Eczema is a red, scaly, itchy rash that is common in babies and kids. Besides the discomfort from the itchy rash, that can get so bad that it disrupt's sleep, all that scratching can also lead to skin infections and other complications. But a new breakthrough being explored by researchers could be a game changer for parents and kids impacted by the effects of the chronic condition. Eczema in kids is costing the U.S. $3.8 billion a year, but one everyday drugstore staple could prove to be the solution: petroleum jelly.
According to the Huffington Post, 20 percent of kids suffer from eczema, and it's more than just annoying. Eczema can be incredibly expensive to treat, costing parents up to 35 percent of their "discretionary income," a report from The Journal of Pediatrics found.
Eczema, or more specifically the type that most often affects infants and small children, atopic dermatitis, has a strong association with allergies. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 37 percent of young kids with eczema also suffer from food allergies. But doctors don't quite understand the full relationship between the two.
But a new breakthrough from Dr. Steve Xu from the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine might help parents and infants solve the eczema dilemma with a simple, and cheap solution — good old petroleum jelly. In addition to using the moisturizer to treat eczema in babies, Xu and his team found that applying petroleum jelly daily on babies who are at risk for eczema for the first six months, cut their risk of developing the condition in half. Better yet, treating babies with petroleum jelly is cheap, the Huffington Post reported.
"We could really save a lot of newborns ― and save families ― a lot of suffering," Xu told the Huffington Post. “It’s also a pretty good deal in terms of cost."
A 13-ounce tub of Vaseline will only set you back about $4 on Amazon. Sunflower oil is another low-cost emollient that Xu told the Huffington Post works on eczema.
Eczema in infants just got a high-profile spokes-baby in Luna Legend, daughter of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend after her mother shared this picture of her with the caption, "...Yes she has rosy eczema cheeks, yes we are taking care of it, no it's not a gluten allergy, no it's not our makeup, no it's not from our perfume, yes she's just a baby."
The National Eczema Association recommends treating the condition with petroleum jelly, but the idea eczema can be prevented by slathering on Vaseline is new and promising for doctors, parents, and babies, according to the Huffington Post. But, Xu warns, parents should talk to their pediatricians before starting their babies on a regimen of daily petroleum jelly rub downs.