Everybody has a favorite old TV show that got cancelled years before but still shows in reruns; they watch those reruns in three-hour chunks on lazy evenings. For me, my show is Frasier. I love Kelsey Grammar in all his awkwardness as he navigates life after Cheers as the same character now transplanted back in Seattle. One story arc I particularly enjoy is when his producer Roz discovers she is pregnant by her twenty-year-old lover and goes through pregnancy and motherhood with the support of her best friend, Frasier.

I was curled up on the couch one night while my husband was away for business, watching an episode chunk of the old series when I noticed an exchange I hadn’t before. Roz is showing Frasier pictures of baby Alice when he notes comments on how cute the baby looks with strawberry jam all over her face. Roz quickly points out it is not jam, but baby eczema. I had heard of eczema, but never on little babies. What is baby eczema and how could mothers take care of it so they aren’t stuck with baby albums full of splotchy red babies?

Eczema is fairly common among babies. In fact, it is thought that more than 1 in 10 babies will cope with eczema at some point during their early childhood. Most will develop the condition within the first few months of life and will outgrow it by the age of two. Others, however, will develop eczema during toddlerhood and will cope with it for the rest of their lives. However the condition comes up, it can be a miserable and unsightly condition resulting in dry, red, splotchy skin and severe itching. This itching can then lead to scratching which can open the skin and cause infections.

Managing baby eczema is important to maintaining your baby’s health, as well as keeping him looking his best. Treating and alleviating this condition centers on identifying the causes of the condition for an individual baby. Causes of eczema can range from topical sensitivities to dietary intolerances to severe dryness. Parents are cautioned to expose their babies to as few artificial fibers, chemicals and fragrances as possible, particularly in terms of their clothing and bedding. Babies’ skin should also be moisturized regularly with a nourishing, sensitive-skin product developed to replenish moisture and maintain it throughout the day. Because getting hot can make eczema worse, babies should be kept dry and cool, especially when they are sleeping.

Dietary restrictions are often recommended for those babies who show sensitivities to foods such as wheat, dairy and eggs. In the breastfed baby, these dietary guidelines apply to the mother. Parents should not make such restrictions, however, until given specific instructions by a medical professional as these foods often represent a major part of the diet and must be replaced appropriately in order to maintain the proper nutrients in the baby’s diet.

Source: O’Keefe ES. Eczema in the Exclusively Breast-Fed Baby, The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 1924.