I know from this picture it is assumed I will be talking about products.
Well yes and no.
I will discuss the products in brief because so many people have asked me what I use in our baby eczema skincare regime. So the photo above is the quick answer to that question. But when taking a look deeper into the tricks I used in our skincare regime, it is so much more than products.
My Top 5 Eczema baby skincare tricks
For a majority of the time spent working hard on your baby’s skincare, HOW you use your chosen skincare products is sometimes more important than the actual products themselves. Once you have figured out what is suitable for your baby, the best thing to do is to stick to them till there is a really good compelling reason to change. I will explain why less is more in No. 1:
No. 1: Minimise the number of products you are using
I did not start out only using La Roche moisturisers. During the first year of our battle in 2016, I tried and used Physiogel, Aveeno, Ceredan, QV, Cetaphil, Avene, Vaseline, generic white paraffin…. you get the drift? There was nothing wrong with any of these products. In fact, I would say all of them were decent. BUT THAT WAS THE PROBLEM. I was jumping from moisturiser to moisturiser like each was gonna give me some miracle result. Every time someone recommended a new one I would give it a shot and then NOTHING. Not only did they never cure eczema, but they also did something worse. Placing my false hopes in all these different moisturisers took my attention away from areas I should have been focusing on. Like treating infected eczema and working on removing my baby’s triggers.
One particularly exhausting itchy day, I hauled all the products we had onto a table. The pile was so big it was spilling off the table. I remember saying under my breath ‘this is crazy!’ and like a light bulb going off in my head, I knew I had to stop using so many things. I narrowed down two which I felt kept my baby’s skin supple for longest. I got rid of all the rest, GONE.. Kaput.. given away, used on me.
It was like a huge weight was lifted off my chest. Once I had the one I felt was the best at that point, I worked on making sure we were using enough and often enough to keep baby’s skin comfortable.
My criteria for choosing a suitable moisturiser is pretty simple. Use the product which keeps baby’s good skin supple the longest without reapplication.
My Current moisturizer choice: La Roche Posay Lipikar and Cicaplast
I started using La Roche Lipikar at the beg of this year and it felt good on my baby ‘s skin. After writing my post on our first 50-day use, I realized it would sting broken skin eczema. So I added the La Roche Posay Cicaplast repair cream to spot treat the broken skin areas.
No. 2: Keep the skin clean and bacteria low – chlorhexidine antiseptic
I like to think of antiseptics as a toner for baby’s skin. Much like we mummies would tone our skin before applying moisturisers, clean skin on baby allows for better absorption of medicated creams and moisturisers.
In the world of baby eczema, the common antiseptics recommended by dermatologists are bleach baths, salt baths, apple cider vinegar wipes and in our case, chlorhexidine gluconate.
Introduced by Corey’s allergist, he explained that wiping eczema patches with chlorhexidine increases the effectiveness of medicated creams and moisturisers. By keeping the skin clean and bacteria count low, it speeds up the healing of eczema skin.
I tried bleach baths and salt baths and apple cider vinegar wipes before switching to chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine has by far been my favourite for a few simple reasons. It does not sting and is easy to apply. No need to prepare a big bath to soak baby in. No fears of stinging baby as is the case with bleach and salt baths.
It’s handy to keep in the fridge for any cuts and scrapes for everyone in the family. Many times my older son would fall down (as all boys do) and get a bad scrap, I would wipe with chlorhexidine and immediately apply a thin layer of a repair cream. The next morning I would notice the wound would have improved by at least 30%.
No.3: Do major skin repair work when your baby is asleep
Corey would leave for school in the mornings with decently ok skin, and come home with fresh wounds from peeling and scratching in school.
And no matter how many times I scream ‘stop scratching!’ or ‘stop peeling!’ at a toddler, it’s gonna fall on deaf ears.
So instead of getting frustrated that I was not able to treat certain places, I shifted my focus to repairing sensitive areas only when he slept. For me, the repair cream on the eyelid area works well when he sleeps. If the eczema is particularly stubborn, like fingers and toes, I would increase my number of applications of the repair creams while he slept. As long as I am awake, I would apply a small amount of repair cream on his fingers and toes every few hours.
No.4: Reduce usage of wet wipes containing soap
In a recent study by Northwestern University on food allergy, scientists discovered a recipe for developing food allergies where “factors contributing to food allergy include the genetics that alters skin absorbency, use of infant cleansing wipes that leave soap on the skin, skin exposure to allergens in dust and skin exposure to food from those providing infant care.”
A few allergy articles have since been written to discuss this study. As quoted from Www.allergicliving.com, “after exposing the animals to soap (through baby wipes), dust and food allergens, the mice experienced symptoms of anaphylaxis when they were fed egg or peanut. “
I always suspected that wet wipes were drying out my baby’s skin and making his eczema worse. But I never imagined that it could have altered my baby’s skin barrier to a point that it would be more susceptible to developing food allergies.
Indeed the wet wipes I had been using on Corey in his first few months of life contained sodium lauryl sulfate These were the same wipes I was using when he developed a fungal rash in his diaper area at 5 months old. We stopped all wipes on him after that. Instead, I use cotton pads (the type you use for removing makeup) and plain water during diaper changes.
It is of course sometimes impossible not to keep wet wipes handy when out and about, dealing with messy toddlers. So when I do buy wet wipes now I opt for those that are soap-free.
No.5 Tips to staying on the right track
Often, mums would comment that whatever they did, the stubborn patches would come right back. They might see small improvements but once baby starts to scratch and peel, it brings them back to square one.
Living in a world which now demands speed in almost all things, it is paradoxical that for eczema skin, the healing can be very slow, no matter how hard you work at it. That is because of the complexity of eczema management. It requires a fine balance of proper skincare, reduced exposure of trigger allergens, and a good clean diet.
Because Corey’s eczema onset was so extensive, it has taken us almost 2 years to really cross that hurdle to achieving almost normal baby skin. With mild eczema, it may not take as long. But whatever the time needed, it is never easy to cope with the disappointment, heartache from setbacks, frustrations from flares. So here are some tricks I use to stay on track.
Celebrate if patches get smaller, it is a red flag if patches get bigger over time.
If you are following the right skincare regime and using suitable products, the eczema patches should become smaller over time. If they do not or persistently get bigger, it’s best to consult a medical professional. If they are getting smaller, celebrate your small victories and keep going.
Any form of medicated creams should only be used under the direction of a medical professional. Nobody else is an authority for diagnosing the type of rash your baby has except for a properly trained medical doctor. The last thing you want is to be using an antifungal cream on a patch that is not a fungal rash.
Follow the instructions of a trusted doctor
Trolling the internet for photos of a similar rash patch to your baby’s means you have not found a trusted doctor. This means you need to keep looking for a suitable doctor. A suitable doctor is not one who will product miracle results. A suitable doctor is one who will guide you in the right direction. You should see improvements over time by following their treatment plan and advice.
I follow directions from our allergist closely and always reach out when something does not feel right. This helps me stay on track. Also, I date my medicated creams so I know how long each tube lasts and whether we are using lesser over time.
Journal down observations if needed
An allergy is a persistent recurrence of reaction to a specific allergen. Thus a one-off incident is not an allergy. The only way to truly observe recurrence is to journal your baby’s diet and movements. I know this sounds excessive. And it probably is if your baby’s eczema is mild and under control. But if you are frustrated with your baby’s eczema and can’t figure out why it never seems to go away, then journalling is a good way to investigate. Jot down daily meals, activities, exposure to new toys and environments might form a pattern over time.
All opinions stated are my own and this is not a sponsored post.
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