Of course, I heard it was common in infants, and I’ve heard stories of how horrible it could be, “but not my baby”, is honestly what I thought. (How naive, now being a mom for over a year. Lol. Nothing is off limits!) I think the hardest part, is feeling – helpless. When you know it is no longer in your power, and the best you can do, is make your baby feel as comfortable as possible, and wait it out. I’m prompted to write this entry, after battling eczema for 10 months and just won a bout with a nasty MRSA infection. Anna’s Eczema journey has been emotional, to say the least. I’m sure I’ll touch upon that at another time, but for now, I would like to say, despite it all– I am truly humbled and incredibly grateful, that Anna is in good health, and the sweetest baby!
#throwback Jan. 1, 2016, 3 months old
Anna: Bunny Suit & Hat: Baby Gap Mommy: Sunglasses: Karen Walker | Gloves: Uniqlo
We first noticed redness and irritation on Anna’s cheeks right around 3 months. Occasionally, the patches would appear worse, bright red, itchy, raised and inflamed. After no sign of relief, our pediatrician referred us to an allergist who specializes in pediatric eczema. (Highly recommend Hamilton Allergy Center if you are in the Princeton area) Anna did test positive on a skin test, for an egg allergy, but eczema isn’t caused by food!
Things I know now:
The basics. There are many different kinds and causes of eczema. Flare-ups are usually triggered by something – usually environmental or food-related.
From what we know, Anna doesn’t really have environmental triggers, although I feel like when eczema is present, dry heat or high temperatures makes it worse. We keep the humidity in her room and play areas at 40-50% (A humidity thermostat is a great baby gift, btw!) At night, we keep the heat on, so she doesn’t have to wear too many thick layers in bed, but point that humidifier directly at her. (Currently using this cool mist humidifier for her room.)
For mamas, be super conscious of what you are eating while breastfeeding. Not only for potential eczema or allergens, but for the comfort of the baby. Newborn babies have the teeniest bellies with the most sensitive insides, easily prone to gas, bloating, and yes– possibly eczema. Limit dairy intake, avoid spicy and acidic foods, and take note when you consume highly allergic foods. (Milk, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, seafood). I won’t go into elimination diets at this time.
Also in the presence of eczema, there is usually the presence of staph. Although staph may be fine on healthy people, at a weakened immune state of a baby with eczema, it can easily escalate to a bacterial infection.
Every FTM will have to face the dreaded fingernail-cutting. Well, get comfortable with this, fast! Now that’s Anna is super mobile, I usually do it when she’s drinking her milk, right after waking up in the morning. For newborns, some suggest while sleeping. Whatever you do, do not let baby scratch that beautiful sensitive skin! An open wound on a skin patch with staph, is a recipe for an infection. (Signs of infection: crusty, yellow, thicken inflamed skin)
We swaddled Anna, longer than what is normally considered “safe” because we just could not risk her scratching herself while sleeping. She wasn’t rolling around, and was still sleeping in our room, at the time. We double swaddled with a Aden & Annais blanket on the inside and original Summer Infant SwaddleMe on the out. Later, we upgraded to the SwaddleUp 50/50. When we sleep-trained her, and moved her into her own room, I discovered ScratchMeNot sleeves. She still uses these now, and I don’t know what we would do without them. To be completely honest, if we had to do it over again, I would have gotten the sleeves from day one. There were many nights where we struggled, putting our baby to sleep and wanting her to have healthy sleep habits, when were barely giving her any mobility. The sleeves, though, allow her to move around, be comfortable, even grab her binky, and still protect her face and skin.
Once infected, it is difficult to get rid of. Really, by now you need at least an antibiotic ointment. If it’s taken care of quickly and cleanly, it should go away without any issues. Now, if left untreated, the bacteria continues to colonize and becomes stronger and stronger. Unfortunately, if you have to experience worse than a staph infection, I call it “really having eczema”. At this point, bleach baths, wet wraps, layering, steroids, antibiotics, all the fun stuff… are probably familiar to you.
Different things will work for different babies. While this is true for many things, especially sensitive skin, a few things I’ve learned: Water, will not dry out your baby. Soap, will. There is much opinion about different courses of treatment: bleach, apple cider, baking soda, oatmeal, alcohol content, etc. I suggest being smart about your decisions, and be educated on what options are available and how to use and apply properly. Also, I’d like to note, as any medical condition, different doctors will recommend their own course of treatment for your LO. Our pediatrician referred us to an allergist when she knew, we needed more specialized care. Jay & I ourselves, sought a dermatologist when we noticed a change in Anna’s skin. At the end of the day, we as her caretakers, are responsible in making sure Anna’s doctors are in sync, and that she is getting the most efficient care possible.
Anna’s Current Maintenance Routine (post-MRSA):
Bleach baths (no soap) 2x a week / Water only with Dove Sensitive Skin Bar as needed (4-5 days a week)
Mupurocin on any open cuts (from scratching) or inflamed patches
1% Cortisone on patches every other day (we’re currently tapering from 2.5% since MRSA infection)
Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream on body and immediately covering with fitted cotton clothing
DNA Miracles Soothing Ointment on face as needed
ScratchMeNot sleeves when sleeping
Ultimate Flora Probiotics 2x a day
**Update: December 30th 2016
It’s been about a month since we’ve been on the above routine, and since then, we’ve seen a drastic improvement on her overall skin. We no longer have to use Mupurocin (I definitely saved it, and have it with me at all times in case of open wounds though!) I still use the 1% on her problem-areas (ankles, inner forearms, back of the neck, hands) every other day, (still tapering, if we go 2 days without it, I’m still noticing flares). Her cheeks are on and off due to some drooly molar action, but overall we’ve been looking good. I dropped the Probiotics to 1x a day, and make sure to get a good dose of Vitamin D (open air and sunlight outside). We’re bracing for vaccines next month… the toll on her immune system always seem to cause the worst flare-ups. Crossing fingers. To be continued.