If your baby has eczema, it’s only natural to worry that it will never go away. But is that actually true?
What is baby eczema?
Baby eczema is an extremely common skin condition in little children. An astonishing 1 in 5 children have eczema, and the numbers of babies who get the dry, crusty or rashy skin that characterises the condition are in the millions.
The good news is that most cases of baby eczema are relatively mild. Patches of dry or scaly skin on the cheeks, behind the knees and in the creases of the wrists are common symptoms of eczema in little ones, and while babies with eczema might flare-up in reaction to irritants they’ve come into contact with (like bubble baths or laundry detergents), their eczema can mostly be well-managed with emollients.
Severe baby eczema
Unfortunately some babies develop more serious cases of eczema, and can be very badly affected indeed. Itchy from head to toe and covered in scratches from desperate attempts to soothe the uncomfortable feeling, a baby with bad childhood eczema is an upsetting sight. And if a baby is suffering, the whole household is affected too, from sleep-deprived parents who have to stay up all night to calm an itchy baby, to siblings who find themselves not getting the attention they need and who are themselves upset by their constantly crying little brother or sister. For those involved, it can feel never-ending.
So it’s no wonder that parents worry that this debilitating form of eczema will be there forever!
Growing up and growing out of childhood eczema
But luckily, the even better news about baby eczema is that the majority of children will grow out of it. Most babies with eczema grow out of the condition within five years, so that by the time they’re school-age their skin is mostly clear. The sensitive skin of a newborn, which is so susceptible to irritants when brand new, becomes resilient enough in time to cope better with triggers. Although children who suffer from childhood eczema are likely to be prone to dry or sensitive skin as they grow up, for most the painful flares of their babyhood will eventually be a distant memory.
The genetic component
Eczema tends to run in families; there’s a clear genetic component to the condition which seems to involve the effectiveness of the skin barrier. Although the whole picture is not yet totally understood, the fact is that some people are born with genes that make them more likely to develop eczema and for it to persist into adulthood.
In those cases, eczema might well end up being a semi-permanent factor in their lives: their symptoms might come and go, flares might get more frequent and more severe in certain seasons, and they may have to be more careful than most with laundry liquids and pet hair, but eczema is part of who they are and they will develop strategies to manage it.
Most babies with eczema grow out of it by the time they're five or so. If childhood eczema persists into adult life, there are management strategies that can help. These include identifying and avoiding triggers, looking after general health and wellbeing, as well as keeping skin hydrated and nourished with non-irritant emollients.
Recommended products for babies prone to eczema:
Skin Salvation with hemp, beeswax & calendula (from £7.99 for 30ml)
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with shea, hemp & calendula (from £13.99 for 100ml)
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with nettle & calendula (£19 for 200ml)
Balmonds Bath & Body Oil with hemp, lavender & chamomile (£12.99 for 200ml)
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.