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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Can Breastfeeding Cause Eczema?

Babies encounter all kinds of minor problems outside the womb:  diaper rash, stuffy noses, and cradle cap, just to name a few.  Their bodies take some time to adjust to “life on the outside”, and that transition can be challenging.  One of the more common problems for newborns is eczema. 

can breastfeeding cause eczema

Can Breastfeeding Cause Eczema?

Eczema is a red, itchy rash that is often seen in patches.  It can be scaly in appearance or even blister when it is severe.  Anyone can have eczema, not just babies, although it is common to see it in babies and young children.

Eczema is not contagious or life threatening, but it can absolutely be a nuisance and can cause discomfort.

Many breastfeeding moms of eczema-clad babies may wonder, can breastfeeding cause eczema?  In short, the answer is no.  The medical community is still unsure of the exact cause of eczema, but they are certain that breastfeeding is not to blame.  Eczema is thought to be the result of the immune system over-reacting to an allergen, although we don’t know what causes this over-reaction.

We also know that eczema, or susceptibility to eczema, seems to be an inherited trait.  Children of parents who had eczema as a child, or have eczema as an adult, are more likely to experience it themselves.  Having food allergies and Hay Fever in the family also increases the odds that baby will have eczema.

Should I Breastfeed my Baby with Eczema?

Yes!  Absolutely keep breastfeeding! Many medical professionals believe that breastfeeding actually helps eczema.  A breastfeeding infant receives some of mom’s immune system.  This in turn helps regulate baby’s immature immune system which can help settle the over-reaction that causes the eczema in the first place.

Additionally, many moms find that applying breast milk to the inflamed skin directly is a wonderful way to soothe the eczema.  Other moms choose to add breast milk to baby’s bath water.

Eczema can sometimes be a sign of a food intolerance for baby.  For a breastfed infant, this means that something from mom’s milk might be irritating baby’s system.  Because very little actually passes directly to baby from mom’s milk, the cause is almost always cows milk, soy, tree nuts, or gluten.  If you suspect that this is the case for your child, talk to your pediatrician about how to adjust your diet.

How to Treat Eczema

Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for eczema, but there are many ways to treat it.

  • Talk to your pediatrician first–he or she may have an over-the-counter treatment to recommend, or may decide to write a prescription for a more aggressive treatment.
  • Change out soaps and detergents.  Make sure that you are using natural, fragrance free soaps and detergents throughout the house.  We like this soap and this detergent.
  • Add a lotion to baby’s routine, especially after bath time.  Again, one with natural ingredients to avoid causing a reaction.  This one is our favorite.
  • Bath time can be especially irritating to baby’s skin.  Skip the bubble bath and add coconut oil and lavender essential oil to baby’s bath water to soothe and protect.  Or, as mentioned above, add in some extra milk, even expired milk!
  • Avoid cold weather.  Harsh winds and cold air can be irritating to baby’s skin, and especially to eczema.  When possible, minimize your baby’s exposure.

With a few changes and support from your pediatrician, you should see some improvement in baby’s eczema soon.  Most importantly, know that your choice to breastfeed absolutely did not “cause” baby’s eczema.  Breastfeeding is actually helping your baby’s skin stay healthy!

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