A parent who suffers from eczema or has a child who suffers from eczema will always want to know if their newborn child has the same condition when first born. In my experience as a parent who has eczema and also a parent who cares for a child who has really bad eczema, I was very concerned that my newborn second child would also have eczema. I asked the question,
Does my baby have dry skin or eczema? as soon as I saw him in hospital.
You think of all the problems you have faced in your life due to eczema and all the pain and suffering your child has gone through and all you can think about is not putting another child through the same thing.
There’s also a mixture of emotions when you find out if your newborn child has or hasn’t got eczema. If they do get diagnosed with eczema you’re thinking ‘ oh no not again’ and if they are clear from eczema you feel guilty that your first child has suffered when your other child won’t.
In the UK, one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema while eczema and contact dermatitis account for 84-90 of occupational skin disease.
Atopic eczema is a genetic condition based on the interaction between a number of genes and environmental factors. In most cases, there will be a family history of either eczema or one of the other ‘atopic’ conditions i.e asthma or hay fever.
Recent studies also connect eczema with ADHD, Which is interesting as my stepson has ADHD but has no skin conditions. Our article called ‘ Latest eczema research 2017-2018 – A ray of hope for eczema sufferers ‘ it can be read by clicking the link.
Why do I have eczema and not him?
As your children grow up, you’re faced with many challenges regarding their feelings about eczema. Everyone in the home or family will go through many emotions ranging from Guilt, anger, frustration, sympathy and much more. All parties will feel these emotions, it’s not just the parents.
My oldest son who has bad eczema from birth has asked me many times ‘ Why do I have eczema’ But he has never asked me why his younger brother doesn’t suffer from eczema. Maybe he’s a very strong and sensitive young man who cares for his brother too much to ask that question. Or maybe he has asked this question to himself but never vocalized it out loud. Then, there are your emotions and this is a rollercoaster ride for me.
One day I’m glad I only have one son who suffers, but then I find it so unfair that my oldest has had to suffer on his own. This may sound harsh but It’s the thoughts that go through your head every day.
Of course, I wish no one had suffered including myself but you will come across all these emotions if you find yourself in the same situation as I did.
Why did you give me eczema?
One of the hardest things I have ever had to listen to, was when my son was at his worst in the hospital with a bad infection, he was in so much pain. Whilst he was being given a bath by the nurses and myself and his mum, he was in so much pain it was unbearable.
His whole body looked like he had been dipped in a barrel of hot boiling fat! I’ve never heard anyone scream as loud. It got so bad we were worried he may lose his feet due to the infection. I can remember the smell of his body and skin, the rotten flesh just falling off. I will never forget that day.
I will also never forget the moment he looked up from the bath and screamed ‘ Why did you give me eczema?’ I have never felt so low in all my life. I know he got it from me or my side of the family, but what could I do? It’s not something that can be avoided and I would give anything for him not to have it.
Eczema is not something you can diagnose before birth or avoid so it’s like playing Russian roulette, it’s totally pot luck if your child will be born with it or not.
Is that dry skin or eczema?
After approx 2 months you will be able to see if your babies skin looks dry. You will then start to ask that dreaded question, Does my baby have dry skin or eczema? Many newborns experience issues with dry skin. The skin of a baby is very thin and sensitive.
Their skin at this age is underdeveloped and doesn’t produce enough oils that moisturize the skin. Newborns are particularly susceptible to dry skin because the oils that moisturize their skin aren’t yet being produced. When a mother or father first notice dry skin appearing on their newborn, they immediately panic and assume it must be the first signs of eczema
When a new mother or father first notice dry skin appearing on their baby, they immediately start to panic and assume it must be the first signs of eczema. This is a very natural reaction, so don’t think bad of yourself.
How do I tell the difference?
The difference between eczema and dry skin is simply, dry skin is exactly that, dry. It’s caused when the skin lacks water in the upper layer of the skin, the epidermis. Dry skin (xerosis) is often triggered by low humidity in the surrounding air, so it’s more common in colder months and drier climates. However, there may be other triggers like too many hot baths or showers, Hormonal changes, detergents or strong soaps.
