There are several types of eczema. Atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis known as “cradle cap” in infants, are the most common types that affect children. Eczema, especially atopic dermatitis, often appears in the first six months to 5 years of a child’s life.
Eczema looks and acts differently in infants and toddlers than it does in older children or adults. The location and appearance of eczema changes as they grow, so it’s important to know what to look for during every stage of your infant or toddler’s life.
The major problem in this disorder is a defect in the skin’s barrier that allows the loss of moisture, the introduction of allergens and later, inflammation.
Food allergy is closely associated with atopic dermatitis. About one-third of children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis will have food allergies. Common food triggers for eczema may include dairy, egg, peanuts and other nuts, wheat, soy, and fish.
What does eczema look like?
Eczema usually appears on the face, cheeks, chin, forehead and scalp. It can spread to other areas but usually not in the nappy area as moisture protects the skin there. The skin will look mostly red and weepy at this stage but, at the age of 2, the eczema is more likely to appear in the creases of the elbows and knees, on the elbows or wrists. It may even appear around the mouth and eyelids and start to look drier and scalier.
5 Years Old and Up
Eczema will still be appearing in the folds of elbows and knees. Sometimes it is only on the hands (this is very common). Another sign can be redness and patches behind the ears or on the feet.
Natural remedies cannot cure eczema, but they can help manage the symptoms and prevent flares. The following remedies are natural and gentle. They are well documented to be of benefit to treating the symptoms of eczema in babies and children.
1. Mahonia Aquifolium (Oregon Grape Root) Topical Treatments
Mahonia Aquifolium is a common garden plant. The extracts and alkaloids taken from the leaves and bark have been proven in clinical trials and research studies to display antimicrobial activity against fungi and bacteria. It is anti inflammatory and is a natural antibiotic. M-Folia products contain 10% Mahonia Aquifolium extract and are free of parabens, SLS and harsh chemicals. They do not contain any colourants or perfumes and have been carefully blended with gentle, natural essential oils to enhance the soothing effects. These formulas make M-Folia cream, body wash, Shampoo and ointments suitable for infants and children as a topical treatment to soothe the symptoms of eczema; itching, relieve redness and sore skin and clear dry skin symptoms. Get 15% Off your first order here.
Warning: M-Folia cream contains Sweet Almond Oil and is therefore something to be considered if your child has an allergy to nuts.
2.Colloidal Oatmeal (Avena Sativa)
Colloidal Oatmeal is made from oats that have been ground and boiled to extract their skin-healing properties. Studies have shown that Colloidal oatmeal contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been well documented to improve skin dryness, scaling, roughness and itching.
How to use it
Choose a colloidal oatmeal product that has oats as the only ingredient and avoid those with fragrances or additives. Add powdered colloidal oatmeal to a warm bath and soak. Creams and topical lotions that contain colloidal oatmeal are also available.
Warning: Colloidal oatmeal is generally safe for all ages, but people who are allergic to oats should avoid it. Individuals who are allergic to gluten should use caution, as oats are often processed with wheat.
3. Coconut Oil & Sunflower Seed Oil
Coconut oil contains healthful fatty acids that can add moisture to the skin, which can help with dry skin and eczema. Also, virgin coconut oil can soothe the skin by helping combat inflammation and by improving the health of the skin barrier. A randomised clinical trial looked at the effects of applying virgin coconut oil to the skin in children. The results show that using the oil for 8 weeks improved the symptoms of eczema better than mineral oil. Extra-virgin coconut oil is generally solid at room temperature, but the warmth of a person’s body turns it to liquid.
Sunflower Seed Oil improves the barrier function of the skin, which in turn prevents skin dryness. Plus, it is safe to use as massage oil for babies. A study published in Paediatric Dermatology in 2013 reported that sunflower seed oil improves hydration of the skin.
How to use the oils
Apply cold-pressed virgin coconut oil or Sunflower Seed Oil directly to the skin after bathing and up to several times a day. Use it before bed to keep the skin moisturised overnight. Do not use if there is any indication that the child/infant has an allergy to nuts.
4. Diet & Nutrition
Certain foods can cause or reduce inflammation in the body and making a few key dietary changes could help diminish eczema flares. Common inflammatory foods include dairy, eggs, soy, and wheat. Try eliminating some of these from the diet and keep a food diary to help identify which foods may be problematic.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are:
Leafy Greens: A great food for eczema sufferers as they are packed with flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and are extremely alkalizing, restorative, and beneficial in reducing inflammation.
Beets: Helps repair cellular damage, produce red blood cells, restore vital anti-inflammatory minerals,, which is very restorative for inflammatory skin conditions.
Pineapple: Full of potassium, manganese, Vitamin B1 and Vitamin C, pineapple offers some strong healing powers for inflammatory conditions.
Berries: Including cherries, blueberries, rasberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, etc. These all contain antioxidants responsible for helping prevent and delay disease and cell damage within our bodies.
Apples: Apples contain nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, pectin and phytochemicals that all help to strengthen the immune system, detoxify the body and help reduce inflammation.
Walnuts: Naturally high in antioxidants, protein, vitamin E, fibre and Omega 3, walnuts provide an enormous amount of eczema fighting properties. Not for children with nut allergies.
Always research and speak to a medical professional before making any changes to diet.
5. Air purifiers & Allergen Free Bedding
A good, reputable air purifier is capable of eliminating spores, pollen, and bacteria that can significantly curb and suppress an eczema outbreak. Always choose the unit with a good filtration system such as a HEPA filter which will filter even the tiniest airborne pollutants. Combined with Allergen free sheets and pillowcases, an air purifier can provide eczema relief that could significantly reduce the amount of eczema medications that your child takes.
6. Vitamin D
When eczema flares up in the winter it is known as winter-related atopic dermatitis. New studies suggest that daily vitamin D supplements can help children with eczema that gets worse in the winter. Researchers found vitamin D significantly reduced the uncomfortable symptoms associated with eczema.
7. Prevent Itching With Scratch Mitten Sleeves
Eczema scratch mitten sleeves are a great natural eczema treatment for healing eczema in children. They break the itch-scratch cycle which is one of the most distressing factors for both you and your baby or child with eczema. The itch-scratch cycle occurs when the skin is damaged. Watching a young child, toddler or baby with eczema, psoriasis or any itchy skin rash is heart-breaking. Infants wriggle out of normal scratch mitts, but because they are like a cardigan with a silky outer layer, they can be worn over or beneath clothes. They are easy to put on, but virtually impossible for babies and toddlers to remove by themselves.
- The outer silk mitts protect the skin while the inner layer of soft cotton allows full movement
- Most toddlers are unable to remove them
- They enable skin to heal, and reduce irritation and infection
- Only soft cotton and silk touches your child’s skin, so they are extremely comfortable
- The fabrics are robust and machine washable
Need help selecting the right treatment for your child or infants skin conditions? Check out our treatment checklist!