I get a lot of calls from parents regarding their babies’ skin rashes and unfortunately, by the time a parent calls me, the baby has been suffering for quite a while. Eczema has so many triggers that most people don’t think a food allergy could be the culprit.
Here is a review of the basics of eczema…
What is eczema? It is most often characterized by dry, red, extremely itchy patches on the skin. Eczema is sometimes referred to as "the itch that rashes," since the itch, when scratched, results in the appearance of the rash.
Who is suffering from eczema? 10-20% of babies
What triggers eczema?
Environmental Triggers • Wool and other scratchy fabrics • Chronic, extremely dry air • Cigarette smoke • Chemicals in certain soaps and detergents
Allergen Triggers These substances provoke an overreaction of the immune system and cause the skin to become inflamed.
• Food allergens: cow’s milk, soy, wheat, eggs • Household dust and mites • Mold • Pollen • Dog or cat dander
The baby won’t stop scratching…what’s a parent to do?
1. Take your baby to the doctor to determine what is causing the rash. Make sure the pediatrician considers all potential allergens, including common foods allergens like milk, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, fish and tree nuts.
2. Remove the trigger from your baby’s life. This may mean changing detergent, purchasing dust-proof mattress covers or sending the family pet outside. It may also mean changing your baby’s diet. If you are breastfeeding, remove all the allergens from your diet. If you are feeding your baby a cow’s milk- or soy-based formula, you’ll want to switch to a hypoallergenic amino acid-based formula like Neocate.
3. Heal your baby’s damaged skin. Work with the pediatrician to develop a daily skin care routine that will help heal your baby’s skin, which has been damaged by the allergic reaction and your baby’s scratching.
Here are some likely recommendations:
• Bathe your baby in soothing lukewarm water • Use a milk soap or non-soap cleanser • Avoid bath oils and perfumed powders • Apply an over-the-counter lubricant to her skin (Talk to the doctor for specific brand recommendations) • Keep her fingernails filed short so the scratching won’t do as much damage • Dress her in soft cotton fabrics to prevent possible fabric irritation • Keep her cool and avoid hot, humid environments • Try to distract her from the itchiness with fun activities
If the skin becomes infected, call the doctor right away. He or she might prescribe an antibiotic for you to either apply to your baby’s damaged skin or give her by mouth.