Babies are prone to all kinds of skin issues, from viral rashes to cradle cap, so how do you know if your little one has eczema? Here we take a closer look at what distinguishes eczema from other childhood skin problems.
Worry is just part of life for new parents, but there’s always an extra dimension to the anxiety you feel over your baby’s health; how do you know what’s wrong and when should you take them to the doctor? If your little one has sore skin, for example, how do you know it’s eczema, and when should you ask for professional medical help?
When does eczema start?
Eczema is a common condition in babyhood; up to 1 in 5 children under the age of five have eczema flares to some degree or other. It often develops around three months, and can continue for just a few months or years, or persist for longer into childhood. Around 75% of babies with eczema grow out of it eventually.
What does eczema look like?
Eczema is a kind of dermatitis, which simply means skin irritation. There are several different subtypes of eczema, and the condition can manifest in several different ways. This can make it hard to diagnose! Skin can look:
- have ‘discoid’ (circular) patches
Eczema on different skin colours
Eczema occurs in all skin colours, with a higher proportion of cases in BAME children than in white. It’s important to note that although most textbooks or information sites say that eczema appears ‘red’ or ‘pink’ in babies, that only applies to babies with pale skin. In babies with darker skin the inflammation of eczema can look hyperpigmented, darker brown, purple or silvery grey, and can often be less easy to spot (so less well diagnosed) than red rashes on white skin.
Where on the body does baby eczema occur?
In tiny babies, of a few months old, eczema tends to start on the cheeks or forehead.
As they get older, the eczema can start to affect the wrists, knees, elbows and ankles, the folds of the neck and behind the ears. Eczema can appear on the front of the knees and the back of the elbows (called the ‘reverse flexural pattern’), or as papular eczema, which appears as fine bumps over the chest and tummy. The National Eczema Society points out that babies from white families can have different patterns, with eczema appearing in the bends and creases of knees and elbows.
Eczema can look very different on different babies!
It comes in various subtypes, and appears differently on different skin colours, and on babies of different ages, and can occur on different parts of the body. A diagnosis of childhood eczema would depend on taking all those factors into consideration, and seeing if your baby’s itchy and irritated skin ticks the boxes for eczema. Although most cases of baby eczema are mild and can be treated at home, it’s always sensible to get a sound diagnosis from a medical professional to rule out any other skin condition, such as infections which will need different treatment.
Recommended products for babies prone to eczema
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.