Your pregnancy and baby guide

Eczema in babies and young children

Babies often get red, scaly skin known as eczema.

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.

Your baby may scratch the itchy patches and the eczema can get infected as a result.

In Asian and black Caribbean or African children, eczema may not affect creases but may affect other areas.

Most babies eventually grow out of eczema, but speak to your GP or health visitor if you think your child has eczema.

Don't cut out important foods such as milk, dairy products, wheat or eggs without discussing this with a health professional first.

Tips on soothing your child's eczema

  • Apply an unperfumed moisturiser to the sore area several times a day – for example, when you feed or change your baby – to help keep their skin moist. Gently smooth the moisturiser into the skin, don't rub it in.
  • Avoid aqueous cream – it can cause burning, stinging, itching and redness. And avoid soap, baby bath and bubble bath as these can dry or irritate the skin.
  • Try to keep your child's bedroom cool as getting hot and sweaty can make their eczema worse.
  • Steroid creams can stop eczema getting worse. They're safe as long as they're used as directed by your GP or pharmacist.
  • 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. Avoid any of these if possible.
  • Some fabrics can irritate the skin. Try to avoid wool and nylon and stick to cotton instead.

Read more about treatments for eczema.

Media last reviewed: 20/08/2017

Media review due: 20/08/2020

Page last reviewed: 13/08/2018
Next review due: 13/08/2021