Eczema

My poor baby boy has some pretty awful eczema. His stomach is covered in aggravated red patches. He arms and legs are covered in rough, scaly skin. His face and head have been completely taken over by cradle cap (which also manifests at rough, scaly skin that flakes constantly). The poor boy is just plagued by dry, dry skin.

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At his three month appointment the doctor assured me it was just eczema caused by severely dry skin. She suggested I slather him up with something 3-4 times a day to keep his skin hydrated, but she didn’t really have a suggestion of what I might use. I said I was using shea butter (100%, raw, nothing else added) and it seemed to have helped his cradle cap but wasn’t making much difference on the rest of his body. She said to keep using it, just use it more frequently.

The thing is, I really don’t think it’s going to be enough. I’ve read testimonials all over the internet saying that shea butter is AMAZING for eczema and I had high hopes that it would help my son’s rash but it doesn’t seem to be touching it. Neither does coconut oil, or a balm made out of both. Nothing natural seems to be working.

A friend’s friend recommended CeraVe (her son also has very bad eczema), so I picked up some of that. It seems to have helped a little; the rash on his stomach seems less aggravated than it was, but it’s definitely still there. I’m continuing to use it three times a day but I don’t think it’s going to clear it up completely. Perhaps nothing will.

I hate that my poor boy’s body is covered in this stuff. It looks so painful. It clearly itches, he’s constantly breaking his own skin on his head and face, making himself bleed. I put him down to sleep tonight with newborn mittens on his hands, otherwise he’ll wake up with a face that looks like it got in a fight with our bitch of a cat.

I will admit, I wanted to use only natural ingredients on my son’s skin. I have done a lot of research on what natural butters and oils best combat the dryness that causes eczema. I had such high hopes that shea butter or coconut oil would help, but they don’t seem to be making much difference. So now I’m ready to turn to some of the more intense creams, you know, the ones with ingredients I can’t pronounce.

So here is where I ask you, dear readers, what you recommend. Have any of you dealt with stubborn eczema? What worked/works for you? Right now I’m doing the following:

– using only unscented, super sensitive laundry detergent

– washing him with California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo every night

– rubbing unscented baby oil all over his body before I give him a bath

– slathering his entire head and face in shea butter 3x/day

– slathering his body with CeraVe 3x/day

– slathering his body with a shea butter/coconut oil balm before bed

– using Aveeno oatmeal bath 1-2x/week (I can’t really afford to use it more frequently–that shit is expensive)

Do you have any lotions or treatments you recommend? Is there anything else I can be doing to make this better. Babies are supposed to have super soft skin; my poor boy’s skins is scaly red rash. It makes me sad.

36 responses

  1. I have heard that babies/ toddlers with ezcema should not be bathed daily. My friend’s 3.5 yr old only gets bathed two times a week.

      • Yep, I was going to say the same thing. Stella’s never got as bad as Monito’s (poor baby!!), but the doc told us to only bathe her 2-3x/week, so that’s what we did. Water (counter intuitively) dries your skin out.

  2. I only bathe MJB (though only mild eczema) twice a week, and only use pure clear vegetable glycerin soap, and only on his diaper area. Olive oil has been helpful. Eczema sucks, poor little dude. 😦

  3. I’ve also heard that frequent bathing dries out skin. And I certainly can’t get my act together enough to bathe my kids daily! We do twice a week. K is a big believer in pure shea butter as curing absolutely everything, but I usually find it just makes my skin greasy. Also, if Aveeno is too pricy, you can crush up some regular oatmeal in a food processor or blender and add that to the bath. Other than that, though, I have no suggestions. Why does your doctor think it’s dry skin and not an allergy?

  4. My son had awful, horrible eczema as a baby and now as a 4 yo he still gets flair ups from time to time. Here’s what worked for us:

    Put Aquaphor on top of whatever moisturizer you use – it will seal it in and keep his skin from losing moisture.

    California Baby sensitive skin lotion after a bath.

    Bathe every other day MAXIMUM otherwise just a damp cloth to clean him up and not dry out his skin.

    Cloth diaper or change your brand of diaper – in our case switching to cloth cut down about 50% of the eczema on his torso. You might try a chlorine-free brand of disposables if cloth doesn’t work for you.

    Cut citrus out of your diet including citric and ascorbic acid to see if that makes a difference.

