Since learning that my baby has eczema, I’ve had to make a number of lifestyle changes to prevent her flare-ups. And since eczema is an umbrella term for a number of different skin conditions, it’s taken a few months of trial and error to find out what exactly causes her flare-ups. Believe me when I say it took a looooot of trial and error, going back and forth between methods, and taking many, many people’s suggestions.
Here I’m sharing what I’ve found to be helpful in preventing my baby’s eczema flare-ups, and what I’ve found not to be so helpful (again, because of the type of eczema she seems to have).
Seemed to Work:
- Changing laundry detergent.
We switched from Tide to Purex Baby Soft – a hypoallergenic, dye-free, dermatologist-tested laundry detergent that’s gentle for sensitive skin, and also has a light, delightful scent! I noticed a huge change when we switched over so I haven’t gone back since. We don’t just wash her clothes in Purex Baby Soft, either. We wash all our clothes with it since Lily sometimes sleeps on us/our shirt, or rubs her face against us when we’re carrying her, or is hugged by Ava, etc.
- Getting rid of dryer sheets.
Dryer sheets can leave material on clothing that can make the skin react to it and cause itchiness, and I definitely saw a difference when we stopped using them. They say dryer sheets/fabric softener take away the flame-resistance of baby’s clothing, too, so doing away with this is probably a good idea anyway. Once we stopped using it, our clothes actually felt softer, too. (Maybe it was just the particular sheets we had.)
- Running an extra rinse cycle.
Though it may be a little extra on the utility bill, it’s worth it in the long run for baby. It just makes sure any left-over detergent and/or residue is rinsed off so that your baby’s clothes are totally clean! Side note: I also try to use only cold water so that our clothes last longer. I have to admit I don’t always run an extra cycle – I sometimes feel for any slipperiness on the clothes after the cycle’s done.
- Wearing only 100% cotton fabric.
Just like when I made all of us switch laundry detergents, I try to keep all of us wearing 100% cotton, too. It’s just more breathable and gentle on skin since it’s not a scratchy material. This goes for any blankets, car seat covers, towels, bibs, lovies, etc! Recently, I purchased a few bibs from my friend’s shop Dear Ena Handmade, and they’re now my go-to bibs because both sides are cotton, they reach all the way up to her chin to catch drool before it sits on her skin, and the pattern/designs are super cute!
- Changing Lily’s crib mattress to 100% organic cotton.
To be honest, with my first child I didn’t read too much into what baby mattresses are made of. I just accepted a second-hand crib and mattress and used it just fine – likely because our first daughter didn’t have eczema problems until she was about 10 months old. But when Lily’s eczema got really bad, I got really interested in learning what mattresses are made of, and opted to get the Naturepedic No Compromise Organic Cotton Mattress. It is definitely on the pricey side, but if it meant reducing Lily’s flare-ups, it meant longer, better sleep for the both of us which got me sold!
- Changing all our bedding to 100% cotton or microfibre sheets.
I’ve had to put away all our fleece blankets because it’s just too thick, slightly scratchy, and not very breathable. My cousin introduced me to these AmazonBasics Microfibre bedsheets and I fell in love with how soft they were! My husband and my mom both claim they don’t feel any different from cotton sheets, but I ignore them. They’re amazing, and a good, breathable material for eczema-prone skin! I mention my bedding because I used to co-sleep with Lily, but now her crib is right up against my bed and she sleeps in there.
- Bathing less frequently.
For the first couple of months after learning Lily had eczema, I bathed her every day because I read somewhere that this was fine to do. But our doctor suggested bathing her every few days so I decided to try it out. It actually did help Lily’s skin heal itself, so I’ve stuck to every 3-4 days. (Sometimes when she has major poops, I end up washing her bum off in the bath tub so I consider this a half-bath.)
- Bathing in lukewarm water.
Hot water dries out our skin much quicker than cold or lukewarm water, so it’s recommended to bathe in lukewarm temperature. Neither of my babies liked bathing in cold water, anyway, so this wasn’t a crazy change!
- Keeping baths short and sweet.
Too much contact with water can cause our skin to become easily irritated, so I keep Lily’s baths under 10 minutes. I always try to stick to the point of getting her skin just moisturized enough and not wrinkled.
- Bathing in my breastmilk!
Oh, this liquid gold! It naturally fights off bacteria, so I put about 4 oz of breastmilk in her tub. I do notice a difference after patting her dry – her skin gets super clear and smearing moisturizer right away seals in that good, natural stuff.
- Using Aveeno Baby Eczema Care Wash.
