It is common for babies to get eczema and dry skin (1 in 8 children according to the NHS). Reuben probably started to develop baby eczema or at least dry skin from a few weeks old. I did what all the midwives were telling me when he first popped out and applied lots of olive oil. That seemed to do nothing for the dry skin and just caused an outbreak a kin to a teenager! It made me sad. I wanted to show off my baby but by 6 weeks he was looking a bit of a sight! All his hair had rubbed off apart from his baby mullet and he was looking all scabby and spotty from his baby eczema.

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Reuben at 5 weeks old – well spotty! But still cute to me and starting to smile…

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Can you see the little pimples all over his head?

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Reuben at almost 6 weeks – all his hair has rubbed off, and he was covered in pimples! 

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with the doctors, and a flare up that resulted in a very itchy and scabby back and neck, we finally ended up with Diprobase Cream to apply 3 times a day to keep the skin moisturised. But I don’t like it – it’s made out of weird stuff and the side-effects are, according to the NHS:

“skin reactions such as itching, rash, redness, skin exfoliation, burning sensation, hypersensitivity, pain, dry skin and dermatitis”

Dry skin? That’s what it’s meant to be preventing. Burning sensation?? Pain?? And you want me to put this on my baby…?

Anyway, Reuben is doing OK now but during all this I had made virtual friends with Emma (who shared her VBAC story back in April). Emma’s youngest, Abigail, was REALLY suffering with baby eczema and when she recently told me about how bad it was and that she’s now started to use (and sell) Aloe Vera to help treat Abigail’s eczema, I was really interested in this natural treatment and asked Emma if she would be willing to put together a post for us.

She’s put together a fantastic piece to explain everything they have been through as a family (and it is heartbreaking), but also how they have now made it. She’s shared her top 5 tips for dealing with baby eczema so hopefully, if you find yourself in a similar situation, god forbid, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and the steps you should take to get there!

Baby Eczema – by Emma

My second daughter Abigail was born on 27th January 2013 with perfect, silky smooth skin just like any other baby.  At about 10 weeks old, she started to develop some dry and sore skin around her neck which I put down to her poor skin suffering at the hands of lots of dribble and milk! As the days and weeks passed, this sore skin began to spread across her face and upper body until we reached a point where she had terribly itchy skin all over her body, apart from the palms of her hands and the soles of her feet.  I took her to see the GP and during the course of that visit and a subsequent 3 more, we were given a prescription formula (in case she was allergic to dairy), hydrocortisone ointment, oilatum for the bath and diprobase to moisturise.  We were told to bath more, to bath less, moisturise more, use more hydrocortisone etc.  We were also told that an NHS specialist referral would be winging its way to us – this turned out to be 3 months in the making.

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Abigail in April at 10 weeks old – the beginnings of baby eczema 

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And in May after her first lot of ‘treatment’

Whilst we waited those 3 months (which, as it happens, the appointment would have been last week!) our lives had been turned upside down by this little bundle who was obviously very, very uncomfortable.  Abigail could not be left by herself as she would scratch and rub until she made herself bleed.  We could not leave her to roll around and explore as other babies would as she would be too busy trying to find something to rub herself against to relieve the itch.  We had to resort to restraining her with a pair of her sister’s tights anytime she was asleep, otherwise she simply would not settle and would cause herself horrendous damage.  And when I say sleep, there was very little of that going on, especially during the night.  My husband and I were at our wits end, parenting our 3 year old daughter, Bethany, felt like a roller coaster of guilt and neglect as our focus was firmly on Abigail and we were desperate for a solution.

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Abigail at her lowest point in June 2013 – covered head to toe in baby eczema

So desperate were we to find some help that we paid to see a specialist – two in fact.  Both of whom lost interest after a couple of consultations and the cheques had been cashed.  We tried bathing Abigail more and less, we stopped using detergents when washing her clothes.  We purchased and tried numerous creams – Aveeno, Dream Cream from Lush, Diprobase, Hydromol, Dermol and Nystaform, to name but a few.  We purchased Dermasilk clothing and organic cotton clothing.  When we hit rock bottom, around the time Abigail escaped her restraints in the night and spent a good few hours removing the skin from the side of her face, we resorted to wet wrapping – a process where you slap on a lot of moisturiser, then dress baby in a layer of wet bandages, over the top of which goes a layer of dry bandages, followed by their clothes.  This had to be repeated many times during the day to prevent the bandages from drying out – you can imagine how much fun I had doing it by myself with a 3 year old tearing around and one very unhappy baby!!

