Why Does Baby Eczema Get Worse at Night?
If your baby has the condition known as eczema, he will likely have an itchy rash that can be very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, eczema tends to be worse at night, which can make the skin even itchier and cause problems with sleeping. But why is this? And is there anything that can be done about it?
Why Eczema Seems Worse at Night
The body produces a hormone called cortisol during the day. Cortisol controls the sleep/wake cycle, which is why we have more levels of it during the day than we do at night. But it is also a natural anti-inflammatory and because the body produces less of it at night, the skin will become itchier and more uncomfortable. Anyone with eczema, including babies, will often find it harder to relax at night. Unfortunately for parents, when baby doesn’t sleep, neither do they.
A study funded by the National Eczema Association found that mothers of children with moderate to severe eczema are more likely to experience sleep problems and suffer with daytime fatigue than mothers of children without the condition.
How to Prevent Nighttime Flareups
If your baby’s eczema symptoms seem to be worse at night, there are some things you can do to help. One of the most common triggers of eczema symptoms is heat, which could be due to the temperature of the room being too high or having too much clothing or blankets on your baby.
The ideal temperature of the baby’s room should be between 68 and 72 degrees. Maintaining this temperature will help the baby to sleep better. Avoid using blankets for baby and instead dress him in a light cotton sleep suit and use a sleep sack.
You could also try a CozeeCoo organic cotton swaddle, which will keep his hands away from his skin to prevent scratching at night. It is often the act of scratching the skin that wakes the baby at night. By gently restraining the arms in a swaddle, your baby will be unable to scratch his skin and should sleep better.
Some parents find that giving their baby a lukewarm bath with oatmeal in the water before bed can really help to soothe the skin and relieve the itching. When bathing baby, keep it short and avoid using fragranced soaps or cleansers. Pat the skin dry with a soft towel and avoid rubbing as this action can irritate the skin. You can then use a gentle moisturizer to keep the skin soft overnight.
Dust can also be a trigger for eczema flareups, as can pet hairs. If you have pets, keep them out of your baby’s room at night and make sure that carpets and curtains are cleaned regularly. You can also use an air purifier to keep the air clean and the humidity level healthy.
If the above methods are not helping your baby to sleep better at night, it is a good idea to speak to your pediatrician. It may be necessary for your baby to take an antihistamine to keep symptoms at bay. Some babies are prescribed a topical corticosteroid if the symptoms of eczema are severe, and this can really help to soothe the skin and ensure a better sleep for both you and baby.
There are many triggers that cause eczema flareups, but a lack of the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol produced by the body at night can cause symptoms to feel worse at bedtime. This means that babies and parents often do not get a good sleep. Treatments such as maintaining the temperature of the room and using a sleep swaddle can help, but it is important to seek medical advice if symptoms continue as this can lead to daytime fatigue for parents.