The most common form of eczema is called atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis usually presents during infancy, but can occasionally present in adulthood. While it has often been thought that most children outgrow eczema, a recent study showed that the vast majority of people who have atopic dermatitis will still have symptoms at least six months out of the year. We are learning that it is may be possible to prevent eczema in babies who are predisposed to it (if you are the child or sibling of someone who has eczema, you have a 50/50 chance of developing eczema yourself). Studies have shown that if you treat the at risk baby with a hypoallergenic barrier optimizing cream like the TrueLipids TrueTherapy Ceramide+ Cream, approximately half of those children who should have developed eczema don’t! Let’s explore the ABC’s (Aware, Bold and Consistent) of baby eczema.
When I say be aware, this isn’t meant as some frightening warning, but rather, to instruct you to be mindful of the condition and to watch for any signs that your baby may be exhibiting symptoms of it. Roughly 10-20% of infants are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis. Of those infants, around 50% will see improvement between the ages of 5 and 15 and the remaining will be prone to flare ups throughout adulthood.
The most common signs to look for include:
- extremely dry, itchy skin
- red, scaly patches
- little bumps that ooze
- thick, leathery looking skin (typically from lengthier duration of outbreak accompanied by excessive scratching)
There are three notable stages of atopic dermatitis associated with different age groups:
Stage 1: Infants 2-6 mos. – baby eczema presents most commonly on the forehead, cheeks and scalp; although, the rash can spread to the torso and limbs. The signs include redness, itching, dry skin and small bumps around all the hair follicles.
Stage 2: Children 4-10 yrs. – inflammation causes the skin to become thick, scaly and sometimes even slightly raised. Eczema rash affects the folds of the body including elbows and knees, the face and torso.
Stage 3: 12 yrs. and older – by this stage the rash can spread to all areas of the body, but most commonly affects the face, neck, scalp, knee and elbow creases and the hands and feet.
There is no way of knowing if your baby will be subject to eczema into adulthood, or if their condition will clear up. However, when properly treated you can manage the flare ups and avoid further complications, such as infections.
To be bold, means to be smart and active about treating the condition. After you become aware of the signs and symptoms, educate yourself about treatment options by speaking with a licensed dermatologist or allergist. Your physician will help you to create a treatment plan to prevent flare ups or worsening of preexisting symptoms.
There are several things you can do at home to help you manage your babies eczema including:
- Give baths 2-3 times per week for the first year of your child’s life. Avoid excessive bathing.
- Use mild, non-soaps, free of harmful chemicals to wash your baby’s skin.
- Read labels and be aware of skin irritants and allergens including: oatmeal, gluten, fragrances and sulfates.
- Moisturize frequently. It is important to utilize moisturizers that are 100% hypoallergenic, contain ceramides, cholesterol esters and very long chain fatty acids and that are formulated to optimize your baby’s skin barrier.
Consistency is key in effectively managing your baby’s atopic dermatitis. Sporadic applications of moisturizers and only reading half the label won’t help you to gain control of your child’s condition. It is absolutely imperative that you stick to your eczema treatment regimen, in order to ease your child’s suffering and see long lasting results. For example, if you only apply your skin barrier optimizers once a day, your skin will not be able to heal. You really must do it at least twice a day and you will find that the eczema will improve even faster if you can manage to apply them three times a day. Once the skin is cleared, you can drop down to twice a day for maintenance. Also, I have found that it is important to treat the areas of the body, like the trunk, that look only mildly affected as well as the areas that are severely affected. I explain it like this; the areas like the trunk are like a little immunologic fire, while the arms and legs are like a big immunologic fire. You have to put out all the fires at the same time in order for the immune system to calm down. The trunk will heal usually in a few days while the arms and legs will usually take two to four weeks.
It is also important to keep a very close eye out for small flares of eczema and to treat them when there are tiny so they don’t get a chance to spread all over the body. For these small flares, you can apply a small amount of the TrueLipids Eczema Experts 1% Hydrocortisone Barrier Cream for a day or two and then just go back to your maintenance TrueTherapy Ceramide+ Cream plus TrueLipids Relieve & Protect Ointment twice a day.
If your eczema is very severe, speak with a dermatologist about compounding a prescription strength steroid into the TrueTherapy Ceramide+ Cream. When you do this, you can get a prescription steroid that is completely hypoallergenic and that is optimized for the skin barrier.
The most important part of treating eczema is to treat it with the proper skin barrier optimizing creams and ointments and being consistent with application. Twice to three times per day (depending on the severity), is the suggested regimen.
Results from using TrueLipids Ultimate Eczema Kit, which includes products that address atopic dermatitis and help repair the skin to a healthy state.