One of the biggest risk factors influencing babies to develop a food allergy is dry, broken skin (often diagnosed as eczema or atopic dermatitis). Research shows that up to 50% of babies with eczema will develop a food allergy.1 The development of food allergies is believed to be driven by topical exposure to invisible, ever-present food particles in the environment (like peanut dust) through the skin that is broken due to eczema.
Below are a few ways you can help create a healthy skin barrier for your baby.
Keep your baby’s skin healthy and maintain that protective barrier
Look for dry, cracked skin. Apply moisturizing ointments containing emollients like petroleum jelly every single day as many times as needed to resolve the dryness and heal skin.
Use scoopable creams and ointments (that you have to scoop from a tub), which often have the same ingredients as lotions, but without the extra water.
Avoid emollients or creams that contain lanolin and natural food ingredients like almond oil or coconut oil, as these could cause improper exposure to allergens and possible sensitization.
Avoid using moisturizing butters and use only fragrance-free products. Fragrances, while pleasant smelling, do not improve your baby’s skin barrier.
Create a baby skincare routine
Bathe your baby in warm water (not hot).
Use a small amount (dime-sized) of baby soap, as soap can be drying for the skin.
When drying your baby, pat the skin and don't wipe (as this can irritate delicate tissues).
Once the baby is dry, immediately seal the skin with an emollient ointment or petroleum jelly. This step will provide that critical protective layer of her delicate skin needs.
Things to remember
Be careful not to over-use baby wipes, as they may contain astringent chemicals. Wiping too hard can create cracks or fissures in the skin, so use wipes gently.
Always wash your hands after touching food, and before touching your baby - especially if you've handled nuts, shellfish, or other potential food allergens.
By implementing this skin care routine you can help protect your baby's skin and help reduce their food allergy risk.
In a study of 450 infants and children, babies who ate a blend of common allergens everyday had higher protective IgG4 antibodies and lower food-specific IgE antibodies, compared to babies who ate only one or two allergens.