Here’s what Diary of a First Time Moms had to say:

Whitney McIntosh, Altoona, Iowa: I gave my child an oatmeal bath and immediately rubbed on Eucerin.

Diamonte Hamlett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: My daughter suffers with it. I use Cortisone Eczema Lotion and the healing brand of Hydrocortisone Lotion. In the summer, I add CVS brand Sunscreen. She itched very little during the summer last year with the sunscreen. I also used Disney Baby Eczema Cream, but I think they discontinued it in the stores. It may be available online. I bathe her in dial soap only. Nothing else has worked for me.

Carolyn Davis, Nashville, Tennessee: My daughter had it terribly! I actually found relief with putting a small amount of Hydrocortisone cream on her skin a few times a week, as well as an oil from a company called”Bindi, which is an Ayurvedic organic supplier. It’s actually called Bindi Baby Massage Oil.  She still uses the oil daily to this day, it leaves her skin so soft and smells wonderful! I even use it on my skin as well. I usually mix it with either a little jojoba oil or almond oil, and sometimes I add lavender. Neem oil (which Bindi also sells) works great on breakouts and eczema and dry skin as well.”

Monique Holloway, Atlanta, Georgia: My son had a mild case, so I use Calendula Cream by California Baby. It is a skin soothing cream that works really well for him. It is all natural and you can find it at Target and Whole Foods or on the company’s website.

Jasmine Collins, Columbus, Ohio: My daughter is three, and she has had it since she was born. All I’ve ever used was Baby Aveeno Eczema Lotion and Body Wash, and she hasn’t had any outbreaks since she was about one.”

Michelle Spencer, Orlando, Florida: If the outbreaks are serious enough, I use a little Hydrocortisone 1%. Don’t use it excessively as it is addictive. For bathing I use Aveeno Body Wash. As a moisturizer, I Cetaphil cream in the plastic jar or Curel works really well. My kids have had it so bad they have had a script for Protopic. It’s important to make sure their bedding stays cool, especially when there’s an outbreak because the skin sweats even more at that time. That’s my two cents!”

Latoya Hall-King, Detroit, Michigan: Cortisone cream!  It worked wonders.

How should I bathe my child with eczema?

Daily bathing is recommended for infants and children with eczema. Baths should be warm, not hot, and they should be short in duration, lasting about 10 minutes. The use of soap should be limited. Bubble bath, epsom salts and some other bath additives should be avoided because they can be irritating to the skin and worsen eczema. Also avoid the use of scrubbers, loofahs and rough wash cloths. Immediately after bathing, a moisturizer should be applied to the skin.

What are bleach baths, and why are they recommended for some children with eczema? It sounds harsh.

Bleach baths may be recommended by your dermatologist if your child has moderate to severe eczema and/or a history of infection. Bleach baths help prevent infections and maintain better eczema control. Staphylococcal aureus is a bacteria that lives on the skin of many children with eczema and can occasionally grow to cause infection and eczema flares. Bleach baths can help control the amount of bacteria on the skin and lead to fewer skin infections. Bleach baths are safe and are similar to bathing in a chlorinated swimming pool. Bleach baths are made by pouring ¼ cup of bleach into a half-filled bathtub. For babies with eczema, 1 to 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water may be added to a baby tub. Always be careful to dilute the bleach before contact, avoid getting bleach water in the eyes, and moisturize immediately after the bath. Bleach baths are usually recommended a few times per week.

Will I need to use steroid ointments on my child?

Very mild eczema may be controlled with a good bathing and moisturizing routine alone. Mild eczema may require the occasional use of a low-potency topical steroid. But the majority of children with moderate to severe eczema (or atopic dermatitis) will need to use low- to medium-potency topical steroids on a more regular basis to control eczema.

Heather Hopson, Pittsburgh, PA Diary of a First Time Mom Creator:

I was hesitant by using a steroid ointment on my daughter’s sensitive skin, especially her face.  But after receiving this advice from her pediatrician and then her pediatric dermatologist, I applied Desonide twice a day.  It worked!  Even though the eczema outbreak cleared up, I have to stay on top of it.  CereVe Moisturizing Cream works wonders. Her smooth skin even has a glow.

Are steroid ointments safe?

