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Four Tips from an Eczema Mom

-Guest post by Laura Hoffman

Before I had children, I thought the whole fuss over kids with allergies and eczema had to be exaggerated.

So perhaps it was my karma, then, to have a child who struggled with skin conditions and sensitivities from day one. A bit of cradle cap turned into food sensitivities that morphed into bad eczema with food and cosmetic allergies. It has absolutely rocked and taken over our world.

Wyatt eczema gimme the good stuff
Wyatt struggled with eczema almost from birth.

I’m an acupuncturist. I come from a family of doctors and nurses. In treating our son’s ailments, we’ve tried both Eastern and Western medicine, but four years in, we’re still very much still on our quest to figure out what works.

The Search for an Eczema Cure

There is no universal magic ointment or balm that heals all. As parents, we have to advocate for our kids and trust our instincts, and this is the number one rule for helping our children with eczema and allergies.

One very helpful dermatologist (we saw about eleven in just three years) made the analogy to a pot of water. He said children with allergies and eczema will always have some water in the pot. The goal should be to not have the water boil over. How can we do this? We have to sleuth out the triggers.

Fortunately, we’ve discovered a bunch of triggers and treatments that HAVE improved my son’s eczema, and I am happy to be able to share them with the Gimme the Good Stuff community.

Eczema Caused by Food Allergies

There are growing studies showing a link between eczema and food allergies. In fact, recent research link a subtype of eczema to food allergy.

Immunologists are beginning to believe that “food allergens may reach immune cells more easily through a dysfunctional skin barrier affected by atopic dermatitis, thereby setting off biological processes that result in food allergies.”

That said, dermatologists may not be quick to recommend a food allergy test. The first thing I always recommend to my friends and clients who have discussed issues with their baby’s skin, is to get a food test!

Upon a recommendation, we were slathering coconut oil on our son’s skin to help with his cradle cap. This seemed to make it worse, and were confused how a beloved and natural oil could cause any harm.

After finally getting a food test, we found he was allergic to all tree nuts. And yes, this includes the almighty coconut! While it might not cure all, omiting sensitive foods can drastically help bring down inflammation and reactions.

Cosmetic Skin Test

Having a cosmetic test is another recommendation I wish I didn’t have to make! It’s tough, as it involves multiple patches on the back, and having to go in repeatedly to the doctor for one week. But only by doing this did we learn that Wyatt had two allergies, to propylene glycol and cocomide DEA. Note from Maia: Nothing we call Good Stuff has these ingredients, ever.

Upon further investigation, we read that these are two very common triggers for kids with eczema. Furthermore, if propylene glycol is used as a flavor or color for food, or carrier or solvent instead of a direct ingredient, it is considered an indirect ingredient and therefore not required to be listed on the nutrition label by the FDA.

Really reading labels and ingredients is a must. It’s daunting, to look at a label and see there are twenty plus ingredients, some of which have scientific names with six or more syllables. But take a pen, make a list, and start getting to know their names. There are repeated offenders which are sadly in many products that are triggers for eczema.

I do wish this could all be shared and discussed openly by dermatologists from the get go. We immediately saw a connection between when our son used these ingredients and having reactions. Systemic, generalized dermatitis has been reported after eating foods with propylene glycol, or from taking medications that contain it.

wyatt without eczema gimme the good stuff

 

Now 4 years old, Wyatt’s eczema is greatly improved, although it’s never gone away entirely.

Best Clothing for Kids with Eczema

Kids with eczema should really try to stick to materials made of 100% cotton. It’s best for the skin.

And just like in foods, I’d recommend reading the ingredients of clothes, sheets, towels, and accessories. There are many outfits we thought were just cotton, but have a blend of materials. Even if it’s just 2% polyester, your child’s skin can react strongly.

Wool is especially bad for kids with eczema. And by the way, this means that cosmetic products with lanolin are also bad for kids with eczema!

The Best Creams for Eczema

We were familiar with CeraVe and Vanicream, as every doctor we met with had recommended the two.

We liked the ones without parabens or fragrance (and we learned to read the ingredients lists carefully–as the same company will make ones that have them and don’t, like CeraVe).

But I didn’t read or hear about ceramides until four years into our eczema journey, when a new dermatologist told us to look for creams with ceramides.

