15 Baby Eczema Natural Remedies
I know it’s difficult to watch your little one suffer and scratch all day through a painful bout of eczema. My little guy was just a few months old when I first noticed his itchy condition. Many medical professionals are quick to prescribe steroid ointments or other topical medicines for baby eczema relief, and in many cases, these treatments may be necessary. In fact, when my son’s condition was at its worst, I found myself quickly reaching for those steroid bottles. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally using topical steroids to immediately relieve a nasty eczema flare-up as long as you’re taking caution and applying them as prescribed by your child’s pediatrician. However, if you're looking for a more holistic approach, give one of these 15 baby eczema natural remedies a try. You may be surprised to find that they provide quick, effective relief just as well as, if not better than, topical steroid ointments.
The Natural Cure For Baby Eczema
If you’re looking for a natural cure for baby eczema, you’re out of luck (sorry - I wish!). Because the cause of eczema is unknown, it’s not something that can be cured. All treatments, regardless of if it’s one of our baby eczema natural remedies or a physician-prescribed cream or ointment, are only tackling the symptoms of the condition (think: reducing itch, calming redness, healing blisters, renewing moisture, or preventing flare-ups). The good news: although there is no direct cure for eczema in babies (or adults, for that matter), there are a multitude of natural ways to treat baby eczema and we’ll check out 15 of them below.
Baby Eczema Homeopathy
At home remedies have become a very popular alternative for treating the symptoms of eczema, which affects as many as 1 in 5 children. In fact, according to the National Eczema Association, More than 50% of patients with eczema or their caregivers reportedly incorporate complementary and alternative medicine into their day-to-day eczema management. Obviously there are concerns about possible side effects with long-term “Western” medicine use and there are tons of parents desperately looking for effective alternatives. Read on, eczema mama - we've got 15 baby eczema natural remedies to share!
15 Natural Remedies for Baby Eczema
1. A Daily Bath
A daily bath may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually a great way to lock in moisture and prevent eczema flare-ups. A short (5-15 minute), lukewarm soaking sans bubbles and followed immediately by a liberal amount of nourishing ointment or cream will help to soak in much needed-moisture. However, it should be noted that moisturizer should be liberally applied within three minutes of bath time. While adult skin is less impacted by heat, a new baby’s skin has not yet developed fully, and bathing infants with eczema too frequently and not “sealing” in the moisture within 3 minutes can actually do more harm than good. We tackle all of this and more in our Guide to Bathing Babies with Eczema.
2. Wet Wrap Therapy
One of the most effective baby eczema natural remedies is a process known as “wet wrap therapy". Wet wrap therapy for eczema is a very effective way of locking moisture into the skin. By soaking your baby’s skin in a lukewarm, bubble-free bath and then sealing that moisture in with a cream and a wet gauze (or therapy garment), you’re ensuring that the skin remains hydrated. The wet wraps act as a barrier making sure that all of the medicine and/or moisturizer is making its way into the skin and not rubbing off onto clothing or bedsheets.
To perform wet wrap therapy, moisten clothing or gauze in warm water until they’re slightly damp. Next, wrap the moist dressing around the affected area. Lastly, being careful not to disturb the wraps, dress in cool, lightweight pajamas. Leave wet wraps on for several hours or overnight.
3. Note The Triggers
There are a litany of environmental and dietary factors that can trigger an eczema flare-up, including pollen, pet dander, foods, stress, sweat, and irritants (think: perfumes, detergents, or itchy clothes) among many others. It’s important to take note of the times when you notice an eczema flare on your baby’s skin. It’s a good idea to keep a journal that notes when the flare-up occurred and you may even want to note how you handled the flare, for future reference. If you’re breastfeeding, you may want to keep a meal log if you notice your baby’s skin flaring soon after feeding (more on that in a sec). Once you begin logging this info, you will likely begin noticing patterns that can help deduce the major triggers. If you’ve tried this approach and still can’t pinpoint what’s causing the flares, it may be time to get your little one some allergy testing.
4. Consider Your Diet
If you’re breastfeeding, baby’s diet isn’t the only consideration when combating eczema. There are some foods that commonly cause eczema flares in breastfeeding babies. Things you may want to avoid are cow’s milk, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. These foods can trigger reactions that require the immune system to go into overdrive, often leading to an outbreak of eczema. But keep in mind - these things might not be a trigger for your baby at all! If you want to cut them all out, it can’t hurt. But if not, take note of what you eat in a journal and you will likely be able to determine quickly if it has caused a flare-up.
