Monday, March 23, 2009

Eczema--Natural Remedies Thursday

Up to 10 percent of children under the age of five develop eczema.
The disease in a child calls for special attention.

Last March it began. Morris started getting a little rash. I already knew he had extremely sensitive skin as he was allergic to most laundry detergents, soaps with fragrance, harsh cleaner residue, and even disposable diapers. Because of these sensitivities I had already made sure none of of these factors were present in our home. I also tried to keep his skin moisturized with a good fragrance-free lotion.

His rash worsened. I exhausted nearly every natural remedy and by April it was bad enough I considered using a steroid cream. This concerned me greatly because steroid creams are known to thin the skin and are linked to creating long term allergies. They are only to be used once in a great while and only for 10 days (max) at a time. The safety still seems sketchy to me.

By May, I felt I had no choice. I am not against modern medicine and know that it has it's place, so we gave it a go.
10 days. The steroid did nothing. Didn't even touch it. In fact, from there on out Mo's eczema went downhill. What was I to do? I thought I had tried the Natural route and then 3 different MDs--(one was a specialist). The rash only worsened.
Morris' case was turning into extreme eczema--textbook. When you google childhood eczema, you will find photos of kids completely wrapped in gauze and believe me when I say he was almost there.

It is so sad to look back on this---It was a dark time. You don't immediately think, "Eczema= Extremely difficult life trial", but I tell you it was one of the most stressful things I've ever dealt with. I was on the verge of tears at any moment.

Other than the one up top, I could never bring myself to take pictures. 4 months of his life is virtually undocumented. This condition occupied my every thought, every moment. He was so uncomfortable and his skin just looked painful. It had spread all over his back, both calves and onto the upper thighs. Both arms and hands were raw and the final straw was his face and ears. Just thinking about his whimper as a 7 month old makes me cry.

It was oozing and bleeding and his only relief was if I held him completely naked in my arms-skin to skin and rocked him to sleep.
Then he got a staph infection.
This almost completely broke me.
What does a parent do when all that doctors can give is the hope that he might grow out of it?
My gut kept telling me to go back to the Homeopathic route. His case turned severe so quickly that I didn't feel I spent enough effort searching for natural cures. Sure I did all the obvious ones--Oatmeal bath, humidifier, vaseline, 100% cotton clothing, Omega 3 oils, kept him away from pets, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize, etc. etc. etc.! I was reading constantly, searching for the cure. But because it was so bad, social pressure caused me to turn away from alternative medicine quicker than I should have. I knew there was a balance that had to be struck---all the factors had to be in perfect harmony.

I decided to start over.

Homeopathic medicine sometimes takes longer to have an affect on the body, but the cure is long lasting with no side effects. When a condition gets severe so fast, it can be scary to go the slow route. We are a society that wants quick results. But It is my feeling that the steroids disrupted his system and put him on overload. The necessary antibiotic for the Staph only added to it. From there on out his little body just couldn't handle anything it seemed. At this point, what did I have to lose? The steroids didn't work and there seemed to be nothing else to try.
We eventually worked out the balance.

Heat and dryness are the main triggers for him.

We live in Arizona.

A Hot Desert.

Not conducive to his condition.

It's March, and it has started again, although so much better than last year. We know how to manage now. Basically we just can't leave the house in the day and humidifiers are on constantly.
Here are some natural tips for helping your child to manage their eczema:
Moisturize - bathe your child in room temp water (even a bit on the cold side if they can take it) for no longer than five minutes. Use very little mild soap or non-soap fragrance-free cleanser from a health food store. Sprouts and Whole Foods have a good selection.

We like Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Pure-Castile soap. (Can be found at most health food groceries--Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc.)

After bathing your child, pat the skin dry and apply a moisturizing cream or ointment within three minutes.
Eczederm Rescue is an ointment by Peaceful Mountain and it is awesome. It contains healing ingredients like comfrey, calendula, olive oil, avocado oil, and arnica. Very effective. (Found at Whole Foods)

We tried about 20 different lotions and found Alba very emollient body lotion--unscented, to be the best. When Mo gets the urge to scratch,
Wise Woman herbal salve does the trick. (Online)

Only use all natural soaps, laundry detergents and lotions. Avoid anything perfumed.
I swear by Biokleen Free & Clear. The last 2 factors that really helped were the use of a homeopathic remedy of sulphur and adding Omega 3 fish oils to Mo's diet.
A spoonful of fish oils mixed into their food is so helpful to help rebuild the skin.
Boiron is a product line that both Sprouts and Whole Foods carry.
3 Sulphur tablets- twice a day, made all the difference. (30c dose)
A few more tips:

Keep your child's fingernails short to prevent their scratching from breaking the skin.
Dress them in 100 per cent cotton clothing to reduce sweating, which can be an irritant. After purchasing new clothing, wash them before dressing your child to make them softer and remove any tags to avoid irritating the skin.
Avoid wool and other coarse or rough-textured clothing or blankets and if possible, remove wool carpets. If you are wearing woollen clothing, put a cotton diaper over your shoulder when holding your child.
Keep your child's room at an even temperature.
Use a cool mist humidifier in dry or heated rooms to keep the air moist.
If your child is allergic to dust or dust mites, use protective coverings for pillows and mattresses and wash bedclothes frequently in hot water.
Keep pets off beds and other furniture, or outside.
If night-time itching is a problem, use a cold, damp washcloth to soothe your child's skin, followed by a moisturizer.

