Baby Eczema Treatment

Recommendations for Treating Your Baby’s Symptoms

A baby can have eczema early on in infancy. Though most will outgrow the irritating rash and itchy patches on their skin, some infants will need additional support.

What is the best method to treat eczema and stop your baby’s itching? See our top baby eczema treatment recommendations.

An adult wipes cream on a light skinned baby's face

Vasyl Rohan / Getty Images

What Is Baby Eczema?

Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is a dry, itchy skin rash that can appear anywhere on the body, but it commonly appears on the face and limbs. Anyone can have eczema, including infants.

Eczema in babies is very common. It affects 25% of children, 60% of whom develop it in their first year of life. While the condition can be lifelong, some children outgrow it.

Some things tend to make people more prone to developing eczema, including:

  • Family history of eczema
  • Family history of hay fever, allergies, or asthma
  • Living in a cold, damp climate
  • Exposure to environmental irritants (e.g., smoke, detergent, fragrances, and pollution)
  • Having an overactive immune system

Black children in the United States are 1.7 times more likely to develop eczema than White children. It is unknown why eczema disproportionately impacts Black children, but theories include disparate access to health care and that darker skin may mask the rash, resulting in later diagnosis.

What Does Baby Eczema Look Like?

Eczema often appears on the face and scalp in infants under 6 months old. The rash will usually be red and it may bubble up, ooze fluid, then crust over. Older babies may develop eczema on their elbows and knees.

Eczema usually does not occur in the diaper area because the skin stays too moist. Rashes in this area are more likely diaper rash.

The itchiness of eczema can make an infant very uncomfortable. A baby cannot tell a caregiver what is wrong, but their behavior may hint that eczema is causing them discomfort.

Signs to look for include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Skin infections (caused by scratching or rubbing the rash)
  • Fussiness

Baby Eczema: Diagnosis and Treatment

Your child’s doctor will diagnose eczema based on symptoms, the appearance of the rash, family and individual medical history, and evaluation for potential allergies.

There is no specific test to diagnose eczema, but a doctor might order blood tests and skin tests to look for allergies or rule out other skin conditions.

Identifying Triggers

Certain things—referred to as triggers—can cause eczema flare-ups. Your pediatrician will be interested in learning what tends to trigger the rashes in your baby. Common triggers include:

  • Allergens (e.g., dust, pollen, pet dander, and certain foods)
  • Irritants (e.g., fragrances, certain fabrics, and tobacco smoke)
  • Heat and sweat

Once you learn what triggers your baby's eczema, avoiding these triggers can help prevent flare-ups of the condition.

Eczema Treatments

There is no cure for eczema, but there are treatments for managing it by controlling dry skin, itching, irritation, and preventing infection.

Common eczema treatment includes:

  • Keep skin well hydrated: Bathe your baby in lukewarm water and pat their skin dry. After a bath, immediately apply a moisturizing cream. 
  • Avoid common irritants: Use fragrance-free soaps and detergents to do your baby's laundry. Dress your baby in soft fabrics, like cotton.
  • Avoid common allergens: Keep your home—especially your baby’s room—free of dust and pet dander.
  • Prevent scratching: Cut your baby's nails short and cover their hands with socks or mittens if they are trying to scratch their skin. You can also apply wet wraps to moisturized skin. Your pediatrician may recommend an antihistamine if the itching is severe.
  • Heal the skin: Your pediatrician may suggest applying topical steroids and nonsteroid medicines to your baby's skin during flare-ups.
  • Prevent infection: A popular home remedy for eczema is a diluted bleach bath. While they are not intended to be the only treatment for easing or preventing flare-ups, they can be part of an eczema treatment regimen.

When to Call the Doctor

Eczema rashes can get infected, especially if they are scratched. Infections may require antibiotics or other medications. If you think your baby's skin is infected, call your pediatrician.

Ways to Prevent Baby Eczema

Eczema itself cannot be prevented, but knowing and avoiding triggers can help prevent flare-ups of the condition.

Some ways to reduce triggers include:

  • Keep your child out of cold, dry air.
  • If they are 6 months or older, make sure your child gets an annual flu shot.
  • Read labels on products to help your family avoid common irritants.
  • Double-rinse your laundry to remove detergent residue.
  • Have your child tested for allergies.
  • Use a trigger diary to help track things that may be related to your baby’s eczema flare-ups.
  • Moisturize your baby's skin.

Summary

Baby eczema can be a frustrating experience for both babies and caregivers. It can be difficult to know how to help your baby when an itchy, painful rash is causing them discomfort.

A Word From Verywell

Eczema is not curable, but there are treatments. You can also minimize flare-ups by learning what triggers your child's eczema and taking care of their skin (for example, by keeping it moisturized).

While eczema can be a lifelong condition, your child might outgrow it. Even if they do not, with help from their doctor or a dermatologist, you can learn how to manage it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will my baby's eczema last after treatment?

Some children with eczema will outgrow it—usually by the age of 4. However, not everyone outgrows eczema, and it can be a lifelong condition.

What triggers baby eczema?

Many things can trigger eczema flare-ups, but the most common triggers are environmental irritants and allergens.

Examples of other baby eczema triggers include:

  • Certain clothing fabrics
  • Dry skin
  • Some foods
  • Saliva
  • Scratching
  • Sweating

When should my baby go to the doctor for eczema treatment?

If your baby has symptoms of eczema (such as red, itchy patches on their skin) and at-home treatments have not helped, make an appointment with your pediatrician.

If your baby's eczema is crusty, oozing fluid, or if your baby is showing any other signs of infection (such as a fever), call your pediatrician right away. Eczema rashes can become infected and may require antibiotic treatment.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to treat eczema in babies.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Eczema types: Atopic dermatitis causes.

  3. Kaufman B, Guttman-Yassky E, Alexis A. Atopic dermatitis in diverse racial and ethnic groups-Variations in epidemiology, genetics, clinical presentation and treatment. Exp Dermatol. 2018;27(4):340-357. doi:10.1111/exd.13514

  4. National Eczema Association. Understanding eczema in children.

  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Eczema types: Atopic dermatitis symptoms.

  6. Standford Children’s Health. Atopic dermatitis in children.

  7. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to treat and control eczema rashes in children. Updated April 19, 2021.

  8. National Eczema Association. How to identify and control eczema triggers without losing your mind

  9. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How can I find eczema triggers on my child's body?.