Saturday, June 20, 2009

Healing Eczema

My kids have all had eczema since shortly after they were born. We have found several things that make the eczema bearable, and one that makes it go away.

When my oldest was an infant, my nurse practitioner/pediatrician suggested that I limit my intake of milk and wheat as long as I was breastfeeding. This made a very big difference, and when Faith started eating solid foods we immediately noticed her eczema would get worse if she had milk or wheat. It has been the same for all my kids. (Yogurt and cheese do not bother them, but ice cream does.) I have also noticed it gets worse if they eat peanut butter. Though we can limit their intake of milk and wheat at home, it's difficult when visiting or attending any social functions, so after a snack at church or a visit to relatives, the kids will have a flare-up.

I quickly learned to avoid any soaps/shampoos/lotions/sunscreens/handsanitizers that contain sodium laureth sulfate--but I think all public restroom soaps have this ingredient. Their eczema also flares up if they sit in the grass outside or if they visit people in different parts of town, so it seems to be connected to dust or pollen.

To treat the outbreaks, I make a bath salt treatment. It is
5 drops calendula essential oil
2 drops tea tree oil (optional)
2 tablespoons jojoba oil (or almond)
1 pump natural soap (Jason's lavender satin shower is great)
1/2 cup epsom salts.

Mix all the ingredients together, then add to the bath after all the water is run. Soak for at least 25 minutes.

By the way, some doctors recommend that kids with eczema don't bathe often. I have found this advice to be completely wrong for my children--daily baths are best, and always long soaks in nice warm water. If you can find California Baby Lavender and Tea Tree Shampoo, it makes a great body wash. Vitacost no longer carries it, but I think Whole Foods does.

When the kids have an outbreak that seems to be due to playing in the grass or other outdoor allergens, a helpful over the counter oral medicine is Zyrtec, but it seems that if they take it too many days in a row they get nosebleeds. I try to limit its use to a week at a time, and only if necessary.

We have a cortizone cream with aloe in it that is helpful for really awful outbreaks, or if they just won't stop scratching long enough to heal up. The cortizone cream without aloe makes the children scream. I won't use cortizone constantly though. Melaleuca's Renew lotion is great for eczema, but my youngest daughter said it "stings" and she convinced the older children that it stings also (they'd used it every day since birth....and suddenly they wouldn't use it!).

At Christmas last year, the kids were eating more cookies than I usually let them have, but their skin actually improved! They were soaking in the tub every day, and they were drinking an ounce of Aloe Life Juice every day. I mixed it with apple juice at first, but then they decided they like it plain. I buy the cherry or papaya flavors.

Through the winter, the kids had occasional outbreaks, one especially bad after a playdate at a park across town. But in March a friend shared with me a smoothie recipe with omega oils, and after a week, the kids were healed. It's amazing! Their skin is smoother than it's ever been!

I bought the gummy bears with omega oils, but they were not effective. If the kids don't have the liquid oils, they start itching again. I add aloe to the smoothie most days (it's good for digestion) and I sneak in some celery--they can't taste it, but it adds another vegetable to their diet. The best news is that the kids LOVE to drink this and beg for it every day. I add protein powder, so this either accompanies their breakfast cheerios, or makes a great mid-morning snack.

Omega Oil Smoothie for Kids
(serves 3)
3 TBS Flax Oil
3 TBS Orange Flavor Cod Liver Oil
6 TBS Aloe Vera Juice
4-8 ounces water (or 1 cup kefir or yogurt)
1 banana
3 TBS Rice Protein powder
8 frozen strawberries (or some frozen peach slices, mangos, or blueberries)
20 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract (this is not for eczema, this is an immune booster)
1 or 2 stalks celery (in chunks)

Blend in a blender...till blended. The blender can't always cope with the frozen fruit and the celery all at once, but once the fruit and everything else is blended, I add the celery. Sometimes I add a shake of cinnamon or a drizzle of honey. If your kids are used to really sweet drinks like koolaid or soda pop, you may need to add honey or agave nectar.

Serve in a glass with a straw.


Anonymous said...

eczema is horrible - does having sheep or goat milk products instead of cow make any difference?
sheep's milk yoghurt is lovely - v thick and creamy and not as strong tasting as goat


Sophy Nextdoor said...

I'm sure sheep's milk would be helpful, but I don't think it's available in the American Southwest desert. I do like to buy sheep's milk cheeses, but they are too expensive to purchase often.

Jenni Saake (a.k.a. InfertilityMom) said...

Passing this along to my pastor's wife. Her youngest has really struggled with eczema and only recently have they found a bath soak that helps him.

Stephanie Nikolopoulos said...

hm, i know some people that are struggling with eczema. i'll hafta pass this along.

Anonymous said...

Hello to you - I'll pass this post along too. I haven't abandoned my "five on a friday" but it has been a bit hard to do while travelling . Best wishes to you :)