Infant Eczema: Causes and Treatment

If your infant's skin is dehydrated with patches of different colors, your pediatrician has likely told you about infant eczema. In this detailed article, learn about the reasons behind infant eczema, its symptoms, and the best treatment methods.

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Omooma
Published on:Nov 19th 2023 |Updated on:Feb 10th 2024
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What is Eczema?

Atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, is a chronic skin condition that typically appears in early childhood due to genetic or environmental factors. Red and itchy patches spread across the skin surface. Children with eczema are more prone to developing food allergies, asthma, and nasal allergies later in life. Eczema is defined as a skin condition that leads to troublesome symptoms, notably intense itching that may result in scratching, exacerbating the condition and creating opportunities for various infections. However, as some may believe, it is non-contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

Eczema is common among children; studies indicate that 10% of infants and children may experience this condition at some point in their lives, usually starting in the first year of a child's life.

Causes of Eczema in Children

The causes of infant eczema and children’s eczema are not precisely defined. Still, some doctors tend to attribute cases of childhood eczema to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The likelihood of eczema increases in children with a family history of atopic dermatitis or asthma.

The immune response to various allergens varies among children, leading to skin irritation. While heat and dryness may irritate the skin in some children, others may exhibit allergic reactions to pollen or dust. Cleaning agents, viral infections, or intolerance to certain food types may also trigger eczema.

Symptoms

  • The main symptoms of eczema include itching, dryness, roughness, peeling, and skin inflammation, which may flare up and subside over time. Eczema can occur anywhere on the body, but it commonly affects the arms, inner elbows, back of the knees, cheeks, and scalp.
  • Intense itching.
  • Red or grayish-brown patches.
  • Small raised bumps that release fluids when scratched.
  • Scaly patches with dry, yellowish fluid, usually indicating inflammation.
  • Thick, peeling skin.

Many people find that eczema symptoms worsen, especially at night, making sleep difficult. Scratching eczema can further irritate and inflame the skin.

Triggers of Eczema

Doctors advise avoiding eczema triggers that exacerbate the condition, including:

  • Sweating
  • High temperatures
  • Hot water
  • Skin dryness
  • Wool fibers
  • Soaps and cleansers
  • Stress and fatigue

Complications 

  • Possible bacterial and viral infections.
  • Asthma and hay fever.
  • Chronic itching and skin peeling.
  • Sleep problems.

Treatment of Infant Eczema

Available eczema treatments focus on proper skin care for affected children and medications targeting symptom relief, such as itching and irritation. This is done following diagnosis and direct recommendations from a specialized dermatologist. The recommended medications may include:

  • Itch and inflammation-controlling creams.
  • Infection-fighting medications (such as antibiotic ointments).
  • Oral anti-itch medications.

Home Care Tips

  • Observe what triggers your child's eczema and avoid exposure.
  • Bathe your child with warm water.
  • Use unscented soap.
  • Apply a wet compress over the affected area, changing wet compresses every eight hours.
  • Administer medications as directed by the doctor.
  • Wash rashes with a mild soap and rinse thoroughly.
  • Encourage your child not to scratch their skin, which can worsen the rash and lead to skin infections.

Itch Relief

  • Opt for cotton clothing to allow air circulation, avoiding synthetic fabrics and wool that can irritate the skin.
  • Wash new colorful clothes before wearing them to remove residual dye.
  • Trim nails to ensure child safety.
  • Keep the skin moisturized consistently.
  • I prefer sleeping in a cool room.
  • Distract the child from itching.
  • Cover the child's hands with cotton gloves while sleeping.

When to Seek medical Care

  • If your child has difficulty breathing.
  • If they experience throat tightness.
  • If fainting occurs.

Role of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is an ideal way to protect children from eczema, thanks to the components in breast milk that can alleviate allergy symptoms compared to cow's milk ingredients. Directly applying breast milk to irritated skin areas is an effective and side-effect-free therapeutic option. Place small breast milk on a cloth or cotton ball and gently wipe the affected area.

If breastfeeding is not possible for any reason, doctors recommend using partially hydrolyzed infant formula, which contains long but broken protein chains, easing allergy symptoms for the child.

There is no need to worry; if your child has eczema, know that symptoms typically resolve in most cases between the ages of 3 and 5.

 

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Omooma is the first Online platform offering classes in Arabic dedicated to mothers and mothers-to-be. In addition to content covering many relevant topics, women’s health, pregnancy, fertility, child’s health, and parenting. Omooma’s articles are written by medical writers, based on extensive research, and reviewed by a panel of experts who are part of the largest team of experts available in the region in all fields related to the journey of motherhood.

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