Recommended for anyone with an eczema baby under age two:


Discussion of Indoor Air Quality and Air Purifier Review

When a loved one has allergies, and especially eczema, taking care of their skin and eliminating the triggers is very important. However, there are factors other than diet and skin care to consider. For instance, many children with eczema eventually develop asthma. My son never has, and I don’t think he ever will (I’m keeping my fingers crossed), but still, I have taken many precautions to take care of the air he breathes.

There are many things you can do to improve the air quality in your home. One of the most basic is to open the windows. Of course, this is not always as easy as it seems. Sometimes pollution or pollen levels are so high that it is better to keep them shut. If you have a forced air system like we have, you might want to keep the windows closed in winter to keep the house warm–or if you live in a humid climate like we did in south Texas, you might want to keep them closed in the summer to keep the humidity out while you run the air conditioner! The problem is that indoor air quality can get worse than outdoor air quality.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the decline of indoor air quality. One is definitely the cleaners and other chemicals many use in your home. Air fresheners, toxic chemical cleaners, and even the foam in your sofa, can fill the air with toxins that reduce air quality. Oxygen become depleted, making one more drowsy. Positive ions build up in the air, causing free radical damage in the body.

Used with permission.

All of these factors are things everyone should consider, whether they have allergies or not. Those who have allergies, however, would do well to be especially diligent about the quality of the air in their home. The reason is that the body is busy dealing with the allergens it is exposed to, and reducing exposure to as many as possible can help the body deal better with the ones it can’t avoid. For instance, my son has both food and environmental allergies. We once visited a home with a dog and spent several hours there. When we left, he was experiencing a flair-up of eczema, especially on his face. A year later we spent several days in this home, and hardly had any problems at all–in fact, it was during this time that we quit using prescription steroid cream. In the first case, he was still being exposed to many allergens through my breastmilk, whereas we had eliminated all of the major and many of the minor allergens later, and so his body was able to deal with the exposure to the dog dander better. My mother finds that she can deal with her environmental allergies better if she avoids wheat during the pollen season.

Used with permission.

So what can you do to improve your air quality? Besides eliminating as many toxins as possible from your home and opening the windows as often as possible, you can invest in a good quality air purifier. Jarden Consumer Services offered to allow me to try one of their air filters, and I was very pleased to get the Holmes® HAP9424B-TUS Medium Room Air Purifier, along with 4 extra allergy-removal aer1 ™ filters (this purifier uses two filters at a time).

I really like the purifier’s sleek design. It doesn’t look out of place, and is much nicer than many older air purifiers. Being tall and narrow like it is, it is easy to fit into just about any room. The fan has 3 speeds to choose from. It tends to blow a bit, especially on the higher settings, but it’s not heavy and easy to turn it in a different direction if one doesn’t want to be in the draft. The noise is a little more than some purifiers, perhaps, about like a low fan, but it is not annoying, nor does it make other sounds difficult to hear. One feature I like is the ion button, which makes the machine emit negative ions. These counteract the bad positive ions and make the air much more like outdoor air. This can be turned on and off, because, as the manual said, leaving it on all the time can cause excess dust to collect on surfaces. It also has a light that will flash when it is time to replace the filter. The fan is designed to run 24/7, all year long, unlike the fan in the bathroom, for instance, which could catch fire if left on too long.

I did not notice any improvement in my son’s condition with this air purifier; however, as I mentioned already, he does not have asthma or any lung problems, so I was not surprised at this. I have no doubt that it has improved our quality of life in ways that we are not necessarily sensitive to. Sometimes we have it out in the living room, so that the whole family can benefit. Other times we will put it in my son’s room–especially at night–so that he can get the full benefit of better air.

If you are interested in getting this or another purifier like it, as well as replacement filters, you can visit the Aer1 Systems site, or check with major retailers like Wal-Mart or Target.

I’m Allergic to … What Can I Eat?

Several months ago I received a question from one of my readers. She was undergoing skin allergy tests to find out what she was allergic to and had already come up with several things. I wrote her a rather lengthy response, and then asked if I could share it with my readers here. If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with one or more food allergies, you may find this post helpful.

Question:

 I came acrossed your blog about being allergic to wheat and I was just skin tested she said i was allergic to wheat, oranges, tomatoes, pork, peanuts, and im not even done testing, i dont know what to eat can you give me some ideas, i am talking about food from the stores like regular food not food i have to buy online or anything. im kinda broke lol

Answer:

