Eczema - or atopic dermatitis - causes dry, red and scaly skin - almost anywhere on the body.
Eczema is extremely itchy and is a relatively common contributor to unsettled infant behaviour.
If severe, the dry skin will eventually start to crack and bleed, leading to a risk of infection.
Eczema commonly starts around 2 months of age, and often gets missed as it can resemble (normal) newborn acne. The key difference is that eczematous skin is very dry to touch, almost like sandpaper. When mild, most children will outgrow their eczema by the age of 5 years. Certain things can cause flares of eczema, like allergens (food, pet hair, pollen, etc), excessive heat, stress or having a cold.
Eczema tends to occur in families, especially when there is a history of atopy - this means a tendency to sensitivity (eczema, asthma, allergy or hay-fever). If you had eczema, there is an 80% chance your child could be affected too.
If eczema is essentially extreme dryness, the number one enemy of eczema is heat. Try to reduce the heat by removing a single layer (clothing or blanket) at all times, ensuring your baby never gets too cold, but prevent overheating. Natural fibre, breathable fabric clothing is preferable. Regular moisturising helps to return moisture to the dry skin and occasionally, medicated creams/ointments are needed too; discuss this with your child’s doctor.
See the RCH Eczema Fact Sheet here
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