Doctor Q&A

Friday Q&A with Dr Jennifer Shu – Bathing for Eczema Babies

Dr Jennifer Shu Board certified Pediatrician Author Bathing for Eczema Babies

Dr Jennifer Shu is the co-author of the award-winning parenting books “Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality” and “Food Fights” as well as editor of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ book “Baby and Child Health” and the AAP’s parenting web site, Dr. Shu is also CNNHealth’s Living Well expert doctor and doctor on WebMD.

Parents of babies with eczema face unique challenges related to the management of eczema, very often, receiving many advice (from almost everyone!) on how to make the eczema go away. We know that eczema is a chronic condition, and while there’s no miracle cure, it’s certainly important to manage the eczema so that our babies can be well and happy. MarcieMom is privileged to have Dr Jennifer Shu, board-certified pediatrician and mom, to answer the questions unique to parents taking care of eczema infants.

Thank you Dr Shu, I’m so glad to have you answer some questions that I frequently hear parents of eczema babies ask, especially first-time parents who are often even more at a loss what to do. So let’s jump right in to having the top questions answered!

Question: I’ve written on showering my child and on bleach bath, but I know when it comes to bathing a newborn, there are many differing opinions on how often and how to bathe. Eczema can be triggered by sweat, heat and eczema skin tend to have more bacteria, e.g. Staph bacteria, thus bathing can help but moisture can also be lost in the process of bathing.

How often would you recommend  an eczema newborn to bathe, and while water alone is fine for non-eczema babies, would eczema babies require a bath oil or non-soap cleanser for every bath?

Dr Jennifer Shu: You can refer to the various links below –

1., relevant extract:

“Warm (never hot) showers may be preferable to baths. In addition, moisturizing baths in lukewarm water for 20 minutes add moisture to the epithelial layer and cleanse the skin by lowering the number of bacteria. Gently pat your child dry after the shower or bath to allow some water to remain on the skin. Apply a moisturizer or lubricating cream to the whole body within 3 minutes, while the skin is still moist. This helps to keep the skin from drying out. Your child may also benefit from wet wraps, particularly if your child is an infant or a toddler.”

2. Post from my colleague, Dr Jeffrey Benabio at:, extracted

Yes. Showering less frequently is often good for eczema.

Although showering moisturizes the skin, it also strips the oils off your skin. When the moisture evaporates, your skin is left dryer than it was before. Showering too much or using harsh soaps makes eczema worse and worse over time.

The best thing to do is to take a lukewarm bath or shower (hot water removes more needed oils), use only non-soap cleansers, then apply a moisturizer immediately after, while your skin is still damp. This locks the moisture in your skin, preventing evaporation and helps heal dry, eczema skin.

5 replies on “Friday Q&A with Dr Jennifer Shu – Bathing for Eczema Babies”

Hi Carries, I do oatmeal bath oil for shower but that’s not suitable for hair. I use a separate shampoo, with no brand in particular as long as it doesn’t contain the top allergens. After swimming, I do use QV shampoo for my gal, maybe can try that if QV works well for her? When my girl was infant-age, she used mostly the cradle cap shampoo cos she had it for a year.

Hope that kinda helps,


I have a 10 mth old baby girl. Recently PD told us she has eczema. I just bough QV lotion for moisturiser. However, what should i try for bathing which can be used for her hair too. Those in store, i saw mostly for bodies, wondering if i can use them for her hair too?

Pls advice.

Thanks Z.J.! Am glad to know that my blog has been helpful and even better to know that you’re managing Lina’s eczema so well!

I’m still figuring what to put on my toddler’s head for shampoo, seems like everything result in scratching at night though I think it’s more of sweating at night that causes it (despite the room being very cool with air-con!) Someone suggested extra-virgin coconut oil for her head, yet to try that out. Just using shampoo that’s coconut oil-based.

Cheers & take care!

I have tried extra-virgin olive oils in my 9 month old daughter’s bath and also as a moisturizer after her bath. This seems to work well. I am much too scared of bleach to add it to her bathwater. I am fortunate that my Lina’s eczema is somewhat mild and limited to her checks, neck and all the folds in her chubby little body (including ankles and wrists). I tend to wipe her down frequently during the day and reapply moisturizer.

The ideas in this blog are very helpful and I read them eagerly.

Your sharing will help others!