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My oldest daughter (currently age 4) has suffered with eczema since she was an infant. At the time, I was told by her pediatrician to keep it moisturized and was given steroid cream to use.
I only used it twice and for that I am glad. Steroid creams can work wonders, but can also have side effects that I wasn’t really aware of at the time.
I was also unaware of gut health and its possible implication for eczema or on healing my own Hashimoto’s at that time.
I have personal theories on what caused my daughter to have eczema, but I cannot prove them. When she was born she needed to be given a preventative dose of antibiotics because she was born with a fever.
I had labored for 31 hours after my water broke and my doctor was concerned that infection had set in. This was past the normal allowance of 24 hours.
We later learned that the fever was likely from the epidural because I also had a fever. Yet, if it had been due to an infection it would have killed her before being able to confirm it.
So we used the antibiotics. I believe these antibiotics disrupted the newly flourishing gut bacterias that develop after birth. And we did nothing to counteract it.
As a baby her cheeks would peel and become bright red and scaly. Her elbows, back of knees, inner thighs and torso will have, scaly red patches all over. Sometimes bright, painful and blood red.
If you have dealt with eczema for your child, my heart goes out to you. I feel your pain. Solidarity. It is such a terrible feeling to see your baby is uncomfortable and in pain. Or to watch them scratch holes in their skin.
If you want to learn more about gut health (although not eczema focused), a book that I highly recommend reading is called THE GOOD GUT by Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg. I loved reading this book and it has a wealth of information for understanding the microbes in our gut.
GUT HEALTH AND ECZEMA
After spending a year and a half healing my Hashimoto’s by focusing on my gut health, I learned of the power that food has for healing our bodies. This is key!
Now, I cannot say that food sensitivities or allergies are the cause of all eczema. In fact, many may find it is a chemical, pet or dust allergy. Some may never find the root cause of their eczema at all. However, it is worth trying to find the answer.
Finding Food Allergies
I had my daughter tested for IgE allergies in food and she came up negative for having any food allergies. This includes gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and all the normal suspects. We had this done at our allergist and was covered by our insurance.
I have not tested her for any food intolerances or sensitivities (IgG), but if we had not been able to find an answer then this would have been my next step. You can Shop Food Sensitivity Test Kits at EverlyWell.com (an at home IgG food sensitivity test) or go to a functional medicine doctor to have this IgG food sensitivity test completed.
We learned that my daughter had a mild allergy to cats. Don’t worry- we didn’t have to get rid of our cats (I was definitely worried!).
After a lot of research, I came to terms with the fact my daughter most likely had a leaky gut. It was hard to think about how to tackle this. Against our pediatrician and our allergist’s recommendation, I removed gluten from her diet.
In my experience, removing gluten from my diet had been a huge part of my healing from Hashimoto’s. Gluten is hard on your gut when it needs to heal. Basically, it is like sandpaper on a raw wound (your intestinal lining).
I was prepared to remove dairy from her diet if I needed to in the future. We were lucky this never had to happen. Many people find relief from eczema by removing dairy from their diets.
After removing gluten for 2.5 weeks, her eczema flared the worst we had ever seen. And even though I knew this one time flare could happen after removing gluten, it still was shocking to see. We persisted cautiously. Looking back, it was almost like proof that gluten was an issue.
Then, two weeks after the flare, her eczema was greatly reduced to a few small patches on her inner and back thighs or the backs of her knees.
Lots of Fruits and Veggies
My daughter is already a very picky eater, so making any dietary change for her was very scary. We were working with a limited amount of foods that she was willing to eat. Eating any kind of meat was a struggle, so we are constantly concerned with her iron levels.
She will only eat 4 vegetables willingly – carrots, peas, corn, and avocado. I made sure she ate as many of them everyday in some form or another as I could. We also gave her lots of fruits like berries and apples.
Also, I would sneak leafy greens in her smoothies and make her cookies and cupcakes with beans. Since most gluten free bread is a total let down, I started making gluten free bread in our bread maker for her PBJ sandwiches. It was a lot of work.
Slowly, we found options that she was willing to eat, but we mainly focused on reducing processed foods and removing gluten.
Soon, we discovered that iron supplements and multivitamins caused her eczema to flare.
We started giving her probiotics. I would mix this children’s probiotic into her smoothie in the morning and give her this other children’s probiotic in the evening before bed. These two probiotics for children have completely different strains except for one strain – lactobacilli casei. My goal was to make sure she was getting a variety of probiotic strains.
Adding the probiotics had a huge effect on reducing her eczema quickly. As did removing gluten. Please consult your doctor when making these types of changes to you or your child’s diet or supplement routine.
We also found that refined sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) would cause her eczema to flare. So we switched her to full fat plain yogurt mixed with honey and removed sugar from her diet. We substituted sugar with raw honey and maple syrup since these did not flare her eczema.
Her treats became these raw honey sticks, organic fruit strips (only fruit sugars), and these sugar free lollipops. Also, the bean cupcakes and cookies I mentioned earlier, but I could no longer use the mini chocolate chips. Instead, I had to substitute dark chocolate chips made with stevia (why don’t they make milk chocolate chips like this??).
An added bonus about these lollipops is that they also clean your teeth! I stick them everywhere these days, from the stroller to the car, to use as rewards.
HER ECZEMA DISAPPEARED
My daughter’s eczema disappeared in the dead of winter. For the first time, she was a completely normal looking child. We were all amazed!
What was even better was how proud of herself she was for all the changes she had made to see herself heal. Even my husband was impressed because he has also struggled with eczema.
The entire process happened over 4 months. From quitting gluten in the beginning, to the complete clearing of her eczema.
If you or your child suffers from eczema, I highly recommend reducing processed foods, adding probiotics, using homemade kefir (if dairy is tolerated), and removing gluten and refined sugar from your diet. Natural sugars did not seem to cause a problem for us.
I have hopes that my daughter will be able to eat (small amounts of) gluten again after her gut is completely healed since she does not show any sensitivity to it. This, of course, will be trial and error to see if she reacts to it.
One tip that greatly helped us see what caused her eczema to flare was keeping a food journal of what she ate each day. It was really surprising to find that several different types of multivitamins would cause her eczema to flare.
This journal is also how we discovered that unnatural sugar caused a problem as well. I would make a note in her journal when we noticed a flare of her eczema so we could reference it later. Usually, it was a delayed reaction of a day or two.
Eczema is a very hard battle to fight. Seriously, no fun at all. However, you or your child’s health in the long term is worth it. Short term pain for long term gain. I wish success for you.
What did you discover that helped you or your child’s eczema?