As parents with babies with eczema, we feel that taking care of our little one’s skin is a 24-7 job. That’s because eczema is more than just sensitive skin. Eczema begins on the scalp, forehead, ears, neck, cheeks, or in the crooks behind elbows or knees. And it doesn’t stop here.
Baby then begins wiggling a lot and rubbing their head against linens or even their parents. And soon enough our little ones fall into a vicious cycle of itching and scratching that leaves their skin raw and painful. The red, scaly rash will keep them scratching all through the night. Often times, babies will scratch so hard that there’d be blood all over their sheets. Only to leave both parent and baby exhausted and grouchy the next day.
Nights like these make it clear that the impact of eczema is more than skin-deep. Whether your baby has mild redness or a scaly rash from head to toe, here are several helpful tips for better sleep:
Start Your Bedtime Routine with a Bath
Even babies with healthy skin need a sleep routine with a bath. Thats because a bath soothes the muscles and relaxes the body, which really helps babies sleep at night. A calming bath is the first thing to help a baby wind down before bed. One hour before you want your baby asleep is when to begin your routine. Here are some helpful bath tips when dealing with baby eczema:
Bathe in lukewarm water, 10 min max. Hot water will actually strip the skin of its protective oils and fats.
Do not use soap, instead use a gentle cleanser, one without scents, fragrances, dyes and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
Avoid scrubbing and excessive rubbing of the skin as it can irritate the skin.
To help with the itch and reduce inflammation, add baking soda (start w/ 1/4 cup) and apple cider vinegar (start w/ 1 tsp) to the baby tub (while water is running). The two together will help reduce the inflammation, help with the itch and cleanse the skin from harmful germs and bacteria. Do not use baking soda alone as it is very alkalizing and will further dry out the skin. The ACV will help balance the pH level.
For itchy scalp, create a baking soda paste (baking soda + water into a paste consistency), very gently massage on scalp and let it sit for 1 minute. Then rinse with diluted ACV (4 parts water + 1 part ACV). Rinse thoroughly with just water.
Sea salt soap is also another great method in reducing overall bad bacteria and germs on the skin especially for those little ones who are now walking and more active. Sea salt is a powerful natural antibacterial substance. Staph bacteria is often the cause of very itching skin (skin doesn’t need to be infected to have a staph problem). In fact, Staph will thrive on dry skin and feed off from the inflammation of the skin. As it spreads it triggers more eczema and cause the itching.
Using a soap is much cheaper and more convenient than setting up a bath. Just lather up the bar of soap and gently rub all over the body and rinse off. Repeat a few more times with a thorough rinse at the end. For the face, apply just underneath the eyes and rinse off immediately. This dead sea salt soap leaves the skin very soft and moisturized after every bath. You can also use this soap when washing your lil one’s hands after meals and playing.
During severe flare-ups, bathe in just water, no cleansers! Or use the baking soda + ACV method above.
When drying off pat dry, do not rub the water off.
And don’t forget the golden rule: apply moisturizer within three minutes of baby’s bath to lock in skin’s natural moisture. Gently massage the moisturizer directly onto damp skin. I highly recommend using a moisturizer with a pH level closest to the skin’s pH level 5.5, or ideally a bit on the acidic side. When the skin is at a higher pH, its barrier function is impaired so it becomes dehydrated and lets irritants dive in to create inflammation. Here are a few moisturizers with a pH level closest to our skin’s.
CeraVe Cream pH 5.49
Cetaphil Cream pH 4.71
Eucerin Calming Cream pH 5.41
Vanicream moisturizing skin cream pH 4.27 (Best Choice)
Brands like Aquaphor ointment (pH 6.8), Dove lotion (pH 6.5), Avenno (pH 6.3) and Triple Paste (pH 6.6) scored above the ideal range.
Eczema skin tends to dry out fast due to a faulty skin barrier. So its very important to reapply moisturizers in the middle of the night (i.e. 11pm) to help prevent the skin drying out and causing more itching.
Best Soothing Cream for Itchy Nights
Babytime Soothing Cream is perfect for dry and itchy skin especially when baby is constantly rubbing or scratching their face at night. Among its ingredients is Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, Neem Seed Oil, Calendula Oil, Chamomile, Evening Primrose Oil and also contains Probiotics! All the best ingredients in one cream, I’m so happy this exists!
I highly recommend to use this Soothing Cream with CeraVe Healing Ointment, because this combination makes for a perfect way to keep the skin moisturized and allow the ingredients to heal the skin. The healing ointment also holds and keeps the probiotics longer on the skin which help reduce the staph bacteria (triggers eczema) and brings balance back to the skin. Eczema skin has more staph bacteria on the skin (staph thrives in dry skin) which triggers and spreads the eczema also contributing to the itching.
