Eczema is a common skin condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. Eczema occurs when skin cells mount a strong immune-related reaction, causing redness and itchiness. Eczema can be quite common among babies and can be very uncomfortable for them.

This article will cover the basics of eczema in babies, how to treat it, and what foods to avoid to prevent eczema flare-ups. 

Can babies get eczema?

Yes, babies can get eczema. In fact, eczema is most common among infants and children and tends to improve in adulthood. Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema that affects roughly 10% of newborns and children in Canada.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a group of inflammatory skin conditions that may cause dry skin, scaly patches, itchy skin, rashes, blisters, and skin infections.

Types of eczema in babies

There are different types of eczema. They are classified as follows:

  • Atopic Dermatitis The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis (AD). People with this type of eczema often also have hay fever and asthma. It usually affects infants, children, and young adults and tends to get better in adulthood.

Itching, skin dryness, redness, and inflammation are signs and symptoms of AD. Constant scratching can split the skin, making it prone to infection. Babies often get rashes on their scalp and cheeks. The affected skin may get lighter, darker, or thicker.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis Seborrheic dermatitis most commonly affects the scalp, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, and face. Doctors term the condition “cradle cap” when it appears on a baby’s scalp. Cradle cap causes scaly, crusty patches on the scalp. By the timea child reaches their first birthday, the condition may disappear without treatment. 

Symptoms of the condition include skin flakes, red skin, itching, patches of greasy skin or crust on the scalp, face, eyebrows, ears, and eyelids.

  •  Contact dermatitis As the name suggests, contact dermatitis is when symptoms like red skin, itchy bumps, and fluid blisters occur in response to touching an irritant or allergen. Over time, the skin may thicken and feel scaly.
  • Dyshidrotic eczema Dyshidrotic eczema is most common in young adults where blisters grow on the soles of the  feet or the palms of the hands. The blisters are usually itchy and, in some circumstances, filled with fluid and may hurt. The skin begins to scale, flake, and crack. 
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Eczema on a baby’s face

When a baby develops eczema on the face, an itchy rash on the cheeks is most likely to appear first. The rash is typically dry and scaly, with blisters and breaks that leave a crusty covering. Due to the irritation, the baby may act fussy or have difficulty settling or sleeping. The chin may be affected by an eczema rash that spreads to other parts of the face. 

Eczema treatment for babies at home

If your baby has eczema, you can opt for some home remedies to prevent the flare-ups of the condition. However, always discuss this with your doctor. You can also watch how your baby reacts to different foods so you can determine what may trigger an eczema flare-up. 

One of the most useful things for the baby at home is if you immediately apply moisturizer after a quick lukewarm bath. 

Coconut oil (cold-pressed coconut oil or virgin coconut oil) and Vaseline are usually considered safe to use on babies and young children. It may aid in the relief of their symptoms and the moisturization of their sensitive skin.

Eczema treatment for a baby’s face

There is no cure for eczema. The severity of the symptoms usually decreases over time. The goal of treatment is to decrease the flare-ups and dryness of the skin and reduce skin inflammation.

There are various treatment options for eczema on a baby’s face. Prescription and non-prescription medications are available that can help to reduce the symptoms. Before using any medications, always consult your doctor. 


Prescription medications

Your doctor may recommend prescription medications if the symptoms are severe and if home remedies and precautions cannot manage them.

  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors. Topical calcineurin inhibitors work by inhibiting immune system cells in the skin. When used daily, they are pretty helpful at reducing irritation and preventing flare-ups. Pimecrolimus and tacrolimus are examples of medications belonging to this category.
  • Topical PDE4 inhibitors. For atopic dermatitis, crisaborole (Eucrisa®) is approved by Health Canada for topical application in adults and children aged two years and above
  • Topical steroids. The most effective anti-inflammatory medications are corticosteroids. They are available in various intensities, from mild to highly potent. In milder cases, a topical steroid is used 1 to 2 times a day for a few days to treat flare-ups. If your baby has more severe eczema, they may need a topical steroid cream on an ongoing basis. 
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Over the counter medications and products