Steroid ointments are safe when used appropriately. Some tips for safe application include:

  • Apply topical steroids only to rough affected skin and avoid normal unaffected skin.
  • Avoid the application of topical steroids to skin folds (armpits, groin, thighs, under breasts) when possible, especially for prolonged periods of time.
  •  Avoid the use of topical steroids on eyelids.
  • Apply milder steroids, which your dermatologist can prescribe, to treat the face.
  • Use the mildest topical steroid that controls the eczema, which your dermatologist can help you determine.
  • Apply topical steroids no more than two times per day. Consider using calcineurin inhibitors (Protopic© ointment and Elidel© cream.) These nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are approved for children older than two years, but they are sometimes used “off-label,” especially in rotation with topical steroids, for infants.

“Some parents think the steroid ointment bleaches a baby’s skin when in fact it is typically the eczema itself that lightens, or in some cases darkens, the skin tone,” says Treadwell.

When should I use a steroid ointment on my child?

Topical steroids should be applied no more than twice daily. One application should occur immediately after bathing as part of the bathing routine. A moisturizer should always be applied over the topical steroid. Topical steroids should be applied to red itchy skin until the skin is less inflamed and more comfortable. Be aware that the skin may look lighter in color after the redness clears. This is normal and improves with time.

How much steroid ointment should I use on my infant of toddler?

Enough steroid ointment should be applied so that the skin feels tacky immediately after application. Within a few minutes it is will be absorbed by the skin. Topical steroids should be applied only to red itchy areas of skin.

Are there other treatments for infants or toddlers with eczema?

Gentle skin care and the use of moisturizers, and topical steroids are the most important treatments for eczema. But there are other topical medications such as Protopic© and Elidel© that are safe and effective for use on eczema when used as directed by your child’s doctor. Tar preparations can also be helpful.
It is important to prevent bacterial infection of the skin through the use of bleach baths as part of any ongoing skin maintenance routine. When infection is present, it should be treated with topical or oral antibiotics. Oral antihistamines are very helpful for some children with eczema. They may reduce itch, but perhaps more importantly, they cause drowsiness, which helps children sleep.
Some eczema does not respond as expected to the usual treatments. Such children may be candidates for oral or injected treatments that calm inflammation in the body. Your child’s dermatologist will help you decide if this kind of treatment is necessary.

Will changing my infant’s or toddler’s diet help?

While many parents assume that a particular food is the cause of their child’s eczema, the answer is rarely that simple. Most eczema is unrelated to diet. In fact, parents who remove food from their child’s diet in an effort to clear up the skin can be causing more harm than good. If your child’s eczema greatly improves with gentle skin care and topical medications as described above, it is unlikely that there is a “hidden” food allergy in play. Some children with eczema have food allergies, but that does not mean that the food allergies actually cause the eczema. If your child gets hives (red, itchy swollen skin bumps that look different from eczema) within one hour of eating a specific food, this is a sign of a food allergy and this food should be avoided until you talk to your child’s doctor.

What if I am breastfeeding? Bottle feeding?

Most infant eczema is unrelated to diet, whether breast milk or formula. Many babies with eczema are incorrectly labeled as “milk allergic.” Do not stop breastfeeding or giving cow’s milk formula without first talking to your child’s doctor. In most cases the skin will improve by using the gentle skin care techniques and topical medications described above.

When should you test a child for allergies?

Because most eczema is not related to diet, and because current allergy tests do not accurately predict eczema triggers, allergy testing is not routinely recommended. However, if your child’s eczema has not responded to standard treatments or your child gets a rash after eating a specific food, allergy testing might be considered.

Where can I get more information?

For a complimentary copy of the NEA 
print newsletter, The Advocate, and an eczema information package, please contact: National Eczema Association
 Phone: 800.818.SKIN


Patricia Treadwell, M.D., is a professor of pediatrics at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis and past chair of the executive committee of the dermatology section of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College and completed residencies in pediatrics and dermatology at Indiana University School of Medicine, where she’s currently on the faculty. She is the associate editor of Pediatric Dermatology: A Quick Reference Guide (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006). Mother Knows Best: These moms know first hand all about eczema. They treated their children, who suffered from mild to severe cases, and found remedies that worked well.

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About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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