Prevention of eczema in infancy using daily emollient therapy

imageAtopic dermatitis or eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that has reached epidemic proportions in children worldwide.

The onset of eczema often preshadows the development of other allergic conditions such as food allergy, asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever).  This is called the atopic March.

What if you could stop this March?

Our skin is the pathway to the immune system, and is one of the largest organs. Eczema creates a defective skin barrier system early in life.  Recent studies suggest if somehow you could create a better barrier system, you might be able to block this allergic progression.

Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University, department of dermatology, took a group of infants at high risk for allergy (1 first degree relative with allergy) and started them on twice a day application of an emollient such as Aquaphor, sunflower seed oil, or Cetaphil from birth until 6 months of age.

Of the 108 infants who completed the study, 55 were put in the treatment arm (twice a day emollient).  They had a 50% relative reduction in developing eczema.

Other important strategies to reduce eczema:

1. Avoid soap and bubble baths

2. Use a mild, fragrance-free synthetic cleanser designed for babies ( Cetaphil or Cerave) 

3. Avoid bath oils and additives

4. Use a mild fragrance-free shampoo designed for babies and avoid washing the suds over the baby’s body

5. Avoid using baby wipes, when possible

In conclusion, consistent use of an emollient, for the at risk of eczema population, may be a simple, low-cost way of preventing and reducing allergic diseases such as eczema.

Leave a Reply