Children, like adults, experience emotional stress which can exacerbate their eczema. To help your child cope with their illness, it's important to develop and maintain a routine. Anyone who cares for your child should also keep to this routine. Talk to your child about eczema and inform him/her about what triggers the disease. Explain the importance of treatment and how necessary it is to use moisturizer and avoid triggers.


Laurie said...

Thanks so much! This really helped!!

Rachel said...

i just found your blog and i have a question. my son had bad ecsema a few years ago and this brought back lots of bad memories. we realized that dairy was the problem. was your son drinking formula or if nursing, were you eating dairy at all? just curious to see if there's a pattern or not. and by the way, i really like your blog.

rrr622 at hotmail dot com

Maegan said...

Been battling eczema for 7 years with my daughter. I've never seen a more helpful compilation of info and links to what works for you.
Thank you and thank you!
We were in Phx area for March and her eczema went from mild/moderate to terrible so fast. Went to many different MDs, all of whom are very ready to give an Rx.
We like Aquaphor for itchy spots. Steroid creams have never seemed to do much at all.

Emily Ruth said...

I'm glad to hear you found it helpful. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts and experience if you care to swap ideas and stories : )

Marie said...

I live in New Zealand - And hearing your story opens up tears, as I know full well the heart wrenching pain I also walked through with my little girl at 4 months old. She is now 2 and half years old and barely a mark of eczema on her.
I would like to share a few life-changing bits of wisdom which took our family on a whole new way of living and we have never gone back!

After much confusion and endless doctors advise. We realised there could be a link to her first 2 immunisations. It was the ingredients that were a wake up call - (they included MSG, to feed the virus and hydrolysed gelatine) other ingredients were bad enough but we began to see a pattern.
Our daughter broke out badly when she ate anything with MSG in it or Hydrolysed oils (also found in capsules holding fish oil or other health capsules), gelatines and Chemicals(eg colouring in foods, flavour enhancers preservatives etc). We now eat chemical free
and cook with only butter, cold pressed virgin olive oil, or for frying - coconut oil or dripping (animal fat - great for the immune-system).

It starts with the inside and took a year to see her immune system healed and her beautiful skin.
We are also careful on fabric powders and soaps. And use buckwheat & spelt flour - less gluten (but pre soaked also) for cooking or baking. But Wheat to the minimum is better for her and I believe the family.
(A wheat free diet can really help to begin with when helping your child to heal. And no sugar which stops the immune system working properly)sweet treats over that healing time were natural pure maple syrup.

It may sound hard but we never feel like we miss out. Lollies are for birthdays only and other junk food or bought convenience food we now happily live without and cook yummy food. (I have a chemical code book which tells me what the code numbers are in the foods ingredient lists and that’s enough to put me off many bought things.)
I read the ingredient list on food products all the time now.

Regarding dairy I'm afraid it may be irritant to some. As it loses its lacto tolerance if it has been pasteurised. So you guessed it - Our wee girl thrives on raw un-pasteurised goats milk! (Not great in hot drinks though, can smell goaty) Us adults use un-pasteurised cows milk. It is more complex for children to drink so goats milk is better for their aged digestive system.
(You will also find that the live pro-biotics - 'good bacteria' in raw milk will help build up the immune system.)
Anyway that's some big insights we have learnt and tried for 2+ years now - Thanks

Marleen said...

This was so helpful!! Specially you including all the products you used. My son is almost four and we have been battling this since he was 9 months old, shortly after he stopped nursing. I have never seen a case as bad as breaks my heart. He has been to multiple doctors and multiple specialists. They all do the same thing and try to load him up on steroids which only fix for a minute, then he gets so so much worse than he was before. He has had multiple staff infections because of the scratching. He doesn't wear socks as his skin seeps and sticks to the socks so he knows they hurt to come off, because it peels the scabs off. He wakes up in the night alot, we have him wear only 100% cotton zip up sleepsuits at night.

I now have him on a gluten free diet, we are also trying dairy free...he gets treats very rarely! I am trying the Youngevity products to see if the nutrients will help him internally, and I use coconut oil for his skin when he is itchy because it has nothing else added that will hurt or burn him like a lot of other lotions do. I am excited to order some of the products you posted to see if there is anything that will help him feel soothed when he is itchy. I also live in AZ and every year around this time he breaks out so bad I want to cry...Mom's are supposed to help and take the pain away, but with his I can't or haven't been able to yet and it breaks my heart!

Ironically enough, my son just came down with whooping cough(which is what I was searching when I found this site) and I also found that information very helpful as the RX stuff hasn't helped at all.

So, thank you very much!!

Sarah Mueller said...

This is a very helpful post. I realize it's a couple years old but I wanted to add our story - my son had eczema almost since birth. I tried everything (like you) and we eventually discovered he has several severe food allergies. He was being exposed to them through breastmilk. All the creams and bathing in the world wouldn't have helped if we hadn't eliminated the allergens from his diet (and mine as I'm still breastfeeding). So I encourage anyone who's dealing with eczema to find a good allergist and undergo skin testing. It's difficult but so worth it. My son's skin is now clear most of the time. What a blessing.