Babies with eczema need some very careful looking after, and never more so than when the eczema is on their face.
The problem is that little baby faces are even more sensitive than other areas of the body that might be susceptible to eczema, like wrist and knees and elbows. The skin is thinner and needs more careful treatment: anything you put on the face is more likely to aggravate a flare-up than if you’d applied it to a knee, for example.
Eczema often starts off on cheeks, forehead or scalp, so parents can find themselves having to treat eczema in such a delicate area very early on in the development of the condition. It’s not very easy to use wet wraps, and steroids are not generally recommended for the face, so your baby’s eczema can feel particularly hard to get under control. Add the potential for dampness from dribble or teething rash, or a reaction to foods a weaning baby is eating, and you’ve got a really tricky situation to manage.
Here are some pointers to how to manage baby eczema on the face.
Topical steroids are very rarely suitable for use on the thin and delicate skin of the face: they should only be used under expert supervision, in low potencies and for a short length of time.
Don’t use soap! While it’s important to keep little faces clean, especially if there’s dribble and food involved, ordinary household soap is too harsh on sensitive skin to be used. Most washes and cleansers contain sulphates, which are similarly irritating to baby skin, and perfumes/fragrance, as well as potentially irritating preservatives. It’s usually best to just use warm water and a clean soft face cloth or damp cotton wool. If you need something more effective than water to keep patches of eczema clean, try a wash specially made for sensitive skin (like Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash).
Keep skin moisturised: find an emollient that works for you and your baby. An oil-based ointment or balm is a good idea if the eczema is wet, weeping or exacerbated by dribble rash, because it can protect the sore skin from the moisture that can make things worse.
Reapply your chosen emollient frequently, even if the skin is looking OK.
Use a protective balm: apply an oil-based balm or ointment before your baby eats or has a feed, to give the skin some protection from friction or dampness.
Keep things simple: your emollient should be free of ingredients that could cause extra sensitivity, such as fragrances, alcohol, preservatives etc.
Keep an eye out for triggers: babies can react to synthetic fabrics, or the woollie jumper they’re being cuddled against; they can flare in response to tomatoes or strawberries, or to being overheated, and even to the detergent used to wash their muslin cloths. Identifying your child’s own unique triggers is one of the first responsibilities of managing their eczema.
Consult your GP if you’re worried the eczema is infected, if it is getting worse, or your emollients aren’t helping.
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.