Managing eczema

A small number of babies will still develop a food allergy even if common allergy causing foods are introduced before one year of age.

There is no cure for eczema and it can be very uncomfortable. It is really important to manage eczema properly to prevent flares and infections.

Everyday management for a baby or child with eczema includes:

A short bath or shower daily with a non-soap wash or oil.

Applying moisturiser twice a day to your child’s whole body and face, including straight after having a bath or shower. Apply moisturiser as many times as you need to, but make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before applying moisturiser. This will make sure you have removed any possible allergens and bacteria from your hands.

Avoid known triggers and skin irritants such as soap, perfumed products, overheating, over dressing and prickly (synthetic) fabrics where possible.

Avoid applying any product to the skin which contains food as an ingredient.

Bleach baths should be used as directed by your doctor or nurse practitioner to reduce the risk of infected eczema.

When there is an eczema flare, your doctor or nurse practitioner may recommend the following:

Medicated Creams or Ointments

These are known as topical steroid (cortisone) and non-steroid creams or ointments. Topical means you put it on the skin.

These creams or ointments will be prescribed by your doctor or nurse practitioner and should be applied to the eczema as soon as there is an eczema flare (redness, increased itch, dry rough areas). Don’t wait until the eczema is severe before you start treatment. If a topical steroid is prescribed, use the topical steroid as prescribed by your doctor or nurse practitioner, making sure you use enough to treat the eczema properly.

It can be hard to know how much cream or ointment to apply to an area. If you apply too little, it may not work. Apply enough cortisone cream or ointment to cover all the eczema affected areas. Fingertip unit amounts can help. One fingertip unit is enough to cover an area of skin twice the size of a flat adult hand with the fingers together. For example, if the area of skin to be treated is the size of four flat adult hands, two fingertip units of cream or ointment should be applied each time.

These creams or ointments should continue to be used until the skin feels smooth and the eczema has completely gone. If you are worried about using a steroid cream or ointment, talk about this with your doctor or nurse practitioner so they can reassure you that they are safe to use.

Wet Dressings

Wet dressings can help to put moisture back into the skin. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will provide information about when and how often to use wet dressings. Information about how to do wet dressings is included below.

How to do a cool compress

A wet chux type towel can be used as a scarf around the neck — only knot the towel once and do not leave this on when the child is sleeping or going to sleep.

You can also use a wet chux type towel or beanie on your child’s head – do not leave this on when the child is sleeping or going to sleep.

Wet disposable towels in a bowl with cool water and bath oil (if recommended). Hold the towels on your child’s face for 5-10 minutes and then apply moisturiser immediately after removing the wet towels.

Other Medications

Other medications such as oral antibiotics (antibiotics given by mouth) and antihistamines may be advised by your doctor or nurse practitioner.