    Check your lotions, etc, for wheat. I know you cut it out of your diet, but you could be introducing it to his skin in other ways. Even Vitamin E oil has gluten in it, so does Aveeno anything.

    See an allergist. We waited until he was 10 months old only to discover the many things that were causing the problem that we could have dealt with months before. The allergist also put him on a low dose of Zyrtec (he’s actually on an adult-sized dose daily now) to stop the itching.

    Dry skin only aggravates eczema – it doesn’t cause it – there is something underlying that he is reacting to whether it’s a food, lotion or diaper.

    Good luck!

  5. This is going to make you want to roll your eyes, but it has helped Bryson a lot. His eczema is nothing near as bad as Monito’s, but he had a spot on his head that was HUGE and stubborn.

    We use “shea moisture” baby bath products. I use their baby wash, lotion, raw shea butter, and baby oil. We’ve always used the baby wash, but his eczema got us to add the other 3 items. What has made things turn around for him is putting a couple of drops of baby oil in his bath at night. HUGE difference. That, and the raw shea butter on his head each night, and it’s all but gone.

    B thought I was nuts. He’s Mr. all natural for skin products and makes all his own. But even he is amazed. He wants to make the next batch of baby oil, and I said ok with the caveat that we go back to this stuff if the eczema flares at all.

    This condition is expensive! I can’t believe what this stuff costs, and unfortunately, it’s needed. There is no cheap, easy fix for eczema. (Bryson has it on his testicles too, which we slather with aquafor.)

    Good luck! Poor baby!

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

    • I already slather him with a Shea butter oil before his bath. I actually used those Shea butter products but I worry that they have so many perfumes (I am really sensitive to perfumes and those smell really strongly) that they do more harm than good, so I stopped using them.

      • The perfumes concern me too, but we’ve had good luck. I just noticed the other day they make a sensitive skin wash. We will be switching to that once we’re out of the other stuff.

        Poor baby boy.

  6. Hi Esperanza, Poor Monito! I wanted to forward a post from Ain’t No Roller Coaster, a premie blog. Owen suffered from eczema his entire life and his mother tried everything until she found CleanSmart, an alcohol free hand sanitizer. I hope this can help and is simple to try, or at least reading Owen’s experience with eczema might help.
    http://aintnorollercoaster.com/end-eczema-battle-alcohol-free-hand-sanitizer/
    I also wanted to thank you for your continued and prolific, thoughtful blogging on parenting, on infertility and relationships, on everything. I am a loyal reader.
    All the best! EG

  7. Aiden gets bad eczema on his knees and the tops of his feet. We have tried several lotions like Aquafor and the Aveeno Eczema lotion. The Aveeno eczema lotion is the only thing that works, but we have to be really consist with putting it on him several times a day. I’ve also heard bathing less will help, but Aiden LOVES his bath time and so we still do it, just don’t use soap every night. I hope you find something that works for Monito, if you do, please share! 🙂

    • Monito also loves his bath time. Like LOVES it. I’m really sad to cut it down, but come to think of it, his eczema really started to act up when I added a daily bath. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together before but now I see that. So I guess I’ll stop bathing him but 2 or 3 times a week. 😦

  8. Cadet has always had very bad eczema on his legs and arms. He was always itching and looking uncomfortable. I, too, wanted to use only natural products, but they didn’t help. And I tried everything…every single suggestion that was listed above: aquafor, oatmeal baths, shea butter, coconut butter, bathing daily, not bathing daily….everything.

    Finally, I got Cadet into see a pediatric dermatologist (which I suggest you do!). She said not to bath Cadet, unless he needs it…and most babies/toddles don’t. When we do bath him, he gets sponge baths with just warm water and a very TINY amount of oatmeal powder or soap (depending on how dirty he is). The dermatologist said to lather him up with CeraVe ASAP after the water leaves his skin (within 2 minutes). She also gave him a prescription for a topical anti-inflammatory cream to use twice a day, just until the flares stopped (which took about a week for us).

    We haven’t had any issues with eczema for almost 6 months. His skin is clear and he’s not uncomfortable.

    The dermatologist said that some kids are born with malfunctioning proteins. (specifically Ctip 2) These protein controls body fats to keep skin properly hydrated. When that protein malfunctions, eczema is the result. CeraVe (and similar topical treatments) is useful in increasing Ctip 2 expression in the skin cells. I suggest reading: (http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/january2013/01142013atopic.htm)
    As it discusses these recent findings by the NIH and others.

