[ This article is avail in French – Remèdes maison naturels pour l’eczéma des bébés et des enfants ]
By Kristina Vidug & Dihan Chandra, Organic Lifestyle
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that your child or infant is suffering from the skin condition, and you are seeking natural home remedies to the myriad of pharmaceutical treatments and steroid-based creams out there.
Here’s a brief background, along with some suggestions derived from Naturopaths and mothers who have dealt with and cured their children’s eczema, which will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the condition so that you can get it under control.
Disclaimer – please consult your local medical practitioner prior to any treatment.
First off, what is eczema?
Eczema, also known as dermatitis, can affect children (and adults) of all ages. It is typically characterized by dry, itchy, and scaly skin. While it can be tempting to scratch the skin-especially for children-doing so can also lead to potential infection. A mild case can result in minor irritation and rashes, while more severe cases can lead to extreme discomfort resulting from raw, broken, and bleeding skin.
• While eczema may not look very pleasant, fortunately it is not contagious.
• The condition is fairly common
• Has been increasing in prevalence over the last 5 to 10 years.
The condition is often thought of as hereditary, because children whose parents have eczema have an 80% chance of developing it themselves at some point in their lives. However, a child with no known hereditary links can still develop the disease.
Eczema in Babies
Babies with eczema often begin displaying symptoms within the first few months of their lives, with lesions across the body such as in the diaper area, extremities, or in the facial region. Of those infants who develop the disease before the turn 1:
• 50% will stop having problems by the age of 5
• 25% will still be having problems by the age of 9
• 12% will still be having problems by the age of 13
• 6% will still be having problems by the age of 17
• 3% will still be having problems by the age of 21
Eczema in Children
Children usually develop eczema between the ages of four and ten, either as a first instance of the condition, or a recurrence after infantile eczema. Eczema in children differs from eczema in babies in that the lesions are usually more localized in creases on the body such as the knees, elbows, and ankles. Luckily, most children will grow out of it by the age of 10.
Why does my child have it?
Ultimately, eczema develops as the immune system’s response to foreign or allergenic bodies, which can be amplified by hereditary susceptibility.
- Common allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, and grass can cause flare-ups
- Seemingly innocent things like a diet rich in dairy can also aggravate the disease
- Other triggers include a diet high in saturated fats (for example, lots of red meat or animal protein), and foods as diverse as peanuts, soy, and fish.
So, what can I do?
Keep a food diary so that you can determine which foods might be causing eczematous reactions. After your child experiences a flare-up in their eczema, look for any common trigger foods that they may have eaten recently, and try eliminating them from their diet for a week to see if that helps alleviate any symptoms. Basics like replacing processed foods with whole fruits and vegetables can be beneficial
Some general guidelines for dealing with eczema include keeping the skin dry and moisturized. This means avoiding contact with any potentially moisture-zapping products at all costs.
• Using all-natural, eco-friendly personal care and cleaning products can eliminate a lot of skin irritants as many are formulated with harsh chemicals. This doesn’t have to mean the end of bubble bath-time for example, but choose a sodium laurel sulphate free bubble-bath.
• Small things like keeping your child’s fingernails cut short can help reduce the chances of your child developing an infection when they scratch at the irritation.
In the Home
There are also steps you can take in the home to minimize reactions:
• Keeping dust mites and pet dander at bay is essential, which means dusting and vacuuming as frequently as possible.
• Reducing the humidity in your home can also help.
• Reduce overheating & sweat buildup at night.
[Our customers have noticed that using a natural wool pillow has helped manage the symptoms of eczema.
This is because wool is much more breathable than other materials, thus less overheating & sweating which are the right conditions that exacerbate eczema symptoms especially over night. If concerned about a potential wool allergy or as an irritant – keep in mind that its covered with an organic cotton cover, so your little one never comes in direct contact with the wool. On top of that, organic wool is never treated with chemicals, which is what most people are allergic to.]
Children and babies suffering from eczema can also benefit from the careful selection of their clothes.
• Choosing lightweight, non-irritating clothing materials, such as bamboo, will help the skin breathe, which will in turn help manage eczema symptoms. [So many of our mompreneurs supplier got started with bamboo clothing businesses based on its success with their own children and scarcity of finding breathable clothing options]
• Avoid synthetic fabrics which can restrict the flow of air and trap moisture. Try to choose clothes for your child and infant that have as few seams as possible, as these can rub against the skin cause the eczema to flare up.
With any luck, some of the above tips will help you manage your child’s eczema so that both you and your child can get back to the important things in life.
For more information, we found these links very informative: