Also referred as atopic dermatitis, eczema is an unpleasant skin condition that can occur in infants and toddlers. It causes skin irritation and itchiness and is recognisable by swollen red bumps that appear on the child’s body. No parent wants to see their child suffering from this condition, as the effects can cause great discomfort. Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help to control the symptoms of eczema and make it more manageable.
Let’s discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments for preventing future flare-ups of eczema in infants.
Fatty cells, also known as ceramides, help provide protection to the outer layers of the skin. If your baby doesn’t have enough of these ceramides, the skin will lose moisture and become dry. This makes your baby’s skin more prone to allergies and infections.
There are numerous triggers for eczema in infants, including sensitivity to lotions, cold or dry air and excessive bathing. It can also be triggered by allergens present in the baby’s food. Irritants such as heat, changes in temperature, wool, and chemicals in soaps, detergents and lotions can also cause eczema. Further, your baby has a higher risk of developing eczema if the disorder runs in the family.
Continuous itchiness and dry, scaly, reddened skin are the main symptoms of eczema in infants. Eczema can affect the entire body or a just a few specific areas. Most commonly, it affects the scalp, neck, face, and upper chest area. The irritation may become aggravated upon direct contact with bed linens, clothing and certain soaps. The accompanying rash may also have small red blisters that can become infected if scratched.
- Bathing and Moisturizing: The most essential step towards treating eczema in infants is keeping their skin well moisturized. The application of creams and lotions immediately after bathing, while the skin is still moist, can reduce dryness, inflammation and itchiness. You can purchase creams and lotions that are composed of herbal ingredients. Be sure to use only lukewarm water to bathe your child since very warm or hot water will aggravate the symptoms. Wash and shampoo your baby with mild soap or non-soap cleansers.
- Prescribed Treatments: To treat eczema, your doctor may prescribe steroid creams for external application. It is suggested that you use only small amounts of steroid cream, and apply it only on the affected areas no more than twice a day. Antibiotics and antihistamines are often prescribed by doctors if the baby’s eczema is severely itchy. For more acute forms of eczema a wet wrapping treatment can be applied. This procedure involves wrapping bandages that are soaked in emollient or steroid cream around the affected areas of skin.
- Alternative Treatments: Some parents find that alternative treatments like Ayurveda and homeopathic remedies work well to control the symptoms of eczema. Chinese herbs are also found to be effective in the treatment of eczema, but it is important that you consult a qualified practitioner with regard to their use, as herbs can have toxic effects on the liver.
There is no permanent cure for eczema, but the good news is that most infants who have eczema grow out of the condition by the time they reach their teens. Further, it is not considered to be a contagious condition.
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