Many babies develop eczema during their first year. For some it begins soon after birth, others develop skin eruptions when formula milk or new foods are introduced. It develops in the form of patches of red, itchy skin which may be dry or discharging, and are sometimes raised and scaly in appearance. Typical areas affected are the face and neck, behind their ears, and also in the bends of knees and elbows.
Parents are naturally concerned to heal their child’s skin and relieve their discomfort. But it is worth pausing to consider why your baby has developed eczema, and how to genuinely heal it.
Eczema is an atopic condition, meaning that it is associated with hypersensitivity and allergies, and related to asthma, hay fever, and in some cases migraines. As such it speaks to an inherited susceptibility, of which eczema is typically the earliest manifestation. Factors involved in the appearance of the eruptions at a specific time can include parental stress, vaccination, and weaning, among other things. While the conventional approach, focusing on topical moisturisers and corticosteroids, will often clear up the skin nicely, it is an ‘outside in’ approach which does not resolve the underlying cause, and in most cases needs to be kept up religiously to keep the symptoms under control.
Homeopathy takes an ‘inside out’ approach: healing is a centrifugal process, and therefore the best way to approach eczema is one which addresses the bigger picture, including the inherited susceptibility. A remedy is individually selected for your child, which matches the family pattern as well as the way your child’s skin problem manifests. Healing from the inside reduces the likelihood of recurrence, and builds strength and resilience.
Here are some of the most commonly prescribed remedies for eczema in babies, depending on the whole symptom picture:
Calc carb is a major remedy for infant health problems, including eczema. Cases that respond well to Calc carb typically have skin eruptions which are itchy first thing in the morning, and after bathing or perspiring. These children often have eczema in the bends of knees and elbows, and on the scalp and face. They also typically have cradle cap which can be persistent beyond the first few months. The eczema is noticeably worse in cold weather.
Graphites is needed in cases where the eczema is a moist, discharging eruption, with a sticky yellowish discharge. Like Calc carb, this type of eczema is typically worse in winter, and in Graphites there are sometimes cracks in the skin, which may bleed. The itching tends to be worse at night (from the warmth of the bed), and the child will often scratch until the skin is raw.
Sulphur is another major remedy of childhood. It is known to be a very important skin remedy, but by no means every case of baby eczema will benefit from it, as the picture is quite distinct. In a Sulphur case, the itching is much worse for water – washing, bathing or swimming. The skin is also aggravated by warmth, including the warmth of the bed at night. The itch may be so intense that the child will scratch until they bleed or until the skin is raw. The itch is also worse when they are undressed, and very much aggravated by contact with woollen clothes or blankets.
Thuja is one of the main remedies which is used to treat eczema which appears after vaccination (Sulphur is also a key remedy here). The skin eruption appears most characteristically on areas which are covered, and also on areas which perspire. Itching tends to be worse in the evening and at night, and the eruption appears in patches.
Tuberculinum is another remedy which I prescribe frequently in cases of baby eczema. It is one of the remedies that corresponds to eczema which is triggered by dairy products (eg weaning onto formula milk after breastfeeding). There is typically a family history of tuberculosis or other chronic respiratory conditions. Baby’s skin may be rough and dry, and the eczema typically appears in circular patches. Itching will tend to be worse for undressing or for cold air.
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