Ceramides are fatty lipid molecules that help keep our skin moist and soft. Moist and soft skin should be the goal, especially if your child has eczema or allergies. But children with eczema are often lacking ceramides. Hence the red, dry, itchy, and splotchy trademark of eczema!

Our favorite cream with ceramides is this one (which Maia calls “pretty much Okay Stuff, and worth a try for sure if your kid is suffering!”).

Despite the fact that it doesn’t contain ceramides, this Green Goo also brought Wyatt relief.

Most likely if your child has eczema, he or she has a combination of sensitivities. I know from experience this can at times feel like you’re trying to find a needle in a haystack. Or you feel like you need to just buy your child a bubble suit! But there are steps to take. Begin with testing and reading ingredients. Don’t be afraid to keep the doctor in the room longer with your questions. Because it’s possible to find answers — to keep your child’s pot of water from boiling over.

 

Laura Hoffman is a New York State Licensed Acupuncturist. She received her Master of Science degree from Tri-State College of Acupuncture in New York City. She worked at the California Pacific Medical Center using acupuncture to treat patients recovering from physical trauma, stroke, and spinal cord injuries. Laura has studied various modalities to treat conditions including, but not limited to, women’s health, digestive concerns, chronic pain, muscular strain, anxiety, stress, addiction, and insomnia. Laura has also spent the last four years on a quest to understand her son’s allergies and sensitivities. She knows from experience this journey can be arduous and at times frustrating, and is happy to help a fellow parent out in any way. Follow Laura on Instagram at @laurahoffmanacu feel free to reach her at info@laurahoffmanacu.com

 


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13 responses to “Four Tips from an Eczema Mom”

  1. Bella Mang

    Thank you for this article! I’ve been on this journey with my toddler for about a year now. The CeraVe cream has mildly helped us as well but I’ve kept looking for alternatives. I’m curious what both you and Maia think about the NEA Seal Of Acceptance for eczema creams? They seem to have quite an extensive list of NO-NO ingredients (potential irritants) specifically for eczema patients. I recently found TruKid creams through their database and feel like I have finally found a moisturizer that actually DOES make a difference for my son! I’m beyond happy about that and hope it keeps working for him. Also, I find their list of ingredients not alarming – curious if there’s anything Maia would flag about it. If so, would be great to know!

  2. Elena

    I’ve used Foderma serum eczema for less than a week, and i can already tell a distinction in my baby pores and skin. She has a mild eczema. And no joke within an hour of applying Foderma serum it seems to begin to disappear. I am satisfied somebody mentioned this and i’m satisfied to get it again.

  3. Dorothy

    I went through every eczema lotion for my daughter and nothing worked until I found foderma eczema serum! It is the best! It works almost instantly to sooth and heal my daughter’s eczema.

  4. Nora

    I had eczema on my hands for several months. They were cracked, bleeding, flaking and I could barely do anything that required me to use my hands…which is a lot. Then I started taking probiotic MegaSporebiotic. And within a month my eczema started to heal. It’s been several month that I have been using MegaSpore and I only have a small patch on my right hand that persists, which if you had seen my hands before is an amazing recovery. I decided to try it per the recommendation of nutritionist blogger Jennifer Fugo. She also has a podcast, the healthy skin show, that anyone with a skin condition should consider listening to.

  5. Jane

    Try Seventh Generation Free & Clear laundry detergent and Ultra Downny Free & Gentle fabric conditioner.

  6. Steve, Ingrid & Lydia

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for your article! (and thanks Maia for sharing!)

    Our daughter, who’s now 8 months old, has had eczema for most of her life. When she was a newborn she had spider veins in her cheeks and small rough patches on her legs. Well all of that eventually turned into full blown eczema! It was painful to watch our daughter rub her ankles, feet and wrists together as the ‘itching’ must have been so annoying to her.

    We had some success with organic olive oil at first. We then moved on to Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil which worked better than the coconut oil. We would basically lather her up every time we changed her diaper. Then one day I was searching for eczema solutions when I came across an Ayurvedic natural skin moisturizer which is supposed to cure all sorts of body issues. It’s called 100 times washed Ghee. That’s right, Ghee as in clarified butter!

