I was at wits’ end with my baby’s eczema flare-ups – until these probiotic air purifiers came along

I find out if BetterAir’s machines are as life-changing as they claim to be.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

While I am thankful that my baby is healthy and happy, his eczema (or more specifically, contact dermatitis) has caused me a lot of stress, especially when his skin started to crack and bleed at around four months of age.

The dry and red patches first appeared on his neck, and later also on his armpits, elbow pits, chest and legs.

Despite a slew of derma-friendly moisturisers and eczema treatment baths, the condition worsened and the affected areas became constantly red and raw. I even swapped out all the detergents at home to products made for sensitive skin.

For months, he was kept awake, crying and wailing in pain during the nights – when the itch was at its worst.

I eventually succumbed to applying on him a light steroid cream prescribed by a pediatrician, and the itching went away. But the problem came back after we stopped using it.

Around this time, local electronics retail giant Courts reached out to me to offer a trial with a new range of air and surface purifiers from BetterAir, a company founded in Israel.

The BetterAir Biotica800 and Bio Logic.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

BetterAir claims to make the world’s first probiotic purifiers that emit “environmental probiotics” or what it calls Enviro-Biotics. According to the company’s website, Enviro-Biotics “eat” common allergens such as mold spores, dust mite feacal matter, and even pet dander on surfaces in the home.

The probiotics measure just a micron in size, and can purportedly penetrate deep inside carpets, pillows, mattresses and other materials to eliminate “the threat from infectious disease organisms”, the company says on its website.

To be completely honest, BetterAir’s claims sounded like exaggerated advertising copy. But since nothing had effectively reduced my baby’s eczema flare-ups, I decided there was no harm trying it out.

There are two different BetterAir machines sold in Singapore via Courts: The Biotica800, which can cover indoor spaces as large as 800 sq ft (slightly smaller than a four-room HDB flat), and the BioLogic, for smaller spaces like bedrooms and office cubicles.

How I used the machines:

I decided to try both at the same time, with the Biotica800 in my living room and the BioLogic in the bedroom where my baby sleeps.

While the machines can be left switched on all the time, I chose to use them only when the baby was home and turned them off when we brought him out.

The Biotica800 is around 25cm in length, so it doesn’t take up much space. It automatically switches on when connected to a power source.

The Biotica800, while not travel-friendly, can be put on “pause”. The BioLogic can’t.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Although it is silent most of the time, the machine lets out a powerful continuous spray (about 30 seconds-long) at regular intervals. If you’re a light sleeper, this sound can be disruptive if placed near the bed at night, so it is best to place it further away.

You can also switch it to “pause mode”, which will pause the spraying for 10 hours. After the pause period, it will disperse a higher level of probiotics to compensate for the sprays that were skipped the night before.

This is what it sounds like:

The BioLogic, in contrast, is completely silent, even during sprays.

It is also much smaller and lighter (320g), and can be charged via USB cable. This makes it ideal for travel.

I liked the simplicity of both designs, but found the button on the BioLogic a little stiff. I had to press down quite hard each time to switch it on.

I continued to apply eczema treatment moisturisers on the baby while using these machines.

Did it work?

There are plenty of reviews on BetterAir’s Facebook page from satisfied customers who claim that the machine helped get rid or lessen their allergies, but I was highly skeptical about how true they were.

However, four months after I first started using the machines, I found myself recommending them to a friend whose son suffers from chronic eczema.

Read also: 6 signs your dry, irritated skin is actually eczema

Here’s a photo of my son’s foot on February 23, the day I started using the BetterAir machines at home.

This was about two days after I stopped applying the steroid cream, so the raw wounds had closed. But he had started to scratch again, and as you can see, the redness was back.

It was painful and itchy for him at the same time.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

This was not the only affected area on his body. Others include:

His chest and armpits…

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

at the back of his neck…

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

and the scalp, among others.

The skin would redden, flake and itch.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

On the same day, a rash also started to appear on his body.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

This rash on his tummy quickly disappeared the next day, but I wasn’t sure if it was related to BetterAir’s devices.

One month in

Just one month after using the machines, I started to see some improvement in his skin, especially on the foot, which had previously suffered the worst.

The wounds had completely healed and he would only scratch the affected areas once in a while.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

But the redness and itch on his neck had not subsided completely.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

According to Courts, results from using BetterAir are best observed only after a few months. I decided to persist a little longer, encouraged by the change in the condition on his foot.

Around the same time, my husband and I took the little one on a seven-day trip to Hong Kong. To cut down on baggage, I decided not to travel with the BetterAir machines. And although I’m not sure whether this has anything to do with that decision, my son started to scratch his foot again after five days of being away.

Thankfully, his skin did not bleed and a day after we returned to Singapore, he stopped scratching again.

Four months later

By the third month, my son’s skin seemed to be in a much better state. And by the fourth month, I was almost 100 per cent convinced that the machines had done some good in our home.

Although he still experiences some itching in the same few areas today, he no longer scratches incessantly. The nights where he wakes up crying in pain while rubbing these problem spots are also gone.

These photos taken on June 22 show how much better the skin on his foot looks.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

The improvements can also be seen on his chest…

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and neck.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

I’m no dermatologist, so I can’t say for sure that the BetterAir machines were behind this massive improvement in my baby’s skin.

Having said that, there was also significant improvement to a persistent itchy and dry spot on my elbow that started around eight months prior to using the BetterAir machines.

Photo of a persistent itchy, dry patch on my elbow on April 29 (left), and then two months later on June 24.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Is it worth it?

At S$599 (US$440) and S$399, the BetterAir Biotica800 and BioLogic are by no means cheap – even after they were discounted to S$429 and S$299 on the Courts website.

When I first told my husband about the prices, he was a little taken aback and asked why we couldn’t just stick to an average air purifier which costs less than S$200.

But after considering how much relief it’s given the entire family, I would say that it’s a worthy investment for people suffering from allergies to dust mites and other airborne allergens.

Baby’s foot on Feb 23 vs June 22.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

The cartridges – which contain Enviro-Biotics – cost S$59 and are supposed to last around three months at a time. Despite that, they were still going strong after four months, probably because I used the machines only when we were at home.

So although there is the extra cost of the cartridges, the price works out to be under S$20 a month – much cheaper than many eczema creams and medications out there.

To be clear, I don’t believe the BetterAir machines cured my baby’s eczema – the itch still comes back from time to time and the (slightly) dryer skin is still there. But, at this point, I am convinced that the Enviro-Biotics have indeed helped to reduce the number of allergens at home. By doing so, they’ve also significantly reduced the frequency and extent of his eczema flare-ups, so that his skin is allowed to respond to moisturisers and thus heal successfully.

According to Courts, BetterAir was most recently acknowledged by National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice programme after a two-year test period.

Whatever it is, I’m just glad to see he has baby smooth skin again (plus, get back the sleep I didn’t have when he was in distress).

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