New mother’s spend a lot of time watching their newborn babies. Checking their breathing, their temperature, diapers, fit and comfort of their clothes, and just making eye contacting and talking to them to stimulate interaction. About 10-20% of those new moms may notice some unusual changes to their baby’s skin, particularly on the cheeks, forehead, and scalp. Some of these changes are natural and healthy, a result of the baby growing and adjusting to life outside the womb, like cradle cap; but occasionally these changes can be a sign of infant eczema. Here are some things to watch for. If you think your baby has eczema it’s important to have it diagnosed and begin a natural treatment course right away.
The exact cause of Cradle Cap, or infantile seborrheic dermatitis, is unknown. Doctors think it may be a result of increased hormones received during the final stages of pregnancy, leading to overactive oil glands, or perhaps an excessive amount of yeast which feeds on the substance produced by these glands. Whatever the cause, this excess oil causes a brownish, crusty, dandruff like build-up on a baby’s scalp. There can also be a build up on the eyebrows, in the creases by the infant’s nose, and on the eyelids. Most babies outgrow this common infant ailment within 6-12 months. Cradle Cap is easily treated by gently massaging the affected area to loosen the scales and using a soft brush to remove them. Shampooing once daily with a gentle, baby shampoo and rinsing well might also help to remove it.
Like Cradle Cap, the cause of infant eczema is also unknown, but the symptoms are much different. Infant eczema typically manifests symptoms in the first few months of life, and for about 40% of children they disappear around age 5. These are the symptoms associated with infant eczema:
- Red, weepy rashes on the forehead, cheeks, mouth and eyelids.
- Itchy, dry skin on knees and elbows.
- Rashes in the creases of arms, knees, elbows, wrists, and ankles.
Some of these areas and symptoms are similar, but unlike Cradle Cap, infant eczema doesn’t peel off if gently massages. In fact, over stimulation of the area can lead to an increase of symptoms.
While the cause of eczema is unknown, the things that make it worse are well known and can, to a certain extent, be controlled. For your infant, here are a few things to avoid:
- Perfumes, dyes, and petro-chemicals found in lotions, soaps, and air fresheners.
- Dry air and cigarette smoke.
- Dirt, dust mites, and seasonal allergens like pollen.
- Pet hair, carpets, and certain fabrics (typically wool)
- Drool (in infants)
If you can limit contact with these items and environmental conditions you may see a decrease in eczema flare-ups in your child.
It’s very important to get a diagnosis of infant eczema if you think your child might have it. Studies suggest that early intervention can prevent symptoms from becoming painful and unbearable. Knowing what your child is struggling with you gives you more options in treating it with prescribed and natural treatments.
Many parents are finding success with natural creams, like EczaMate, in easing the pain their children experience with eczema and healing the sores they have during a flare-up.