Baby eczema is skin irritation appearing in infants between two and six months of age. It can persist up to age three before resolving. People with a family history of allergies and skin problems may notice baby eczema in their children. There are a number of ways to address the skin irritation and keep the infant comfortable, and a pediatrician should be consulted for evaluation if it persists or grows worse.
A baby with eczema will develop patches of red skin that may be bumpy or scaly. Sometimes, the skin cracks and peels and fissures develop. It is usually itchy and the baby may fuss more than usual. Common spots for baby eczema include the face, insides of the elbows, and backs of the knees. It may start as a faint rash, developing over the course of several days into more severe skin irritation. Often, it will feel warm to the touch and the baby may fret if the irritated skin is handled.
Keeping babies cool and dry will help address eczema outbreaks. Gentle emollients can soften the skin and increase comfort. It is important to not allow the skin to dry out while avoiding constant moisture, as moisture can paradoxically have a drying effect. Creams to treat irritated, itchy skin are often available over the counter, and a doctor or pharmacist can confirm that they are safe for use in infants.
Baby eczema is a mild allergic reaction to something in the baby's environment. It is advisable to switch to a hypoallergenic soap and to use very soft fibers, especially for bedding and garments worn close to the skin. Parents may also want to eliminate common allergens like nuts, milk, and wheat from the diet. If the baby's skin improves, these foods can be added back one at a time. A flareup indicates the baby is reacting to a given food, and it can be withdrawn again.
Baby eczema can leave scars if it is not treated. Deep cracks and fissures are also potential avenues for infection. The earlier it is addressed, the easier it will be to manage. If a baby has a stubborn case, prescription creams are available. A pediatrician or dermatologist may also want to take a scraping to see if the irritation is actually a skin infection masquerading as eczema. If it is, additional treatment will be needed to attack the infectious organisms responsible and relieve the irritation and itching.