A scaly and itchy skin condition for your baby is indeed reason for you to worry. Although many times it can also be just baby acne, which will anyways not cause much discomfort to your baby and will go away with time – many other times it may turn out that the baby is actually suffering from eczema.
Eczema is a chronic and serious skin condition, which is common in adults as well as babies. A common term for this condition is atopic dermatitis.
Eczema in children is mostly found in toddlers before they are 5 years old. Nonetheless, babies as young as 2 – 3 months old may also get eczema and become extremely irritable. Babies with this skin condition generally outgrow it and start living normally by the time he/she reaches adolescence; regular medication and taking care of the skin is of utmost importance to derive the best results.
Eczema in babies typically begins on the cheeks, the forehead and the scalp, and slowly can also spread to the other parts of the baby’s body particularly the joints of the arms and legs. Babies with a family history of eczema or other allergy, hay fever and asthma are more prone to getting the condition as compared to others. So, if your family too has a history of this skin condition, treat all skin rashes in your infant with urgency. The sooner you approach a doctor, the better it will be for your baby.
Dry skin is often the most important reason triggering eczema-like conditions. Too few ceramides, fatty cells, prompts the body to lose more water thus making the skin dry. This causes irritation on the skin and when it is scratched, the area swells up and becomes red.
Deficiency of the Filaggrin protein can also cause food allergy and ultimately result in eczema. Many kids below 5 years exhibit intolerance towards foods such as eggs, milk, soy products, wheat, peanut, etc. Therefore, your doctor would like to test your baby for food allergy before starting off the medication.
Other allergic triggers such as dust, mold, pollen, tobacco smoke, etc. can also cause eczema in babies.
The first sign of eczema are the scaly rashes on the skin that are itchy in nature and often red. Besides the itch, eczema is painful and can eventually change the skin texture and color of the affected part and produce blisters as well. Some of the noteworthy eczema symptoms are:
Typically, your doctor would physically examine your baby to understand the symptoms. He/she may examine the appearance and distribution of the rash and test the scaly skin also. The doctor would also take a look at the baby’s health history in addition to looking for the condition in other family members. He may also take a note of your family’s allergy history and also assess the products your baby used, or the foods he ate, before the symptoms occurred. This will help him understand the cause of eczema.
To rule out the possibility of future relapses, you may even be guided to an allergy specialist. He can help you find out the exact source of the eczema so that all products triggering the allergy (soap, lotion or food) may completely be avoided. A blood test or a patch test may be done at this point for confirmation.
To treat eczema, a mix of topical steroids and antibiotics are generally given. Applying the steroid ointment or lotion can help reduce the flare up as well as the itch. Antibiotics will work on reducing the chances of secondary infection on the affected areas. There are non-steroid medicines also available; speak to your doctor about the best treatment for your baby.
Avoiding the use of the allergy-causing products is also a part of the eczema treatment.
The first step in caring for a baby with eczema would be to soothe the itchiness. The baby may want to scratch the scaly dry skin to reduce the itchiness. However, this will only worsen the condition. So, as a care taker, you need to ensure that: