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. 🙁
Our little lady with folded hands during tummy time
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?
My little one tugged and ripped his ear too! poor babies. We’ve recently discovered Babyganics after trying the entire Aveeno line. We put some on his face and the redness immediately went away. The same day, we gave him a bath and slathered it on his elbows and knees where his eczema is the worst and within an few hours, his skin wasn’t rough and scaly anymore. We found it next to Aveeno at Target. His 4 month checkup is next week, so we’ll definitely ask our doc about Epiceram.
Lori, does this work well on adults too?
I had severe eczema until I was out of high school. Pretty much anything for babies is okay for adults, but it will not be strong enough unless you have light eczema. As in, I never even bothered to try baby stuff a second time.
I *think* I remember opening a Babyganics cream at the store, sniffing it to find the scent too overwhelming, and putting it back on the shelf. (Aerin’s eczema seems to get exacerbated by any type of added fragrance in products.) But I’m not sure this was the exact brand, so I’ll need to check again. Thanks for the rec!
Heey there, try bathing her in some water mixed with apple vinegar once in a while to help relieve the skin of itch ^^
I’ve tried wiping her with cotton swabs dipped in apple vinegar, but I haven’t tried the bath. Thanks for the suggestion!
my husband read an article stating that fish oil helps. we tried it and it does wonders for our baby. it doesnt cure it all the way, but it stops it from worsening. my parents use to make me take the fish oil to strengthen my immune system. so i think its a win win situation even if it doesnt help her eczema.
my doctor also recommended cetaphil.
This may seem like a stupid question, but do you rub the fish oil on the baby’s skin, or have her take it orally? The only thing I remember about fish oil is that when I used to take it, it gave me horrible gas and my burps all smelled fishy so I stopped taking it! 😛
As an aside, they make fish oil capsules now with orange or lemon flavor. So when you burp it up later, it just tastes like a delicious orange creamsicle. I take them now and have a ton more energy than I used to.
I love the Aveeno line. I haven’t noticed Charlie getting any eczema, but she does have very sensitive skin. Diaper rash is a constant problem, and sometimes it gets so bad it bleeds 🙁 Sadness. Then we started using the Aveeno cream 3x/day, and it’s completely cleared up! I was amazed. That stuff is pure gold.
Oh my- poor Aerin! Glad to hear that her eczema is getting better.
We also use hydrocortisone, but only when there are patches that flare up. Also, I have come to love California Baby Calendula Cream. It is pricey, but when we use it, my baby’s dry & bumpy patches disappear and his skin becomes super soft and smooth. I’m trying out the Calendula lotion now which is cheaper. I think I’ll try the Aveeno products you recommended. Thanks!
We tried California Baby Calendula Cream, but the fragrance (which I believe is supposed to be for aromatherapy?) made her eczema worse. 🙁 Glad it works for you though!
I don’t know how comfortable I would be using this on a baby, but I’ve heard that raw african black soap is wonderful for eczema. People I have talked to have used it as early as 2 years old, but they may have used it even earlier… I just didn’t talk about it with them then 🙂
I have never heard of raw african black soap…I’ll be sure to check it out. Thanks!
I deal with eczema and sensitive skin. The best thing I have found is what you are already doing. Stick to everything fragrance free, and moisturize well at least twice a day.
My smallest has really bad eczema, but it’s allergy related. Once we found out she was allergic to dairy and apples, and cut those foods out, her flare ups are almost non-existent. When it’s really bad, I can usually go back and find out what she ate (usually at daycare or by daddy!) that caused it.
I haven’t tried Aveeno…might have to do that. We use episcentials Soothing Cream…no smell but I don’t know if it is any better…http://shop.episencial.com/soothing-cream-organic-baby-lotion.html I KNOW it is more expensive!
I’m not looking forward to Aerin starting solids for this reason — I know that we’ll need to carefully look out for possible allergens/sensitivities, which we never really did with Claire! I have never heard of Episencial (probably because the stores around here don’t carry it) but I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!
I had a one-time flare of eczema in college that I was able to treat on my own with just Cetaphil – even the off-brand WalMart or Target version works fine.
I don’t know if you’re interested in “home remedy” type things, but I agree with some above commenters about things like apple cider vinegar, fish oil (specifically cod liver oil, especially the type with the original, naturally occurring vitamins rather than replaced synthetic vitamins; we use Green Pastures which is easy for my 2 year old to take), and I would add coconut oil as a suggestion. Especially unrefined coconut oil, or any kind of very simple lotion such as MadeOn hard lotion bars (I got one the other day, the chocolate scented kind and it is SO NICE). Anyhow, I don’t know that any of those things are curative, but they might alleviate symptoms while being a heck of a lot less expensive than medical creams.
I was on hydrocortisone for a while this summer with terrible, terrible acne and smearing on some coconut oil before bed, along with bandaging the affected area so I couldn’t scratch (it was my face, so THAT was exciting… my husband made ACE bandage headgear for me) helped me a lot. Poor baby!
My son also had bad eczema that would sometimes “weep”. We did full elimination diet and after many doctors’ visits and tests, we realized he had a gluten allergy. We ended up having to give him special formula (he was also premature, so he had some growth issues as well). His skin cleared up within a few days and the eczema only comes back if he has gluten. My son was breastfed and I ate tons of things tainted with gluten. I stopped immediately once we realized what the culprit was. I wouldn’t recommend going gluten free for Aerin. My son saw many doctors and specialists before his pediatric GI recommended going gluten-free after some blood tests showed he had high gluten intolerance.
When he had the bad eczema outbreaks, we used pearl cream – it’s this asian cream that my mom had. it seemed to give him immediate relief. We only bathed him with water and we still use gluten-free detergent.
my daughter has eczema, and we tried all kinds of things when she was a baby to clear it up. she had it on her face, legs, arms, ears, sometimes neck. as she started getting older (6 months), it was more her knees, back of knees, arms, and not so much her face anymore thankfully. we tried all kinds of things–switching to 100% cotton, free and clear detergent, changing formulas, changing even the dish detergent to clean the bottles, changed the soap, and spent a ridiculous amount of money on lotions and creams, like a RIDICULOUS AMOUNT. and still… she’d have rashy itchy eczema, sometimes weeping and bleeding from all that scratching.
finally when she was a year old, we took her to a pediatric allergist, and basically after 10 days of antibiotics and some steroidal cream, her skin cleared up beautifully, like the smoothest softest skin that i hadn’t seen on her in a long time. and ever since then, now 20 months, we’ve just had to maintain her skin–aquafor 3 times a day, baths every other day, and hydrocortisone if there is a flare up which happens maybe once in awhile, like every 2 months. i think she was starting to outgrow the eczema but she couldn’t shake the infection so her skin wouldn’t heal, so the antibiotic and cream helped do that for her.
one thing that did help to prevent the pain from scratching so much are these sleeves which were really cute too, http://www.scratchmenot.com/shop so instead of using mitts or socks which are so easily lost or needing to always hunt around for them, I used these sleeves, uncuff when she was playing or needed her hands, and cuff when she was in a scratching mood or i wanted her to keep safe when she was about to nap or sleep. yes the worst was when she was trying to sleep and she’s scratching herself silly.
One of my good friends had the same problem with two of her children with eczemas until she realized it was their dog that was causing the problem. They did a trial run of having the dog stay elsewhere for a while, and the eczemas mostly cleared up. As a result, they had to get rid of their dog. I know for some people that is NOT an option, as their dog is like their children. However, it is worth looking at allergies if you haven’t done so already.
I had really severe eczema all throughout my childhood. It was so bad behind my neck that I couldn’t wear non-collared/turtleneck shirts most of the time. On the back of my knees, it was so itchy and uncomfortable and looked so horrible that I never wore shorts or skirts; when I did, people thought I got beat up. It was horrible. It miraculously cleared up in college though and I’ve been smooth-skinned for years. However, the scars remain 🙁
The week before my wedding, I had a flare up and my doctor prescribed Desonate, a weak topical steroid for babies. My cousin used this on our goddaughter and it cleared her up in 2 hours and she never had to use it again. I think Desonate is expensive, but I have a discount card that makes it less than $10. I could mail it to you if you’d like.
Not quite sure if you are interested, but I manage an online shop specialized in Eczema Cure and Management: http://www.theallergyshop.com.au
It is unique and leading store for all people affected by eczema.
We sell worldwide.
It is not only commercial but also educational, based on my long experience in dealing with Atopic Dermatitis.
I *just* had a conversation today with my coworker about remedies for eczema! There is a patch of skin on my neck that I cannot stop itching (and also on my waist) so she suggested (get ready for this) Bag Balm. At first you’ll be a little put off by what this is (to soothe irritation on cows’ udders after milking) but it’s completely safe for humans to use it. She said her mother suffered from very bad eczema and tried *everything* and couldn’t get rid of it. From shots to creams, you name it. She tried bag balm and it did wonders. In Canada, you can purchase this from a small hardware store (such as Home Hardware). Apparently this is also the secret to Shania Twain’s perfect skin!! lol. You can easily purchase this off eBay (it’s $14 here). Good luck!
Poor Aerin ! As a baby, I developed eczema (my Mom told me I was 2 months old). Our doctor hinted that it had to do with hard tap water. Bathing with soap in hard water leaves a film of soap on the skin. The film may prevent removal of soil and bacteria and it may lead to irritation. Plus hard water contains a lot of minerals that strip the skin from its protective barrier. My Mom told me she had to bathe me with bottled water for 6 months before she and my dad were able to install a water softener system! However, when I went to college and moved out, eczema returned. I’m in my late twenties and it still flares up from time to time, especially when I’m sick, stressed or tired. Unfortunately, I never grew out of it but I’ve found ways to deal with it. It’s a good thing that you’re careful with the skin products and soap you are using, as well as her clothes, but be also careful with the laundry detergents you use to wash her clothes, bed sheets and towels. I still have lots of “first-hand-experience” advice but I don’t want to bore you so feel free to e-mail me if you’re interested. Good luck !
