Whole Parenting Family

Infant Eczema: the Scourge of Winter

J had awful red spots of eczema on his cheeks this past winter (facial cheeks). To the point where a stranger asked if he had a birth mark. Terrible thing to ask a harried new mother. We explored all solutions, natural, unnatural, and in between. We plagued the pediatrician and the pediatric dermatologist. The New York Times had an interesting article about it, here.

J’s appears to be due to my hay fever allergy. It surfaces mostly on his cheeks, but sometimes between his fingers and on his thighs, knees, and forearms. The latter three have never been bad, more like extra rough skin. Check with your doctor to see if he or she has particular recommendations. Here is how we approached the problem:

1) Lotions.

a) Aveeno Infant Lotion: Nope. Nothing.

b) Cetaphil Infant Lotion: Nope. Nothing.

c) Aquafor: Nope. Nothing.

d) A&D / other petroleum jelly based lotions: Nope. Sticky. Irritative. Yucko.

e) California Baby, Calendula Cream: FINALLY! Something that worked. Target sells the 4 ounce tubs. Excellent. It seemed to act as an anti-inflammatory and moisturizing agent simultaneously. But after four weeks, the red patches on his cheeks returned. We still use it on an ongoing basis for deep moisturizing.

f) Four Elements, Look, No Xema: Wonderful moisturizer. Worked for a month. Used all of it up. Recommended by the pharmacists at the Coop.

g) Butt Naked baby, 911 Rescue Cream: Thicker than the calendula, works really well on his body but not as well on his face. Ineffective at taking the edge off of what appeared to be a deep itch.

h) Cortisone Ointment: After 4 months of breaking out cycles wherein J’s face would blister, peel, and crack, we finally used a steroid ointment, much to my chagrin. The dermatologist proffered that it would be effective to eliminate some of the itching, and used only for two days at a time, and that detriments were outweighed by benefits. It has proven crucial to have on hand when another cycle appears to be beginning–to nip it in the bud.

2) Bathing.

We only give J bathes twice per week and use an emulsifying soap from the Coop.

3) Laundry.

His clothes and night diapers are washed in the gentlest, most ecological laundry soap, with no fabric softeners or dryer sheets.

4) Food allergies through breastmilk.

I explored this avenue to see if what I ate affected his skin. It didn’t appear to be the case.


  1. The Everything Registry List « Whole Parenting on August 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    […] are just the ones we use. If your baby has had eczema, stick to the sensitive skin stuff. See post here about baby winter skin. Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed […]

  2. Jenni on December 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I remembered that you had this post and returned back to it since when we were at the ped. today she said that his redness under his chin and upper neck area on his back is eczema. So she suggested aquafor and I tried that tonight so we’ll see how it looks tomorrow. I have put coconut oil on it and that doesn’t seem to be thick enough. I also have tried breastmilk, same thing as the coconut oil. Did you ever think about taking out gluten and or dairy from his diet to see if it went away that way? It sounds like J gets it pretty bad (poor little guy!) but I was just curious if you ever tried the diet emission? I am thinking of possibly going that route to see what happens. It appeared around the time we introduced foods so who knows…at least I think it did. It’s so hard to tell…oi vey, sounds like we have some science experiments to start trying…fun stuff! lol

    • Novice Natural Mama on December 7, 2011 at 10:41 am

      How did the aquaphor work? I toyed with removal of dairy & eggs from my diet (and gluten) but quickly realized it it was related to my own hay fever and allergies. If you have asthma or allergies to the elements, eczema is in that same family of genetic predisposition. So food elimination didn’t make a difference. Also, you guys live in such a dry climate . . . do you use or have a humidifier? Having one in J’s room makes a big difference. Additionally, teething and that drooling rash that oozes down their neck & chin just eats through the skin. Try to keep his face & neck as dry as possible, without over-washing with soaps to dry it out. There are special eczema soaps too that could help. So after a meal, wipe off his face & neck, then apply the lotion of your choice while it is dry (pre-drool!) and that should act as a repellent to the unwanted moisture that’s drying him out. It did go away after the spring for J, if that’s any comfort!

      • Jenni on December 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm

        The Aquaphor seemed to help somewhat and I am going to continue using that, as well as get some of the calif. baby cream too. We have a humidifier in his room that we recently put in there so I am hoping that helps. Thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely be more vigilant when it comes to keeping it dry after eating etc. 🙂

  3. […] Then, it’s just been Mayo’s website, PeanutAllergy, and other websites google leads me to. Interestingly, it appears that people with other atopic conditions like eczema, hayfever, etc are prone to peanut allergy as well. I’ve got hayfever up the wazoo and J has a tendency toward winter-induced eczema, as I’ve talked about before. […]

  4. […] your baby has had eczema, stick to the sensitive skin stuff. See post here about baby winter skin. Tagged with: baby needs • baby registry • gifts for babies • […]

  5. […] in My Breastmilk}, and have written on our son’s eczema here {Dry Winter Skin} and here {Infant Eczem: The Scourge of Winter} and about his allergies here {What Do You Do When You Find […]