You asked me to help you with food allergies and what to eat. Before I do that, I want to share my “qualifications”. My brother had multiple food allergies as a child. Gluten, citrus, nightshade, and a few others I can’t remember. He outgrew them by puberty. I learned to read labels before age 10. My son has even more allergies and sensitivities, and until I weaned him at 12 months, I tried to eat his diet. I later learned that I was still eating things that he was highly reactive to, and that helped me deal with all the guilt I had over weaning him early (I nursed his sister for 20 months and only weaned her because it got painful in pregnancy).
So what can you do? First of all, you need to totally change your attitude toward food. You need to think differently about food. If you try to find a substitute for every item you are used to eating, you will either go crazy or have to triple your food budget.
Let’s take that apart. Suppose you like to eat a chili hot dog. With the wheat bun, the pork in the dog, the tomatoes in the chili, and the cheese on top, it’s going to be really hard to make a substitute for it. So just forget it. Find totally new foods that you can enjoy. It will probably mean taking your food with you when you eat out with friends. You never know what is in prepared foods unless you have a label to read.
Since you are not finished testing, it is going to be hard to give you a lot of advice. If you tested negative on soy, embrace tofu and other soy-based foods. If you haven’t been tested for it yet, then hold off, because that is one of the worst allergens.
Think of foods that you may eat once in a while that are not on the forbidden list. In fact, you would do well to make a list of all the individual foods you can eat. You will probably find that the list of can-eat will be bigger than the list of can’t-eat. The only problem is that several of the can’t-eats are in 90% of prepackaged foods. So you are going to have to embrace cooking from scratch.
Look at that can-eat list. If corn is on it, embrace corn tortillas and tortilla chips. Try blue chips for variety. Potatoes are related to tomatoes, so you should probably cut them out for a month or two until whatever symptoms you have been having subside and then try them to see if you can eat them. But sweet potatoes and yams are not related to potatoes, and you should be able to tolerate them well. Think sweet potato fries! Mmmmmmm! Look at the wealth of veggies available and just forget about tomatoes (and potatoes, peppers and eggplant–they are all nightshade). But broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, zucchini, carrots, and many other veggies are fair game. Embrace legumes–except soy, if it’s a problem. Try sprouting some of them and create nutritious dishes with them.
You can find websites that let you select ingredients and prohibit them from the recipe, and then do searches based on the parameters you specified. This will give you some ideas of things you can do. Even just googling ingredients with a minus sign next to things you want to avoid can provide recipes.
Basically, you will need to just embrace your options and let the rest go. It will be hard at first, but when you get the results of feeling better, it will be worth it.
And if you don’t get better, there could be some other issue causing the allergies. In my son’s case, he has pathogenic bacteria in his gut that is causing irritation that manifests itself on the skin as eczema. The more we do for his gut, the better he gets. His IgE score has come down from about 2875 to somewhere around 2500-2600. That doesn’t seem like much, but considering that 300 is considered the maximum of normal, that is wonderful!
So there you go. Let me know if you have anymore questions.
Whether you are dealing with just one allergen, like soy, or multiple food allergies, like this reader and my son, the principles are the same. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will answer to the best of my ability. I should also mention that if you have multiple food allergies, it might be wise to seek the advice of a qualified nutritionist to be sure you are getting a good balance of nutrients with the remaining foods. It would also be advisable to take a good supplement.

Helping My Eczema Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep

My baby Was Born With Eczema

Like a lot of babies with eczema, my baby was born with it, and right from the outset his skin was dry and flaky. We bought almost every type of skin care product on the market, trying one after another unsuccessfully to control the scratching and discomfort it was causing him.

He was also a terrible bottle drinker throughout this time, literally throwing bottles across the room, arching and fighting every single one. What should have been a nice bonding experience was a battle of wills to just feed him even tiny amounts of milk. It wasn’t unusual for a bottle to last most of the day by the time we could get him to finish it.

 

Working Out the Cause of Eczema for My Baby

It wasn’t until he was around six months of age that a doctor referred us to a specialist eczema/allergy clinic, where we were finally given the official diagnosis of eczema, possible milk protein intolerance, and given some particularly useful suggestions about layering of creams from lighter ones to thicker ones to keep the moisture in. We were told to wrap him tightly for sleeps, to help encourage a better sleep pattern and stop the damage from night time scratching.
I can’t recommend highly enough getting a referral from your usual doctor to an allergy clinic or specialist. Most major hospitals have regular clinics where they can test for allergies or intolerances. Eczema associations and support groups can point you towards these clinics in your area. It helps to rule out possible triggers in the ongoing management of eczema or similar conditions.

 

Wrapping or Swaddling a Baby With Eczema

aka the ‘Wrestle Wrap’

Wrapping or swaddling our baby was fine while he was small, but once he started to grow and become more active, it caused him more and more discomfort. He began sleeping even less, spending the entire time attempting to work his way out of the swaddles!

We bought other baby wrap style sleeping bags. They worked for a short period of time, but were soon unsafe to continue using as he learnt to roll over, requiring free arm movement to be able to roll back. I was so desperate to keep him from scratching that I even resorted to a Safe-T Sleep system which wraps around a mattress and has velcro straps that are placed between a baby’s legs and around their tummy to hold them in place on their backs. Using this kept him in a wrap style sleeping bag for a little bit longer, but he eventually worked out how to roll over again even with this on, and so we had to transition to a normal sleeping bag. The only way this would work to stop the scratching was if I dressed my baby in an all-in-one suit with the foldover handcovers attached and then put the sleeping bag over the top of this. I was beside myself the day I realised that he no longer fit into the size 00-0 one suits and that ALL the manufacturers of these stop making them with handcovers after these sizes!

