He's a really good sport, though. Even when we drag him to the pediatrician, he doesn't really seem to mind. (This photo is POST immunizations, mind you!)
Both his daddy and I have SUPER sensitive skin, so we aren't really surprised that we passed it on to our little guy.
His pediatrician prescribed us some corticosteroid ointments, but being the crunch granola folks we are, we'd always rather use natural remedies.
After a month of trial and error, using the bare minimum of the steroids along with many, many natural products, we've discovered that we can't go 100% natural on our little guy's eczema. Some steroids are necessary, or his flare-ups are so bad he can barely even nap. He scratches his head and bleeds and it's just an ugly, awful, tragic horrible mess. Not cool.
Our pediatrician has assured us that using low doses of the steroid ointments is safe, especially when they aren't used over long periods of time. So we've given in, and our little man is much happier.
However, there are some natural things that have helped take the edge off for us so we don't need to use the prescriptions every day. These remedies cost just pennies and they help him quite a bit.
If any of you are struggling with eczema in your babies or children (or yourselves!) I'd love to hear of any natural remedies you've tried.
Method #1: Oatmeal Baths
This sounds funky, but is super helpful. The oats coat his skin in a layer of softness, making it far less itchy. It's a natural remedy and has no side effects. If you're gluten free like me, though, you'll want to use safe gf oats to protect from any skin irritation.
Basically you put oats into pantyhose, run a bath, and let the fun begin. The best directions I've found are here: Milky Oatmeal Bath (thanks, MommyLove!).
Method #2: Hats
Super simple. Super cute.
(I love that it looks like he's taking this picture himself.)
He especially likes modeling his Wheaton College hat (go Thunder! or whatever their new mascot is...), but at night he needs a simple cotton or soy hat that doesn't heat up his poor little head. We've had the best success with organic hats from Baby Soy. They stay on all night, even with all his rolling and scooting. I can't say that about many other hats we've tried.
Check them out here: Baby Soy Hat.
Method #3: Bleach baths
I know, I know. You're probably having the same reaction to this idea that I did when my mom proposed it to me.
"Bleach? On my BABY? Are you NUTS?!"
My mom is really good at just throwing suggestions out there and waiting for me to catch up on my own. And eventually, I do.
Bleach baths are simple, and they've cleared up our baby's body eczema very well. It doesn't work as well on his head, but with regular bleach baths every other day, we only have to spot-treat his body with the prescription ointments.
To prove I'm not a kook, here are instructions from the National Eczema Foundation. This method is also recommended by our pediatrician. You can find an article about it in a 2009 issue of Time Magazine, too.
Two additional tips on this one:
1) Do a spot test first on an arm or leg to make sure your child doesn't react negatively to the diluted bleach (and, obviously, never EVER put undiluted bleach anywhere near your skin or your baby).
2) Over-dilute it first to see what level of bleach helps your little one. Some articles say to use 1 t. per baby bathtub, but we use only 1/4 t. and it works just great. Less is more.
Method #4: Vaseline
Plain, old fashioned vaseline. Not the "baby" variety (this has added fragrance). Just the old $2 per tub standby. We slather his body and head with this on days we don't use the prescription. It holds in moisture after baths, moisturizes for hours every morning, and is thick enough that it doesn't evaporate quickly like water-based lotions. Also: cheap. Super cheap.
Method #5: Steer totally clear of fragrances and dyes and use organic products when possible
We already by fragrance-free soaps and shampoos because of my husband's sensitive skin, but we were shocked to find out how many baby products are rife with fragrances and dyes. Mainstream products like Johnson and Johnson are chock-full of them. Sure, they smell great, but if they cause itching in a sensitive little one, they need to be tossed.
Even Dreft detergent - made especially for babies - has fragrance in it! Eep!
We've wasted probably $50 through trial and error in buying the wrong products. Now we go utterly fragrance free, and our son's skin thanks us for it. We use organic baby shampoo on his little head, too.
We have also purchased organic crib sheets and hats, and these seem to help as well. I'd love to go all-organic on his clothing, but he goes through 3+ outfits a day, and organic clothes are spendy, spendy!
Method #6: Snuggles
Maybe this one just helps me. But boy, does it help.