Learn about this common condition and how to help manage it. Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin condition affecting more than one million Australians.
It's a recurrent, non-infectious condition characterised by itchy, dry skin.
Eczema is especially common in early childhood, with over twenty per cent of infants under the age of two years affected.
Australia has one of the highest eczema rates in the world and rates have steadily risen. Fifty years ago, only one in ten infants developed the condition.
Most children grow out of childhood eczema, with symptoms often disappearing by the age of six.
We're still learning the exact causes, but a predisposition is known to be passed on genetically. Indeed, children whose parents are prone to hay fever or asthma are more likely to experience the condition.
Symptoms of childhood eczema
If you suspect your child may have eczema or they are experiencing symptoms which persist, it’s important to consult your primary healthcare provider. Here's what to look for if you suspect your baby has eczema:
- Dry skin
- Evidence of rubbing or scratching
- Breaking or cracking of the skin
- Infected eczema can weep or ooze, with a yellowish crust. As suggested above, seek medical advice if you observe these symptoms.
There is currently no known cure, but there are several ways to help manage and help prevent the condition.
Eczema outbursts can be upsetting for both the baby and you, the parents. Here are some ways to help:
- Moisturisers are your friend. Moisturising can relieve itching and keep the skin from cracking. Well-moisturised skin forms a stronger barrier against infection.
- Cut your baby's nails and cover the hands with cotton mitts to prevent rubbing.
- Babies with eczema sometimes struggle in extreme temperatures, so bathe in tepid water. Avoid soaps as these dry the skin.
- Try a colloidal oatmeal bath (blend oats into a powder, then add to the water) or a bath of chamomile tea.
Probiotics are living micro-organisms that support the immune system and help maintain healthy levels of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. Some specific strains are even believed to play a role in the prevention of childhood eczema.
The 'gut-skin axis' relates to the complex relationship between our internal and external bacteria. One bacterial strain, when taken during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in the first two years of life, may help to reduce the prevalence of eczema in young children with a family history.
The strain is Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and it’s found in Life-Space Probiotic for Pregnancy & Breastfeeding, along with several other bacterial strains to support general health and wellbeing.
Once your baby is over six months and starts solids, you can keep up their intake of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 with Life-Space Probiotic Powder for Baby, which contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria to support a healthy microbiome and general wellbeing.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Supplements should not replace a balanced diet.