Our younger daughter may be a happier and easier baby than Claire, but as with many things in life her merry temperament seems to have come with a tradeoff: her sensitive, eczema-prone skin.
No one else in J or my immediate families suffer from eczema so this is brand-new territory for us. (Our pediatrician told us that if neither parent has eczema, there is still a 20% chance of the child having it. If one parent has it? 60%. And if both parents have eczema? 80%.) And while Aerin’s eczema has improved significantly since I quit breastfeeding — before, she had pus oozing from sores all over her face and body — she still suffers from extremely dry, itchy skin with the occasional flares.
In Aerin’s case, the flares do not seem to bother her nearly as much as the general itchiness of her entire skin. Without any interventions, she will just scratch and scratch until she draws blood. One time, she was scratching behind one ear (and thus, pulling) so much that the top of her ear ever so slightly separated from her head!
We also know that the itchiness does not allow her to sleep as well as she could be.
Now, at 4 months of age, we finally seem to have gotten some sort of a routine down to help relieve our little girl, and I wanted to share them here just in case anyone is in the same boat as us.
Our first line of defense is 2.5% hydrocortisone cream, which our pediatrician prescribed (I believe that you can get 1% over the counter?). However, prolonged use of steroid creams can cause you to build immunity to them, so I do not like using it alone too much — only when the flares look especially red or painful. When her skin looks red but doesn’t look too bad, I mix one-part hydrocortisone cream with one-part petroleum jelly and apply it to the affected areas.
Every sufferer of eczema respond to baths differently, and through trial and error we have discovered that in Aerin’s case, giving her a bath every night is better than every other day or even once every two days. However, we will only use soap/shampoo every other day. (We have tried various brands and types and found Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash to work the best because it is the most moisturizing.) And on the “off” days, we will give her an oatmeal bath using Aveeno Baby Soothing Bath Treatment.
I slather Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream all over her body whenever it feels dry. For some reason, this one seems more moisturizing — and as a result, brings better relief — than the Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream. I also like that it is unscented, while the Eczema Therapy cream has a light flowery scent.
(If you can’t tell by now, I have become a huge fan of Aveeno’s Baby line of products for sensitive/eczema-prone skin. Other brands, like Burt’s Bees, California Baby, and Earth’s Best, turned me off with their strongly scented products.)
We have stopped dressing her in synthetic fabrics or anything remotely irritating and only use 100% cotton. (Luckily, most of Claire’s old stuff fits this criteria.) My parents had bought us a huge case of Dreft from Costco when Claire was still an infant — and it has lasted us practically an entire year! — but we stopped using that due to its fragrance and started using Tide Free & Gentle instead.
Finally, our pediatrician prescribed us a medication called EpiCeram® which has been working wonders. As the doctor explained it, eczema occurs when a protective barrier that is present in normal skin is missing, and EpiCeram helps form a synthetic barrier with lipids and fatty acids. We apply EpiCeram all over Aerin’s body twice a day, and Aerin’s itching went down remarkably after just one day of use. The medication is quite expensive (our insurance co-pay is $45! ) but completely worth the money in my book — and if you go to their website, they offer a 25% off coupon (for up to $25) for three prescriptions.
Our doctor tells us that some babies grow out of eczema by the age of 2, while others will live with it for the rest of their lives. We sincerely hope that Aerin will be one of the lucky 40% whose symptoms improve or even disappear. Because even with all these treatment methods, she still remains in some discomfort and as a result, we continue to have her wear protective mittens (Especially for Baby Newborn Scratch Free Mittens are the best ones) and keep her swaddled when she sleeps, despite the fact that she should have ideally grown out of these items at this age.
Do you or your baby have eczema? What are your favorite treatment options?