Here’s the answer we’d give if we were living in the best possible version of reality. “Baby eczema feels wonderful and looks like a modern animated cartoon—shiny, new and full of jazzy characters. With skin so soft, you rub it and get unlimited wishes.”
Unfortunately, the answer to “What does eczema look like on a baby?” isn’t nearly that interesting, which is a shame because eczema can be pretty uncomfortable.
The reality can be different from child to child. Some babies develop mild cases that are difficult to spot, while others exhibit vivid rashes that cover considerable portions of their bodies. Below you’ll find detailed descriptions for various skin types as well as treatment options.
What Does Eczema Look Like on a Baby? Here’s Your Answer
Most often, you’ll see light red patches of dry, scaly, sometimes flaky skin that concentrate on the cheeks, the outside of the elbows, the tops of the knees, on the wrists and on the ankles in very young children. As they get older, patches may move to the inside of the elbows, the backs of the knees, and can continue on the hands, wrists, ankles and also occur on the eyelids.
These patches are more commonly faint purple, dark brown, or ash grey on babies with brown skin. The darker a child’s skin, the more difficult the patches can be to see.
Along with the itchy, irritated rash, you may see small rough bumps accompanied by minor swelling. In more extreme cases, these bumps can leak and develop a crust. The rash may also thicken, creating harder, more leathery patches.
In babies, cradle cap, technically called “seborrheic dermatitis,” is often mistaken for eczema, but the two conditions are different.
Cradle cap occurs as oily, scaly patches on the scalp of young infants and it is frequently accompanied by pink moist spots in the folds of the neck, behind the ears, in the armpit folds, and in the folds next to the genitalia. Cradle cap usually clears up within afew weeks with appropriate treatment, whereas eczema may be ever-present or may follow a cycle where it retreats and returns periodically.
So what does eczema look like on a baby? If it’s scaly and occurs in the places mentioned in the above paragraph, it’s likely cradle cap. If the diagnosis is indeed eczema, there are things you can and should do for your baby to offer them some relief.
General Baby Eczema Treatment Guidelines
The skin’s protective layer is damaged with eczema, reducing its ability to retain moisture. Your first job is to supplement this protection. Bath your child with lukewarm water using a mild cleanser. Many external forces can trigger an eczema flare-up, so it’s critical you choose a daily shampoo and body wash that doesn’t include harsh chemicals, fragrances, and dyes. After their bath, pat them dry gently, and immediately apply a nourishing, hypoallergenic baby eczema cream. Throughout the day, reapply cream to maintain a healing layer of protection. Use the moisturizing cream at least twice daily.
Make an effort to avoid anything that might irritate your child’s skin. Dress them loosely with soft cotton clothing. Wash new clothes before your child’s first wearing to remove residual manufacturing chemicals. Switch to hypoallergenic laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and soaps, and avoid any products that contain heavy fragrances, dyes, alcohol, sulfates, phthalates, or parabens.
Keeping your child’s skin protected will help control and heal existing flare-ups. Avoiding potential triggers will help prevent symptoms from worsening and will reduce the likelihood of future occurrences.
What does eczema look like on a baby that’s following ideal treatment protocols? Hopefully, it looks like nothing at all. With Happy Cappy’s skincare routine for dry skin — which includes our daily shampoo & body wash and eczema cream — that can be a reality.
If your child’s skin doesn’t clear right away, take heart, kids frequently outgrow the condition before they turn four or five. This means that while the answer to “What does eczema look like on a baby?” isn’t “an animated glossy magical wonderland,” you can at least rest assured that the condition is manageable and it won’t last forever.