Eczema and Food Allergies in Children: Why Early Intervention is Key
As with so many conditions, it’s not surprising to learn that early intervention can be the key to treating infants with eczema. However, new research published by researchers at TCD and National University of Ireland Cork have made some exciting links between eczema and food allergies in infants.
It has to do with skin leakiness. The recent study shows that the skin barrier in babies who show high water leakiness increases the risk of eczema. This was true of the top 25% of infants. The study shows that susceptibility to eczema is really determined at a very early age, and that early treatment could prevent the condition from developing.
Children with eczema often experience food allergies. There is a correlation. Defects in the skin’s permeability are the key to understanding how skin conditions and food allergies develop. Microscopic amounts of food, like wheat flour, cow’s milk, or peanut, may penetrate the skin of children with skin barrier defects. This increases their risk of getting food allergies and developing eczema. Rather than avoiding these allergens altogether, the studies are showing that after 6 months of age, introducing very small, controlled amounts of these foods can help a child to develop tolerances for those foods.
Daily skin maintenance is also extremely important with infants. Bathe daily in lukewarm water with a cleanser approved by the National Eczema Association and immediately apply a moisturizer after the bath. Make sure to use a moisturizer or emollient approved by the National Eczema Association. Daily skin maintenance helps heal or prevent tiny cracks in dry skin which repairs the skin and keeps eczema irritants and triggers from entering through the skin barrier. This minimizes existing eczema but also helps to prevent food allergies from forming.
Eczema is the most common form of dermatitis, and the symptoms may show within 4-6 months of birth. Family history is also important, but the leakiness of the skin barrier can be a strong marker for the direction of future research into this condition. Red patches of skin that are flaky and dry will usually appear in the folds of a child’s skin as well as on the arms and face.
General skin treatment includes wearing cotton clothing or eczema garments such as www.adrescuewear.com keeping the home cool and well-ventilated as heat, sweat and humidity can aggravate eczema, moisturizing with high quality products such as vanicream and vaniply, and avoiding eczema triggering chemicals in soaps and laundry detergents. These treatments help to restore the protective permeability of a child’s skin.
These interesting assessments of skin conditions in infants shows how important it is to be attentive to early symptoms of eczema in infants. If you suspect your child has eczema, visit the National Eczema Association at www.nationaleczema.org.