Eczema in babies is visually distressing to parents and frustrating for the baby. However, eczema is not a dangerous health condition. Eczema tends to run in families who often have a history of allergies. While people of any age can have eczema it is most common in infants. Most babies will outgrow eczema by the time they are 2 or 3 years old. By the time they reach adulthood, more than half will have outgrown the disorder. Eczema can be treated with ointments and lotions.
Eczema is a chronic skin disorder due to a hypersensitive reaction in the skin which causes it to become inflamed. The inflammation causes a red, scaly and itchy rash. In babies it is often seen on the cheeks, elbows and knees, but the rash can occur anywhere on the skin. Other common areas for the rash to appear are in the folds and creases of the skin like behind the knee. The most irritating side effect of eczema is the itching, sometimes almost unbearable. As with any rash, scratching irritates the skin more often causing painful sores.
The symptoms from eczema can be made worse by dry skin, temperature changes, environmental irritants, water and stress. Some foods make the symptoms worse and you can try eliminating these from your baby's diet. Foods to watch are wheat, eggs, fish, peanuts and soy. In addition, there is some evidence that dust mites aggravate eczema and make the rash worse. Using a HEPA filter in your home's air conditioning and vacuum can help reduce dust and pollen. Wash baby's clothes in dye-free, perfume-free soaps and use dryer sheets free of the same. Clothes made from 100% cotton will be most comfortable for baby with an eczema rash and will be less likely to cause hypersensitivity in the skin.
Rashes caused from eczema can be treated with ointments and lotions depending on the stage of the rash. Prescription ointments may be necessary to effectively control the rash. Avoid products that may contain irritants like alcohol and perfume. Your baby's pediatrician will have the best advice on what medications to use on an eczema rash.