For any parent of an eczema baby, you know how frustrating it is to even leave your house for errands or a social event. Despite all your preventative measures, you’re constantly keeping an eye on any redness, itching, or bumps forming. Day to day activities add an extra chore of moisturizing before leaving, moisturizing as soon as you get somewhere, moisturizing at every diaper change, and moisturizing in between. My daughter, Lily, has had extreme eczema on her face since she was 2 months old. She’s now 8 months old, so the last 6 months have been gruelling, to say the least. She has a little bit of eczema on her elbows and behind her knees, but those seem to be controllable.
At first I thought it was just “baby acne” that would go away quickly, but at her first immunization appointment, our doctor said it: “She has a bit of eczema.” To be honest, I felt… sad? Slightly disappointed? Taken aback? I can’t quite describe it, but it was a “nnnnooooooo” moment for sure, because we didn’t have that issue with Ava until she was about 10 months old. Leaving the house with Ava was relatively easy because she didn’t need constant lathering of moisturizer. And for the first 2 months of Lily’s life, she was a fabulous sleeper – falling asleep on her own and sleeping as long as 5-6 hours at night. Now I can’t remember the last time I’ve slept longer than 3 hours straight; and taking Lily anywhere requires a good 10-15 minutes of lathering in creams every hour or so.
So naturally after that appointment, I googled eczema. I switched our laundry detergent to Purex Baby Soft, got rid of everything that wasn’t cotton, stopped using dryer sheets, religiously kept her fingernails short, and changed her bath soap. I tried sooo many products, and people recommended a million more, but so far we’ve gone through these moisturizers, prescriptions, and other products:
- Aveeno Baby Eczema Care Nighttime Balm
- Aveeno Baby Eczema Care Wash
- Aveeno Baby Eczema Care Moisturizing Cream
- Glaxal Base
- Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment
- CeraVe Baby Lotion
- CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
- Dimethicone Cream
- LUSH Dream Cream
- Organic Manuka Honey Skin Soothing Eczema Cream
- 5 rounds of Keflex oral antibiotics
- 3-4 tubes/containers of 1% hydrocortisone cream
- Baby mittens/socks
and we’re currently on the second tube of this fucidic acid + 2% hydrocortisone prescription antibiotic cream. I’ll write more on how her skin has responded to each of them, but in short, what seems to be working the best so far is CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for moisturizer, 1% hydrocortisone for the flare-ups, and alternating between Organic Manuka Honey Skin Soothing Eczema Cream and the fucidic acid prescription for infected flare-ups (angry, pus-filled and/or crusty bumps). I understand LOTS of parents are wary of using hydrocortisone steroid because of the long-term side effects of skin thinning and stuff, but click here and you’ll find more on my experience with it and why I’m no longer hesitant to use it on my baby.
It’s been a very long journey of combating Lily’s eczema and finding the right remedies for her, but I’ve really been trying to figure out what causes flare-ups in the first place, so that I can avoid it altogether. I found that understanding what eczema is and why it happens has helped me a lot.
In case you’re wondering, eczema is an umbrella term for a number of skin conditions, so every case is a little different. Unfortunately, this makes it pretty hard to pinpoint the cause of flare-ups. Some babies are allergic to certain skin care products, some react to certain fabrics, and others react to certain foods (either passed through their mom’s breastmilk or solids). The common theme, though, is that when eczema gets triggered for whatever reason, the immune system kicks into high gear and overcompensates, causing the skin to get red, itchy, and inflamed. I guess you could see this as a good sign that your baby’s immune system is strong AF! Unfortunately, too much of anything can be problematic. Additionally, and according to nationaleczema.org, research has suggested that people with eczema don’t make enough of a special protein that creates a protective, moisturizing barrier against viruses and bacteria, so their skin gets extremely dry and is more prone to infections. Makes sense to me.
After much trial and error, and our doctor specifically saying, “[Lily] has staph,” I suspect the skin on Lily’s face really lacks this special protein. What makes me think that? Because the eczema on her face has turned into full blown infections 5 times in the last 6 months, despite my efforts of keeping on top of moisturizers. Once again, as soon as she mentioned “staph”, I had to look it up.
Nationaleczema.org has helped greatly in my understanding of eczema, staph bacteria, and the cause of infections. I’m not naturally a “science” person so as I understand all this… everybody has the bacteria “Staphylococcus aureus” living on their skin, but the skin of people without eczema are naturally able to kill off staph because they have that special protein. Atopicdermatitis.net explains that saliva can aggravate eczema, and we’ve all heard that bacteria love and grow best in moisture, so add excessively dry skin, staph bacteria, and a drooling baby together, and you’ve got triggered, aggravated, infection-prone eczema lurking around the corner!
Side note: You would think that drool moistens dry skin in a good way, but nope! There’s a weird fine line between “moisturizer” and “moisture”. Ha! It’s so weird to me!
Anyway, another reason why I think Lily has an overgrowth of staph bacteria is that one morning she woke up with only one cheek red, itchy, and bumpy. I sent a photo to my nurse friend [another side note: if you don’t already have a nurse friend, get one!! I joke around with my friend and call her doctor, but their knowledge and expertise is invaluable! And if they’re a great friend… free and quickly accessible ;)] and she said, “Yup – you can see the sleep mark on the cheek that’s red, and bacteria love moisture, and it’s only on one side so it’s probably the staph.” I felt one step closer to finding out the cause for Lily’s eczema!
That same night, I read up on the best bedding material for eczema and I put down these microfibre towels from IKEA on her crib. I gave it a try for the next few nights and it worked pretty well by wicking away moisture! But then I think I ruined the towels from not washing them properly and it became ineffective… Of course, I had bought them in the As Is section, and by the time I went back, they were all gone and discontinued. Wah wah. In any case, below is a photo of her a couple days after sleeping on these microfibre towels! I also started using the hand towel as a bib during the day – also worked great! (Until I wrecked them…) So lesson learned: Follow the label when washing microfibre!!
So because the microfibre towels got ruined and stopped being as effective, I decided I was just going to have to be proactive with everything from her moisturizing skin routine, bath time routine, keeping her nails short, putting her in cotton clothing, washing her car seat and bedding often, and keeping her cool throughout the day.
Thankfully, she’s a pretty happy baby and has managed to smile throughout every flare-up and infection. From what I hear, eczema in babies is quite common and most babies will outgrow it by the time they’re 2 years old (…which feels like SUCH. A. LONG. TIME. FROM NOW). I guess since it’s an immune system thing, they likely outgrow it once their system balances out and regulates itself.
Until then, knowing what triggers flare-ups helps with knowing how to avoid them — and for Lily, that means I need to lather, lather, lather that barrier cream!
For any mamas that suspect their baby’s eczema is related to staph and drooling, have you found any tried and true relieving products?? If so, would love to hear about it and know your skin care routine – especially for night time!!
Drop a comment below and let me know!