Baby rashes are a part of the experience of raising a child. One of the not-so-fun experiences. As a mom to two young children, I’ve been there. Baby gets a rash and you stress. What’s the cause? How do I treat it?
Eczema is a hot topic for most parents and something I get asked about often. I’ve posted before about eczema in young children and babies with my suggestions on skin care for these children. Many parents believe that eczema is related to a particular food in their child’s diet but it is often not that simple. The majority of eczema is unrelated to diet and altering your child’s diet could be causing more harm than good. However, one confusing element of this topic is that eczema triggers do include food allergies – most commonly dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds, soy products and wheat.
So what’s the difference?
A rash that is caused by a food allergy typically appears quickly and then will go away within a few hours of exposure to the allergen. These rashes appear as hives, redness and itching and will appear randomly all over the body. Eczema is a chronic condition that does not go away quickly and will tend to show up in predictable places (cheeks of young babies, elbow creases of older children).
It is important to note here that you should never attempt to self-diagnose any rash or illness and should always consult with your pediatrician for guidance.
If your child’s rash presents suddenly after exposure to a new food, you should remove that particular food from your child’s diet and consult with your pediatrician. The rash should resolve pretty quick on its own.
For babies that are not yet eating solid food, a skin reaction can indicate an allergy, along with vomiting, excessive gas, diaper rash, and excessively loose stools. If you are formula feeding, your pediatrician will be able to suggest an alternative formula. Breast-feeding mothers may need to alter their own diet to determine if a food is causing a reaction. Remember though, fussiness is a typical behavior in most babies and a change in diet is not likely to change this!
If a rash presents as eczema, I would attempt to treat the eczema as outlined in my last post on this topic. Remember, treatment does not work overnight, and although you may notice some immediate relief it will take a few weeks to completely resolve. If you don’t notice any change (or conditions are worsening), the next step would be to work with your pediatrician to determine if a food allergy is in fact playing a part in the skin condition. Your pediatrician may want to start an elimination diet (avoiding any allergens and then re-introducing in a staged approach) or perform allergy testing. A lot of children will outgrow allergies so don’t be surprised if your doctor is hesitant to perform allergy testing (especially for a child under 1).