Pregnancy and baby

Eczema in babies and young children

What is eczema? (9 to 30 months)

Media last reviewed: 07/03/2013

Next review due: 07/03/2015

Eczema in babies is common. Atopic eczema (which occurs mainly where there's a family history of eczema, asthma or hayfever) is thought to affect one in eight children.

Your baby will usually grow out of the condition. For this reason, many doctors don't use the term eczema at this early age.

Eczema in babies often starts between the ages of two and four months. The symptoms are patches of red, dry and itchy skin on the face or behind the ears and in the creases of the neck, knees and elbows. In Asian, black Caribbean and black African children, eczema may not affect creases but may affect other areas. It may be very itchy. This can lead to your baby scratching and the eczema becoming infected.

If you think your child has eczema, speak to your GP or health visitor.

The following remedies may soothe your child’s eczema:

  • Apply an unperfumed emollient to the skin several times a day (for example, when you feed your baby or change their nappy). This will stop their skin getting dry.
  • Aqueous cream, which can be bought cheaply from pharmacies, can be used for washing, instead of soap.
  • If using a cream, apply it with downward strokes. Don’t rub it up and down.
  • If your child is hot it can make their eczema worse. Keep them and their bedroom cool.
  • The faeces of the house dust mite can sometimes cause an allergic reaction and make eczema worse. Dust mites collect on soft toys, so limit these to one or two favourites. Each week, wash them at 60˚C or put them in a plastic bag in the freezer for 24 hours to kill the mites. Wash bed linen at 60˚C as well.
  • Steroid creams can stop eczema from getting worse. They're safe as long as they're used as directed by your GP.
  • Soap, baby bath, bubble bath or detergents can dry or irritate your baby’s skin, so do without them if you can.
  • Try to identify and avoid anything that irritates the skin or makes the problem worse, such as soap powder, animals, chemical sprays and cigarette smoke.
  • Some fabrics can irritate the skin. Try to avoid wool and nylon, and stick to cotton instead.
  • Don’t cut out important foods, such as milk, dairy products, wheat or eggs, without consulting your GP or health visitor. Discuss any dietary changes with a health professional.

Eczema

Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema, affecting around one in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK. In this video, Dr Dawn Harper talks about living with the condition.

Media last reviewed: 10/01/2013

Next review due: 10/01/2015

Page last reviewed: 23/09/2013

Next review due: 23/09/2015

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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

fsc said on 14 July 2014

I read your post last week Marill89 and got some Dream Cream for my 21 month old who has eczema. Like your daughter it developed very early on and we've been able to manage it with emollients in his bath and cream. However, it never cleared and it's worse in the summer. I was really reluctant to use cortisone so was really interested in Dream Cream.

We've been using it for four days now, applying it after his bath in the evening and the difference is remarkable. The read patches are almost gone. I would definately recommend it.

Thank you for the tip!

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Marill89 said on 23 October 2013

My daughter had eczema from around 2 months old. We tried all the creams and steroid creams from the doctors. Used nothing in the bath and nothing helped. A friend recommended a cream from the company Lush called Dream Cream. The reviews looked good, from parents and adult sufferers of eczema saying how much its improved their skin. To start with we saw no changes but then it started to improve and since using the cream every day morning and night, all the eczema has cleared. It is worth every penny. Especially when it's summer, I don't have to worry about her itching anymore. Worth a try, may not work for everyone but worked 100% for my little girl

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Tannie12 said on 24 July 2013

Aqueous Cream contains SLS and should no longer be used as a moisturiser as it can make these conditions worse.

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carajones said on 29 June 2012

If the creams above don't work you could always try a natural alternative. I use a rescue cream with calendula and sage oil for my boy's eczema and it has worked extremely well. I prefer to use natural products. There are plenty to choose from.

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