Disclaimer.. these are my own personal experiences and opinions, the medicines I mention were prescribed and used under medical advice by a Doctor. Please seek professional medical advice before using anything to treat yourself or your child. Use common sense please. For my full disclaimer see it here or in my Posts section.
Baby eczema sucks, plain and simple. Well to be honest all forms of eczema at any stage in life are all sorts of not fun. But to be a helpless baby and not be able to say “hey mom I’m itchy, and it started after doing this”. Not to mention being on the parent end and not knowing why your precious baby is miserable and wracking your brain to find out what is the cause is also very frustrating. Unfortunately I’ve been on both ends. Both of my boys had eczema to varying degrees but my baby of my babies had/has it the worst.
Now for some background, Eczema is basically extremely dry irritated itchy patches of skin, sometimes weepy and very prone to infection but most of the times brought on by an allergy. I know there can be other causes but for myself and three of my children it is from allergies.
My oldest son was from a sensitivity to fragrances, peanuts, and now grass. My younger son had it worse with a dairy, egg, and peanut allergy. He would go into asthmatic type reactions along with eczema. Both of them got relief by Vaseline and long sauna type baths when they were babies and have for the most part grown out of the eczema side of their reactions. They will still have issues especially when my younger son just can’t stand it and has to have that Reeces peanut butter cup because the rash to him is worth dealing with to taste the amazingness of the glorious combo of chocolate and peanut butter. Can’t say I blame him. At least he now knows to let me know so I can get him Benadryl and keep his inhaler on hand just in case. But for the most part the boys are manageable and know what to look out for.
Baby girl is the exception and worst case of eczema I have ever witnessed or experienced. We even had our EMT friend over one night with his family and he was convinced it was some other serious disease and had me googling all sorts of things because she was just a hot mess. She had red swollen skin from almost head to toe. It looked like a combo of hives and open weeping wounds covering most of her face, and every crease she had on her pudgy baby body. She was breastfeeding at the time and I was changing my diet to try to figure it out what was causing it in case it was from my diet. Even prior to our friend pointing out how bad her skin was, we were already working with her pediatrician going down the normal various lotions and emollients to try to help it. But with most illnesses you have to stop what’s causing it to really stop the problem to begin to actually heal.
So Baby girl was about 4 months old and a horrible itchy mess and a friend whose medical experience I trust confirmed what I had been thinking that her daughter was brushing off, this is not normal and what we are doing isn’t helping. So I made an appointment ASAP and had to see another doctor but still in her clinic, I was desperate so I said what the heck maybe a fresh set of eyes will help. It did. She was shocked when she saw her and agreed that this was bad and we needed to take a different approach to helping her.
She was too young to take Zyrtec or other allergy meds but was able to use steroid topical meds. So she wrote out a regimen of when to use different lotions, compounds and emollients. How often to bathe her (bathing too often with eczema can but not always be bad and rid the skin of good oils it needs to be healthy making it harder to heal). She also gave her a prescription for some medicine to help make her not so itchy. Baby girl was at a point of having to wear socks on her hands because she just couldn’t stop scratching. The Dr. also said in a couple months we could start her on Zyrtec but really wanted to try to wait till she was at least 6 months old to start that, and just try to focus on healing the skin first cause let’s face it the eczema was out of control. Also wait till she is a little older to do allergy testing. So we were sent on our way armed with tools to hopefully heal little miss. Got home and immediately gave her the anti-itch liquid meds… you would think I was trying to drown her. I can’t say I blame her the stuff just smelled horrible. But once it kicked in you could tell, it had a sleepy side effect so she got to take a much needed long nap. I even came up with a schedule for myself to go through the foods I was eating to try to see what I missed in an attempt to figure out what she was allergic to, yeah that didn’t work.
So a month into this treatment plan, it was working her skin was healing, but we could tell there was something that was causing it because it would get better then get worse. We had a follow up with the newish dr who prescribed all of the skin meds not just for her but all of her siblings had the symptoms of strep throat so off we went all six of them to the dr’s office… sure enough all six of them had strep throat, but again baby girl was the special one, she didn’t have normal strep thanks to the still healing sores on her face and siblings who love to love on her she contracted topical strep. had no clue that was a thing! So we were sent home with six prescriptions for antibiotics, Zyrtec, and motrin. Everyone was so miserable it was hard to not just sit back and laugh at the whole situation cause you guessed it, a day later I came home from the dr with my own diagnosis of strep throat, luckily I was able to get the 3 day z pack instead of the 10 day version the kids got to do. But thankfully we were on the road to recovery quickly and with baby girl old enough for the allergy meds she started to heal even more.
We went through months of ups and down with her eczema but still wasn’t as bad as in the beginning. At her one year appointment I was able to get the referral to an allergist to finally get her tested. To say that I was thankful to see this dr was an understatement. Part of it was no surprise, baby girl has super sensitive skin, we noticed this from being in the nursery at church cause after each Sunday she would break out all over again and once I asked them, if you have used smelly lotion, perfume or even just used tide to wash your clothes to please don’t touch her skin. That small correction actually helped her skin. The allergist even said “wow, her skin is sensitive! See how much its reacting to the control!” not very reassuring but still good to know I’m not being a crazy over protective momma with her in public. She ended up popping heavily allergic to eggs and peanuts. Seeing how her brothers also had the peanut allergy I wasn’t shocked. But the eggs, he said to eliminate it from her diet completely. That explains why we couldn’t narrow it down, she was reacting to the eggs that were in the things I ate no matter the amount. From being in a cake to my favorite egg on a peanut butter toast for breakfast, all bad. She had already improved more since changing to formula because I knew it was something I was eating but couldn’t figure out what it was.
We are now six months out from that diagnosis and she is almost totally healed. No more eggs at all in her diet. We have acquired to substituting applesauce in most recipes instead of eggs. And have become very diligent with peanut butter. She will still react a little bit when she has had contact with various fragrances but it is nothing like it was in the beginning. And now her Daddy is the only one she will let give her medicine without sounding like she is gagging and drowning. I wrote this so those that have been down this path or are facing this path and can’t figure out what is wrong with their little one. Be patient, you’ve got this, and you are certainly not alone.
Overall things I learned from our journey was
- Not all eczema is the same and certainly not caused by the same things
- Some products out there will help, some wont. What worked for someone else’s child might not work for yours.
Different methods work for different people, my oldest was basically cured with long soaking baths covered in rags and coated with Vaseline along with changing our laundry soap to a free and clear type, my younger son we had to change his diet along with the soaking baths, Vaseline and sometimes using Aveeno eczema soap during baths along with their eczema lotions helped too. Baby girl we tried all of the above, plus.. Aquaphor, Cetaphil soap during bath time, homemade soaps at bath time, homemade salves with essential oils, essential oils in the bath, oatmeal baths, Vanicream. None of this worked. I think it has to do with the fact that we couldn’t figure out what was the original cause to stop it, so we had to bring in the big guns and go with Doctor prescribed Desonide, Desonide/Vanicream compound, and Elidel on the “hot spots”, and more Vanicream to just cover every bit of skin. Just to be clear the Desonide and Elidel were not given on the same days and with all of those meds I only used them how her pediatrician instructed me to. So also was prescribed Atarax for all of her itchiness. On top of washing all of our laundry in a free and clear detergent with free and clear dryer sheets.
She still has flare ups mostly from being around fragrances that are out of my control like at church, dance studio, karate studio. Or the rare experience that i wasn’t paying attention and gave her a pancake that was made with a mix that had eggs. Or with her being very mobile, stealing her sister’s peanut butter toast that was placed within her reach before I noticed resulting in a trip to the ER.