Eventually, after attending hospital for an appointment which didn’t exist, I ended up camping out for a few hours until a consultant could fit us in.  They prescribed us a stronger form of Piriton for at night – so at last we all slept – and a stronger steroid cream which, overnight cleared up Abigail’s baby eczema!

What a relief that was – a baby who had no desire to scratch, had perfect skin and slept at night!  But I knew it might not last as the cream was too strong to use permanently.  When we reduced the cream down to once a week, it kept the skin slightly under control but you can always see it bubbling, like it was ready to burst into a full flare up at any minute.  And my baby girl had gone back to scratching and rubbing whenever she had the opportunity.

So, I had gone in search of a solution that was natural, could be used freely and would help ease the symptoms.  As these things do, a variety of circumstances occurred that meant I was introduced to a company called Forever Living who manufacture and sell dozens of beneficial wellness products based on one of nature’s purest gifts – Aloe Vera.  I was given the Propolis cream to try and although we still use the steroid cream once a week, this cream is certainly helping to keep the symptoms under control.  The cream moisturises as well as leaving a protective layer on the skin and, the thing that makes Aloe Vera work so well on the skin, is that it is able to penetrate below the surface layer, therefore keeping the subsequent layers of skin healthy and moisturised.  Since the success we have experienced with this cream, I have gone on to try a number of the other products – my favourites being the deodorant, lip balm, Aloe Vera Gel and the hand and face wash. I’ve also become a distributor so that I can try and help other people who have had the same experiences as us and might be looking for a more natural solution to the problem.

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Abigail today enjoying her wheat, dairy and gluten free breakfast – baby eczema under control!

my top 5 tips for dealing with baby eczema

1) above and beyond any of my other tips, my number one is do not feel guilty.  You will wonder whether it was something you ate during pregnancy, some cream that you put on your baby when they were small, an animal that they were around as a newborn which set it all off.  Whether you’re moisturising enough, seeing enough doctors, trying enough of the remedies you are recommended every day by well meaning friends and strangers.  Just know that you are doing all you can for your baby to make things as comfortable as possible and that is what really counts.

2)  I’ve already mentioned it but moisturise, moisturise and moisturise some more.  It sounds super simple in principle and ideally should be done at every nappy change but if you have an older child like I do, and are often out and about, it can be difficult to do but do your best.  Use whatever you have found personally works best on their skin.

3)  Keep nails as short as possible – unfortunately babies and toddlers completely lack the ability to restrain themselves from scratching (in our case, we had to restrain my daughter to prevent her from really hurting herself) so short nails will help limit the damage they might cause themselves.

4) Don’t stop looking for help.  If you feel like you have been fobbed off by your GP or have been given just a “one diagnosis fits all” cream or, worse still, a cream that makes things worse, then go back or go elsewhere.  It’s frustrating to feel like you are pushing all the time but it’s sometimes what the system, and you, needs.

5)  Try everything.  As I’ve already said, lots of well meaning people will give you advice – rolled oats in the bath (to soften the water), various creams and potions, homeopathic remedies, eliminating detergent, special clothes to help (dermasilk etc).  If you feel comfortable with the advice you’ve been given and if your wallet can stand it, give it a go.  Eczema will not necessarily respond to every treatment so it’s about finding what works for your child.  Try not to change more than one thing at a time otherwise you will struggle to figure out what has done the trick!

And then there is me!  If you are interested in knowing more about what Aloe Vera has to offer or buying any of the products then you can contact me on emmagarrick@hotmail.com

Thank you Emma! xx

Just as a little side note…this is in no way a sponsored post. Emma has become a friend through regularly commenting on posts and through facebook. When she said she had started doing this Aloe Vera stuff because it has done so well for Abigail – and you saw how bad her eczema was! – I thought it might help some of you if you are unfortunate enough to be suffering with a little one with baby eczema. Anyway, she’s convinced me enough to buy some things including the Aloe Propolis Creme (£14.96 – this lasts 2 weeks with Abigail using it 3 times a day, and Emma on her face!) to try on Reuben! The other cream I have tried for Reuben was Essential Care Baby Organic Repair Lotion – I loved it because a) it worked and b) it’s organic but the problem was that it only lasted a week and at £12 a pop, that’s quite expensive!

Has your baby been suffering from baby eczema? What have you found to work? It would be great to hear your experience…