YOUR CARE HOW TO KEEP IT HEALTHY
“It starts at the nipples and ends at the top of the head, usually with cradle cap.” He explains that when the body loses moisture, the sebum forms as an extra layer of skin (or crust) to protect it. This is what baby eczema is. The best thing to do if your baby has this kind of eczema is to stay away from perfumed or fragranced products and try to replenish the skin barrier.
Bath your baby in a basic moisturiser such as Cetaphil, but be careful when picking him up out of the bath as he’ll be more slippery than usual.
“If the eczema gets very severe – inflamed and uncomfortable – using a gentle non-cortisone anti-inflammatory cream on the skin works nicely and clears up after 48 to 72 hours, and can then be used intermittently as required,” suggests Dr Sinclair.
He also points out that babies who have baby eczema often go on to develop classic eczema, so watch out for this. The difference is that classic eczema develops in the creases of skin: at the top of the ankles, in the armpits or behind the knees.
“Classic eczema can be allergy driven, so by finding out what your baby’s trigger is (for example, something in your diet affecting your breastmilk or he is reacting to something in his environment) you can avoid irritation and lessen the need for treatment in the form of moisturisers, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines,” says Dr Sinclair.
Remember to wash your baby’s clothes before he wears them for the first time and to stick to a mild detergent when washing your baby’s clothes, towels and bedding. “The chemicals in washing powders can trigger eczema and certain enzymes in some modern detergents act as proteins that literally eat dirt. It’s these enzymes that kids react to,” he explains.
BABY SKIN IS PAPER THIN You’ve probably noticed by now that your baby’s skin is paperthin, but it’s ultra-sensitive too and will continue to be until he’s a toddler. Basically, babies don’t have melanocytes in their skin to protect them from the sun and this is why it’s absolutely imperative that you’re sun savvy. If you’re going to be outdoors between 10am and 4pm, always apply sunscreen to your baby right from this newborn stage.
“It is not necessary to put your baby in the sun at all as we live in a climate where we all get enough sun and vitamin D just by being out and about,” urges Dr Sinclair.
If, however, you really have to be in the sun at peak times (it really is better just to avoid it in these times if you can), then a good sunscreen is vital.
Don’t forget to dress your baby in protective clothing and a hat too, and if you do find yourself out in the heat of the day, always look for shade under a tree, use a shade over the pram or take along an umbrella or beach tent. YB