Treating Infant Eczema – Blast from the Past Circa 1905 for Nursing Infants with Eczema

Here is a blast from past with the logic still current and effective. This section is from the book “Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease”, by William Gilman Thompson, 1905.

Diet In Eczema In Nursing Infants

Bulkley points out that eczema in nursing infants is mainly due to dietetic errors of the mother, for whom, rather than for the child, treatment should be instituted. He prohibits the drinking of all forms of malt liquors and wines and rich chocolate. Anything which provokes indigestion and biliousness in the mother reacts unfavourably upon the skin disease of the infant. This is a very important truth too often overlooked. If the mother becomes constipated, has dyspepsia and a furred tongue, and excessive deposit of urates and oxalates in the urine, her diet must be changed, the bowels must be regulated, and tonics should be given. Other cases in infants are caused by the mother’s milk being poor and thin, and the breast milk should be supplemented by cow’s milk properly prepared, or it may become necessary to wean the baby completely. Mothers often nurse their infants too long, hoping thereby to postpone conception. When the breast milk is too poor in quality Bulk-ley believes in adding fat to the baby’s nourishment in the form of a few drops of cod-liver oil or a little cream, and he recommends inunctions of almond, sweet, linseed, or cod-liver oil.

Cod-liver oil is cited by some authorities as causing eczema, but this refers to its use in excess when the digestion is deranged and dyspepsia is aggravated by it. Eczema is often cured by adding fat to the food.

The common mistake of nursing infants too often is particularly apt to occur with eczematous babies, whose mothers mistake the child’s crying for a manifestation of hunger, whereas it is often excited by the extreme itching of the eruption, which the infant is too young or too feeble to scratch. If fed oftener than once in two hours or more, the infant’s digestion becomes deranged, and any existing eruption is made more unbearable. Bottle-fed infants are more likely to have eczema than sucklings, probably because they oftener have gastro-intestinal disorders. Underfed infants are less subject to the disease than are the overfed.

From a section in the book “Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease”, by William Gilman Thompson.

Translation in today’s language: Mother’s diet has everything to do with infant eczema. The quality of her milk is affected by her internal cleanliness and ability to digest foods. Fat is very very important to the diet. Low fat diets are absolutely WRONG.

This book is part of a collection of books when the colleges of medicine was still uncorrupted by the drug paradigm. When doctors actually cured people in 1905.


  1. Judy Batson says:

    I have a 5 month old son who has eczema. There is a family history. Throughout pregnancy I avoided dairy products opting for soya milk. He was given formula milk in hospital and for approx 1/2 weeks thereafter. After this, exclusively breastfed. Recently following a teaspoon of baby rice plus formula milk – massive reaction. This has calmed down but even though breastfed he still has eczema and skin is very sensitive. What can be done?


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