Baby skin problems and toddler skin issues are some of the most frustrating health concerns for parents. The problem is that there are only a very limited number of rashes that are severe enough to warrant a doctor’s intervention. That leaves parents grasping for answers when it comes to all of those unsightly, painful, or irritating skin problems that babies and toddlers seem so prone to.
We’ve talked about baby rashes before, but this is an expansion.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. If you think your child has a medical issue, contact your doctor for real medical advice.
What Kind of Rash Does Baby Have?
The first thing is to understand what kind of rash your baby or toddler has. Chances are, you aren’t going to like the answer.
Most of the “problem” rashes are accompanied by either a very specific, unmistakable appearance, or other signs of illness such as fever or vomiting. Chicken pox, for example, are little raised bumps that spread all over the body including the limbs and torso. If your baby’s bumpy rash only covers part of the body, chances are it’s just hives. Which, brings us to the unfortunate issue with most all rashes in small children.
Virtually all rashes that are not accompanied by some flu-like symptoms or that cover the entire body or make the face appear as if the cheeks have been slapped fall into just three categories, hives, eczema, or diaper rash.
Hives are the bumpy rashes, the ones that look like chicken pox, but only cover part of the body, or the kind that might be passed off as heat rash if it occurred on an adult. If there are bumps, it’s probably hives.
Eczema is the patchy rashes. They are often dry, although they can be irritated and bloody due to either itching or extreme dryness. There is also something called weeping eczema that appears to the leaking.
Finally, diaper rash is its own thing. We’ll talk about that some other time.
Where Do Hives Come From?
Most kids’ rashes come from either dry skin or an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, neither diagnosis is much help. Your pediatrician will give you a list of things it might be, but unfortunately, it can be different for every kid. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that should move you and your child in the right direction.
Keep in mind that actual diagnosed allergies are a completely different thing. If your doctor has already told you that your child has a named allergy to something, that should be where you start. However, if your kid doesn’t have any real allergies that you know of, then this should help.
Stopping Allergic Reaction Rashes
First, start using Dreft laundry soap on everything your kid uses, especially bedding and clothing. Dreft costs more but it is the gold standard for hypoallergenic, gentle laundry soap. You probably don’t need it, so separate out baby’s stuff and launder it by itself. If you don’t want to buy Dreft for some reason, then get a hypoallergenic non-perfumed soap. Continue by using an unscented, not dyed, fabric softener dryer sheet, or no fabric softener at all.
These two steps will be an enormous help. Nothing touches your child’s skin more than his clothing and bedding. Leaving any irritants here just sets any other measures up for failure.
Next, start cutting out anything that is scented. The number one cause of all these mystery “allergic” reactions that are big enough to cause a rash, but not big enough to cause anything else is the fragrance in everyday household goods like soaps. Kid’s skin can be very sensitive to the scents added to nearly everything these days. Stop using anything on your kids that is lemon-scented, fresh scented, or whatever. Don’t trust the big labeling on the package to give you the true story about what is inside. Check that ingredient list. You’ll find “fragrance” on plenty of things labeled as natural or even hypoallergenic.
Just like with allergies, there are two kinds of eczema. There is the full-blown health issue eczema, which is the kind that gets you a referral to a dermatologist, and it’s dry skin that isn’t going to get professional medical help.
In the event of the former, the trick is to first beat back the scaly, patchy, dry eczema patches, and THEN move on to lotion. Skipping step one means that the eczema might not go away.
Step one, is to use some soft of hydrocortisone cream. There are several brands, but they all have the same active ingredient. Just be sure to get one that is 1.0 percent, and not 0.5 percent hydrocortisone. You can help things along by getting one that also contains a moisturizer or aloe.
Once the skin patch has moved back from “What the– ?” to just dry skin, it’s time to start using the lotion. We’ve had the best luck with Cetaphil Cream. Notice the difference from Cetaphil Lotion. Creams contain their own water which then gets locked in by the lotion. A lotion just forms a barrier to prevent further drying. This is obviously less helpful if the skin is already really dry. The brand Lubriderm is also frequently recommended.
Again, look for a cream, not a lotion. You’ll notice the difference if you read the directions, in which the lotions will typically tell you to apply right after a bath or shower. That is because they are locking in that water moisture. A cream provides its own moisture, so it doesn’t need to be applied after a bath or shower.