Infant eczema is a fairly common problem that occurs in newborns, generally from a few weeks post birth to several months. According to Ayurveda, primary driver of infant eczema is an impaired digestive fire (Agni”), which in turn is caused by unsuitable diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. When the digestive fire is imbalanced, either too high or too low, it causes some food to convert to toxins (“Ama”). These toxins then circulate throughout the body, and are deposited on the superficial fascia, which can leave the skin feeling and looking dry, causing irritation, scaling or inflammation and infection.
Infant eczema is often preventable and manageable using Ayurvedic remedies and nutrition principles. While the nutritional approach in Ayurveda focuses on the tastes, heating and cooling qualities of the food and the post digestive effective of the food on the body, Ayurvedic remedies focuses on addressing lifestyle and environmental factors to prevent inflammation and provide relief by addressing topical symptoms through natural herbs that are safe for the infant skin.
Here are some ways to incorporate Ayurvedic remedies to manage eczema for your little one:
• Breast Feeding Moms: A mother’s diet will play a key role during the breastfeeding period. To the extent possible, avoid processed foods, fermented food, heavy, fried, salty, spicy foods and sour fruits. Keep a journal and see if can narrow down triggering foods.
• Solid Eating Infants/Toddlers: Infants and children tend to consume a higher proportion of sweet, creamy and dairy products; such foods can produce an excess of “ama” which impairs their digestive fire. To help prevent or reduce eczema it is best to manage dairy intake and focus on dairy products with less lactose content. Also continuing to avoid foods that will impact digestive enzyme build such as sour fruits, yeast containing foods such as leavened bread, artificial additives and preservatives, junk foods and sweets and fizzy drinks.
Allow your baby 10 to 20 minutes in mild sunlight early in the morning and avoid extreme heat sources. Include gentle detergents for baby’s laundry, avoid fabric softeners and stay away from anti-bacterial soaps or soaps with strong fragrances. Avoid cold and damp environment.
Here are some remedies that you can use daily to treat and prevent eczema for your little one.
- Baths – Avoid soaps if you can. Add about half a cup of apple cider vinegar in baby’s bath. If you have access to Neem leaves, try boiling the leaves in some water and adding that water to your infant’s bath – Neem tree has exceptional anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Per Ayurveda, it is important to massage the baby first (Abhayanga) with good herb-infused vegetable oil and then give baby a bath with a herb & grain based cleanser. The pre-bath oil massage keeps skin soft, moisturized and supple.
- Skincare – Core ingredients here will be virgin coconut oil, Aloe Vera, tea tree oil, Shea butter and honey. My favorite recipe, that worked like a charm for my daughter, was a mixture of virgin coconut oil and raw Shea butter infused with a few drops of tea tree oil; use this mixture day and night for massage to naturally moisturize, prevent infections and speed healing.