How to follow the Baby Zema Action Plan to help control your baby’s eczema
Does your baby suffer from eczema? If so the good news is that many children grow out of it by the age of about 3, and 90% will do so by the time they are 8 years of age - Dr Hilary Jones. However it’s definitely worth controlling in order to make them feel less discomfort from it. The Baby Zema Action Plan* is a step-by-step action plan aim to help control your baby’s eczema based on advice from the NHS with contributions from parents who have dealt with the condition. If there is any advice, product, or additional research you feel will improve the Baby Zema Action Plan please get in touch!
STEP 1: Understanding Eczema in Babies
If you’ve already researched eczema in babies and want to get to the action plan, skip to step 2. If you’re new to the skin condition or you want to conduct further research, check out the list of resources below:
- What is eczema (NHS)
- The two main types of eczema: Atopic Eczema + Contact Dermatitis (NHS)
- Why does my baby have eczema? (NHS)
TASK: Gain a basic understanding of the different types of eczema (takes 5 – 10 minutes)
STEP 2: Consider changing your soap with emollients
The problem with commonly used soaps, shampoos and cleansers is that they remove your skin’s layer of natural oils. Without this natural layer of oil your skin becomes dry which in turn can aggravate your baby’s eczema. The NHS describes emollients as moisturising treatments that creates a protective layer on the skin surface. This allows the skin to retain it’s moisture and is considered by the NHS as the most important treatment for dry skin associated with atopic eczema.
TASK 1: Write a list of all the products that come into contact with your baby’s skin. Compare the ingredients of these products with the list of known irritants below:
If anyone knows any known irritants currently not on the list, please get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can add it to the list. You can also use this online tool to analyse the ingredients in a product to see what they are and how irritating they are for your baby’s skin: Product Ingredients Analysis Tool
TASK 2: Consider replacing any soaps, shampoos and cleansers with an emollient. Try and use an emollient for a few weeks before you try a new one to give time for any improvement to appear.
Some emollients to consider are:
- Oilatum Bath Formula (Available at Boots)
- Mum&Me Emollient Bath Wash (Available at Boots) (Mum’s review for baby eczema)
- Cetaphil Restoraderm Body Wash (Available at Boots)
It’s recommended to test patch new products on your baby’s skin before constant use. This is a precaution just encase your baby has a bad reaction to an ingredient in the product.
If anyone can recommend any more emollients that have proven success in treating baby eczema, please get in touch at email@example.com or comment below.
Step 3: Raid the wardrobe
Rough clothing and clothing made from wool and nylon can irritate the skin and either trigger your baby’s eczema or aggravate it. The NHS recommends sticking to natural materials like cotton to help prevent further irritation. Although even if you buy 100% cotton clothing, it’s always best to give them a wash before you first wear them encase your baby is sensitive to formaldehyde (read about formaldehyde here).
There is also the option of baby clothing for eczema that helps prevent your baby scratching their skin by having the material cover their hands. They also look extremely cute in these which is always a bonus.
TASK: Go through all the clothing your baby’s skin comes in contact with and make sure that it doesn’t feel rough, scratchy or likely to itch. Also check to see what material is used and try to avoid clothing made from wool and nylon.
Step 4: Observe
By now you have replaced soaps with emollients and have checked for irritating clothing. The next steps are harder to address and require a larger change to your current lifestyle. By observing your baby’s eczema for a week or two for improvements, you might find that you can keep the eczema under control with the simple steps and not have to proceed further. If a week or two go by and you notice an improvement in your baby’s eczema, then keep following steps 1 + 2 of the Baby Zema Action Plan and try not to introduce any new soaps or irritating clothing.
If you can’t see any improvement then we can move onto the next set of steps. These steps are harder to address, but can potentially be the triggers or aggravations for your baby’s eczema.
TASK: Keep your current routine consistent and try not to revert back to using soaps. Move onto the next stage if problems persist.
Step 5: Consider Allergies
The next potential triggers & aggravates to consider are allergies. There are 3 main allergies to address: food allergies, pet allergies and pollen allergies.