    We were open to trying anything at this point as we had changed our daughters formula 4 times already. We ended up going with a product called Sakara Essentials 100x Washed Ghee Elixir – Rose which has Rose water in it as well. We have been putting it on her in the morning when she wakes up and before bed and it has worked really well for clearing up her patches. We continue to use the coconut oil during the day between diaper changes as well, so i think the one-two combo really works well.

    Side note, I’m not 100% convinced that this specific Sakara Essentials ghee has been washed 100 times as all of the photos I see when searching for 100x washed ghee online show a very creamy texture, and the texture in the Sakara Essentials container we have is more oily and yellow-ish (like ghee) and less creamy and white like it has been washed to purification.

    Any who, I hope maybe this will help your son or anyone else out there who needs help fighting off/controlling their eczema. If you do happen to find a really good 100x washed ghee product that you found works for your son, please let us know as we would like to give it a try on our daughter as well!

    All the best,
    Steve

    P.S. My wife only buys organic cotton clothing for our daughter now and has switched laundry detergents (one that was recommended by Maia) and the formula we use is goat milk (also recommended by Maia). Another-words, we are fighting eczema from both the inside as well as the outside of the body.

  7. I have become allergic to everything. I can’t wear pants. Although I have to. Can’t find a laundry detergent that doesn’t make me itch. Allergic to garlic rubber nickel flormeldehyde mold dust grass trees cats I could go on. I am 63. This started at 50 and no one can help even creams hurt my thighs. I just bought 2 different laundry detergent from gimme the good stuff. Didn’t work. Any suggestions?

  8. Caroline Taylor

    Thanks for the post! I developed eczema during pregnancy, and found clothing to be a trigger. I learned to avoid conventional cotton and only buy organic, as 1- conventional cotton can contain pesticide residues such as round-up, that can remain even after washing. And 2- clothing not certified by GOTS or OEKO-TEX can be “finished” with chemical softeners, anti-wrinkle chemicals, etc that do not have to be disclosed. I never had a skin test, but found I reacted to several articles that contained “silicone softeners”. Also, avoiding items with even 5% elastane (spandex, Lycra) helped. Synthetic fibers are processed in harsh chemicals and can contain residues. OEKO-TEX tests for the worst offenders. Also be aware of other sources around you that you touch daily, such as upholstered furniture and even leather – most leather is tanned with Chrome VI, which can be an allergen.

    Osea Malibu is not formulated specifically for eczema, but their ocean milk cleanser and advanced protection cream gave me so much relief. However, my mom has very sensitive skin and reacted to them. Hope this helps. https://oseamalibu.com/products/advanced-protection-cream

  9. SkiGpsy

    Excema, Psoriasis, etc are all easily cured by cleansing and detoxing the Liver. I suffered for years until I finally quit going to doctors and learned Natural Healing.

    Most likely your child has been vaccinated or you live near homes and parks that use Roundup. Both are devastating to little developing bodies. Green juice detox your children ASAP and never let anyone inject toxins into them again!

  10. HC

    I have an almost 3 year old with eczema and have largely figured out how to keep it under control even without allergy testing. No eggs, no milk products (those are his food sensitivities). Fragrance-free soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, fabric softener. Don’t bathe every day (dries the skin out too much). Triderma eczema cream for serious flare ups (not all the ingredients are the greatest, but far better than hydrocortisone in my opinion and it works better, too!). And homemade tallow balm for moisturizing dry skin areas. Probiotics, and a mostly alkalizing anti-inflammatory diet. Cod liver oil or Vitamin D also help!

  11. Judie

    Can you recommend a food allergy test? Where would I go get one for my child?

    1. Hi Judie – i recommend finding a good pediatric allergist locally, and also a pediatric dermatologist. The allergist will do a bloodwork panel, and the dermatologist can do a cosmetic allergy test. More extensive (and a lot of labor!) but the latter can really tell you a lot. Hope this helps!
      Laura

  12. Chariti

    So sorry you all had to go through this! It sounds like such a frustrating and hard journey. Also now a known trigger for eczema, backed by recent studies: vaccinations. Sorry to say, but this is also not talked about by practitioners or even pediatricians. Sadly, the medal community has remained one sided on this issue, refusing to even consider vaccines as a possible trigger for eczema, let alone multiple other ailments, and it’s left to us parents to figure it out on our own.

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