Eczema in babies: What is it and how can you prevent baby eczema?

eczeem bij baby

There is nothing worse than seeing your baby go crazy with the itch and scratch himself completely open.
But what is baby eczema, and how can you prevent it?

What is baby eczema

Another word for eczema is ‘dermatitis’, and this is a collective name for various forms of skin diseases that cause inflammation of the skin. This inflammation causes symptoms such as dry skin with flakes, redness, itching, blisters, and rashes. About 10–20% of babies develop eczema in the first year of life.

Cause of eczema in babies 

The exact cause is unknown, but research suggests that eczema in babies is mainly caused by hereditary predisposition, but environmental factors such as heat, moisture, and sensitivity to certain substances also play an important role. A baby's skin barrier is not yet fully developed, and if the skin comes into contact with the above factors, it can disrupt the function of the skin barrier, which can lead to eczema.

Factors that can affect eczema:

  • Genes: a hereditary predisposition
  • Allergens: cow's milk, pets, wool
  • Weather conditions: humid weather or heat
  • Irritants: urine, soap, perfume
  • Stress or a lowered resistance
  • Friction or scratching

3 most common types of eczema in babies 

Atopic eczema in Babies 

Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema, which is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by dry, itchy, and red skin. It is often associated with other allergic conditions such as asthma and hay fever, and it tends to run in families. The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Treatment typically involves managing symptoms through measures such as moisturizing the skin, avoiding triggers, and using medications such as topical corticosteroids or immunomodulators.

Contact Eczema (infant contact dermatitis)

Contact eczema usually develops when the skin comes into contact with an external factor from the environment (allergen), resulting in an allergic reaction and inflammation of the skin. Prolonged exposure of the skin to an irritating substance can also cause this form of eczema. This also includes diaper rash in babies, where the skin comes into prolonged contact with urine and faeces that irritate the skin and cause a rash, itching, redness, or swelling.

If your child suffers from contact dermatitis, it is important that you keep your baby's skin clean, dry and hydrated. Avoid using products that can irritate the skin and only use mild care products that are tailored to baby's skin.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis (cradle crap)

Seborrhoeic eczema is a form of eczema that occurs on areas of the skin that produce a lot of sebum. This form of eczema in babies is also called cradle crap. It usually occurs on the scalp, but can also appear on the eyelids, eyebrows, nose and around the ears. It can be recognized by greasy crusts and white-yellow flakes. This form of eczema in babies is harmless, but it can sometimes look and smell unpleasant. In most cases, cradle crap will heal naturally after a few weeks to months and no treatment is needed.

If you would like to remove the flakes, it is best to do this by first soaking them off the scalp with a natural oil. You can then carefully wash the flakes out of your little one's hair with a mild baby shampoo. If you suspect that your baby suffers from cradle crap, you can read more about it in this extensive blog about cradle crap. 

7 tips to help prevent eczema in your baby

1. Less baby baths

Bath your little one too often and not for too long (max. 5–10 minutes). This way, you protect your baby's fragile skin from the drying effect of water. Use mild care products without unnecessary additives, and you can add a few drops of a soothing baby oil to the bath to moisturize the skin.

2. Dry skin well after bath

Dry the skin of your baby well after a bath to prevent the skin from remaining moist. Also check the skin folds carefully to prevent blemishes.

3. Moisturize skin

Keeps the moisture balance of baby's skin in optimal condition by hydrating it daily. Use a natural baby cream without possible irritating substances such as parabens, sulfates, or synthetic perfume.

4. Diaper ointment with zinc oxide

Use a diaper ointment with zinc oxide when changing your baby. Zinc oxide has a healing and calming effect and protects the skin against moisture. It forms a protective barrier on the skin that prevents moisture such as urine and faeces from entering the skin. It helps protect your little one's bottom against diaper rash and relieves complaints such as itching.

5. Natural fabrics

Let your baby wear clothes made of natural fabrics, such as cotton or linen, as much as possible. Natural fabrics allow the skin to breathe and thus reduce the risk of skin irritations. Even when it comes to bedding, it is best to opt for natural materials.

6. Detergent without perfume

Preferably also wash clothes and bedding with a detergent and fabric softener with the addition of perfume because this can also be a trigger that causes eczema.

7. Prevent scratching 

As difficult as it can be, try to prevent your child from scratching the skin, as this can only exacerbate the eczema and inflammation. Try to keep your little one's nails as short as possible, and use cotton scratch mittens if necessary.

As a parent, it can be extremely frustrating for you if your baby suffers from eczema, but hopefully the above tips will help you keep your child's skin healthy and reduce eczema symptoms. View our range of care products that have been specially developed for your baby's fragile skin here. If the symptoms persist, or the eczema worsens, it is advisable to inform your doctor.

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