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