How to Alleviate Eczema
When doctors can pin atopic dermatitis to a food allergy, they'll suggest eliminating that fare from a child's diet, but in more than half of kids with eczema, doctors don't know what causes it. While there is no cure for the condition, it can often be controlled with a little TLC.
- It's most important to prevent inflammation and itching. Give your child frequent lukewarm baths lasting no more than 10 minutes, using only baby-specific cleansers, mild soaps, or oatmeal (grind a cup of it into a fine powder).
- Afterward, pat his skin dry and slather on unscented cream made for infant skin. "The key is to keep the skin moist," says Stuart L. Abramson, MD, assistant professor of pediatric immunology at the Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, "even if that means putting moisturizer on five times a day."
- If the eczema persists, ask your pediatrician about using 1 percent hydrocortisone cream; depending on the severity of the rash, she may prescribe something stronger.
- To protect your baby's sensitive skin from irritation, dress her in soft fabrics and use unscented, dye-free detergents to clean her clothing.
- Finally, dry air leads to dry skin, so if you live in a cold or dry climate, keep the air in your baby's room moist with a humidifier, preferably one that blows out cool mist to avoid accidental burns. Put the humidifier in a well-ventilated room and wash and dry the tank daily to prevent mold growth.
My son, Liam, is now 9, and we still do battle with his skin, especially in the summer and winter; but with a regimen of short baths, moisturizer, and an occasional dollop of prescription cream, we're able to control his eczema.
Dana Sullivan, a mother of three, lives and writes in Reno, Nevada.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, May 2006.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.