eczema. If the rash results in broken skin, an over-the-counter antibiotic should be used in order to prevent a skin infection.
In some cases, home treatment for baby eczema does not provide the desired amount of relief. If this is the case, a doctor should be consulted for other treatment options that may include the use of prescription medications. Any signs of a possible skin infection should also be reported to the child's doctor right away.