Pregnancy and baby

Eczema in babies and young children

What is eczema? (9 to 30 months)

Media last reviewed: 20/01/2015

Next review due: 20/01/2017

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.


Atopic eczema affects around one in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK. Dr Dawn Harper talks about how to make life easier when living with the condition.

Media last reviewed:

Next review due:

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.

naihla said on 19 July 2015

@CaraJones thanks for the tip I was on the verge of buying some Dream Cream thinking that it was natural and noticed that it contains parabens that can be harmful.

So I took your advice and searched for a natural alternative eventually I found Pure Body Butters who do an amazing Shea Butter cream for eczema. It's week 4 now and the eczema on my little ones leg is no longer itchy and red, plus she now feels confident to wear her dresses again.

Big thanks for the recommendation!

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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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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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