Could breast milk cure your child’s eczema?

Recently, I had a patient with a baby come in asking my opinion on some advice her friend had given her – does applying breast milk to infant eczema help calm it down? At the time, I have to say she took me by surprise, but funnily enough, an article on the very topic was published a week later! Today, I’m going to take a look at their study and see what we can take away from it.

After conducting a randomized trial with infants that had eczema, they tested the efficacy of applying human breast milk and a 1% hydrocortisone ointment to separate groups. The results? Both interventions produced the same effects, with neither having a clear advantage over the other. However, it did show that human breast milk is effective in treating eczema.

Yes – I’m as surprised as you are. Nevertheless, I encourage you to bear in mind that this is not necessarily hard science, but I don’t see any harm in trying it if you feel like it’s worth a shot. At the moment, we are not aware of what exactly in the breast milk could help the eczema, and until we do, this is what we call “soft science”. Sometimes, patients will actually have information before doctors, but they are not necessarily tried and true solutions – the results will always be different for each patient.

Whether breast milk works for your child’s eczema or not, I thought it would be helpful to still provide some useful tips to help avoid the development or worsening of infant eczema. If you aren’t aware of any of these elements at the moment, be sure to abide by them!

  1. Do not over-wash your baby.
  2. Only use soaps that don’t lather.
  3. Apply a thick, greasy ointment several times throughout the day, while the baby is wet.

If you have any further concerns, be sure to discuss this research and further tips for preventing infant eczema with your dermatologist. Applying breast milk to eczema poses no harm to your child, but don’t be surprised if the results aren’t what you expect. I look forward to more studies being carried out to confirm whether this is a truly effective treatment.

Source: “Efficacy of Topical Application of Human Breast Milk on Atopic Eczema Healing Among Infants: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Int. J. Dermatol 2015 Feb 02;[EPub Ahead of Print], H Kasrae, LA Farahani, P Yousefi

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