Bathing and Washing
Bathing is important for infantile eczema sufferers in many ways. It keeps the skin clean, so reducing the bacteria that can lead to infections, it washes away allergens and if done right it can help add moisture to the skin.
Hot water can cause the skin to dry out and it can inflame and aggravate itchy red skin, so cooler water is definitely better.
Long baths aren’t recommended for eczema skin, so spend no longer than 10 minutes in the water. If the skin is becoming wrinkled it’s a sign the it is drying out.
The only other hard rule is to avoid any bubble baths because the foaming agent is a detergent and can often dry and irritate sensitive skin. Shampoo can cause similar problems.
Frequency of bathing and bath additives are very much about trying different things and seeing what works best. What helps one baby may make another child’s symptoms worse. Many parents find daily baths too drying while others find short daily baths with moisturiser applied immediately can keep skin clean, free of allergens and irritants and well hydrated. If the skin is weeping then your doctor might recommend twice daily baths too wash away exudates and help prevent infection.
There’s a huge choice of things you can add to the bath. Plant oils like a drop of sunflower oil will sit on top of the water and can be soothing and antibacterial. Other preparations, often prescription oils, will disperse leaving the water like milk.
A little sock or muslin sack of oats is traditional treatment for soothing itchy skin and one of our favourites - give it a good squeeze under hot running water. We then use the wet squidgy oat bag as a sponge to clean face and then bum. Avoid rubbing the skin and avoid harsh detergents, soaps or washes as these will also dry out skin.
After their bath the baby or child should be wrapped in a clean towel and cuddled or patted dry. Again don’t rub the skin. Importantly their moisturiser or emollient should be applied straight away, within 3 minutes is best but definitely within 5 minutes to help seal the water into the skin.