Taking good care of your baby's skin is crucial. Here are some tips:
- Try to keep your baby's skin from becoming too dry. Talk with her doctor about how often to bathe her. Many experts now believe that daily bathing can be helpful for babies with eczema. Just don't make the water too warm, because very warm water dries out the skin faster than lukewarm water.
- Use a mild soap, and wash and shampoo your baby at the end of her bath so she isn't sitting in soapy water. As soon as you get your baby out of the tub, pat her skin dry (don't rub), then promptly apply a liberal amount of moisturizer or emollient — an ointment, cream, or lotion that "seals in" the body's own moisture.
- "I recommend emollients for children of all ages," says Michael Smith, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics in the division of dermatology at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. Smith suggests trying an emollient for a short period of time to see whether it makes a difference and continuing it if it does.
- Allow your baby's skin to breathe (and not become overheated) by dressing her in smooth natural fabrics, like cotton. Avoid wool and other scratchy materials, which can irritate her very sensitive skin.
- Switch to mild, fragrance-free soaps and shampoos, or those made for sensitive skin. Use mild, fragrance-free detergent for washing your baby's clothes and bedding. Avoid fabric softeners.
- Rapid changes in temperature can make eczema worse, so try not to let your baby get too hot and then cool quickly, or vice versa.
- Help your baby avoid scratching. She may try to get relief by scratching with her hands or by rubbing her face against the sheet when she sleeps. But scratching and rubbing can further irritate or inflame her skin and make matters much worse.
- Use the softest sheets possible in her crib, and keep her nails short. Put her to bed with cotton mittens or socks on her hands, if she'll tolerate them.
- During a flare-up, you can try applying cool compresses to the area several times a day, followed by a moisturizer.