I wrote a few weeks ago about how Owen was dealing with some overly rosy cheeks. At that point I didn’t really know if the redness and irritation were just normal “winter cheeks”, and, thus, unavoidable in this ridiculously snowy and freezing Boston winter, or something more. I asked everyone I came into contact with — moms, daycare teachers, the doctor, and everyone had a different answer. General consensus was that it looked like eczema, but the cause could have been any number of things (cold weather, food allergy, cow’s milk protein sensitivity, contact allergy, virus, fever/heat rash, bad habit of scratching the cheeks while sleeping, etc.).
I tested several theories like food allergies by restricting foods for a few weeks at a time and saw no change. We kept him inside for a few days at a time to see if it was going for walks outside that was causing the irritation. No change. The level of redness/itchiness varied from day to day, but was pretty constant. If I remember correctly, it started back in late November (right when the weather got particularly frigid, which is why I didn’t do anything about it for so long), so I’m fairly certain it’s not a virus or a passing bug. It was clearly bothering Owen because he would wake up every morning with bloody scratches down his cheeks and inside his ears, despite putting socks on his hands and slathering him in Aquaphor/vaseline before bed. The scratching inside the ears made me think maybe it was an ear infection, but we’ve been to the doctor three times in the last 3 weeks, treated for an ear infection once, did a full course of Amoxicillin, and then checked again and pronounced “all clear”.
After a few days of looking better, I woke up to this poor little sight.
There are no other signs of eczema on his body. He has some raised bumps on his arms and legs, but they are not dry like his face, and they are not red or irritated. I have some of these little bumps too, so I think they are unrelated to the face thing. Sigh. Poor little peanut. Even though we (still!) don’t exactly know the cause, we are still doing our best to treat the eczema.
After a few weeks of trial and error, I’ve found some things that have worked wonders on his skin:
- not using soap in the bath (or only every few days and only on his body, not his face)
- adding a few drops of jojoba oil to the bath for moisture
- slathering his face in Hydrolatum (available over the counter, but you have to ask for it at the pharmacy), like a thick, creamy, white version of vaseline/petroleum jelly, as soon as he gets out of the bath and after every diaper change
- using over the counter (1%) hydrocortisone on the worst days, but used sparingly, since from what I’ve read, it can thin the skin
- keeping his nail extremely short, like, clipping them every. single. day.
- pinning his hands down when he drinks a bottle (I hate doing this, but he has a habit of scratching his face while he drinks, and sometimes without even knowing he will make himself bleed)
- using a humidifier as much as possible (every night, and often when we play in his nursery) and NOT using a little space heater I had been using on very cold nights
After almost a week of the above treatments, his skin looks FABULOUS. There are still little patches of redness, but no more itching and no more bleeding. Thank goodness! If it doesn’t go away entirely once the weather warms, I am going to investigate a milk sensitivity (since his formula is milk-based and that is a relatively common issue with babies). For now, though, I’d rather not rock the boat with his eating since we have a great routine going, and we’ve made it through a rocky period with his reflux/tongue tie/nursing issues.
Anything else you have tried that you recommend for treating ultra sensitive, eczema-prone skin?