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Breast Milk for Eczema — A Quick Guide

Breast Milk for Eczema — A Quick Guide

Eczema, or atrophic dermatitis, is an endemic skin allergy among young children. Children with this disease can only endure skin irritation before it disappears.

This skin allergy has many causes, and no known cure is available until this day.

Yet, breastmilk is a strong preventive against eczema without the side effects like steroids.

Here is how you can use breastmilk to treat your baby’s eczema.

Can Breast Milk Improve My Baby’s Eczema?

Can Breast Milk Improve My Baby’s Eczema

Yes. 

Breast milk has nutrients for treating infections and can impart the mother’s immune system onto the baby.

According to the CDC, breast milk is effective against eczema as hydrocortisone cream and alongside baby acne and other skin conditions.

Breast milk is so effective that a milk bath is advisable against whole-body eczema.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Always remember to discard the milky bath water!

However, breast milk is still dependent on the mother’s diet; anything they eat inserts itself into the milk, including allergens. 

Freezing breast milk is the best way to store them for future use. You can apply the frozen milk to your baby’s infected areas to cut any eczema flare-ups.

Breast milk or even formula are key components to the developing child’s immunity system. Feed them the nutrients, and they should be able to resist eczema further.

How to Use Breast Milk to Improve Baby’s Eczema

You can dab cotton balls or a clean washcloth with milk and then apply it to the affected area.

The breast milk will clear up the affected area, depending on the severity of the infection. These soothing properties include any potential wounds the baby can go through.

Generally, always apply the breast milk swab around the infected areas twice daily. If the infection is too severe, you may need more treatments to soothe your baby’s skin.

Keep in mind that it’s very rare for breast milk to spread diseases, but the possibility remains. 

Breast milk has been implicated in transmitting HIV from mother to child.

This is why we recommend using gloves when handling breast milk when you can.

Can Breastfeeding Also Improve a Baby’s Eczema?

Yes, breastfeeding is one of the best methods for treating your baby’s eczema.

Breastfed babies had a lower risk of contracting eczema during the first few months of their lives. This protection lasted until they grew to six years old.

Still, formula milk remains a healthy option for your children to consume.

When applying any eczema cream, be sure to wipe it away before nursing your child. It’s best to use the medication at least an hour before feedings and gently remove any remaining cream with a cloth.

Always talk to a pediatrician before incorporating breast milk into treatment when in doubt.

Human milk banks are always available should you not be able to produce breast milk for yourself.

A human milk bank is an institution that has screened and distributed breast milk for specific needs. All are under the supervision and prescription of licensed healthcare providers.

Why Does Pregnancy Eczema Happen?

Why Does Pregnancy Eczema Happen

Eczema from pregnancies is due to spikes in estrogen due to said pregnancies, leading to immune system changes.

Changes in our immune system are regulated by Th1 cells as they protect the body against infections and foreign bodies.

Because these cells would see the fetus as a foreign body, estrogen switches the Th1 cells for Th2 cells to protect the fetus.

Th2 cells are typically involved in allergic responses, but their activation can make the body more susceptible to allergens, resulting in increased occurrences of eczema and other allergic reactions.

This heightened allergic response can also extend to individuals with asthma.

Applying moisturizing products like Vaseline can help seal in moisture, reducing cracking and protecting the skin against the elements.

What Foods Can Trigger Eczema in Breastfed Babies?

What Foods Can Trigger Eczema in Breastfed Babies

Remember, your child will take in the same nutrients as you did from your last meal  when they are being breast fed.

Whatever you have eaten has the possibility of being a trigger for eczema. You and your child’s diet leads to contracting eczema in the end.

Identifying which foods to remove from your diet will take time to pinpoint. We recommend keeping track of your diet and any improvements made in conjunction.

The common culprits for triggering eczema are the following ingredients;

  • Cow’s milk
  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish
  • Red meat
  • Gluten
  • Citrus Fruits

Instead, choose food with more immunity-boosting or anti-inflammatory properties in your diet such as:

  • Fish: Tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel, or salmon
  • Nuts and Seeds: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts
  • Plant Oils: Flaxseed oil, coconut oil, canola oil, and soybean oil
  • Fish oil supplements: Fish oil, cod liver oil, krill oil
  • Vegetable supplements: Algal oil
  • Yogurt or Kefir: Kefir, yogurt, and fermented foods

IMPORTANT NOTE: Probiotics are especially important as they strengthen the gastrointestinal tract, where 80% of the immune system cells are located.

Additional Tips to Manage Baby’s Eczema

Remember that eczema would make sleeping difficult for your baby at night. Your baby’s skin would get itchier with a lack of moisture and a tendency to overheat.

The increased sweating and heat can potentially attract mosquito bites due to eczema. Breast milk, like a specialized insect repellant for kids, can be used to soothe mosquito bites.

The strength of the nutrients in your breast milk lies within your immunity system.

Consider taking more probiotics to strengthen your immunity via the gut; they are safe for children and pregnant women.

Should you not trust breast milk or expensive medicines, Vaseline is another option to consider for protecting your baby. 

The product is accessible and reliable as a moisturizer.

Frequently Asked Questions

While you may be aware of the effectiveness of breast milk against eczema infections, it’s important to have some additional knowledge about managing the skin condition.

Why Do My Nipples Have Eczema?

Eczema can appear anywhere on the body, including our nipples. This form of eczema can develop during pregnancy due to estrogen imbalance.

Changes in the immune system can increase the risk of allergic reactions like eczema. 

Breastfeeding with eczema is especially difficult due to nipple inflammation and irritation.

Although lanolin can soothe sore nipples, the substance can cause eczema to flare up instead.

You can do the following options instead when breastfeeding with eczema;

  • Good latching: Lactation providers can offer assistance and support when you are experiencing sore nipples.
  • Hydration: Keep yourself hydrated as you make breast milk
  • Heating pads: This can ease the tension on your breasts before feedings
  • Nipple soothing: Consider getting nipple shields or hydrogel pads to protect your skin
  • Healthcare provider: When in doubt, you turn to your local health consultant for advice.

Is It Safe to Use Steroids for Eczema When Breastfeeding?

YES, you can sometimes use steroids safely during breastfeeding. If the eczema is severe, set up an appointment with your doctor or healthcare provider.

Use a small amount of topical steroids for breast eczema before your next nursing session.

ALWAYS REMEMBER to wipe away any steroid cream before you breastfeed your baby.

This reminder also applies to anti-itch cream and other topical ointments for eczema.

Conclusion

Breast milk is a very effective counter against eczema and other threats to your baby. From diaper rashes to baby acne, breast milk can treat it all.

 However, breast milk can still worsen eczema in rare cases should the mother not have a healthy diet. General exposure to heat and humidity can further exacerbate the condition.

Breast milk can be highly beneficial in combating the common occurrence of eczema in children. 20% of children worldwide are enduring the skin condition.

So, remember to be mindful of your diet and utilize your breast milk to address various ailments that your child may experience, including eczema, mosquito bites, and more.

Nayna Llenos
Nayna Llenos

Hi, I’m Nayna!
I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and I’m lucky and blessed to have two wonderful children to care for and love.
Despite this blessing, there are times wherein I do wonder if I truly am the mother my children need. Am I giving them the right food, care, and discipline to them?
But that is the beauty of parenting — you grow along with your children as they flourish to be their wonderful selves!
I wish to share my experiences with motherhood and how these tips can help you in your parenting journey.
I hope my advices and experiences will prove useful to you and that you have a smooth and wonderful journey as a mother!