Not so long ago it was common to be told that babies and children grow out of Eczema. In recent years the condition has become more understood.
According to the National Eczema society, 'it is impossible to predict whether your baby will have eczema for life or for just a short time. So far, there is no cure for eczema. Eczema is a chronic condition with periods of flare and periods of remission, and most people with a history of eczema still have problems with dry and itchy skin. If your child has a difference in their filaggrin gene, they will not grow out of it. Even if your baby appears to ‘grow out of’ their eczema, it may return during the teenage years or in adulthood.'
Likewise in this article on the National Eczema Association, Dr. David Margolis, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania refers to Atopic Dermatitis (eczema or AD for short), saying that “During my medical training and early career, I was taught that early onset childhood AD disappeared by the time a child was 10 years old, and that AD did not occur in adults. Neither of these statements are accurate. It is likely that a child with AD will have less severe AD or a period of remission in late childhood, but AD can and often does recur. When it recurs, it may not affect the same body sites and the severity might be different, but it is still AD"
What is known is that eczema is an inflammatory condition and allergies, stress, food and chemicals can all irritate the condition. Whilst being told that your baby may likely suffer with eczema for life can fill you with dread, there is lots you can do in the meantime that can help manage flares.
Managing your baby's eczema
Food allergies: A good place to start is from the inside out. If you haven't already, it may be worth investigating if your baby is suffering from any food allergies. Cow's milk for example, can create inflammation in the body, allergic reactions and subsequent eczema. Consult your doctor who can help you decipher if food allergies are at play.
Chemical sensitivities: Anything form washing powders to skincare products can have hidden ingredients that aggravate skin. It's worth looking into the products you use everyday to see if any could be adding to your baby's eczema. Here's a good article about what ingredients to avoid with eczema and here's another about how natural products like SOS Balm can help with your child's eczema.
Clothing: Aside from what clothes are washed in, the material itself could be irritating skin. Anything that makes the skin sweat or doesn't allow it to breath can aggravate eczema. It's generally advised to stick to natural fibres like cotton to help the skin breath. There are also some companies making anti-itch clothing with mitts attached to the arms to minimise scratching.
Water: There is some anecdotal evidence that hard water and the chemicals like chlorine in our water supply can aggravate skin. From personal experience, fitting a whole house water filter made a huge difference to my households skin. Particularly my husband who had constant contact dermatitis on his hands, along with dry, cracked and inflamed patches on his fingers. Within a week of having the new water filter, his hands had cleared and have been clear ever since. If a whole house filter isn't an option, there are some companies selling filtered shower heads for filling the bath that maybe worth investigating.
Household products: Things like cleaning products, washing up liquids, hand washes and even scented candles and room fresheners have the potential to cause allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. It may be worth looking into products you use and making some swaps for allergy friendly products like Kho.
Eliminating as many potential irritants in products can be just as important as what you add to your daily routine when it comes to managing eczema.
When my daughter was born with allergies and eczema, baby products are what broke the stressed camels back! I just wanted to have natural products I could rely on to replace nappy creams and baby oils and was fed up scrutinising ingredients labels, only to find hidden nasties or irritating ingredients in both my old favourites and supposed 'natural alternatives'. My biggest annoyance were 'natural' products that were perfect until a load of artificial fragrance had been thrown in, which both irritated my daughters skin and set of my own chemical allergies. To solve the issue I began making my own skincare products and what I came up with was SOS Balm. A completely natural, organic multitasking balm that can be used on babies from birth and helps soothe, calm and aid in the taming of eczema flares. If you want to give it a go, you can purchase it here.
Meanwhile I feel your pain and wish you all the very best with your families skin journey.