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Washing babies and eczema.

Posted 01/07/2016 - By Harley Farmer

It’s wonderful how every baby is a different individual.

Yet people give advice on how to wash babies without explaining how to address this beautiful variety. The perfect way to wash one baby will be exactly the wrong thing to do for another.

Skin has a special layer called the Skin Barrier which controls how much water leaves the skin. When the Skin Barrier is damaged more water gets out and the skin goes dry.

Once the skin is dry you have a choice:

  1. stop causing the damage to the skin barrier and let the skin return to balance, or
  2. apply an emollient.

Option 2 is easier; smother the baby’s skin with a product and keep doing it. Then sit back wondering why one in five or our babies develops eczema in the first year of life. That staggering fact suggests something really obvious is going wrong.

The medical advice is to use emollients on dry skin which was reinforced this week by some American research which was reported in the British press. Basically it said it’s safe to wash a baby every day as long as you apply an emollient.

Why is the emollient important? Because the skin was dry.

Why did the skin become dry? Because the skin barrier was damaged.

Why was the skin barrier damaged? Because the skin cleanser washed oil out of the skin barrier.

How do you know that has happened? Because the skin became dry.

Now you have the REAL choice:

  1. stop using that cleansing product, or
  2. apply an emollient.

Choice 2 is the same as before. “Apply an emollient” is the mantra. It sells products so why am I as a product supplier so upset by it? Because it’s the first step on the path to eczema and millions of beautiful babies are ensnared in the eczema trap.

And I don’t like that.

Why would anyone want to cause all that eczema misery in babies? I’ll leave you to ask them. For me it’s a simple matter of remembering that EVERY baby is different. If you wash a baby and its skin goes dry, STOP THERE and ask why. What might have damaged the skin barrier? It’s most likely to be the product used to wash the skin.

So I leave you with a simple choice:

  1. appreciate that dry skin provides the opportunity to change the washing procedure, or
  2. apply an emollient.

In 1 you quickly have a baby with beautiful soft skin. In 2 you have far too many babies developing eczema. Beautiful baby-soft skin or eczema? It should not even be a choice yet it’s being offered all the time by those who say “use an emollient” rather than address the cause.

In my book What is eczema? A path to ending the misery I explain how to end eczema and prevent it coming back. To get your copy please click on http://bit.ly/29a1giI and if you want an electronic copy please click on http://bit.ly/29tz8Wj.

Email me on drh@dr-harley.com if you want to discuss any specific aspect of this post.