    Be aware that persistent eczema in babies is also linked to a higher risk of asthma in later life. I don’t say this to scare you, but it’s just something to watch out for and in case you have a family history of it.

    If you’d like some more information, email me and I’ll be happy to help.

  9. Two suggestions: first don’t bathe so frequently, but if he enjoys a bath do not soap him. Really, unless he gets dirty, soap 1-2x a week. We use California Baby but even then I water it down in a foaming pump, probably 3:1 water to soap. And second, it’s unfortunately definitely not natural, but Cetaphil worked wonders after all the beautiful natural products failed or aggravated it.

  10. My son who is now 4 has eczema and I was told not to bath him everyday. I also use Cereve on him. I do use steroid cream as needed for the really stubborn patches b/c he will scratch till they bleed. I also have a 3 month old baby girl (who was a complete surprise after struggling with infertility and doing IVF to convieve our first) anyway she has a milk protien allergy and very sensative skin. Have you had him tested for milk protien? I am just wondering if he is allergist to something else? I know you cut out gluten. have you thought about taking him to the dermatologist?

  11. Really and truly the only thing that worked on the really bad patches for my little guy was steroid ointment. We use it as sparingly and infrequently as possible, but this looks like it could use a little help! (And to second everyone else, we bathe him at most every other day using this:
    http://www.exederm.com/baby-eczema-wash.html, slather with Aquaphor when he’s still damp, pure coconut oil when his skin is doing better.) Please also be aware of the link of eczema and food allergies, we found out in a scary incident about my son’s cashew allergy.

  12. I think you’ve already got some great advice. My only addition is that California Baby has a nice eczema lotion as well, but we only deal with dry skin so it might not be right for you.

  13. our son got wicked WICKED eczema when he was 6 months old- went to the local dermatologist, he prescribed a variety of steroids, which we tried- they worked for a few weeks, then stopped.

    it got terrible, we made an appointment to see a pediatric dermatologist-
    it made all of the difference. this is what she prescribed and what worked for us to “beat” the eczema…

    daily 5 minute warm water soak in tub with a product called ‘robathol’ (basically oil that is totally allergen free and specifically made for eczema). not a prescription, can be found at target behind their RX department.

    after bath, when pores are open, slather with shea butter (obviously you have used this- no additives, no scents, no nothing…). she said that simple Vaseline or no-name petroleum jelly works just as well- she stressed this because she sees a lot of patients who cannot afford pricier, organic things like shea butter- you are sealing in the moisture from the water soak… she said shea butter is totally fine to use, but Vaseline would do just the same job. we used shea butter, still do.

    NO soap! no shampoos, no detergents! nothing scented! wash all clothes (baby’s, yours, sheets, towels, etc) in the household in 7th Generation Free & Clear. Not all “free & clear” laundry products are the same… we found ZERO reactions with the 7th Generation brand.

    NO products with lanolin- lanolin is an allergen for eczema, which is a shame because a lot of products for sensitive skin, etc. have lanolin in them- don’t use it!

    change out or stop using products on your self and anyone who comes in contact with the baby a lot, soaps, lotions, perfume, cologne, hair products, etc. keep it as scent-free as you can.

    Kids are not that dirty- you don’t need to wash their skin with any kind of soap or product for sensitive skin. If their bottom-area or hands, etc. get dirty or unsanitary, spot clean as needed.

    on really bad spots, it is OK to use an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone ointment- the lower the percentage the better. when the area clears up, keep applying shea butter or vaseline on the area multiple times a day. try to use the ointment as little as possible- but it is OK to use it on really bad spots.

    watch the diet for allergens. eggs, dairy, nuts, strawberries, etc… the usual suspects. eczema can go hand in hand with asthma and other environmental allergies, as well as food allergies. keep your home as free and clear of obvious allergens as you can.

    we followed her relatively simple and inexpensive advice and his eczema cleared and stayed clear- he is 3 now and we still do the shea butter after a no-soap shower… he is growing out of it. pediatric dermatologist said that 50% of kids will grow out of it by age 5.

