Nappy rash and eczema: Under your skin
Your baby's skin needs all the tender loving care it can get, especially when conditions such as nappy rash and eczema strike. Carmel Doyle reports
A BABY'S skin, particularly in the early months, is prone to sensitivity, with conditions such as nappy rash a common occurrence.
Dr Charles Dupont, consultant dermatologist at Baggot Street Community Hospital, says the most common skin conditions that babies and young children get include a topic eczema, which can appear on the face, the front of the elbows and behind the knees, with at least 10pc of young children getting it, and nappy rash.
Because of the warm, often moist, atmosphere in the nappy area, which is covered up most of the time, he says babies are likely to get nappy rash. While nappy rash often clears up spontaneously, particularly with more and more people using disposable nappies, Dupont says parents could try lying their baby down for a half hour or so each day without a nappy to allow the skin around that area to breathe. Creams that he recommends include those that contain zinc. " It allows the skin to heal to start off with, and secondly it's a barrier to water and urine wetting."
In a minority of cases, a baby can get seborrhoeic eczema, a variant of nappy rash that spreads all over the body, but he says this is much less common nowadays.
" Obviously, if you've got a child with a nappy rash that has spread all over the body, go see your family doctor, but this condition is uncommon now."
If your baby gets a rash and you are confused as to what it is, Dupont's first piece of advice is for parents not to turn to the internet as it could be very misleading.
" Children, particularly babies, have skin that tends to go red rather easily. They react to things such as friction and there's no cause for alarm."
Impetigo is one contagious skin rash that babies and children can get, but he says your GP will be able to clear that up.
Dupont is also against parents taking their children off milk without first consulting their GP.
" I think this is potentially dangerous. Diet plays very little part in infantile eczema, but – the bottom line is – if the parent notices that the child's lips, mouth or tongue swells after any particular type of food, then there is cause to experiment by removing it from the diet."
And if your child has atopic eczema, he says you shouldn't be afraid to use creams containing hydrocortisone.
" I'm not saying to use this for months on end without medical supervision, but unless you are using something ridiculous like a tube a day or a week, no harm is going to come of it. For minor irritations of a small area, it is worth doing without fear."
Dupont also advocates using non-bio detergents to care for your baby's clothes when they have eczema, but he says all traces of enzymatic detergents should be removed from washing machines first, or else they will irritate the skin.
So how should parents go about looking after their baby's skin in general?
" Moisturising is important. Babies tend to have slightly dry skin, particularly on the outside of the arms and the outside of the thighs."
Dupont also recommends that babies are bathed every day.
" If they have eczema, of course, you have to be a bit more circumspect. You wash with water, no soap, and then you moisturise with emollients afterwards onto wet skin so as to prevent the skin from drying out."
Creams that he advocates using for eczema include emulsifying ointments and aqueous creams.
Mother & Babies