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Eczema: how can flare-ups be avoided?

Before the first eczema flare-ups even appear, parents want to put simple steps in place to prevent their child from having eczema.

A few tips to prevent flare-ups

To avoid eczema flare-ups, there are some simple preventive measures:
  • One of the first tips is of course breastfeeding: it is recommended for all babies during the first 4 to 6 months, but to date there is no official proof of the efficacy of breastfeeding in preventing atopic dermatitis flare-ups. In at-risk children, hypoallergenic milk—milk made from partial protein hydrolysis—can be an alternative.

  • One recent tip is to apply an emollient to the at-risk baby's skin from birth, in order to strengthen its barrier function and limit water loss and allergen penetration. Applying an emollient becomes a special moment between parent and child. However, parents should avoid applying potentially allergenic natural products on babies' skin, such as sweet almond oil or sesame oil.

  • Some preventive measures are simply common sense, for example, not smoking during pregnancy.

  • Others are more controversial, such as probiotics. Their benefit during pregnancy and early childhood seems confirmed by some studies but is yet to be specified.

  • Other measures are not recommended, such as some restrictive diets during pregnancy.

How to reduce flare-ups after the disease has been diagnosed?

Among the various measures previously mentioned, none is effective on its own to limit the risk of recurrence. Applying the treatment correctly, according to medical prescription, can quickly soothe the skin. Between flare-ups, gentle cleansing and daily hydration of the skin is essential. When possible, each patient should identify their own trigger factors to avoid certain flare-ups. In the case of contact eczema, eliminating the allergen responsible is the only way to avoid flare-ups.