  • Eucerin baby eczema relief body cream The product’s main ingredients include water, glycerin, and colloidal oatmeal. The cream can provide 24 hours of skin hydration and relieve skin dryness and mild irritation from eczema. The cream can be used by babies and children aged three months and above.
  • Aveeno baby cream Aveeno can help to reduce dryness, irritation, and itchy skin in infants. It also protects skin and reduces irritation and rashes in eczema.
  • Vanicream Moisturizing Cream It mainly contains water, petrolatum, and glycerol compounds that help retain moisture in the skin. 
Vaseline for baby eczema

Vaseline, otherwise known as petrolatum jelly, is a common moisturizer. It is an oily ointment and creates a barrier on the skin so that skin stays hydrated. . Vaseline is hypoallergenic and shows anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and anti-bacterial properties, thus, making it an excellent option to manage symptoms of eczema. Look for Vaseline intended for sensitive skin without fragrance or additives. 

Vitamins, supplements and other products

Various vitamins, supplements, and other products have been touted to help reduce flare-ups and other symptoms of eczema. Some of them are:

  • Vitamin D 
  • Vitamin E 
  • Melatonin
  • Probiotics
  • Fish oil
  • Zinc

Always consult your doctor before giving any supplements to your baby. Certain vitamins and supplements can build up in the body over time, and lead to unintentional overdosing.

Does coconut oil help with eczema in babies? 

Every baby with eczema is different. There is no guarantee that coconut oil will help your baby, but studies do suggest it can be beneficial. Based on available research, we know that coconut oil has moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. Keeping your baby’s skin moisturized can reduce skin irritation and reduce eczema symptoms. 

Lauric acid, one of the ingredients in coconut oil, has antimicrobial activity that may help in reducing additional skin infections in eczema.

However, please consult your doctor before applying it to the baby’s skin.

Is baby shampoo good for eczema? 

Yes, baby shampoo is good for eczema and is suitable for babies, toddlers, and children’s skincare. There are shampoos formulated specifically for baby eczema available in the market. For more details, ask your healthcare provider. 

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What else can you do?

Since there is no cure for eczema, you can take some precautions which can help reduce eczema flare-ups and reduce skin dryness, rashes, and irritation.

  • Keep baby’s skin frequently moisturized (use natural, chemical-free ointments)
  • Dress your baby in soft cotton clothes
  • Avoid using chemicals that are scented
  • Keep your baby cool and make sure the baby is not sweating (especially in affected areas)
  •  Avoid giving long hot baths

How often should babies with eczema be bathed 

You can give baths to your babies every day. Just avoid long, hot baths. Avoid rubbing your baby’s skin too much (do not use rough washcloths, towels, or loofahs) to scrub. Make sure you use plenty of moisturizer after the bath. 

Eczema in babies – foods to avoid

Certain foods can cause allergic reactions which exacerbate eczema flare-ups. Common culprit foods include peanuts, tree nuts, cow’s milk, mustard and sesame seeds, soy, wheat, shellfish, and celery. If your baby has eczema that is hard to control, it may be a good idea to check if they are allergic to one of these foods. If your infant has a confirmed allergy, avoid that food and see if it improves their eczema. 

Best tips on how to avoid eczema In babies

There is no sure-fire technique to keep eczema at bay. However, if your baby is at high risk of having it, breastfeeding for at least six months has been shown to help reduce the chance of eczema in your baby. The tips mentioned above can also help prevent eczema flare-ups in babies. 

Foods that cause eczema in babies

Certain foods can cause allergic reactions which exacerbate eczema flare-ups. Common culprits are peanuts, tree nuts, cow milk, mustard and sesame seeds, soy, wheat, shellfish, and celery. If your baby suffers from eczema that is hard to control, it may be a good idea to try avoiding one or more of these common food triggers for a few weeks to see if it helps their skin. Talk to your baby’s doctor before you try this. Eliminating too many foods can cut out important nutrients from your baby’s diet. 

What not to eat when breastfeeding a baby with eczema 

If you are breastfeeding a baby with eczema, changing your diet may help reduce eczema flare-ups. Mothers can consider avoiding peanut and tree nuts, as well as egg, cow’s milk, and fish.

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