5. Cold-Pressed (Virgin) Oils
Oils have always been considered great baby eczema natural remedies and utilizing a variety of cold pressed oils has proven over time to be a positive approach for hydrating the skin. Cold-pressed (also known as “virgin”) fixed oils are made by extracting oil from seeds or nuts without adding chemicals or heat, so they tend to be better for skin use. Cold-pressed oils such as sunflower oil, coconut oil and lavender oil can nourish the skin and infuse it with all of the beneficial properties found inside their nutrient dense fatty acids.
For baby eczema, coconut oil is a great option. Coconut oil is a natural eczema treatment for babies (and adults!) because it contains a variety of anti-bacterial properties and has been shown to greatly reduce the chance of infection for baby’s suffering from eczema. Sunflower oil assists in healing the eczema from deep inside the skin, nourishing and revitalizing healthy cells. To benefit from all these healing properties, simply apply the oil onto your baby’s skin and rub in both a clockwise and counter-clockwise motion for 1-3 minutes to ensure the oil absorbs deeply into the skin.
6. A “Soothing” Bath
A soothing bath - one of my fave baby eczema natural remedies! Flare-ups will inevitably happen and when they do, a soothing bath is a perfect baby eczema home remedy. One of the most common is an oatmeal bath for baby’s rash. Sounds delish, but what we’re talking about here is not of the Quaker variety. This is “Colloidal Oatmeal” which refers to oats that have been finely milled and then suspended in liquid or gel. This type of oat has been used for centuries to ease irritated skin because it binds to skin and forms a protective barrier while locking in moisture, restoring essential minerals, and easing inflammation.
Although there are no scientific studies that prove it, there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence showing that a breastmik bath is also effective in reducing the symptoms of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and cradle cap. Makes sense - after all, breastmilk is comprised of tons of vitamins, nutrients, water, and fat. One of the key components, lauric acid, is a fatty acid that softens skin. Lauric acid is also antimicrobial - it’s used to develop monolaurin, an agent that can fight bacteria, fungi, yeast, viruses and other pathogens. (Photo: Tiffany Burke, Popular Photography)
There are several other baths that you may find beneficial in providing quick relief to your little one. For more ideas and how to make each of them, check out 8 Soothing Baths For Baby Eczema Relief.
One of the major culprits that can worsen baby’s eczema, especially during the winter months, is dry air. Using a humidifier will bring moisture into your home and help to counteract that harsh winter air. In essence, using a humidifier is just like moisturizing your skin. Eczema flourishes when the skin is jagged and cracked, but smooth skin can actually push harmful allergens out and greatly reduce the chances of an eczema breakout.
When using a humidifier, ensure that you monitor the air quality closely as you ideally want a moisture level between 30-50 percent humidify. If the moisture percentage goes much higher than that, you will be encouraging the spread of mold. Most importantly, be sure to keep your humidifier clean to ensure that you are introducing pure air into your baby’s living and sleeping space.
8. Soft, Breathable Clothing
What you put on your baby’s skin is extremely important in allowing it to breathe and heal. Because sweat and overheating are major eczema triggers, it’s important to seek out lightweight, breathable clothing, especially at night (more on that below). Clothing should be especially soft and, ideally, free of tags and itchy seams that can cause further irritation.
9. Essential Oils
Much like cold pressed oils, essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus and jojoba oil have proven to be an extremely effective eczema treatment. Lavender, for instance, has been known to reduce inflammation while also providing many other anti-inflammatory and antiseptic benefits.
Eucalyptus oil has also proven to carry many specific healing properties specific to eczema as its enhanced anti-inflammatory effects can help diminish skin irritations and infections. JoJoba oil also helps reduce symptoms of eczema by creating a natural skin conditioner, which will help the skin maintain its natural barrier and stave off harmful eczema.
It may seem obvious but moisturizer is one of the best baby eczema natural remedies. Although it’s uber important to moisturize baby’s skin often (you really can’t overdo it here), especially immediately after bath time, using the right type of moisturizer is equally as important. When it comes to moisturizers, the best thing for baby eczema is an ointment. Products high in oil content, like Aquafor, are particularly good for treating eczema and they don’t “burn” after applying. If your baby doesn’t seem to like the feeling of an ointment, your next best option is a cream like Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Cream, CeraVe’s Baby Moisturizing Cream, or any other cream that's made for severely dry and irritated skin.
