A Cheap Solution for a Multi-Billion Dollar Baby Problem


A cheap and effective preventative for infant eczema has been discovered, and there’s a good chance it’s already in your medicine cabinet.

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Eczema is a common affliction, with more than 20 percent of children developing this condition in the first year of their lives and often carrying it through adulthood. The effects of eczema are more than just dry, red skin. In many cases it can be severe, even leading to further health problems, such as hay fever, asthma, allergies and problems with sleeping or maintaining a healthy weight.

Dr. Steve Xu of the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine is of the belief that not only is eczema entirely preventable, but it can be prevented at a very minimal cost.

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Currently, the cost of eczema treatments in the United States adds up to a 3.8 billion dollar market. Remedies for this common skin condition can multiply quickly, especially for families in which multiple children experience the symptoms. To be able to prevent eczema in newborns would create much relief down the road, and research shows that it can be done with something as easy as applying moisturizer.

Different forms of moisturizer such as petroleum jelly are currently used to treat eczema but have not been studied as a preventative measure. Dr. Xu and his team of researchers undertook a study to find out if eczema could be prevented in infants through the simple act of applying petroleum jelly daily.

They found that when parents applied moisturizer at least five times a week to their newborn, the risk of that child developing eczema was cut in half. This was in babies that were seen as having a high risk of eczema due to family history. Within the first six months of their life, the child in question experienced a significant decrease in risk when applied with the treatment.

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Petroleum jelly was the cheapest and most common form of moisturizer used in the study, with the entire six-month supply costing less than 8 dollars. It is also one of the safest. Petroleum jelly does not contain any added fragrances or artificial colors, making it a good choice for newborns or anyone with sensitive skin. It is currently recommended as a treatment for eczema, but it has not been previously explored as an option to prevent this common skin condition.

Other moisturizers used in the study include sunflower oil and several creams. 100 families participated, following instructions to avoid bubble baths, scented soaps and baby wipes. Avoiding these products, combined with utilizing a daily moisturizer, proved to be a strong preventative treatment for the development of eczema.

Despite the promising research in this area of study, it is possible that not all babies would benefit from a daily moisturizer. A pediatrician should always be consulted prior to any home treatments. However, this affordable and easy method of preventing eczema can save time, effort and a lot of money in the future.