As parents of eczema-prone babies and those who deal with the skin condition themselves will know, this dry, red and flaky skin can drive you to insanity, making you feel frustrated, exhausted and demotivated. The NHS describes atopic eczema (the most common form) as ‘a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked’ (source: NHS). It’s particularly difficult for a parent to watch their little one get increasingly irritated and angry, trying to deal with a maddeningly itchy feeling which they just can’t shake. Whether you suffer from, have suffered from, or are parents of children suffering from eczema, you’re definitely not alone. NHS consultant dermatologist Tee Wei Siah confirms: ‘childhood eczema is very common and affects 15-20% of UK children’. You’ll find a condensed version of my tips at stylish mums magazine Absolutely Mama, but for the full low down here are the products that have helped me navigate the minefield that is eczema.
Avoid heavily fragranced products
When my baby was born he was so spoilt by friends and family with beautiful little outfits, soft as silk bed linen and adorable cuddly toys. As well as a baby fragrance. I’ve mostly come across baby fragrances from French brands (Jacadi, Goutal, Tartine et Chocolat), and there may be a trend for treating babies as mini luxury accessories, or just parents desperately wanting to mask a smelly nappy odour, but this product does not work for my family. Although I love beauty products and am always up for trying a new scent (sprayed on hair not skin to avoid irritating it) I just don’t believe babies need to be introduced to perfume so early in life. And when it comes to eczema-prone skin, fragrance is a big no no, whether in spray format or within skincare formulations. NHS consultant dermatologist Tee Wei Siah highlights the National Eczema Society advice that fragrance is one of the common triggers of eczema, so with that in mind I’d rather keep my baby’s exposure to fragrance to a minimum. I try to stick to fragrance-free products such as Baby Dove Sensitive Moisture Lotion. And the baby fragrance is safely stashed away. Maybe I could re-purpose it and spray it lightly on my bed linen? Baby Dove Sensitive Moisture Lotion 200ml RRP £1.90
Look for oil based body washes
Bathtime can quickly turn into a headache for parents of babies suffering from eczema, with a bit of trial and error when it comes to finding which products work and which set off a flare up. In the bath I use soap-free head to toe washes however I’ve recently discovered La Roche-Posay Lipikar Gentle Cleansing Oil, a gentle soap-free oil that protects the skin from drying out. The oily residue it leaves isn’t great for whoever’s left cleaning the bath, but worth it for your baby’s skin. Depending on the area you live in you may also want to consider installing a water softener, as hard water can exacerbate the skin condition. La Roche-Posay Lipikar Gentle Cleansing Oil 200ml RRP £10.00
Seek out nourishing ingredients
I’ve previously raved about Aveeno’s amazing properties in my post Aveeno: Mother and Baby Skincare Routine and have always included it as part of my key tools to keep eczema under control. It’s no different for my baby’s skin: the brand’s signature formulas containing 100% colloidal (very finely milled) oatmeal are ideal for dry and sensitive skin. The change of temperature that comes with seasons or excessive central heating plays havoc with skin and can exacerbate any dryness, so I use Aveeno Baby’s soap-free Daily Care Gentle Body Wash to moisturise and soothe dehydrated skin. Aveeno Baby Daily Care Gentle Body Wash 500ml RRP £5.99
Apply an emollient regularly
Once you’ve given your baby a bath it’s important to thoroughly pat skin dry in the creases, where eczema tends to develop. Moisturising is key so my GP recommends applying a rich emollient morning and evening. You might even find that moisturising can become part of the nappy change routine if your baby’s skin is particularly dry and requires several applications throughout the day. La Roche-Posay Baby Lipikar Baume is a hypoallergenic and dermatologically-tested moisturising balm providing 24 hour hydration for even the most dry and sensitive skin. La Roche-Posay Baby Lipikar Baume 200ml RRP £12.50
Choose natural fibres
Light and loose clothing will allow skin to breathe, especially in hot weather. Natural fibres such as cotton, linen and cashmere work best against baby’s delicate skin, and I’ve actually found that even now as eczema follows me I’ve learned to stear clear of tight polyester tops and acrylic sweaters. For babies and children Little Green Radicals offers comfortable designs using organic Fairtrade cotton, focusing on colourful prints like this cosy blanket, but if you prefer simple white clothing for your little one then a babygrow from the natural organic baby collection is for you. And if your newborn has a tendency to scratch away at their skin some mittens will definitely come in handy. Little Green Radicals Long Sleeve Babygrow RRP £16.00
What are your tips for keeping eczema at bay? Leave a comment below to let me know.
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