Updated: Aug 11, 2021
Did you know that eczema-prone skin affects 1 child in 3 in Australia*? Dr Clarence De Belilovsky, a dermatologist and member of the Mustela Expert team explains the first signs, flare ups and what to do if you suspect your little one is suffering with eczema.
First signs – usually after 2 months of age
Has your baby woken early a bit grumpy with red cheeks? Could it be bad dreams, too much heat or hunger? Or is this the start of a flare-up, meaning eczema-prone skin symptoms?
Eczema-prone skin usually occurs after your baby is 8 weeks old. They are too young to ask them how they feel – but you can ask yourself the following questions to help you to make a first assessment:
Have you or your partner ever had eczema-prone skin? If so, from birth onwards you can undertake preventive care (by applying a fragrance-free emollient cream) that may reduce the risk of your little one developing eczema prone skin by as much as 33-50%!
Is your baby’s skin really dry? Despite moisturising, does your baby’s skin remain rough? Do you notice flaky skin in certain areas?
Does your baby have trouble falling asleep? There can be many reasons but difficulty sleeping could be another indication of eczema-prone skin.
Can you see any red patches on your little one’s chin, cheeks, arms and belly? Is there any oozing from these patches?
What happens in a flare-up?
In the beginning, your little one may have some slight redness from scratching. The redness causes the skin to rise slightly, making it thicker. It can then produce small, slightly visible blisters.
The blisters may start to ooze with a translucent liquid – which may then crust over and disappear by itself. Don’t worry about it, it will not leave marks on the skin, regardless of the intensity of the flare-up. To avoid the unpleasant itching feeling for your baby and to avoid a secondary infection, try to prevent your baby from scratching as much as possible. Baby/child specific emollient balm or emollient cream are great to make the area feel more comfortable.
When to talk to your doctor
If you think your little one may have eczema-prone skin, consult your paediatrician or GP to confirm the diagnosis. Eczema can be caused by food allergies which your doctor will be able to advise you about, and they may refer you to a dermatologist or allergist who can prescribe special treatment to care for flare-ups.
How to prevent eczema-prone skin
There are a number of routines you can follow to help to prevent eczema-prone skin.
Have contact with allergens such as dust or mites
Expose your baby to drying or irritating factors such as cleansers formulated with soap, wool and synthetic fabrics, high temperatures or dry air
It is also proven that when there is a medical history in the family, it actually prevents the likelihood of developing eczema by 33% to 50%. Use emollient products twice a day, to help protect your baby’s skin: a balm (fatty and richer) or a cream (with a lighter texture)
Choose loose fitting clothes and don’t be frightened to layer up in winter
Dress your baby in soft, natural, breathable fabrics like cotton, linen and hemp
For a good night’s sleep, dress your baby in 100% cotton pyjamas
Make sure detergent is well rinsed out of your clothes, and dry your little one’s clothes inside so they don’t pick up pollen from outside.
*According to the Eczema Association of Australasia