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Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects up to 20 percent of all babies. Eczema,is frequently seen in babies with a family history of eczema, asthma or allergic rhinitis. It is usually experienced as periods of flare-ups followed by periods of no or few symptoms. In babies, it often appears as a red, irritated, itchy rash on the face and scalp. In some cases, certain foods (such as cow's milk, eggs, wheat or oranges) may provoke a flare-up.

In babies, eczema often appears as a rash on the hands, face, neck, inside of the elbows and back of the knees, but may spread to other areas Eczema rashes are associated with intense itching (pruritus).  If the condition continues or is severe, you should definitely talk to your baby’s doctor to understand if the condition is clinical eczema (atopic dermatitis) or dry skin, and to learn the best way to treat and manage. Here are some tips for dealing with eczema, as well as extremely dry or sensitive skin:

  • Avoid the things you think may cause itching, such as dust, grass, wool clothing and certain soaps, detergents, fabric softeners and perfumes. It may help to keep a diary to determine the cause
  • Give your baby short baths—no more than 5 to 10 minutes—in water that is warm, not hot
  • Use mild skin cleansers or shampoos specially made for babies with sensitive skin. Be extra careful on areas often exposed to the environment
  • Dry the skin after a bath by patting with a soft towel, and then immediately apply moisturizer. Do not rub the skin
  • Moisturize frequently throughout the day, especially after bathing
  • Use an emollient cream, smoothing it into the skin in a downward motion

Although eczema can be an irritating condition, especially during periods of flare-ups, by following these tips, you can help make your baby more comfortable, while engaging his sense of smell and touch. Pleasant smells, like that of lotions, when paired with your loving interactions, can create lasting memories and help shape your baby’s developing brain. 

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