Over 20% of children worldwide suffer from a skin problem called eczema. Eczema is a skin condition in which patches of skin become red, itchy, inflamed, and cracked. In serious cases, blisters may occur as well. Patches of skin at the joints of our body are most commonly associated with this condition. Eczema is used more specifically to refer to atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.
Atopic dermatitis is generally observed in infants that tend to develop the skin condition within six months after birth. There is a strong link between eczema and other medical disorders such as hay fever, asthma, allergies, sleep problems, and weight problems. This skin condition can either be lifelong and chronic or last a few weeks and go away on its own.
Whatever the case, this troublesome condition can cause a lot of pain and suffering not only to the children who develop this skin ailment but even their parents who are affected emotionally and financially. It is said that the average American household spends around 35% of their disposable income on care each month. Taking this fact into account, it is estimated that the total cost of care for eczema patients in the US alone towers at $3.8 billion per year.
A Stitch In Time
The solution to prevent your child from developing this daunting skin condition will cost you less than $10! Dr. Steve Xu, a resident physician in the department of dermatology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, claims that “We could really save a lot of newborns ― and save families ― a lot of suffering”.
In 2014, a team of researchers, from Oregon Health & Science University, found out that parents who moisturized their newborns with over-the-counter drugstore ointments, moisturizers, lotions, and natural ingredients such as sunflower seed oil reduced the chances of their children developing atopic dermatitis by more than 50%.
Dr. Xu and his team followed up on this study carried out on 124 babies, and found out that the cost of moisturizing your baby on a daily basis for six months is way lesser than having to deal with the cost of caring for your child if they suffer from eczema. A six month supply of Vaseline petroleum jelly costs under $8 whereas a six month supply of the most expensive moisturizer: ‘Vaniply’ ointment is $173.39. This is still cheaper than dealing with the cost of caring for atopic dermatitis patients.
Not All Infants Need A Daily Moisturizer
Before you plan on bathing your newborn in moisturizing cream tonight, wait. It is important for you to consult your pediatrician. Not all children are under the risk of developing skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis. The study on which Dr. Xu and his team followed up on consisted of babies that already had a parent or sibling that suffered from eczema, asthma, or hay fever.
Though there is a need for larger studies with longer follow ups, it is safe to say that moisturizing your child for the first six months of their life is a safe bet to help prevent them from developing atopic dermatitis, especially if they are at high risk. Dr. Xu states that “Gentle, bland moisturizers have very little to no risk of harm to newborns”. Even if this method fails in preventing your child from developing atopic dermatitis, at under $8 for a six-month supply of Vaseline petroleum jelly, it is worth taking this precaution.
Caring for a child with eczema can sound like a daunting experience, but with a little effort by parents in the early stages of their children’s lives, they can help prevent their children from undergoing a painful and traumatic experience in the long run.