Having a baby with eczema can be a heartbreaking experience for parents, and most will ask themselves if it will ever go away. In this blog we look at the chances of babies outgrowing their childhood eczema.
It can happen at different times, and in different ways, but the fact it is likely, one day, to get better is an encouraging message for families stuck in the thick of the sleepless nights, endless itching, applying emollients, and deep upset of baby eczema.
When does eczema start?
About 1 in 10 children have eczema of some sort or another, so it’s a pretty common condition.
About half of all babies who do have eczema develop symptoms within the first year of their lives, and nearly all (95%) children who are going to develop eczema do so before they’re five. So generally, if they’ve got to five without any eczema, they’re likely not to develop it later in childhood! However, people can develop eczema for the first time in adulthood, which is known as adult onset eczema.
When does it go away?
The answer to that question is a bit more complicated.
Of the children who do get eczema, 75% outgrow it before adolescence. This is known as ‘spontaneous remission’. Many babies will outgrow babyhood eczema by the age of three; others not until five. For some, it can be later.
The remaining 25% will continue to have eczema flares as older children and then adults. Some children stop having flare-ups for several years, but find that their eczema returns in teenage years, or as they become young adults. A few get recurrences much later in life, which can be related to stress or changing where they live: different hardness of water, hormonal changes or living in a new climate can trigger a recurrence of eczema.
Eczema flares tend to affect different parts of the body as babies get older, starting off on their cheeks and forehead, and then spreading to knees, elbows and body. Older children tend to get patches of itchy dry skin inside the bends of their elbows, wrists, ankles and knees. Adults with eczema might only experience dry, itchy, inflamed skin on their hands, although others continue to flare up all over.
What other conditions can babies with eczema have?
Babies with eczema are more likely to go on to develop associated conditions.
About 15-30% (depending on where in the world they live) of children with eczema also have food allergies of varying severity.
Children with eczema are also more likely to develop rhinitis and asthma.
Eczema isn’t a static condition. It changes in severity, frequency, and where on the body it occurs throughout one’s life. Luckily, most people do outgrow their babyhood eczema, but may remain vulnerable to flare-ups throughout their lives. For those who have persistent eczema, it’s not a question of getting rid of it altogether, but of living with it, and finding a management plan that works.
Recommended products for babies prone to eczema
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Bath & Body Oil
with lavender, hemp and olive
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.