    hope this helps! it is so stressful…

  14. I used to have horrible, horrible eczema. People are correct in that water makes it so much worse (if I didn’t wear gloves to wash dishes, I couldn’t close my fists for days), but water is not the cause obviously, just exacerbates the symptoms.
    Honestly, it’s almost always an allergy. Could be environmental (detergents, perfumes, flame retardant pj’s, etc) or food. Mine was gluten. And, to some extent dairy as well.
    It’s a good thing that Monito’s immune system is working well and alerting you that there is a problem – that’s what his skin is telling you. When you treat only the symptoms and not the cause, say with steroid creams, the issues tend to move deeper, causing problems like asthma. I experienced that myself years ago unfortunately! I think it’s worth exploring what he’s sensitive or allergic to and eliminating it.

  15. OK, I haven’t read all the comments but I’ve spent some time in training in Dermatology and the #1 recommendation for eczema was NOT to bathe daily. When bathing, use tepid (not hot) water, no soap if you can help it (or soap up the yucky areas only), pat dry immediately and then apply moisterizer immediately.
    L had eczema when he was little and what we did was the infrequent, soap-free bathing and SLATHERED him up with Vaseline (it works as a barrier to keep moisture in). Like, GREASED HIM UP GOOD, and then covered it all with PJs. It cleared it up so so quickly and was unbelievably cheap. We still use Vaseline now and then for patches that act up.

  16. The poor sweetheart. Over here a lot of people have had success with a product called MooGoo which is a natural alternative to steroids but this poor little man looks like he needs the hard core stuff. Hugs little M xx

  17. My youngest is prone to patches of eczema. The Aveeno eczema lotion helps with those. The California Baby Calendula Bubble Bath actually made his back break out in supremely horrible eczema, so no more of that. He also has a stubborn and painful looking patch of cradle cap on top of his head. I used California Baby Calendula Cream on it and that worked well, but the smell turned my stomach so I had to stop. Now I put coconut oil on it about half an hour before I’m going to shampoo his hair and that keeps it somewhat under control. I only bathe him every other day, and only use soap and shampoo every other bath (except on his feet, which are setting some kind of stinkiness record, holy hell).

  18. A lot of people tell me they’ve “tried everything and nothing works” .
    I ask them to look at those last two words – NOTHING WORKS – and ask if they’ve tried NOTHING? This sounds all wrong until you appreciate that a lot of the products used to MANAGE eczema actually MAINTAIN eczema.
    If you want to know more, visit http://www.execzema.org and look at the short video. Follow that, if you want, by typing dr harley farmer into YouTube and see the short videos on chapters from my next book on ending eczema.
    You will immediately see that 90% of what you need to beat eczema is knowledge, which I share free of charge in the belief that people will then share it with others.
    It doesn’t do everything but does let you cut through the mystique which surrounds this incredibly confusing disease.
    I only discuss actual skincare products with people who have fully grasped this new understanding.
    Feel free to contact me as that is how this knowledge grows and spreads.

  19. Oh man, I will try to keep this comment out of chapter book length, but no promises. G has had eczema since birth, we’ve tested for food allergies only to have them all come back negative reducing me to tears because it was so bad I thought she was going to have scars from these wounds. (She doesn’t.)

    Over our 4.5 years together we have FINALLY found what works for her, she still gets patches, but it’s light years from what it was. She has a dairy free diet, her laundry soap and dryer sheets are dye/fragrance free, we use cetaphil on her face and Aveeno eczema therapy moisturizing soap as her body soap and her shampoo, we tried to have normal kid shampoo, patches all over her face, I tried the aveeno with a spritzer leave in conditioner, same result, so we now just use that with organic coconut oil on her hair as a conditioner.

    For the skin itself, I have different levels; first, everyday maintenance; aveeno eczema therapy moisturizing lotion on her body, coconut oil on her face where she had really bad patches all last year. Level 2; coconut oil on patches starting to form. Level 3; over the counter hydrocortisone cream, and level 4; a (fairly low dose) prescription steroid cream. I took her to a dermatologist last year and she told me I was a little less aggressive than I should be, I was too concerned about the perimeters in using the prescription cream and that I should use it sooner and longer than I had been. She also gave us some special sunscreen samples as they have always been a trigger for her as well, which I can attest worked when we applied them 3 days in a row recently and she didn’t get any patches something that has never happened before.

