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Most common foods that cause eczema in babies and how to treat it

Eczema encompasses many skin conditions, which can be painful and uncomfortable. There are number of foods that cause eczema and you can treat your baby by feeding a well balanced diet.

Have you noticed a rash on your baby’s body? Most kids will get an itchy rash at one time or the other and this is completely normal. In some rare cases, however, this rash could be a symptom of an underlying condition like eczema. Eczema is a broad term that covers many skin conditions. Eczema in babies is also known as infantile eczema or atopic dermatitis (AD) and can be an allergic reaction to pollen, dust, animal dander or certain foods. Since eczema can be painful and uncomfortable, here are some helpful tips on how to handle eczema in babies.

What causes eczema in babies?

There are many reasons why eczema can occur in babies. It is often inherited and if parents have allergies like hay fever or asthma, then their children are at a high risk of developing eczema. 60% of children will get the first symptoms of eczema by age 1 and others will get an eczema flare-up before the age of 5. It often becomes dormant for a while and then flares up again at puberty.

Eczema in babies and children is caused due to a deficiency in the immune system. In such cases, the skin barrier can react to food and environmental allergens. Babies with eczema usually have dry and scaly skin, making them more prone to irritation. Healthy skin prevents moisture from getting out and irritants from getting inside and this doesn’t happen with babies who suffer from eczema.

Unfortunately, eczema in babies cannot be completely cured. However, understanding the triggers can help parents control the symptoms. 

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Symptoms of eczema in babies 

The symptoms of eczema are quite varied in the early stages when it first occurs. The first signs can occur as early as 2 to 6 months.  Babies can develop itchy, red skin with irritable bumps. This can occur anywhere on the body but most often appears on the cheeks, forehead and even scalp. Early signs of eczema can be confused with cradle cap (cellulitis) but the important difference is that cradle cap is not itchy.

As infants grow older, skin flare-ups can get more dry and scaly. The severe itchiness makes children scratch it, which can lead to dry, brown scaly patches.  Parents might need to consult an allergist to control this skin allergy. However, knowing the common food triggers can help you keep your baby’s eczema under control.

Food-to-skin contact and ingestion allergies

When your baby is being exclusively breastfed , the risk of eczema is contained. The first signs often appear when the baby starts weaning and begins to eat solid foods, especially when they play with their food or try to feed themselves. When they start to smear food on themselves, this contact can start the first signs of eczema and lead to allergic reactions such as itchy, red skin. Your baby may not necessarily be allergic to food but something on the surface of the food can be causing an allergic reaction. For example, when your baby eats anything with tomato in it, the acid in the tomato can cause redness around the mouth, where it has come in contact with the food. If your baby has a contact-to-food allergy, you can recognize it by the allergy occurring around the mouth and hands. Identifying eczema in babies and the foods to avoid may not be simple. Common food culprits include:

  • Egg whites
  • Cow’s milk and dairy products
  • Peanuts 
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Citrus 
  • Some spices like vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves
  • Tomatoes

So if you notice a skin rash, try to find alternatives to these foods and see if the allergy subsides. When treating eczema in babies, foods to avoid will be top on the list of recommendations your doctor makes. Cutting out these foods and then slowly introducing them one at a time will pinpoint what food causes the allergy. Since the list is long, it is important to find healthy alternatives to these foods or children can run the risk of malnutrition.

Foods to eat for babies with eczema

There are many safe foods that can replace food triggers to ensure your child has a well-balanced diet.  

  • Fish is high in omega 3 and fights skin inflammation. The best fish for your baby are salmon, mackerel and sardines. 
  • Probiotic foods, such as curd, are very good for babies with eczema.
  • Fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids can be identified by their rich color. Vegetables like apples and cherries and vegetables like spinach, carrots, red cabbage, beets, and broccoli should be included in your baby’s diet.

How to soothe dry, itchy skin

It is important to keep their skin well-moisturized at all times. Choose a thick moisturizer as this can keep your baby’s skin hydrated for a longer time. Make sure it has no added fragrance as this can trigger eczema. There are also a number of safe home remedies for dry skin in babies that can work very well. Massage your baby’s skin with a special baby moisturizer or oil immediately after a bath. Even when the symptoms of eczema have subsided, massage your baby on a daily basis

For severe eczema, your doctor will prescribe medicated creams that will reduce the irritation. For less severe cases, apply petroleum jelly to the affected areas. You can also dress your baby in loose, cotton clothes as they are very gentle on dry skin. Woolly or synthetic clothes can irritate a baby’s sensitive skin. 

Even though eczema can be troublesome, it is not life-threatening. Following your doctor’s advice and taking a few precautions can keep eczema under control. For more expert advice on your child’s health, download the mfine app and book an instant consultation with your city’s top paediatricians!


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