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Mother and daughter smiling whilst mum helps to treat baby eczema

Parent’s Advice: How to bathe your baby to help eczema flare-ups

As most parents know, there are few things worse than seeing your baby unhappy or uncomfortable, but sadly eczema – or ‘atopic dermatitis’ – is a common skin condition, affecting up to 25% of children (around 60% of people with eczema develop it during their first year of life). It usually shows up on lighter skin tones as a dry, itchy red or brown patch. On darker skin tones, it tends to appear darker, sometimes in a purple, gray or brown shade. And while it can show up anywhere, it most commonly affects babies’ cheeks, forehead, scalp, arms and legs. But there’s good news for those who want to know how to bathe your little one with eczema-prone skin, since there are some simple steps you can take.

Be mindful of triggers

While there is no one single cause of eczema (it’s a genetic condition and research shows children whose parents or siblings have eczema are more likely to develop it) certain ‘triggers’ can make it worse.

These might include* things like sweat, saliva, scratching or environmental factors (such as tobacco smoke, pets or pollen). Household irritants can also contribute, like certain laundry detergent or toiletries, including body washes and shampoos.

Trading harsh cleansers for gentle, specially-formulated products is a sensible first step if your baby is experiencing eczema (even if they don’t stop the symptoms entirely, they’ll prove instantly soothing to dry or sensitive skin). Our dermatologist-tested and pediatrician-recommended Baby Dove Derma Care range is enriched with colloidal oatmeal to give your baby’s eczema-prone skin the ultra-gentle care it needs.

Check in with the professionals

Research suggests that babies and children with eczema have a slightly higher risk of food allergies (around 30% of children with eczema also have food allergies) so it’s worth speaking about this to your child’s healthcare professional at their next check-up. Cutting out food groups without a doctor’s say-so isn’t a good idea since it can affect your child’s growth and development. Instead, keep a food diary, noticing any reactions or changes in your baby’s skin (some of the most common food allergy triggers are milk, egg, peanut, soya and shellfish). Once you’ve discussed this with your health professional, they may refer you to a dermatologist or allergy specialist to help get to the root cause.

Keep baths short but sweet

While every baby is different, daily baths are generally recommended for babies and children with eczema, to help soothe itching. But avoid soaking for too long – between 5 and 10 minutes is usually best. Water should be tepid, since hot water can easily aggravate your baby’s sensitive skin (the same goes for hot rooms or too many layers of clothes, which can cause sweating, which in turn makes itching worse).

Avoid any unnecessary products in the bath (especially those designed for adults) and stick to a specially-formulated baby wash or cleanser. Our Dove Derma Care Soothing Wash gives your baby’s eczema-prone skin the ultra-gentle care it needs. Or you could try our Dove Fragrance Free Moisture Hypoallergenic Wash, which is free from fragrance, parabens and sulfates, making it a good choice for eczema-prone skin.

Pre-empt the itch

When it comes to that irrepressible itch, it can be a vicious cycle – not only does eczema often make skin feel itchy and ticklish, but any itching can exacerbate the problem further, making skin feel even more uncomfortable (we’ve all scratched a mosquito bite we shouldn’t have).

Preventing your little one from scratching is really important so keep their nails clipped and slip on a pair of cotton mittens while they sleep or rest (outfits with inbuilt mittens can be a helpful solution) to eliminate as much scratching as (feasibly) possible.

Moisturize while skin is damp

Ensuring skin is properly hydrated can reduce the frequency of eczema flare-ups, so try moisturizing your baby’s skin after each bath, diaper change or when it looks or feels dry. Just as face care products can be beneficial when applied to damp skin, freely applying your baby’s moisturizer to damp skin can help really lock in moisture and nourish skin, too.

Once they’ve enjoyed a bath, gently towel dry them and apply a moisturizer while skin is still slightly damp, like our Baby Dove Rich Moisture Hypoallergenic Lotion, formulated with prebiotic moisturizer to support baby skin’s natural health.

For skin that needs some extra TLC, our Eczema Care Soothing Cream is specially formulated with colloidal oatmeal to provide long-lasting relief. It leaves skin fully hydrated to prevent the recurrence of dry, itchy skin (and it really works – in a study of children with eczema, 97% of their parents recommended it).

*According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

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