We are delighted to announce that Sue Ibrahim from Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Rayleigh, Essex has recently become a grandmother. Her grandson’s birth at the end of March highlighted the need to remind new mums that dermatologists do not recommend using aqueous cream or Sudocrem on babies.
Aqueous cream contains sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), a detergent that breaks down the skin barrier. SLS functions as a stabiliser and cleansing agent and is a known skin irritant. However, aqueous cream products often contain other ingredients such as chlorocrescol, cetostearyl alcohol and parabens, which may also cause or contribute to adverse skin reactions.
The Gov.uk website states: An audit of 100 children attending a paediatric dermatology clinic reported that aqueous cream emollient was associated with an immediate skin reaction (stinging, burning, itching, and redness) within 20 minutes in 56% of exposures, compared with 18% with other emollients used. Furthermore, several studies reported alterations in skin physiology (thinning of the outermost layer of the skin and increased skin water loss) following application of aqueous cream as an emollient in adults, both with and without eczema.
Sue, a nurse consultant in dermatology with 30 years’ experience, said: “Aqueous cream degredates the protein filagrin in skin cells that disrupts the delicate skin barrier in babies and children. A disrupted skin barrier can lead to irritant contact dermatitis.”
The National Eczema Society interviewed two leading scientists, Prof Richard Guy and Prof Mike Cork, for their clinical opinion.
Prof Guy said: ‘Aqueous cream contains 1% sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and this is the ingredient, we believe, that causes damage to the skin barrier. The majority of other emollient creams in Europe do not contain SLS and are safe and effective products. It would be advisable to check the label of any emollient cream to verify that it does not contain SLS.’
Prof Cork agrees: ‘This excellent paper from Professor Richard Guy’s group demonstrates that aqueous cream damages the skin barrier in volunteers who have never had atopic eczema.
“Aqueous cream is likely to cause even more severe damage in the skin barrier in children and adults with atopic eczema. Aqueous cream should never be used as a leave-on emollient as it is likely to exacerbate, rather than improve, the eczema.’
Avoid Sudocrem too
Sudocrem is now also not recommended as a barrier cream in babies as its antibacterial properties can actually make nappy rash worse, according to Dr Piu Banerjee, Consultant Dermatologist at the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Foundation Trust.
What cream should I use on my baby?
At Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Rayleigh, Essex, we recommend Epaderm Junior Cream as it contains clinically proven ingredients that provide moisturising hydration for babies and children. It is fragrance-free, preservative free and does not contain SLS. Epaderm can also be used around the mouth to prevent dribble rash. As always, if you have any concerns, please contact us.