Infant eczema – what works and what doesn’t

There’s a Facebook parenting group I’m a member of which sees the same questions posted again and again. You see one group of mums get to a point where they feel like they’re getting the hang of this bizarre new lifestyle they’ve created, then another influx of newborns appear, and the cycle begins again. One of the most commonly asked questions is about infant eczema. It’s surprisingly common, surprisingly hard to treat, and for us, was surprisingly extreme.

When I look back at this year, amongst all the amazing things, I’m also going to remember the constant battle with this horrible condition. For months and months now we’ve been in an ongoing fight with our daughter’s skin. Every clothes change, bath and bedtime comes with scratch sleeves to stop her tearing her itchy skin apart. It’s been horrible to watch at times, seeing the redness flare up, then turn to hundreds of tiny scratches and bloodstained babygrows where the scratch mitts have fallen off. But I think we might be on the cusp of seeing the back of it, thank god. We’ve tried what seems like a million remedies, and have finally found a promising answer.

It’s worth knowing that everyone reacts to various treatments differently, so it can be worth persevering for the one that’s right for you. Here’s what we’ve tried this year:

Emolient creams:

There are hundreds of options (or at least it feels like that many), and each one comes with a story from someone who claims that this one is the one that will work. Sorry guys, they’re all watery, chemical infused tubs of uselessness to us. Never again.

Steroid creams:

Usually prescribed with an emolient, these can treat patches of eczema ok, but they’re so bad for your skin, especially very young, delicate skin, that it’s not recommended to use them for more than a few days, and only in very tiny quantities. Personally, we got to the point where we had to try the extreme treatments, so we have used them, but VERY sparingly, and I’ll be avoiding them from now on.

Scratch sleeves:

I’ve mentioned these in one of my previous posts. They stay on overnight, can’t be pulled off, and their silky material is soft on your baby’s skin. But they do only stop them being able to scratch, they can’t get rid of the itch.

Silver Sense babygrows:

These are something else I’ve written about before. The silver thread in these items help treat and repair damaged skin, and I believe they did go some way to helping, but again, it’s not a solution to the cause and will not stop flare ups being a problem.

Shea butter:

Better than emolient creams, this completely natural moisturiser comes in a solid block and can be melted down in your hands and rubbed into skin. We definitely prefer this over emolient moisturisers but it is a bit of a faff when you want to quickly dunk your hand in an easy to apply cream. It’s possible to melt it down and mix it with oil to make it more application friendly, but in all honesty, I haven’t found the time.

Elimination diets:

Eczema is really commonly caused by an intolerance to dairy or cmpa (cows milk protein allergy), and cutting it from the sufferer’s diet can help clear it up. A lot of cmpa sufferers are also allergic to soya too, so beware if you go down this route, it’s worth exploring this as a secondary problem food group. Because I breastfeed, I’ve also had to follow the dairy free lifestyle, and I’ll be writing about this as a separate post. At the minute I can’t really say if cutting dairy has helped us as we don’t know the extent of Maddie’s allergies, but there are problem foods which getting rid of was safer for her.

OK, the big reveal. What has helped us most, is the least medical solution, the most expensive, and the least talked about in any online discussion I’ve been a part of, but it is worth every. Damn. Penny.

Dream Cream:

Lush Dream Cream, the secret answer to eczema issues

It’s not stuffed full of chemicals, it doesn’t feel like it’s made almost entirely of water or grease. It goes on lovely and a little bit goes a long way.

This lovely moisturiser is made by Lush and costs £12.99 for a regular size tub. We applied it all over Maddie at bedtime and saw a huge reduction in the redness and dry areas in the morning. A few days on and it’s all but gone on her body now. Her skin is still sore where she’s reacted to certain things (her allergies are still unclear) but the cream has helped so much. Plus, it makes her smell lovely!

The downside is that any cream we got prescribed was free on the NHS, and this we’ll have to pay for forever, but it seems like one tub will last a decent amount of time, and after all, what’s the use in free stuff that has no effect?

Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried anything different and how you’ve found it.

Lx

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