7 Steps in Healing Kids Eczema Naturally
When my eldest suffered eczema 5 years ago, I promised to create a blog to share her journey. She recovered but I did not get the opportunity to share her story. Now my youngest one is also recovering from eczema. Her battle has reminded me once again that I should share the journey of healing kids eczema naturally to help other parents.
1. Avoid Topical Steroid Creams
When my eldest was around 3 months old. She had dry spots on her ears. Being a new mom then, I followed doctor’s advice and put mild steroid lotion on those tiny ears. It was my first time hearing the word eczema and doctor told me not to worry and that babies will outgrow them. And so I thought it is ‘normal’ for babies to have eczema and that it will eventually heal after I apply the ‘medicine’.
The first dry spots did not disappear after a few days application of Desowen lotion. In fact, new dry spots grew in other places and were now in her arms, arm folds and foot. In the next check up with the pediatrician, he prescribed another kind of cream to apply since it seemed that Desowen lotion wasn’t working. We were asked to apply fungicort cream. We were also asked to apply physiogel AI cream to moisturize the dry spots. Weeks passed and every doctor consulation about her eczema meant getting a stronger steroid cream. So far, we have tried elomet cream, neoderm, elomet ointment.
The dry spots grew larger, redder and more itchy. I remembered the feeling of hopelessness and despair of not able to help my child recover. By this time, she was 11 months old.
2. Consider Non Steroidal Topical Options
I thought I have already seen the worst of her skin. Something far worse happened. I let her ate a small piece of cake. It was kind of cake made mainly using eggwhites. After few minutes, her eyes were swollen and watery. New red angry rashes came out all over her body in the next few days.
How can I apply a small tiny tube of steroid cream on her entire body? We asked for other options other than the steroid creams that we already had. Elidel and Protopic were suggested. We tried them and they did not really help fix the ‘problem’ permanently. The steroid and non steroidal creams are like band aids. It provides temporarily relief for a while. Without true healing, the rashes always came back after a few days.
Elidel and Protopic are topical calcineurin inhibitors. They work as immunomodulating agents and help improve eczema by suppressing the inflammation. These creams are quite new compared to topical creams but they are supposed to be safe and ‘better’ than steroid creams. Elidel and Protopic creams do not cause skin atrophy as opposed to steroid creams. Skin atrophy is the condition where the skin becomes ‘thinner’ and discolored (appears white and lighter than the natural skin color).
Recently with my youngest one’s eczema, we found out about Atopiclair. This cream was launched around 2011 but we only encountered this in 2015. It contains licorice root extract that helps in reducing skin inflammation. At the same time, it has moisturizer component to help relieve the dryness of the skin. As this product is also new, long term side effects are likely still unknown. I would suggest to use sparingly and when needed.
3. Do an Allergy Test
After turning a year old, we were referred to see a skin specialist as it seemed that her eczema was getting out of control. The specialist asked us to do a skin prick test on basic allergens. I think it was about 12-18 common allergens like chicken, eggs, milk, nuts, etc. My daughter only reacted to egg. I thought it was easy to avoid eggs. But to my surprise there are so many processed food that could contain egg (biscuits, cookies, noodles, etc). She was also on breastmilk as well so I had to try to avoid all these food too!
I found out recently that a blood test can also be done instead of prick test. Most medical insurance would cover blood test but not skin prick test. Skin prick test’s results would be instant compared to blood test. Depending on parents and child comfort level, either test should be good and accurate.
My eldest did not cry when she had her skin prick test but my youngest one was a crybaby so it was really pitiful to watch. And we had to do the prick test on the arms as there were no ‘clear’ space on their bodies to perform the test!
4. Go for Eczema Safe Diet
I highly recommend the book ‘The Eczema Diet’ by Karen Fischer to help you with planning and changing the diet of your little one. At the beginning, there is a long list of food that needs to be avoided. Diet change is harder if your child is older.
I did not drop white rice from her diet. Some would disagree with me as white rice is high in sugar. Her diet composed mostly of sweet potatoes, bok choy, potatoes and squash. Fruits mainly apple and occasionally some bananas. Any type of beans were to be avoided including soy sauce (as they are made of soy beans!). Dairy, eggs and chicken are not in the menu either. Since she was 1 year old + then, we weren’t feeling too pressured to give her meat so occasional pork is given. We also avoided processed food during the initial stage of healing. I’m not just talking about cookies, biscuits and lollipops. Avoidance includes ready made bread and noodles (those shelf ones where you boil at home).
As her skin gets better, we started introducing other food that she was able to eat before the “restriction phase” back to her diet.
5. Establish Eczema Safe Environment
One of the good advices that I got from the skin specialist was to change her soap including laundry detergent. We were prescribed Aderma as her daily soap and shampoo. I love the soap as it is very easy to rinse. It is not cheap though. A small bottle is about SG$40. Oatmeal bath also helped in relieving itchiness.
Next thing we did is to get rid of our fabric conditioners and changed our laundry detergent. We used Charlie soap as it is enzyme free, fragrance free, dyes free and bleach free. Country Save Liquid is another good option but not readily available in Singapore.
We also washed bedsheets at least once a week with hot water (60 degrees) and sun dry them. Some parents go the length of ironing the kids clothes to kill the bacteria as well. I think I went through this stage for a short while during the ‘worst phase’.
We also tried to be dusty free as possible especially on their sleeping areas. Book shelves are not be placed where kids play or sleep as they tend to collect dust.
6. Juicing for Healing
Someone recommended us to try juicing to help with the eczema. Back then, since she was just 1 year old, a small cup of cold pressed organic carrot juice everyday was enough to follow the protocol. After 1 month, 70% of her rashes are gone. Only the stubborn parts remained.
After 2 months, only the rash on her foot remained red and itchy. We tried green juicing (Gerson Therapy) this time but not to drink. We applied topically on her foot.
Miracles do happen! After a month, she was completely healed! Not even traces of skin atrophy! She did turn a bit yellowish due to the carrot juicing. We stopped juicing soon after.
7. Probiotics for gut health
My eldest is now 5 years old, and she still gets the occasional small dry patch. This usually happens when her immunity is low (e.g. after recovering from flu). We would give her few weeks of probiotics during this stage to help her recover. Probiotics help by restoring the good bacteria in the gut. We have tried LactoGG, Culturelle and Garden Life probiotics. Each product would contain different strains of good bacteria.
Hope you get some healing tips on kids eczema from this post!
If you have any other suggestions in healing kids eczema naturally, please do let me know.