Some Basic Symptoms of Baby Eczema

symptoms of baby eczema

Often, babies get red and scaly skin, which is known as eczema. The symptoms of baby eczema are patches of red, dry and itchy skin on the face or behind their ears and in the creases of the elbows, knees, and neck. The location and appearance of baby eczema usually change as an infant grows. This condition can affect adults, but it is most common in children. There are some studies done in the United States of America in which it said that about 13% of children younger than 18 have eczema, including atopic dermatitis, which is the most common type of eczema. [1]

In another study is said that about 90% of people who have eczema experience it before age 5. The percentage of babies who develop atopic dermatitis before age 1 is estimated to be 60%. It is known as baby eczema or infantile eczema. Usually, it persists through childhood and adolescence and in some cases even into adulthood. Your baby may scratch the itchy patches on his or her skin and in this case, the baby’s eczema can get infected as a result. It is noticed that in Asian and African or black Caribbean children, eczema may not affect creases, but it can affect other areas. [2,3]

In most cases, babies grow out of eczema, but you need to speak with your doctor or health visitor if you think that your baby has baby eczema. You should not cut out important foods from your baby’s diet, such as eggs, wheat, dairy products, or milk without discussing with your doctor first. You can apply an unperfumed moisturizer to the sores several times per day, for example when you feed or change your baby, to help keep their skin moist. You should gently smooth the moisturizer into your baby’s skin and do not rub it.

You should try to keep your baby’s bedroom cool because when the room is hot, can make your baby sweaty and this can just worsen his or her symptoms [4]. You should try to identify and avoid anything that irritates the skin or it makes the problem worse, such as cigarette smoke, chemical sprays, animals, and soap powder. Some fabrics can irritate your baby’s skin. You should try to avoid nylon and wool and stick to cotton instead. When your baby has eczema, then her or his skin will have areas of dry, itchy skin that can look red and cracked and may even bleed or weep fluid.

It is difficult to see baby eczema on dark skin because baby eczema is brown, purple, or grey. You should use an effective emollient, so you will moisture your baby’s skin well several times per day. You should keep your baby’s fingernails timed, so you will reduce any damage to his or her skin when your baby scratches. Also, you can buy some anti-scratch mittens to help protect your baby’s skin.

You should replace soap and bubble baths of your baby with an emollient wash, which is kinder to your baby’s skin. It is important to keep your home cool, especially your baby’s bedroom, as getting too hot and sweaty can cause a flare-up. If you notice that your baby has flare-up after he or she has eaten some food, then talk with your doctor before you cut it out of his or her diet. When you get medical advice, then you will be sure that your baby is still getting all nutrients to grow up healthy and strong, so always consult with a doctor. [5]


This condition is causing symptoms, such as a red rash, which makes the skin itchy, dry, and scaly. Also, the rash can have small bumps, which may weep fluid or ooze. Also, there can be other symptoms of baby eczema, such as

  • Changes to the skin around the mouth, eyes, or ears
  • Darkened skin on the eyelids and around the eyes
  • Redness and swelling
  • Thickened skin

The cradle cap is causing symptoms that are not commonly seen in other types of infantile eczemas, such as greasy yellow scales on the scalp which sometimes appear in a thick layer covering the whole top of your head. As time passes, the scales become flaky and rub off. In most cases, babies do not appear to be bothered by cradle cap, but in some cases, it can itch. A baby who has atopic dermatitis had an increased risk of other atopic (also known as allergic) conditions, including food allergies [6].


There are many studies in which experts are trying to discover the cause for baby eczema, but they do not know what exactly causes baby eczema. They believe that it is most likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors [4]. But, baby eczema is not contagious, so you should not be worried about it. If family members have a history of asthma, hay fever, or eczema, then infants have more chances of developing this condition. The mentioned conditions do not cause one another, but infants are more likely to develop asthma or hay fever if they already have baby eczema.

