Imagine this situation. Suddenly, you see that your baby has developed a red, itchy patch. To a new parent, even a small issue can cause real anxiety. This is also true with baby eczema. Eczema can look a little scary when tiny, red, crusty patches start to show up on your baby’s delicate skin, often within the first few months. Yet baby eczema is not only common, it’s also very treatable, and many infants outgrow it. If you and your spouse both have eczema, your baby is more likely to develop eczema, too.

But don’t worry. First, about one in every ten kids will develop eczema, but you don’t need to worry as the condition is treatable, and a complete cure can be attained.  Secondly, in most children, symptoms improve between the ages of five and six. For some infants, it can be a severe chronic illness with a major impact on the child’s general health and on the family [1]. A few children will continue to have eczema as adults. Eczema may develop because of an underlying allergic condition that your toddler may suffer from. Ultimately, it is important to treat this underlying allergic condition if you hope to manage your child’s eczema.

Allergic eczema refers to a common skin disease called atopic dermatitis, which causes your baby’s skin to become dry and gives rise to an itchy, red rash.

What causes allergic eczema?

Allergic eczema stems from exposure to certain allergens like:

  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Animal dander
  • Certain foods

Signs to Watch For

Your baby can develop hives, itching, swelling, sneezing and a runny nose. A link between eczema and food allergy has been known for some time [2]. Children with eczema are more likely to have food allergies to eggs, nuts, or milk. So, you’ll need to be careful when you give your toddler any of these foods, as they can aggravate eczema.

Images Courtesy Nikki Tysoe

Triggers of Baby Eczema

What triggers eczema in one baby may not trigger a reaction in another  child. Still, there are some common eczema triggers to avoid, including:

  • Dry skin: This is often caused by low humidity, especially during winter when homes are heated and the air is dry. Dry skin can make your baby’s eczema itchier.
  • Irritants: Scratchy woolen clothes, perfumes, body soaps, and laundry soaps. These can all trigger a baby eczema flares.
  • Heat and sweat: Both heat and sweat can make the itch of infant eczema worse.
  • Allergens: Food allergies in children trigger baby eczema. Some experts believe that removing cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, or certain fruits from a child’s diet may help control eczema symptoms.

How to Avoid Eczema Flare-Ups?

To manage eczema, you need to moisturize your baby’s skin regularly and use medication as prescribed by the doctor. Avoiding allergy triggers can also help prevent flare-ups. It is best to keep away from skin irritants.

How Can You Treat Baby Eczema?

The first step to managing your baby’s eczema is to take baby’s skin.  This is especially important when the conditions is in the begining stages and  mild. Here are simple steps to try:

  • Moisturizers: A good moisturizer, fragrance-free cream, or ointment such as petroleum jelly, when used daily, will help your baby’s skin retain its natural moisture. Apply immediately after a bath.
  • A lukewarm bath: This helps hydrate and cool the skin, and it may lessen itching.
  • Other topical treatments are available by prescription to ease inflammation. Speak with your pediatrician or dermatologist.

One of the keys to managing infant eczema is to prevent your baby from scratching. Scratching can make the rash worse, lead to infection, and cause the irritated skin to get thicker and more leathery.

So with a little extra attention, you can ensure your bundle of joy is comfortable, happy and itch-free.


  1. Constance H Katelaris and Jane E Peake Allergy and the skin: eczema and chronic urticaria. Med J Aust 2006; 185 (9): 517-522.
  2. Carsten Flohr, Michael Perkin, Kirsty Logan, Tom Marrs, Suzana Radulovic, Linda E Campbell, Stephanie F MacCallum, W H Irwin McLean, Gideon Lack. Atopic Dermatitis and Disease Severity are the Main Risk Factors for Food Sensitization in Exclusively Breastfed InfantsJournal of Investigative Dermatology, 2013; DOI:10.1038/jid.2013.298

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