The medicinal ingredient in this body wash is colloidal oatmeal, and it helps to relieve redness and itchiness. According to OatCosmetics.com, “colloidal oatmeal refers to whole oat kernels that have been finely milled and processed in order to be used as a skin protectant.” I found that as soon as Lily got in her bath and I applied this to her cheeks, her cheeks would be completely normal right away.
- Lathering on cream immediately after baths.
They say you have about 3 minutes after a bath to lather on moisturizer to really seal in the water, so I try to do this as much as I can. And you need to lather on A LOT, A LOT, A LOT of moisturizer. Think – the way sunscreen always looks like you put too much! Lather that good stuff on there!
- Keeping her fingernails short.
When I don’t cut her nails regularly and she scratches her cheeks during a flare-up, it’s pretty much inevitable that an infection will follow.
- Keeping the bedroom temperature just right.
They say the best temperature for baby’s room at night is between 18-20 degrees, but I find this is too warm for Lily, so I keep the thermostat between 10- 15 degrees. Heat irritates eczema, and night time is when she’s most likely to flare up because I’m not regularly applying creams, so I try to avoid making her feel warm and itchy!
- Keeping cool throughout the day.
Thankfully, we live in a basement suite so it’s naturally cool, even in the summer. The challenge comes in the summer as soon as we leave the house. It also doesn’t help that her car seat fabric is made of polyester – not so breathable. I’ve noticed that if her elbows are bare and they rub against the sides, they flare up.
- Washing her car seat fabric frequently.
- Vacuuming often.
Of course, keeping a clean home is tough but always better for little ones! Our carpet seems to irritate Lily’s skin, so whether it’s the carpet or dust, I try to vacuum every other day to remove potential irritants.
- Preventing stress.
Stress can trigger a number of physiological problems and eczema is unfortunately one of them. I definitely find that when Lily is stress-crying (like when she’s looking for boob in the middle of the night, when she’s extremely hungry or uncomfortable in the car seat, or when she’s super, super itchy) her face becomes red more quickly. So, I try to tend to her as soon as possible when she’s starting to stress-cry to prevent flare-ups.
- Getting lots of sleep.
This is a big one yet one of the hardest to come by when eczema gets flared up – or, even worse, infected. 🙁 There’s no doubt sleep does wonders – working to heal eczema is no exception! I have held her in my arms during a nap and literally watched her eczema ease up while she sleeps.
Seemed Not to Work:
(Or I Haven’t Tried)
- Changing my diet.
Since Lily’s eczema is related to staph bacteria, changing what I eat (what goes into her breastmilk) showed little to no improvement for her flare-ups. I admit I haven’t totally gone ham on changing my diet… but for a little more than a week, I stopped drinking/eating dairy and it didn’t prevent further flare-ups.
- Using a cool mist humidifier.
I believe our cool mist humidifier did moisten the air in our bedroom overnight (I could tell because my own nose wasn’t dry like it normally would be without it), but to be honest, it didn’t seem to do a whole lot with keeping her skin moisturized. I also noticed that it kept her nose runny for over a month, so I did away with it. Another reason why I put it away was because they say to use distilled water, and if I’m running that thing 12 hours every day, the cost would’ve just added up and I simply decided no.
- Keeping the window slightly open overnight (in the summer).
I tried this for about a month because there was one day where we took a stroll outside and her skin became SO. CLEAR. Unfortunately, the humidity in our air changes throughout the day, and I couldn’t recreate that magical stroll throughout the night.
- Running a fan in the bedroom.
I haven’t tried a large stand-up fan, but I did try using this clip-on stroller fan. It actually did seem to work – whether it was the white noise from it or cool air grazing her face – but… the battery would die after an hour so it just became a nuisance after a week. I haven’t tried any other fans because, quite frankly, we have spent sooo much money on all these things and I just try to keep up with her daily skin care routine.
- Keeping her hands covered.
As you probably already know, scratching an itch is just an automatic reflex we humans have, and babies just have zero control of their limbs! It’s always suggested to keep tiny baby hands covered with mittens or those PJs with built-in hand covers, but I found that when Lily’s face started getting itchy, the fabric from the mittens/PJs would actually make it worse. Even more so, when her eczema would get weepy (wet), everything on the mittens/PJs from lint to hair to tiny specs of cotton would stick to her face!! So I eventually stopped covering her hands and just made sure to keep her fingernails short.
Are you dealing with eczema on your baby’s precious skin? Is there anything on this list I haven’t tried that you would recommend?