I had mild eczema up until I was in about 4th grade, and I remember my mom making me use lye soap to help with it. I only get a mild flare up every few months now, and that only started up a year or so ago, and it still helps a ton. Most lye soap is made with synthetic lye now, so no worries about it eating your skin if its too strong thankfully. Just find someone who makes soap locally and ask if it contains lye. And oatmeal baths do work wonders. Also, vitamin E lotion helps a bit.
I’m in my 20s now and still get some flare ups. Mostly my hands (showers, washing dishes, etc.) but over the summer sometimes my sweat will mix to get it in key spots I used to have it as a baby in between my knees, elbows and near my bikini area and its soo irritating.
When I was young my mom would put me in a luke warm Aveeno oatmeal bath to help calm my skin as well. We used the prescription hydrocortisone growing up but now that i’m adult I use over the counter for my flare ups.
I also remember a couple of times my mom had to put me in gloves because I still wake myself up scratching my legs or fingers.
Oh no! Poor baby. I didn’t develop eczema until med. school (true story), but what works for me is just a heaping amount of my normal moisturizer, plus Vaseline every now and then. I only have it on one eyelid, so I’m fortunate. I just wanted to comment that I appreciate your feedback on the baby products, because my boyfriend has terrible eczema and uses baby eczema cream (that usually does not work). I use Aveeno regularly and maybe that’s why mine is controlled better (based on what you are saying about baby Aveeno). I don’t know. Oatmeal is very soothing, though, so it would make sense. It is so joyous to know that if the boyfriend and I procreate together, our offspring have an 80% chance of having eczema…! (sarcasm)
As an eczema sufferer, it is a disease that no one really understands unless they can feel as though they need to rip their skin off to stop that awful itching. I’d rather be in pain than be itchy from eczema… which is sometimes the case.
The only thing that worked on my skin is Clobetasol. It’s a steroid of course, but I try to use it sparingly…
Good to know about epicream.
The other tips are right out of a shower and her skin is damp, slather on the lotion in a huge amount until she’s slippery.. it’s the only thing that works for my skin too.
I also found that Olay Quench Therapy, works THE BEST for my skin and itching but it’s not a natural cream, so .. I’ve been having issues trying to keep using it.
I’ve since switched to Palmer’s Cocoa Butter
Our girl has BRUTAL patches of eczema on her thighs. I suspect it’s from irritation from her pull-ups so hope she’ll get some relief once we switch to real underwear. Creams are a struggle because they all sting and she never wants us to put them on. But there are so many useful things to try here — just wanted to say thanks for getting this discussion going! (And good luck with Aerin’s eczema.)
My baby started developing eczema at 2 months old. I was and still am breastfeeding her. It is usually allergy related. I cut the dairy out of my diet and it cleared up within about a week. Is she on a milk based formula? Maybe try soy? Poor little one :(. Hope it clears up!!
As somehow who suffers from seborrhoeic dermatitis and has flare ups every winter, may I suggest Palmers Cocoa Butter? Yes, my facial skin peeled so bad that I, who is a very social and extroverted types, underwent quite a depressed state because anybody who saw me would STARE, couldn’t hide it with make up, that only made it much worse! I went to a dozen dermatologists and all their remedies gave me but temporary relief (plus corticosteroid creams made me put on weight! 🙁 ), I read about cocoa butter in Eczema forums and tried it for myself- every night slather it on before bedtime and boom, peel free skin! Apparently I had skin problems even as a baby and my mother said honey really helped.
I gave my little one Vaseline lip balm, it sounds mad but it worked wonder. She is four now, and it seems all gone,I hope it won’t come back again,finger cross.
I have had eczema since I was little. It was extremely uncomfortable and at times, painful. In the summer it was even more itchy since I was hot and sweaty, so I couldn’t fall asleep. I usually had it really bad on my knees, back of my knees, inner elbow and lips. The doctor told my parents that it should go away as I get older. As I got older, the eczema on my legs and arms disappeared. It got a a lot better but in middle school summer and winter, I suddenly got really bad eczema on my face everywhere. Not only did it make me stay inside the house all day, but it was painful and took a couple weeks to months to recover. One summer I had really bad eczema on my lips and now my lips have become ugly… Now I’m in highschool at 16(oh and I’m korean) and I still have eczema but no longer have it on my arms and legs. And I’m really hoping that this winter, my face doesn’t get eczema. My lips still get eczema, like right now, but not as bad as that one summer. The worst place my eczema gets right now are my palm of my hands, fingers, and the insides of my fingernail. It’s painful and itchy. So that’s my story so far about my eczema.
What I find helpful is to keep moisturizing the place where I have eczema. All day I put lotion on it. And it’s best not to have any dairy or meat, ESPECIALLY when you have a cold. Just make sure the eczema place is constantly moisturized. Vaseline + a warm-hot bath might help as well. And in the winter time, make sure that your house has good humidity and that the air is not dry.
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Facial eczema is the worst! Try Made from Earth’s Three Berry Face Serum. I used to have it all over my face, and its the only face serum that when i applied it would take away the eczema. . .face saver
My little one is suffering from eczema since 2 months old. He is now 6 months. I tried hydrocosine and bag balm together and it developed like a reaction. Does anyone know if it works.