Written in partnership with Dr. Clarence De BELILOVSKY, dermatologist & member of the Mustela experts' circle.
The first signs
Your baby wakes waking up during his nap, a bit grumpy, with tears in his eyes and quite red cheeks: Bad dreams? Too much heat? A bit hungry? Or is this the start of a flare-up, meaning probable eczema-prone skin symptoms? When you notice his redness and his bad mood, it is normal for doubts to arise.
At this age – eczema-prone skin usually occurs after two months of age – it of course impossible to ask him exactly how he feels. Some simple clues can help you make a first assessment:
- Do you or your partner have eczema-prone skin?
Hereditary factors are surely the most significant factors. This is valuable knowledge to have, since it will enable you to undertake preventive care, from birth onward, that could reduce the risk of your child developing eczema-prone skin by 33% to 50%1.
- If your baby’s skin is really dry you know it, because you can hydrate it as much as you like with moisturisers and it still remains rough. Some flaky skin may also begin to appear in certain areas.
- Your baby has trouble falling asleep: it’s true that there can be many other reasons, but in addition to two or three other symptoms, these sleeping difficulties could be another indication
- Some red patches are starting to appear, especially on his chin, cheeks, arms and belly: there is almost no doubt that these signs are associated with eczema-prone skin. If some slight oozing appears on these patches, there is no further doubt: this is a flare-up (see When can we hope for an improvement or the disappearance of eczema?).
The first flare-ups
What exactly happens during a flare-up?
Classic inflammation always occurs like this: at the beginning, your baby has some slight redness from scratching. This redness causes the skin to rise slightly, making it thicker. It can then produce small, slightly visible blisters.
When the blisters start to ooze, a translucent liquid may appear: this blistering and oozing may crust over, and eventually disappear by itself. You don’t have to worry about it: regardless of the flare-up’s intensity, it will not leave any marks on the skin. You have to prevent your baby from scratching himself as much as possible in order to avoid increasing unpleasant sensations or creating a secondary infection. You can prevent this thanks to baby/child-specific care like an emollient balm or emollient cream and a few little tips that can soothe your baby’s skin
Eczema-prone skin, redness, allergies: ask your doctor for advice
As soon as you think that your child might have eczema-prone skin, the best thing to do is consult your paediatrician or GP, first of all in order to confirm the diagnosis. If your child’s eczema is also occurring due to food allergies, your doctor might refer you to a dermatologist or allergist. These specialists will be able to prescribe for you a special treatment to care for flare-ups. The rest of the time, that is to say in periods of respite, you can implement some little rituals that often work well to prevent flare-ups (see How to prevent eczema-prone skin).
1 Source : Eric L. Simpson 2014, Horimukai 2014.