Eczema can show up as crusty, flaky patches on your baby’s skin, often during their first few months. It’s common and treatable. Many infants outgrow it. Not sure if your baby’s itchy, irritated rash is eczema? Your doctor can tell you for sure. These questions and answers can help you understand what to look for.
What Does Baby Eczema Look Like?
Eczema doesn’t look the same on every baby. In babies with light skin, it usually shows up as patches of red skin. In darker-skinned babies, the rash might look purplish, brownish, or grayish. Eczema can be harder to see on babies with dark skin.These patches are almost always dry, itchy, and rough.
Babies can get the condition just about anywhere on their body. Most often, it affects their cheeks and the joints of their arms and legs.It’s easy to confuse baby eczema (also called infant eczema or atopic dermatitis) with cradle cap. But there are some key differences.Cradle cap is much less itchy and irritated. It generally clears up by age 8 months and usually appears on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyelids and eyebrows, and behind the ears. See a photo of what cradle cap looks like.
Baby Eczema and Cradle Cap Symptoms
- Thickened skin
- Discoloration and swelling
- Darkened skin on the eyelids and around the eyes
- Changes to the skin around the mouth, eyes, or ears
Cradle cap causes symptoms not commonly seen in other types of infantile eczema, such as greasy yellow scales on the scalp that sometimes appear in a thick layer covering the entire top of the head. Over time, the scales become flaky and rub off.
What Are the Triggers of Eczema Symptoms?
Eczema usually isn’t a persistent condition, but rather one marked by long symptom-free periods followed by flare-ups.
Various environmental factors may cause the immune system to respond as if the body has encountered a harmful substance, resulting in inflammation and worsening eczema symptoms.These triggers may include a variety of allergens and irritants, such as:
- Pet dander, pollen, mold, and dust mites
- Allergenic foods (such as peanuts, soy, and eggs)
- Clothing made of wool or synthetic fibers
- Cigarette smoke
- Scented products, such as laundry detergents, perfume, and air fresheners, especially ones that contain alcohol
- Excessive heat or dryness
- Dry winter air with little moisture
- Skin infections