Published January 30, 2009
When I had my daughter, my friends in the beauty industry were eager to give me baby skin care products (I was a skin care marketing manager so they thought I'd love this). I received wonderful baby skin care sets from Bobbi Brown, Kiehl's, Johnson & Johnson and Grassroots (a Kohl's brand from Beauty Bank which is part of Estee Lauder Companies). Unfortunately, my daughter immediately had a skin reaction to any of these products - even J&J. Most infants do have this problem (I advise any baby gift buyers to read this as well). As a result, my pediatrician recommended the fragrance free Aveeno Baby products (the ones with the dark blue lids) and gave me samples. [By the way, most pediatricians have tons of samples. Sometimes, you have to ask for them.] He also recommended the Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment which is a finely powdered oatmeal. I have found these Aveeno products to be very effective and the most fragrance free.
As a result of this ongoing problem, we are now in our third winter dealing with thi, I've accumulated some good tips (but I'm always eager to learn more). First, I've begun making my own oatmeal soak for her bath. I did some research and found that the oatmeal bath soak products are basically ground down oatmeal. I purchase a cheap ($1 at Marc's) instant oatmeal, put it in my food processor and grind/chop until it is as smooth as possible. I place this oatmeal in a plastic container to have in the bathroom. I am more liberal with the oatmeal and even throw it on my daughter's wet skin in a way that she finds fun. The oatmeal really calms her skin. My pediatrician recommends bathing every other day when the eczema is bothering her. I'll use about 3/4 - 1 cup of oatmeal per bath.
In case you are wondering about all this oatmeal going down the drain, I have a chemical free method of keeping my drain free flowing. I boil a teapot of water and 2 cups of white vinegar (any brand). I pour the boiling hot water down the drain, wait 15 minutes, follow with the hot vinegar and then the rest of the hot water. I don't like to use too many chemicals in my house and those Draino chemicals always scare me with their many warnings.
As far as using soap on my daughter's skin, there are times when even the Aveeno cream bath is too irritating. I found Grandpa's Oatmeal Soap at the Natural Health Foods and Barbell Center in Boardman and I've seen this brand at many health food stores in the area. It is a bar soap, lasts long and is non-irritating. There are even times where I just soak her in the oatmeal bath because sometimes kids aren't very dirty in the winter (especially infants) and any type of soap is irritating.
When it comes to soothing the skin post-bath, I love Aquaphor products! I never knew about them before becoming a mother but recommend them to any adult with dry skin problems. This salve helps the skin breath unlike Vaseline. It is marketed for diaper rash (and is good for that) but is wonderful for eczema, chapped lips and cheeks and dry hands (for anyone who washes their hands often, like new parents or medical personnel, take note). The Aveeno creams and lotions and Tri-Derma Baby products are good as well. However, there are still times when none of the above work and my child has scratched herself raw. My pediatrician prescribed a mild cortisone cream for those moments. Sometimes, a child needs this but only a doctor can truly recommend and prescribe one so don't hesitate to go to your doctor if nothing else is working.
Finally, I use fragrance free laundry products for her clothing and bedding. I know that Dreft is always promoted to young mothers but the fragrance is strong and bothered my child's skin as an infant. I quickly switched to fragrance free All, Tide and Downey, as well as fragrance free dryer sheets from Target, and have had no problems since.
I have read online that eczema could be the result of allergies but my experience is that it only occurs in the dry winter months. I have a humidifier on my furnace (which isn't enough) and purchased two large Slant/Fin humidifiers on iallergy.com to add even more moisture into the air. I don't worry about mold because my house is so dry and drafty. There is debate over cool mist and warm mist but I have never had any problems with warm mist humidifiers. I find a cool mist makes the room feel more drafty.
Hope this helps anyone dealing with eczema and am eager to hear more tips on dealing with this popular skin problem.