Lotions are no good for eczema sufferers - they contain mostly water so they don’t provide much moisture. Moreover, applying them may lead to a “burning” sensation if there’s a current eczema flare-up. Just say no to lotion - there are plenty of better, more effective alternatives out there. Remember, when it comes to the best moisturizer for eczema - the greasier, the better!
11. Cut Those Fingernails! (Or Use Mittens)
What’s your natural inclination when you have an itch? You wanna scratch that sucker! Imagine this constant battle for your little one! Scratching those irritated spots is natural, but it can exacerbate the irritation and even cause infection. Making sure her nails are nice and short will prevent her from introducing dirt and bacteria into the already-infected area. Not to mention, it’ll keep nasty scratches (especially on that delicate cherub face) at bay. You may want to consider clothing that has no-scratch mittens, like our Baby Sleeper Gown.
By introducing ultraviolet (UV) light to baby’s skin, you are helping to suppress that overactive immune system and reduce inflammation. While sunlight therapy alone will not completely reduce eczema, taking your baby out for a nice afternoon stroll may do wonders for your child’s symptoms while also providing a whole host of benefits for both you and your baby.
13. Launder Frequently
Use gentle, mild detergent without perfumes or dyes. Dreft is widely known as the go-to detergent to delicate baby skin, but there are more and more options turning up regularly. You may want to occasionally run a laundry cycle without using any detergent; this can help to strip the clothes of any harmful chemicals that may be leftover from a previous cycle.
14. A Cool Environment
Sweat and overheating are common eczema triggers, so be sure you’re keeping your little one in a cool, comfortable environment, especially when it comes to sleeping. Most experts recommend an optimal nursery temperature between 68 and 72 degrees. A good rule of thumb is to keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. As always, keep the bed clear of pillows, blankets and bumpers to prevent overheating and to reduce the risk of SIDs.
You may also want to consider a fan which will circulate airflow and a provide a steady, comforting white noise. Opt for highly-breathable, non-irritating sleepwear that allows baby’s skin to breathe. If you feel an extra layer is necessary, swaddle your baby or try a lightweight sleep sack over top of her PJs.
Magnesium is a critical compound in so many of our body’s functions. From regulating our nerves to balancing our enzymes, magnesium is a building block for a healthy, fully functioning system. Alongside regulating our body systems, magnesium can also serve as a gentle skin detox, purifying the skin and enhancing its defenses by infusing the skin with its strong healing properties. While adults are accustomed to taking magnesium orally, this is not always the case for children. Plus, it's a little known fact that magnesium is much better absorbed trans-dermally (through the skin) rather than through the gastrointestinal tract. For babies, it’s recommended to take magnesium as a bath. Add ½ cup of of magnesium flakes during bath time or have your little one soak in Epsom Salt (which is magnesium sulfate) to take advantage of all those benefits.
Treating your child’s eczema is more of an art than a science and what works for one child may not work for another. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach or a “best” treatment for infant eczema. Developing a skincare routine that consistently works and keeps flare-ups at bay often seems impossible. Just remember that there are an unbelievable amount of baby eczema natural remedies out there that are safe, effective and can easily be tried at home.
As a parent, your instinct will guide you to determine what’s best for your little one. Before immediately opting for a harsher treatment, try one of these 15 natural eczema treatments for babies - you may be surprised to find that they work impressively well for soothing baby eczema and calming mommy’s mind.
Good luck, fellow eczema mamas!
Please note: This article is informational only and is not intended to replace medical advice.
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About The Author
Tara Saltzburg founded Westyn Baby when her son was an infant battling severe eczema. She was always on the lookout for products that would minimize the irritation and ease his discomfort, but safe, non-irritating pajamas proved difficult to find. Tara started Westyn Baby in 2016 with a mission to create better, safer sleepwear for kids - sleepwear that's exceptionally soft, flame-retardant free, sensitivity-friendly, and durable. Read more about WB sleepwear.
Tara was born and raised at the NJ shore and attended Penn State University, where she played soccer and discovered her love of mountain life. She is a mom of one boy and hopes to eventually have enough kids to form some sort of athletic team. She and her family currently reside in Central Pennsylvania and spend the summers in Stone Harbor, NJ.