Food Allergies: The NHS states that Atopic Eczema can sometimes be caused by food allergens, especially with babies. These foods typically cause allergic reactions that can aggravate eczema:
- Cows’ Milk
TASK 1: It’s important to note that you should not make any significant changes to your baby’s diet without first speaking to your GP. Therefore your task is to meet with your GP and discuss the matter of your baby’s diet being a trigger or aggravate. You can show the steps you have taken so far and explain how you haven’t seen any improvement.
TASK 2: Keep a food dairy that lists everything your baby eats. If you start writing this diary when you first begin the Baby Zema Action Plan, then if you do end up visiting your GP your diary will already have a good amount of information ready.
Pollen Allergies: Pollen can aggravate eczema if your baby’s immune system is overacting to pollen. This occurs if your baby’s immune system reacts to an allergen like pollen as though it is a threat, like an infection. - NHS.
The UK Met Office has created a handy infographic showing the peak times for pollen counts throughout the year. You might notice that your baby’s eczema is worst during certain periods of the year which could be influenced by a specific phase.
TASK: If your baby’s eczema seems to randomly get worst during certain times of the year, make a note of the date and compare it with the above infographic.
Pet Allergies: In some cases your pet’s fur can cause allergic reactions with your baby’s skin which aggravates their eczema. If you’ve implemented all other steps and can see no change in your baby’s eczema then you might want to consider removing your pets from the house for a week and look for any improvements. Unfortunately this is much easier said than done, and we understand how difficult it can be to remove a member of your family from your house. However pet fur can potentially be a trigger or aggravate and so it’s a possibility to look at.
TASK 1: Ask friends and family if they can look after your pets for a week and observe any improvements in your baby’s eczema.
TASK 2: Try not to cry as you hand your pets over.
Step 6: Tackle Environmental Factors
Environmental factors might be triggering or aggravating your baby’s eczema. These factors involve the presence of tobacco smoke and pollution (if you live near a busy road). - NHS
Tobacco Smoke: If someone in your house smokes tobacco then this could be aggravating your baby’s eczema. As the best way to solve this is to remove the smoke from your house, it might be the case that you or a member of your family has to try and quit smoking. If that is your next plan of attack, there are some great resources to help you quit:
- NHS resource to help people stop smoking
- NHS - Take steps now to stop smoking
- NHS tools to help you stop smoking
Pollution: Living near a busy road or in a city with a high level of air pollution can aggravate your baby’s eczema as the toxins present in pollution can irritate the skin and lead to scratching. The department for environment, food and rural affairs has created a pollution forecast tool that you can use to check your region for air pollution:
TASK 1: Check your region for high levels of air pollution.
TASK 2: Try to minimise the amount of pollution in your house by keeping windows near busy roads sealed.
Step 7: Review
If your baby’s eczema is still an issue, double check you have completed the following:
- Checked that shampoos, cleansers and products that touch your baby’s skin don’t contain skin irritants
- You’re using an emollient as often as the product states you can
- Made sure your baby’s clothes and bedding aren’t rough or made of irritating material
- You’re using baby clothing designed to stop your baby scratching
- Visited your GP and discussed possible dietary changes
- Kept a food diary to monitor reactions to certain food groups
- Checked the pollen seasons to see if there is a link
- Eliminated smoke and pollution from your baby’s environment
- Followed any advice and treatments your GP has provided
- Removed any pets from the house for at least a week
Step 7: Parent Communities
Managed to control your baby’s eczema and want to share tips? Or want to seek advice from other parents that have experienced similar problems dealing with their baby’s eczema? If so then there are a range of great communities to get involved with. We’ve collected a list of communities that appear active and that contain discussions about baby eczema and how to control it. If there are any we’ve missed get in contact and we will add it to the list. If you feel others will benefit from the plan or you feel they will be able to contribute, send them this way:
- Beyond The Bump: A place for new parents, parents to be and old parents who want to help out. Baby Eczema topic.
- Parenting: A place for parents of all ages to discuss life and trials of a parent. Baby Eczema topic.
Bonus Step: Baby Pictures!
Thank you for all the help in creating the Baby Zema Action Plan. We’ve created a bonus section of adorable baby pictures for you to enjoy:
*Disclaimer: The baby zema action plan is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of a GP. The reader should regularly consult their GP in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.