Easing Eczema

Dana Wilkosz

Think eczema is something your little one will only experience in the winter? Not necessarily—turns out that while cold, dry air is a common trigger, summer heat, humidity, and allergens may also be irritating your baby’s delicate skin. Here, what you can do to help manage his next flare-up:

KEEP AIR CLEAN

Eczema, a generic term for any itchy rash, usually refers to a skin condition called atopic dermatitis (AD), explains Valori Treloar, a dermatologist in Newton, Massachusetts, and co-author of The Clear Skin Diet. This “itch that rashes” is commonly found in babies with a family history of other allergies or asthma—but environment and lifestyle play a role, too. The good news is, most babies tend to outgrow AD by adolescence, says Treloar. But what can you do to help your baby now? While triggers can vary, mold and pollen, along with other seasonal allergens, have all been shown to set off AD—which means the summer air could be wreaking havoc on his skin. To control outbreaks, Treloar recommends running an air filter for a few hours at bedtime to help clear the air of pollen, mold, and dust. You can also buy pollen filter screens that fit in windows. And try to keep pets out of your baby’s room if possible—animal dander might agitate AD even more.

HOT AND STICKY OUTSIDE? MOISTURIZE ANYWAY

It may seem counterintuitive, but applying moisturizer to your baby’s skin is just as important during sticky summer months as it is when the temperature drops: Eczema is a result of an incomplete skin barrier, so water and moisture evaporate much more easily, drying out the skin—which means that no matter how much moisture is in the air, don’t skimp on lotion. Treloar recommends applying a natural moisturizer to damp skin right out of the bath, and if your baby’s experiencing more painful fissures and cracks, a thin film of zinc oxide or natural petroleum jelly. Two creams to try: Shea Moisture’s Eczema Therapy ($10 for 6 ounces, kiwishoponline.com) and Baby Spa’s Calming Eczema Relief Cream ($10 for 4.4 ounces, babyspausa.com)

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