How to Use:
If the skin is red and irritated, first apply a thick coat of the CeraVe Healing Ointment, as this will not sting. Then apply Babytime Soothing Cream over it. Apply 3-4 times a day including at least once at night for best results.
If the skin is dry with mild redness, first apply Babytime Soothing Cream then apply a thick coat of CeraVe Healing Ointment. Apply 2-3 times a day including at least once at night for best results.
If you feel that the cream stings on the skin, go ahead and apply the healing ointment first and then apply the soothing cream. Do not apply on skin that is open as it will cause stinging.
Avoid Scratching with ScratchMeNots
It’s impossible for anyone especially a baby to not scratch or rub their face and body. My son at 11 months old would use edge of his highchair’s table to scratch the back of his hands; my poor baby! They will find ways because when they are able to scratch the pain subsides for that moment. Unfortunately, its the scratching that will further irritate and break the skin causing more inflammation and then the awful cycle begins. We recommend ScratchMeNots because the fabric is especially soft so it doesn’t irritate their skin. Mittens will work until they learn how to remove them, which happens sooner than you may expect.
Apply Natural Oils on Itchy Scalp
Coconut oil (if there is no tree nut allergy) with a couple drops of lavender and tea tree oil goes on the scalp smoothly after a bath. Massage onto the scalp while hair is still damp to seal in the moisture. Coconut oil has lauric acid and fatty acids, when applied to the hair and scalp it helps relieve itchiness.
Argan oil (if there is no tree nut allergy) is also another great oil that works to heal dry and itchy scalps. It contains fatty acids and vitamin B, the perfect remedy for an itchy dry scalp.
Jojoba oil is a great alternative to those with a tree nut allergy. Jojoba oil has many natural healing properties including anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. Mix it with a couple drops of lavender and tree tea oil, for an effective mix to help with the itch.
For very itchy scalp, reapply in the middle of the night to help relieve the itchiness.
Wear & Sleep on Cotton Only
Anything else will irritate skin and aggravate eczema. If possible, choose organic cotton as it doesn’t contain the chemicals regular cotton fabrics have when they are made.
Choosing the Best Swaddle
- 100% Cotton
- Lightweight and breathable the warmer months
- Appropriate size (not too tight)
- Velcro or zipper cannot be rubbed against baby’s skin
During Dry Weather or in Dry Location – Turn on the Humidifier
Low humidity dries the skin, especially during winter months when homes are heated. Furthermore, high humidity causes increased sweating and may result in prickly heat-type symptoms.
Keep the humidifier for your baby’s bedroom. Keep in mind that humidifiers need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Fill up with only distilled water and be sure to empty out the water and air dry when the humidifier is not in use. To clean it weekly, fill it up with a splash of vinegar and water, let it sit for 20 minutes, then thoroughly rinse with water.
Also get a humidity gauge if you don’t own one. Many indoor thermometers already have a humidity gauge on them. Ideal indoor humidity during winter should be 45-55%.
Keep the Temperature between 65F and 70F
The optimal temperature for baby sleep is between 67 and 72°F. This is also the ideal sleep temperature for babies with eczema. Sleep is better when the room is a little cooler. If you don’t have a thermostat you can control, leave the window slightly open or use a fan at night. Just make sure your baby sleeps far away from windows and fans, and that the room never gets too hot or too cold.
Foods that can Help with Better Sleep
If you are breastfeeding or if you baby has started solids, load of up on Vitamin C, and other natural antihistamines during the day. Antihistamines block your body from releasing histamines, a substance that produces an inflammatory response in your body. During allergic reactions, it is the histamines that activates the “itching” nerve fibers.
Since citrus fruits are considered highly allergenic, a perfect alternative are papayas. Papayas are considered an “eczema safe food” because the enzymes found in papaya can help regulate inflammatory response in the body and its very rich in vitamin C. Synthetic drug antihistamines can’t be broken down by the liver like it can with those naturally occurring in food. This additional stress on the liver can also then exacerbate conditions like eczema and create a vicious cycle.
For breastfeeding moms- other food and spices with natural occurring antihistamines include pomegranate, watercress, onions, garlic, thyme, turmeric, and chamomile. Though moms can take a vitamin C supplement, its best to get the benefits from foods.
For baby eating solids- papayas, apples and peaches.
Ideally, in treating baby eczema, it is recommend to take probiotic supplementation to help reduce the severity of food triggers and help heal and repair the gut thus the immune system.