Teapot started developing eczema when she was about 2.5 months old. I’d like to say that the rash started on her thighs but, as I would soon learn, eczema is known as the “itch that rashes” – so technically, the itch started on her thighs; the rash came later. I also noticed white build-up behind her knees one day, and in the chubby creases of her neck. There was an especially dark red patch at the very back of her neck. And though we had battled cradle cap on her eyebrows successfully, we started to notice her head was dry and flaky too.
Teapot was also the squirmiest baby our family and friends had ever seen. When I started to think that maybe she wasn’t so much squirmy as itchy, I started to feel guilty. Why couldn’t I fix it? Wasn’t I her mom, a.k.a. fixer-of-everything? Couldn’t I do something?
Thanks to our pediatrician friend, who started us off with some suggestions, and the interwebs, which brought me to Babycenter’s epic thread on eczema, we started implementing our action plan.
First, we booked an appointment with Teapot’s doctor.
Then, we started bathing her with plain water only every day. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but here’s the thinking: water is moisturizing. As long as the baths aren’t too long (less than 15 minutes) or too hot, and as long as you’re slathering on moisturizer right after (less than 5 minutes after) you’re locking in that moisture.
We started moisturizing her twice daily. In the morning, after taking off her diaper, it’s on with the moisturizer if we’re not using medication. I use CeraVe moisturizer (in the tub, not the lotion in the pump) and slather it on. Then, I follow up with Aquaphor (again, in the tub). The Aquaphor itself is not moisturizing as it does not contain water. But it will form a barrier on the skin, helping to lock in that moisture. At night, after a pat-dry post-bath, it’s medication, CeraVe and Aquaphor. Every day, without fail. This routine has made such a difference in Teapot’s skin. I also moisturize her scalp to help with the flakes.
Medication: “Kill it with fire,” Teapot’s dad says. And guess what: he’s right. Most doctors will start off with a mild steroid. We started off with OTC hydrocortisone, which is 0.5%. Her doctor initially prescribed HC 1%, and then upped it to 2.5% upon a follow-up visit. We also obtained a referral to a pediatric dermatologist. He was pleased with the progress Teapot had made (I had taken photos of her skin in its worst state to show him: blotchy, red patches on her back, top of her feet, and lower arms) and advised us to continue with the HC 2.5% if needed with the ultimate goal of being off the medication more than being on it. He also told us to expect recurrences, and to treat them as soon as they appeared to prevent flare-ups. He also told us that corticosteroids were safe for use on baby skin, if used appropriately. And that most babies grow out of eczema.