Our journey with baby Eczema has been a long one as I am still going through the struggle.
Actual eczema photos ahead, you’ve been warned.
My second child had severe baby Eczema that affected her entire face and scalp, inside and outside of her ears, behind her ears, chest, and belly. It was devastating. As a breastfeeding mom I felt like a total failure… I thought maybe she has developed an allergy to something I’ve eaten recently or maybe even from when I was pregnant. Before I was able to figure out how to calm down her eczema flares I was waking up every 20-30 minutes for the first 3 months that my dear daughter was home.
Baby Melanie’s skin at 8 weeks was red and swollen from Eczema.
It was either hot to the touch and inflamed with a glossy “wet” look OR not so red, super dry with flaky patches of that seemed to be “thick”… Kind of like a callus. Either way she was super itchy and didn’t sleep. She was constantly frustrated, cranky, exhausted and in pain.
I’ve seen the scary baby eczema photos online; the horrors of prescription steroid creams and ointments. I’ve read hundreds of articles (and UGH the photos) talking about the effects they have on the skin after long term use. A baby’s skin can potentially get addicted to steroids. If not careful, you can even develop something called Red Skin Syndrome aka Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW). This means if you stop using the steroids that are weakening the skin, you’ll have a flare 10x worse than the actual Eczema.
Talk about a rock and a hard place.
I avoided using the prescription steroids our pediatrician gave us at all costs and went straight into a more… not so freaking scary approach (by the way, you don’t have to feel guilty about using steroids for baby eczema. i’ll get more into this later in the post).
In short I’ve used lotions, plants and foods, essential oils, ointments, hydro cortisone 1% in like 4 different brands, etc. Nothing worked. I’ll add a full list of all the products I’ve used during this process another time. There are so many that this list deserves its own post.
If you’re still reading, you’re probably going through something similar and you’re looking for some miracle answer that will heal you or your baby from eczema. Sorry to say, there is no cure.
“If there is one thing to be learned from Eczema it is that every child needs custom care.”
Not all children heal the same but there are a few things that a lot of the other moms I’ve talked to agree on.
Here are the top 3 natural things that helped Melanie during her flares:
- Frequent Baths, lotion afterwards: For quite some time it was thought that bathing frequently was not a good option for people with eczema. But, a recent study shows that frequent baths help when you apply massive amounts of lotion or emollient afterwards. Lotions seep into the skin better after a warm bath or shower; it’s a tried and true proven fact. We use Vanicream and still have the 1 lb. tub in every corner of our house to this day.
- Wearing Cotton, avoid synthetic fabrics: Stick to breathable cotton maybe even organic. Polyester knit fabrics look and feel like cotton but the breath-ability is definitely different. Luckily, most infant onesies are 100% cotton but if you have a few items that are not; put them away.
- Go Swimming: I’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in eczema flares when we’ve been playing in the water all day. I’m still not sure if it’s just being in the water for a long time or the chlorine (because bleach baths are a thing in the Eczema world – look it up) but after a long day of swimming and plenty of lotion afterwards Melanie’s eczema would disappear for up to a few days. Making a bleach bath at home was not nearly as effective as going to a pool. We’ve also traveled near and far to natural mineral water resorts and hotels (super stinky water that smells like eggs) and this helped as well. We didn’t smell great, but Melanie was definitely less itchy.
We were always out swimming because it seemed to help Melanie with her eczema
Here is a list of things that didn’t really make a difference for us but there are tons of people who swear by these.
If you’d like more info go ahead and just Google any of it or ask in the comments:
- Changing our detergent
- Putting breast milk on the affected area
- Cleaning the house and getting rid of dust, pet dander and other allergens (which means my child’s Eczema was most likely due to an internal issue not from touching something)
- Changing moms diet if breastfeeding
- Changing baby formula to something hypoallergenic (this is really expensive btw, but if your doctor recommends it there could be government programs that will pay for your formula, more on that another day.)
- Bleach baths
- Getting a some sun
- Going to the beach (sun + salt water)
- Wet wrapping – Melanie’s eczema was mostly on her face so this method was a little difficult for us but I can definitely see it working.
- About a thousand dollars’ worth of lotions and oils
Here is the last thing that really, TRULY helped me (warning, it’s not natural):
The best way to get rid of Eczema for a longer period of time is (drum roll) USE THE TOPICAL STEROIDS THE DOCTOR GAVE YOU. That’s right! That’s it. If Hydrocortisone 1% works for you stick with that, but if you need a stronger ointment and your pediatrician gives you that prescription, freaking use it! I’ve spent countless hours worrying and feeling guilty about using a prescription strength steroid on my baby but if you’re at the point where nothing is working, this bit of advice can save you!
By the time Melanie was 4 months I wanted to give up. She was suffering so much, I was SO F’n tired and I was desperate. I’ve tried so hard, spent so much money, read a thousand blogs from all over the world for answers with no relief for my baby. Nothing I was doing was working and so one day I dabbed a little bit of PRESCRIPTION STEROID OINTMENT FROM THE OUR PEDIATRICIAN on one side of Melanie’s cheek. Within a few hours she had clear skin. It was still a little dry but regular lotion seemed to help with that.
Now, I know you might be a little disappointed at my answer here but note this:
I didn’t go overboard with the prescription, I used as little as possible. I’m talking I-barely-put-any-on type of amount. I just want you to know that if you’ve come to the point where nothing else works, you’re not alone and you don’t have to feel guilty! You are doing the best you can for your baby. Even if it means you’re not going the 100% organic + natural route, you’re doing the best you can. You’re working your hardest. Your baby deserves relief and so do you. That being said, there IS such thing as red skin syndrome and steroid withdrawals so please PLEASE be cautious, ask your pediatrician what is the best for you and your baby. I am just a regular mom and in no way a professional in this matter. I’m only sharing what has been working for me and my kids.
Eczema is a never ending journey…
Since then, my daughter is now turning 2 next month and we regularly use Vanicream (multiple times a day and definitely after ever bath). Vanicream seems to be the only lotion that wasn’t drying out after a few hours. Since last year Melanie’s Eczema has changed. Her flares are not anywhere near as bad as they were a year ago. The location of her Eczema patches have moved to her ankles and arms from mostly on her face and chest. Her flares RARELY get to the point where I have to use steroids. She didn’t develop any steroid withdrawals and on 90% of her days she looks like she has clear skin but does itch if I forget to put on lotion multiple times a day.
My third child is now 2 months old and has eczema flares very similar to what Melanie had a year ago. In closing, I want you to know that I know how difficult this journey is. You’re not alone, things do get better and hang in there! You can do this! As a parent we are given the endurance and strength to take on all sorts of battles for our children.
If any of the above information was useful and you are interested in purchasing Vanicream please use my Amazon links provided below! By doing this I am able to receive a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you and I will be able to continue blogging and doing what I love to do! I am not associated to any companies and am reviewing a product that I actually own and love. Thank you in advance and have blessed day!