Remedies for eczema run the gamut these days from moisturizing creams to antihistamines to antibiotics. There are so many options that it can be hard to find the right one. But Mustela is here to help you save time and find the right remedy for your baby’s eczema on the first try.
What is that remedy? In a word, emollients. They are the best way to treat and prevent your baby’s eczema without a prescription. But what exactly are emollients? This article will show you why emollients are so unique and how they will benefit your baby’s skin.
What Are Emollients?
Emollients are moisturizers, often in the form of creams, lotions, gels, or ointments, that soften skin and protect it from damage. Emollient products are nothing new—they’ve been used in the skincare industry for quite some time. It’s actually this widespread use that has led to much of the confusion that surrounds them. Many hear the word ‘emollient’ and automatically think that it’s just a more scientific name for a moisturizer. That’s the first mistake.
While emollients do indeed moisturize the skin, they also do so much more. The best emollient products, like our Stelatopia line, contain gentle yet powerful ingredients, including occlusives, humectants, and lubricants. We know these may be unfamiliar words, so here is an example of each and how they help eczema-prone skin.
- Occlusives, like cocoa butter, form a layer of oil and water (a hydrolipidic barrier) on the surface of the skin to slow down moisture loss and protect sensitive skin from irritating allergens.
- Humectants, like glycerin, absorb water from their surroundings (the skin and the air around it) and keep it close to the top layer of skin, where it can provide the greatest benefit.
- Lubricants, as their name implies, make skin more “slippery” and help prevent clothing, blankets, and even a gentle tickle from causing an eczema flare-up.
So now that you know what emollients are, let’s investigate their benefits to see why they are the best treatment for your baby’s atopic dermatitis.
Emollients Can Be Used From Birth Onward
Emollient products are safe enough that they can be used even on the first day your baby is born. They’re also powerful enough that they can be used every day thereafter to prevent flare-ups from appearing and to treat them when they do.
In fact, applying an emollient product twice a day can reduce the risk of an eczema outbreak by 33 to 50%. This could be a huge benefit to your baby’s well-being. They’ll be happier without the tight, itchy, swollen skin...and you’ll be happier too!
Emollients Heal Your Baby’s Skin
One of the most exciting things about treating your baby’s skin with an emollient product is that it actually works to help their skin heal itself. Over time, skin treated with an emollient will be able to produce its own hydrolipidic barrier again. That doesn’t mean that your baby’s eczema will be completely cured—eczema is a genetic condition, after all—but it does mean that the symptoms will be less frequent.
With daily emollient treatment, your baby’s skin will regain its impermeability. This means it’s less likely that allergens like dust, pollen, dander, scratchy fabrics, and even high temperatures will irritate your baby’s skin, trigger an immune system response, or cause an eczema flare-up.
Emollients Are Safe For Even The Most Sensitive Skin
When your baby is first born, their skin is not yet fully developed. It takes a few years for it to reach the same maturity as an adult’s skin. So their skin will be particularly sensitive to eczema triggers like harsh soaps, hot water, and stress (like that from teething). In fact, until your baby is three years old, their skin will have the following characteristics:
- The pH (the measure of acidity or basicity) will hover around 7 (neutral). This means that it can’t protect itself from allergens like adult skin (which is normally more acidic at a pH of 5).
- The stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin) is more fragile and prone to damage.
- The dermis (the middle layer of skin between the hypodermis and epidermis) is three times thinner than an adult’s.
All of this taken together means that your baby’s skin needs extra attention to keep it healthy and functioning properly. It also means that you need to be extra careful when choosing a baby-specific emollient formula to ensure that the product doesn’t contain ingredients that will irritate your baby’s fragile skin.
Emollient products for adults are often formulated for skin that has a more acidic pH, more robust stratum corneum, and thicker dermis. Emollients like that shouldn’t be used for babies and young children. That’s where specially designed emollient products, like our Stelatopia Emollient Cream, can be most beneficial. They help protect your baby’s sensitive, developing skin and keep their eczema from flaring up.
Expert tip: Try Mustela's Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas in combination with our Stelatopia Emollient Cream for your little one with eczema-prone skin. Made with natural ingredients, these pajamas soothe and protect baby's skin while they sleep. That means less itching and a better night's sleep.
Emollients Are Especially Useful When It Comes To Water
Even things you might not consider—like lukewarm bath water and fresh lake water—can trigger an eczema flare-up. This is because even the “cleanest” water often contains dissolved minerals and traces of chlorine, compounds that can trigger an eczema flare-up. Seawater is especially notorious for causing flare-ups because of the high levels of dissolved salt.
But this doesn’t mean your baby can’t enjoy a quick splash in the bath or an extra-long romp in the ocean. It just means that you need to use an emollient on your baby after venturing into the water with them. For bath time, always remember to apply an emollient to your little one’s skin after drying them off.
For trips to the pool, lake, or ocean, apply an emollient balm or cream, then an SPF 50+ mineral-based sunscreen, before swimming. Be sure to re-apply the sunscreen and the emollient when your baby is done swimming or after every hour that they stay in the water. These simple steps will ensure that your baby can enjoy the water just as much as you do without the worry of an eczema flare-up.