    We tried aquaphor for years, but it didn’t have half the affect coconut oil does, and the oil absorbs so much quicker, my poor kid doesn’t have to walk around with a shiny face greasing everything up she comes in contact with. Plus, my hair adores it as well.

    I do hope you’ll keep us updated about what you try and how it works, I’m off to read all these responses, I can’t wait to see what they say!!

  20. Once again out lives are mimicking each other. My baby has similarly severe eczema and cradle cap. I have found the California baby shampoo to be too drying, and their calendula cream made him cry. Creams and ointments are best, not lotions which have lots of water in them. I have tried so many treatments but what seems to actually be making a difference…regular slathering in CeraVe cream (on sale right now at drugstore.com), nightly bath with Mustela creamy bath oil or aveeno baby cream rinse, no other soap but the cream rinse or Mustela stuff both act as cleansers. Also, I slather him in coconut oil and sometimes (very messy but effective) a paste made from coconut oil and turmeric powder) before bath, let him sit in oil for 15minutes and comb the flakes from his head, then I put him into tub which has one of the products I mentioned before, I scrub his scalp with the aveeno cream rinse to get rid of the flakes (also because the oil clogs pores which isn’t good for the cradle cap), and gently clean his hot spot areas with a soft towel and then quickly out of the tub to be slathered in cerave and usually Vaseline as well. If he has a really bad patch that is weeping, I use hydrocortisone on it for a couple of days (twice a day). The addition of the coconut oil has really made a difference in how his skin feels, even though I bathe him after applying it (though it isn’t all rinsed off as I’m not using soap). He is still itching, and it is still a constant battle, but his skin looks a hundred times better than before.

    Vaseline or even a and d ointment work just as well as Shea butter and cost much less! Oh, and everyone I spoke to recommended Aveeno for bathing and lotion over other brands.

  21. I am a teenager with pretty severe eczema and its always been pretty bad. I get it mostly on the face, hands, and in the folds of the arms. I am allergic to aveeno products. they make my skin flare up worse. Cetaphil makes a moisturizer for eczema, I have been using this product for about a year now and it has done wonders for my skin. I have tried everything shea butter, coconut oil, other lotions nothing has ever worked because the skin is so sensitive. Like you, I like to keep my skin routine as natural as possible, but it obviously is a challenge when the eczema is so severe. I have however tried a product called Protopic. It isn’t a steroid its a topical gel that my doctor gave me to try and that did clear up my skin beautifully as well. hope I could help good luck with your son!

  22. Hello. I just want to tell you what I found worked the absolute best. Aloe vera leaves, straight from the plant. Rubbed all over her body. It was 50% better in less than two days. And the cream I use is called Moogoo for Psorisas and Eczema and guess what the #1 ingredient is? Yep, Aloe Vera.

  23. My daughter is in the same boat as your son, it’s awful what they go through…. I too am struggling to find what works for her and i have to admit it is frustrating not being able to help her stop scratching her skin raw 😦 We are currently trying virgin organic coconut oil for her skin. I put it on her 2 to 4 times a day and it doesn’t seem to really work so far. Cerave works okay in the bath, but still not what i was expecting. Her dad has adult eczema so we think she may deal with this her whole life. We have found (I’m not recommending it on every child) that Hydrocortisone works the best when she is having a flair up. Unfortunately, hydrocortisone has mixed reviews when applying it on children under the age of two. She was prescribed a steroid cream by her pediatrician, but it didn’t do anything for it. We put it on her hot spots once or twice a day only on her wrists and creases of her arms and legs.
    It’s hard to find that balance with their skin. Either their skin can be too lathered or too dry (both cause flair ups). We also know that dairy contributes to her flair ups. She loves milk and yogurt.
    If you find something that works for your little one, please share because we are at our witts end with sleepless nights and crying baby.
    Best of luck and i hope some of this helped.

  24. My daughter has something similar to your son. We have tried everything. We have been to many, MANY doctors, natural paths, etc… 1.5 years later, it is better but still not clear by any stretch. Been to allergists and have had the blood tested and basically everything is coming up positive. I see most of these replies were from 2 years ago and was wondering if you have had any luck.
    Thanks,
    Matt

  25. Nope bath them daily as it helps with moisture on the skin and washes away allergens which is why they scratch and what causes eczema to flare up.

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