Some babies develop a red, dry skin rash called eczema. While some children outgrow it, others will continue to have eczema. Special baths and medicated creams can help relieve flare-ups.

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At least 1 in 10 children have eczema, according to the American Academy of Pediatricians. Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is a skin condition that causes the skin to appear red, irritated, and inflamed.

If your baby has eczema, other parents may have told you stories about their baby outgrowing it, leaving you wondering when the same will happen to your little one.

Some babies do outgrow eczema, but how long eczema lasts can vary greatly.

Read on for information about when your baby may outgrow eczema and what you can do to make your little one more comfortable when their eczema flares.

Learn more about eczema.

Children may outgrow their eczema at a range of ages. Some children see an improvement early on. Other children may outgrow their eczema around 4 years old.

Genetics plays an important role in determining whether a baby will outgrow eczema.

A baby with eczema who has a parent or other close relative with eczema or another allergic condition, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or asthma, is less likely to outgrow their eczema than a baby who has no family history of these conditions.

The stronger the family history, the more likely the baby’s eczema will persist. It may be associated with other allergic conditions in the future.

The main symptom of eczema is itchy, irritated, dry, and inflamed skin.

Other symptoms of eczema in children can include:

  • red or brownish-gray skin patches
  • scaly skin
  • raised bumps that ooze fluid

Eczema symptoms can flare for a variety of reasons, ranging from diet to stress. Symptoms of eczema can appear, disappear, and reappear again over a person’s lifetime.

If your child has eczema, a variety of at-home treatments may help. You can also talk with your child’s pediatrician about prescription medications, creams, and other treatment recommendations.

Treatment options for babies with eczema include:

  • Baths: Use lukewarm water and gentle cleansers that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. You can also follow these tips:
    • Avoid using bubbles in the bathtub.
    • Consider an oatmeal bath to relieve itchy skin.
    • While bleach baths for eczema are not commonly prescribed for babies, your pediatrician may recommend one if your little one has severe or persistent eczema. Follow a healthcare professional’s instructions if they advise this treatment.
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing: During bathing, avoid rough scrubbing, and gently pat dry with a towel.
  • Limit bath time: Keep bath time limited to 5–10 minutes. Apply a moisturizing cream to the whole body immediately after bathing.
  • Identify and address triggers: If you can determine what triggers your child’s eczema, like specific foods, fabrics, shampoos, or soaps, eliminating or limiting the triggers may help their eczema.
  • Choose comfortable clothes: Dress your child in loose, comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather so the fabric does not rub or irritate their skin, and they do not sweat excessively.
  • Keep fingernails short: Keep their nails short and consider scratch mittens to help reduce the risk of infection if your child is scratching themselves. Contact your child’s doctor if you see yellow, light brown pus or any other signs of infection.
  • Prescription medication: A doctor may prescribe a topical steroid, like a corticosteroid cream, for infants with severe eczema that is not controlled with more conservative treatments. If one is prescribed, your doctor will likely advise you to apply it before moisturizing your child’s skin.

Babies with eczema have a higher risk of infections due to an impaired skin barrier. Babies often scratch itchy eczema areas, which causes the skin to break and gives germs an entrance into their body.

Severe eczema increases the chances of developing other allergic conditions, like hay fever, food allergies, or asthma. It’s important to watch for signs of other related conditions if your child has eczema.

Children with eczema may have trouble sleeping well due to itching or other symptoms. Less sleep combined with itching can lead to moodiness. Severely impaired sleep can also affect growth and development.

As a child ages with eczema, they may experience anxiety or depression related to their condition.

Being a proactive advocate for your child can help them manage their eczema and improve their well-being.

Eczema is a common skin condition. In some cases, eczema improves as a child ages. However, it’s hard to predict which children will continue to have eczema.

If a child or adult has eczema, it’s important to treat it to help relieve discomfort and protect the body from infection.

While eczema may come and go throughout your child’s life, consistent, gentle care can help minimize the extent of flare-ups.