Learning to live with eczema

How we managed to get our baby's skin issues under control

Like many first-time parents, I tried to balance precaution with pragmatism when confronted with medical issues. “Does this really require a call to the pediatrician?” was a common refrain in our home for the first few months. (Answer: Yes. I always ended up calling). But when I started noticing rough, scaly patches on my baby’s cheeks, I didn’t rush to call the after-hours nurse or spend hours combing mom boards. I knew exactly what it was: eczema. I recognized it pretty easily, having had flares of it on my own intensely sensitive and dry skin for years. Did that make me feel better? Yes and no. While I loved recognizing my single dimple in Max’s chubby cheek or my long fingers on his tiny hands, there was a pang of guilt in feeling I had passed down one of my least favorite skin conditions to him. And while mine didn’t really come on until my teen years, my son had his first flare within a few weeks of birth.

 

But when I started noticing rough, scaly patches on my baby’s cheeks, I didn’t rush to call the after-hours nurse or spend hours combing mom boards. I knew exactly what it was: eczema.

 

But we are not alone—one out of ten babies in America is diagnosed with eczema. Within my own family, my nieces and nephews had been experiencing it for years with varying degrees of success keeping it at bay. While I had gotten mine under control over the years with a regimen of heavily-moisturizing clean skincare, I still dreaded the impending days of dry winter cold and indoor heat that would always make it flare again. Indeed, on our next appointment, our pediatrician confirmed my amateur diagnosis and assured us that with the usual course of irritant-free emollients that it would come under control. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t that simple. We spent the next six months rushing Max to the doctor with red scaly patches that threatened to overtake his little face, neck, chest, legs, arms. Some flare ups were so rapid and severe, we were convinced they were allergic reactions to new foods we were testing—or worse, to the trace dairy in his formula. Spoiler alert after a very long and not-fun day at the pediatric allergist: it was all eczema, and unrelated to allergies. (There can be a real connection between food allergies and eczema—but luckily, that wasn’t the case with Max. If you aren’t sure if your baby has eczema, always consult a doctor to confirm and double-check the symptoms.)

 

The next move was to eczema-proof his life. Using clean, fragrance-free detergents, soaps and lotions became a top priority (Pipette Baby Shampoo + Wash and Pipette Baby Lotion are our go-tos). Bathtime was limited to every other day at most, with tepid water and a pretty quick dunk-and-out routine. I’m pretty sure our time spent thoroughly lotioning every inch of him took at least as long as the bath itself. All clothing is 100% cotton and as soft as we can possibly find it. As much as I was dying to put him in baby skinny jeans, I just couldn’t face putting scratchy denim on his skin. Sweatpants it was instead. We tried mittens to keep him from scratching, which lead us to the discovery that he could hurl lightweight objects with surprising strength and accuracy. We gave up on those quickly and moved to keeping his razor-like nails filed daily to a dull edge. I also found that swiftly wiping up drool or formula made a huge difference for the stubborn streaks of red in his neck folds under his chin, so I stocked up on organic cotton bibs to change out through the day as they got damp. Another challenge of treating eczema on a newborn is quite literally getting the treatment on! Anything that stings or burns is out of the question, and it has to go on easily enough that there isn’t thirty seconds of rubbing it in to make it work. Pipette Baby Balm was a savior for spot treatments, and we scattered jars around our apartment so one was always handy when we spotted a new red area forming. And now Pipette is introducing a steroid-free Eczema Lotion expressly designed for eczema-prone skin, formulated with colloidal oatmeal and their signature squalane to soothe irritation and itching, lock in moisture, and restore skin.

 

Max just celebrated his first birthday not long ago, and we count ourselves as very lucky that the flares are fewer and less frequent these days than they were during his first few months. But we’re ever-vigilant for redness, scaliness or roughness on his skin, including new patches on his cheeks that just popped up overnight. Having the right products on hand and the proper set-up and precautions has made all the difference for us.

 

Max and Mom celebrating his 13th month birthday in NYC.

 

 

 

 

 

The information provided by Pipette is intended solely for educational purposes. The information is not to be used for medical diagnostic purposes and is not intended to serve as a recommendation for treatment and/or management of any medical/surgical condition. Most of all, this information should not be used in place of a physician or other qualified health provider. If you believe you or your child have a medical condition, please contact your physician immediately. 

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