Atopic eczema is a very common problem amongst children and babies affecting around 1 in 5 children. It is characterized by dry, flaky skin that is very itchy and in its acute form the skin becomes reddened, scaly and in some areas the skin may be wet and weepy. In babies, the face and scalp are most commonly affected. As they get older, it spreads to involve the body and limbs, with the limb creases – backs, wrists, ankle and neck, and the front of the elbows being the most commonly affected sites.
The causes of eczema are not 100% known and in 10% of cases the conditions may be due to allergy to certain food groups (citrus,soybeans, fish, nuts, wheat, eggs peanuts and milk protein), to dust mites, feather pollens etc. Addressing your child’s diet must be done with caution as you need to be careful to get a balanced diet. The tendency towards eczema is often hereditary but environmental factors often play an important role. The good news is that by age 36 months the incidence is halved and about 70% of children will completely outgrow this condition by their teens. It is a condition that is chronic and needs to be managed in the long run, as there are intermittent flare-ups every few weeks. Research has shown that basic changes in the use of soap free products and the use of emollients are critical in reducing the incidence and managing the side effects of eczema.
Managing the side-effects of eczema in babies is particularly important as babies cannot control the urge to scratch, often resulting in bacterial infections, bleeding and major discomfort. Scratching not only disturbs baby’s sleep but can worsen the itch and cause further inflammation. With older children you run the risk of concentration problems at school.
How can eczema be controlled?
The good news is that this condition can be managed and although there is no cure, it can be treated so as alleviate the symptoms of eczema. New research is now showing that conditions such as atopic eczema, neuro dermatits and psoriasis can only show long term positive results if the skin is treated with pH 5,5!
Keep baby skin healthy by using pH 5,5 balanced products and make sure that the skin is well hydrated with products that contain high quality moisturizing agents such as Chamomile, Panthenol and Allantoin!
Baby skin is virtually sterile at birth and it is very important that the skin is treated gently and is supported to build a healthy pH 5,5 acid mantle. Water and soap is not the best combination for sensitive skin! PH 5,5 balanced soap substitutes, bath oils and moisturizers help to keep the skin smooth and well hydrated. In colder climates and for very dry skin use a “thicker” cream (in warmer climates a lotion will suffice). Apply creams and moisturizers in between baths if skin is very dry. Pat baby dry and apply moisturizers. For an infected scalp use a mild pH balanced Shampoo and do not try to remove scabs. Only use cotton textiles on baby and in extreme cases dress baby in silver coated textiles. Do remember that a new born does not need to bath more than 3-4 times a week and while your baby is still tiny you should use a separate wash basin for his face.
Also avoid hot baths, detergents, latex, rubber and fabric softeners. Keep the bedroom temperature cool and in very dry climates use a humidifier