What's the best treatment for my 10-month-old's eczema?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common condition in babies and toddler
s. It causes red, scaly, itchy areas of skin that may become secondarily infected. Although petroleum jelly can be a useful moisturizer for affected babies, you're right in noting that it may result in heat rash ("prickly heat") during humid summer months. Here are some tried-and-true tips for treating atopic dermatitis:
1.Give your baby
a brief daily bath (no longer than 10 minutes) using lukewarm water.
2.Blot-dry the skin, leaving some water droplets behind, and then apply the topical medicine, if needed, followed by a moisturizer (see below).
3.An anti-inflammatory ointment is often needed, and is applied twice daily. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone may be useful for mild cases; for moderate or severe involvement, see your child's health
care provider to discuss prescription preparations.
4.If your baby
is quite itchy, consider using an oral antihistamine to minimize scratching and the risk of secondary infection.
5.Keep nails trimmed short.
6.If there is oozing, crusting (scabs), or pustules (whiteheads), there may be a secondary infection. See your pediatrician to discuss the need for oral antibiotics.
Most children outgrow eczema, but it may wax and wane for years. The best maintenance program consists of the daily short bath and application of a good moisturizer. There are many moisturizers on the market; choose a thick cream or greasy ointment (such as petroleum jelly) in fall and winter, and use a cream or lotion for spring or summer months, especially if you live in a humid climate. More information is available at the Web site
for the National Eczema Association for Science and Education, or NEASE.