The main areas normally affected by dry skin are the Hands, lower legs, and forearms. Normally the symptoms are itchiness, pale or dull skin and dry flaky skin. However, the condition normally won’t cause anything worse than an irresistible urge to scratch and dry skin appearance.
People with mild eczema may only have small areas of dry skin that are occasionally itchy. In more severe cases, atopic eczema can cause widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body and constant itching. Scratching can cause the skin to break with can lead to flare-ups, infection and high temperatures.
Other side effects of eczema can be lack of sleep due to scratching, low morale and depression due to the constant care needed and the pain and suffering eczema can cause. The skin can become darker and leather-like patches due to long-term use of steroid creams. Long-term use of steroids can also lead to low testosterone levels in males.
How to treat dry skin and eczema
Treatment for dry skin is much easier than eczema, simply moisturize the skin to replace the lost moisture. In most cases, it can be treated by over the counter cream or lotions like E45 used daily.
In more serious cases you will need to use a topical steroid cream like hydrocortisone 1 or triamcinolone 0.1 creams.
Eczema is more complicated and I’ve found it to be a very personal thing. What, I mean by this is that everyone is different. What treatment may work for one person may not be suitable for others. Keeping skin moisturized using emollients (medical moisturizers) is key to managing all types of eczema with topical steroids commonly used to bring flare-ups under control.
Daily treatment should be regular creaming using the prescribed creams at regular times. Lukewarm baths and pat dry quickly after getting out and cream whilst the skin is warm and slightly wet.
To prevent scratching you will need to control the temperature in the room and temperature of the body with clothing. Also, control the humidity of the room by using de-humidifier. I purchased mine from Amazon for $89.99
Eczema can also be controlled by what you eat, avoiding contact with irritants will also prevent flare-ups. We wrote an article recently on this subject ‘Can foods trigger an eczema flare-up?’ to read this helpful article.
Can you cure dry skin or eczema?
Dry skin can be cured because you simply need to replace the moisture in the skin to see an immediate effect. You then have control over how your skin will look and feel, eating the correct foods, your lifestyle and exposure to the elements can all affect your dry skin.
Eczema, on the other hand, cannot be cured, this is my opinion and remember ( I’m not a doctor). I just believe through experience that you either grow out of eczema, Two out of four in my family did my older brother and sister all grew out of eczema but myself and my other brother didn’t, Or you manage the condition throughout your entire life.
In our opinion, the best thing to do for eczema is that try and keep it under control and manage the symptoms until you grow out of it. I have never met anyone who had eczema ( Atopic dermatitis ) and did one thing like use a certain product or eats a particular food and was suddenly they were cured.
Don’t get me wrong, if follow a well-structured process like creaming, avoiding irritants, eating well and controlling scratching, then you can almost totally eradicate eczema. However, will it be cured? I’m not sure. I can’t tell you how many times we thought we had my sons eczema under control only for him to scratch in bed one night and for us to wake up and find his skin bleeding and flared-up. Then you’re back to square one.
The battle ahead
Have no illusions about eczema, it’s a beast with a mind of its own. Sometimes you can control the beast and sometimes the beast controls you. The key is to stay positive! The moment you lose faith and drop your guard, eczema will take over and eczema will win the battle.
So not only do you fight the physical symptoms, the hardest fight is with the emotional battles.
That’s where the fight is won or lost. If you asked the same questions I did, Does my baby have dry skin or eczema? I hope the answer is ‘ No he has neither’, but if it’s not I hope they say he or she has dry skin. It’s much easier to treat and control.
Our website was set up for the reason just mentioned, to help you win the emotional battle. Support and advice are vital to success. We can’t be there for you to help you win the physical battle, but we can certainly help you with support and advice.
We have a saying at OurEczemaStory ( Caring is sharing ) Ask for help when needed and listen to others that have gone through similar things to yourself. But remember, everyone is different, so what may have worked for us may not work for you. But there’s no harm trying!
Good luck with your battle with dry skin or eczema. x
Feel free to contact us or ask us for advice using the form below.
We also have a FACEBOOK support page & Twitter that you can join and ask other carers or sufferers questions.