I often speak with parents of cow milk-allergic babies and I hear a lot about rashes that appear on the baby’s face and body. It is heartbreaking to hear how much they itch and scratch uncontrollably. And for many parents, it is hard to determine if their child has just a typical baby rash or if it is a symptom of something more serious – like a rash caused by an allergic reaction to cow milk.
Atopic dermatitis and/or eczema are skin rashes that are sometimes the result of food allergy. For infants, especially formula-fed infants, this is most commonly the result of a cow milk allergy. But without a diagnosis from the doctor of a cow milk allergy, how would a parent know that this is the cause?
You should always refer to your pediatrician to help you understand what is causing your little one’s rash, but it’s also important to look at the big picture. Sometimes a baby with a cow milk allergy will also display other symptoms in addition to the rash. For instance, you may also see symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, gassiness, wheezing, runny nose, and/or colic.
If you do see a rash accompanied by any of these other symptoms, make sure to keep detailed notes and share all symptoms with your little one's doctor so that the healthcare team has all of the information to get to the bottom of what might be happening.
Also, make sure to work with your pediatrician to come up with a plan for taking care of your baby’s skin – no matter what is triggering the rash, it is important to take possible steps to alleviate the rash and any discomfort. Some possible steps your little one's doctor might suggest include:
- Bathing your baby in soothing lukewarm water
- Avoiding scented soaps, bath oils, and perfumed powders
- Applying an over-the-counter moisturizer to your baby’s skin
Keeping your baby’s fingernails filed short and smooth to minimize damage from scratching
- Using cotton mittens to help prevent scratching
- Dressing your baby in soft cotton fabrics to prevent possible fabric irritation
- Keeping your baby cool and avoiding hot, humid environments
- Trying to keep your baby distracted from the itchiness with fun activities
Did your little one have a rash due to a cow milk allergy? Tell us about your experience and what you did to manage it.
-Christine, Nutrition Specialist
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