Is there a way to prevent eczema in young babies?
Research from Professor Richard Cork from Sheffield University highlights a six week Ďwindowí after the birth of a baby where the use of certain lotions and bath oils can actually increase the likelihood of eczema.
The reasoning behind this is that those babies who are genetically probable to eczema, that is stand a higher chance of getting eczema because someone else in their family has it, can inadvertently have their immune system stimulated and made more sensitive, increasing the likelihood of developing eczema.
These babies who stand a higher chance of developing eczema, can have their skin sensitive skin irritated by the bath oils and lotions, causing the skin to dry and crack.
The research believes the babies have a defect in their skin barrier, allowing their skin to become sensitised and prone to allergic reactions, especially if the wrong bath time oils and lotions are used.
The skin has an outer layer which provides and effective barrier against irritants and allergens but with babies who have an genetic predisposition to eczema, the skin barrier does not work well.
This causes the skin to dehydrate and shrink, with the latter causing cracks, that allow irritants and allergens into the skin and cause irritation.
Soap was highlighted in this research as being particularly harsh, as it could damage the skin in babies, as the skin itself is growing and premature.
The damage in itself breaks the skins barrier effect allowing the skin to lose hydration and not provide an effective barrier to allergens and irritants.
In the 1950's the percentage of babies with eczema was less than 5% but in the current climate the rate has reached an astonishing rate about 25%.
It is believed this may be down to todayís use of soaps which are harsher, with more synthetic ingredients. The research also points out, that the baby products marketed, may actually be too harsh for babies who stand a higher chance of developing eczema.
The research may also indicate the creams prescribed by doctors could actually make the skin condition worse.
Aqueous cream for example, the research points to as being designed as an alternative to soap, that is, just used for washing and not being used as a moisturiser and being left on as a cream.
Olive oil the research highlights as also being unsuitable for moisturising the skin, as the balance of oleic and linoleic oil is very poor and can damage the skin before it develops properly.
Baby oils drying skin
The pH, that is the alkali and acid balance in some of the baby oils can stimulate irritation, as the oil whilst providing some initial hydration, can actually cause a drying effect.
The research believes parents should avoid products which are perfumed or scented and avoid products which donít contain preservatives, (more common in natural and organic products) as these can become contaminated with bacteria and become hazardous.
Products such as white soft paraffin based, liquid paraffin 50/50 based and emulsifying ointments are recommended by the research as a better choice. Experimentation may be required to determine which ones work best.
When it comes to choosing eczema emollients, choose those which donít contain detergent Sodium Lauryl Sulphate SLS. I have written about SLS before, itís pretty harsh on sensitive skin.
My daughter uses EpiDerm and my husband uses Doublebase, other emollients such as Dermamist, Hydromol, Dexeryl and Emollin could also be considered.