Doctors believe that the baby’s eczema is caused by dysfunction of the immune system which affects the skin barrier and its ability to carry in moisture. Eczema is a general term that is used to describe a number of inflammatory skin conditions. Not just atopic dermatitis, but also many other types of eczema can affect babies and children, such as scalp eczema (this condition is known as cradle cap in infants), seborrheic dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema (foot – and – hand eczema), and contact dermatitis.


It is noticed that baby eczema may flare up when your baby comes into contact with certain triggers. The most common triggers of baby eczema include:

  • Unusually cold or hot environments [4]
  • Food allergens, such as peanuts, soya, wheat, egg, and milk [7]
  • Environmental allergens, such as household dust, pollen, and pets
  • Synthetic or woolen fabrics or clothes made using certain dyes
  • Soaps, bath and skincare products, and laundry detergents [5]

Also, your baby’s eczema can flare up when she or he is generally under the weather, for example, if your baby is not getting enough sleep, has a cold or is teething. It is noticed that babies with baby eczema are more prone to skin infections. An infection, such as herpes, cellulitis, or impetigo can cause a severe flare-up and your baby may need special treatment.

It is very important to talk with a doctor if you think that your baby has baby eczema. Your doctor will help you to find the right treatment for your little one, which will depend on how bad baby eczema is. If your doctor gave your baby treatment and they are not enough to control your baby’s eczema, then your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist, who will help you to find the right treatment for your baby.

What happens if the baby’s eczema becomes infected?

We know that if a baby has baby eczema, then he or she is particularly vulnerable to skin infections, especially if she or he scratches a lot. There are two types of infections that can affect your baby:

  • Viral infections: Usually, the herpes simplex virus causes cold sores and it can be more dangerous for babies with eczema. In every situation, you should try to keep your baby away from people with cold sores. If you get this condition, then you should not kiss your baby as much as you want to do. Also, you should not share cups and cutlery with your baby, until your cold sores are fully healed. If your baby gets this virus, then he or she may develop a serious condition called eczema herpeticum. Some symptoms of this condition include:
  • A fever (state of high temperature) and seeming generally under the weather
  • Fluid-filled swelling that burst, leaving small open sores on your baby’s skin
  • Areas of eczema that are particularly painful for your baby and get worse quickly

If you notice some of these symptoms, then you need to talk with your doctor, so you will know that your baby will not be at a bigger risk for worsening of his or her symptoms.

  • Bacterial infections: If your baby has a bacterial infection, then his or her symptoms of eczema can get worse and you may also notice that areas of his or her skin:
  • Are swollen and sore
  • Have small, yellow-white spots
  • Have a yellow, crusty appearance
  • Ooze or weep fluid

Also, your baby may develop a fever if he or she is fighting off an infection. If you think that your baby has a bacterial infection, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible. If the infection is just in a small area, then the doctor can prescribe an antibiotic cream to clear this infection from your baby. But, if the infection is more widespread, then he or she may prescribe antibiotic drops that you can give your baby by mouth and this will treat all the areas at once.


[1] Silverberg JI, Simpson EL. Associations of childhood eczema severity: A US population based study. Dermatitis. 2014;25(3):107–14. doi:10.1097/DER.0000000000000034

[2] Kim Y, Blomberg M, Rifas-Shiman SL, et al. Racial/ethnic differences in incidence and persistence of childhood atopic dermatitis. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2019;139(4):827–34. doi:10.1016/j.jid.2018.10.029

[3] Lawton S. Assessing and managing atopic eczema in children. Independent Nurse. 2014. Retrieved from

[4] Silverberg JI, Hanifin J, Simpson EL. Climatic factors are associated with childhood eczema prevalence in US. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2013;133(7):1752–9. doi:10.1038/jid.2013.19

[5] Simpson EL, Chalmers JR, Hanifin JM, et al. Emollient enhancement of the skin barrier from birth offers effective atopic dermatitis prevention. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2014;134(4):818–23. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.08.005

[6] Moreno MA. Atopic diseases in children. JAMA Pediatrics. 2016;170(1):96. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3886

[7] National Institutes of Health. Scientists identify unique subtype of eczema linked to food allergy. 2019. Retrieved from


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