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springtime and eczema: how to treat you newborn's sensitive skin

4 minutes


The skin of a newborn baby is delicate and smooth with a softness that is incomparable to anything else. Whilst soft and silky, a newborn baby’s skin is also ultra-sensitive having never been exposed to the elements of the outside world.

For many living with eczema, spring can be a very challenging time, even more so for vulnerable skin of a newborn. The constant change in temperature, dry conditions and pollen are all known triggers for eczema. These conditions can cause itchiness and irritation to a newborns sensitive skin, and for a baby who suffers from eczema, this sensitivity is heightened and requires careful management.

Infant skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis are more common than you may think. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 10 to 20 per cent of children have atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema. The study shows that 90 per cent of people who suffer from atopic dermatitis are affected by it before the age of five.

There are many things that can lead to a seasonal eczema flare up, conditions that babies have not yet been exposed to. Added allergens in the air, the rise in temperature, lighter fabrics such as polyester, and certain baby washes and wipes containing fragrances and harsh chemicals can all aggravate a baby’s delicate skin.

What exactly is eczema?

Eczema is a type of recurrent skin inflammation that often affects babies between two to six months of age. Eczema gives your baby dry, inflamed skin that can be red and extremely itchy.

Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema. It can appear anywhere on your baby’s body however it often appears on the cheeks first and then spreads to the rest of the body. Common areas of irritation occur in the folds of skin on the back of the baby’s knees, elbows, neck, wrists, eyelids and the nappy area.

While eczema looks sore (especially on such a little one), it doesn’t necessarily cause your baby pain and it can also be quickly and effectively treated.

If you notice signs of eczema on your baby, see a doctor or specialist for a full diagnosis and treatment plan.

Is eczema genetic?

There is a lot we still don’t understand about atopic eczema, however genetics prove to play the biggest role in diagnosis. ‘Atopic’ refers to a group of diseases with an often inherited tendency to develop other allergic related conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.

If there is no family history of eczema, there is a 10 per cent chance that your baby may develop eczema. If there is eczema, asthma, or hay fever in the family however, then this chance increases to 25 per cent.

Finally, if the mother and father both have eczema, asthma, or hay fever then the chance of the baby developing eczema increases to 50 per cent.

Whilst it may seem that eczema is extremely prevalent in babies, it often improves on its own with age with many children growing out of the condition by age 10.

How can I treat my baby’s eczema?

Whilst there is no cure for eczema, there are medicated ointments and creams that can reduce symptoms and prevent nasty flare ups. It’s also important to avoid irritants to the skin and triggers of eczema.

Common environmental irritants include:

• soaps;

• bubble baths;

• shampoos;

• solvents;

• wool;

• grass; and

• sand.

Common allergens include:

• pollens;

• house dust mites; and

• animal hair.

When treating an eczema flare up, the baby products that you use are very important. Many products such as baby washes and baby wipes contain harsh chemicals which can further aggravate baby’s delicate skin and can cause more harm than good. Even products that claim natural ingredients can be found to contain chemicals that can irritate a newborn baby’s skin.

Lois Wattis, an experienced midwife, registered nurse and author of ‘New Baby 101 – A Midwife’s Guide for New Parents’, has shared her views on how parents need to be very wary of the products they use on sensitive newborn’s skin.

“I have been a midwife for more than 18 years and have seen too many newborn babies develop angry red rashes due to the chemicals in many ‘brand-name’ baby products,” she said.

“Midwives recommend parents of new babies simply use water and cloth for nappy changes at home – especially for those who have skin conditions such as eczema. This isn’t always possible of course and the only baby wipe I recommend to new Mums and Dads is WaterWipes.”

WaterWipes biodegradable, vegan wet wipes are the only baby wipes that contain 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract and are safe to use on newborn’s skin. They are suitable for sensitive skin and are the only baby wipe to be approved by Allergy UK and a proud sponsor of the Eczema Association of Australasia.

There is a lot to consider when caring for you newborn’s delicate skin, especially when eczema is involved. Spring is a time when skin is particularly susceptible to eczema and allergies, so when treating a nasty eczema flare up, look to products such as WaterWipes that are designed specifically to care for your baby’s delicate skin.

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