Safe, Scratch-free Sleeping With the Bamboo Bubby Bag

I shopped high and low and could not find anything I could use safely with my baby, and we all NEEDED sleep badly. He also needed protection from the scratching to allow his skin to heal!

And so the idea for the Bamboo Bubby Bag was born. I still can’t believe that there was nothing like this out there on the market! It is a one size fits 000-2+ sleeping bag (saving parent’s money - they are already spending so much on eczema treatments). It is made of 70% bamboo/30% organic cotton fabric that is soft, breathable and thermoregulating. This is perfect for babies with eczema, since their condition already makes them hotter than others and sweat further contributes to the itch.

The Bamboo Bubby Bag has a unique, completely enclosed adjustable sleeve design® which works similarly to the handcover concept on all-in-one suits meaning that it can guarantee a goodnight’s sleep for babies with eczema throughout their entire first 2+ years.

Since designing the Bamboo Bubby Bag, I have been overwhelmed by positive feedback about the idea, and have recently launched Bamboo Bubby into an online business, sending out Bamboo Bubby Bags far and wide, helping many other babies with eczema sleep better and break the itch-scratch cycle. As a parent, there is nothing worse than watching your child suffer from a distressing condition like eczema, and I am glad that Bamboo Bubby has not only made a huge change to our lives, but also now those of so many others.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Northey is the mother of a baby with eczema and the designer of  the Bamboo Bubby Bag, a sleeping bag with unique, enclosed, adjustable  sleeves that will fit babies from sizes 000-2+, stopping them from  scratching during sleeptimes – perfect for babies with eczema or  dermatitis.
Bamboo Bubby Bags can be seen in action at: www.bamboobubby.com.au or www.facebook.com.au/bamboobubby. She is also happy to chat with other parents via email at: info [at] bamboobubby [dot] com.au

 

Will Rogers Institute Raises Asthma Awareness

Did you know that there are currently over 7 million children in the U.S. who suffer from asthma? And that children with eczema are at higher risk of developing asthma?  The Will Rogers Institute, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting medical research and educating the general public on topics of health and fitness, is sharing an exclusive Public Service Announcement campaign with us!

It’s startling to learn, but asthma has been identified as one of the country’s most common and costly illnesses!  Because of this fact, we must do everything we can to educate and discuss this condition and help change these statistics for the future of our children.   WRI has released a new PSA campaign that highlights the danger signs and health risks associated with asthma, starring Emmy award winning actor Bryan Cranston, best known for his starring role in the AMC drama series Breaking Bad.

For an exclusive look at the PSA, please visit the campaign page: www.westglen.com/online/wripsa.html

This fall, with the help of Cranston, WRI is getting out there and sharing this PSA with the public and I encourage you all to pass along this information to loved ones as well.  The simple signs of asthma to look out for include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

Take notice of these signs and symptoms and determine whether it’s appropriate to talk to your child’s doctor about asthma. Together, by educating, we can really make a difference.

For even more information, including free health booklets, please visit: www.WRInstitute.org.

Product Review & Give-Away: Vidazorb Probiotics

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a representative of Vidazorb to try their probiotics and review them on my blog. They sent me a sample of the Vidazorb Belly Boost for children and the Vidazorb Daily probiotics for adults. They were especially interested to see how the probiotics helped my son’s eczema.

These probiotics have a lot of positive features. To start with, they have a CFU (colony forming units) count of approximately 10 billion per tablet, and they recommend 3 tablets per day. They are chewable, and for those too young to chew them, they are very easy to crush into powder to mix with food or liquid. They taste really good, too. My son always got excited whenever he got one, and often would beg me for “I-ah-kicks” whenever he thought of them. They also do not require refrigeration. They are also gluten, soy, lactose, and corn free and have zero calories..

On the other hand, they did not help my son’s eczema. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t help some children’s eczema, but it didn’t help my son. I stopped using the Infaskin that we had been using before to really try the Belly Boost, and during that time his eczema actually got a little bit worse, only to go back to what it had been after we added the Infaskin, which we did a few days before we ran out of Belly Boost. I don’t think that the Belly Boost had a negative effect, it just didn’t have a positive one. Perhaps this is because it doesn’t have as many variety of strains as Infaskin does. But Infaskin was specifically developed for skin conditions, while Belly Boost appears to be designed simply to maintain proper digestion, so this doesn’t surprise me too much.

They are to be taken 1 tablet 3 times a day, preferably with meals. I had a hard time remembering to give them to him at each meal, especially in the evening when I was so focused on getting the kids fed, dressed, read to, and in bed. The Infaskin was given once a day between meals, so it is easier to just give it whenever I remember–usually I do it before breakfast with his first liquid of the day. This isn’t really a negative, just for me it is.

They are a bit cheaper than the Infaskin is, at $43.60 if you buy it from Vidazorb. Infaskin costs me $50 for a month’s supply. They are probably a bit more expensive than some probiotics that you can get from another place, but they are very good quality, as far as I can tell, and if one were looking for probiotics to give their child during and after a round of antibiotics, I would definitely recommend Vidazorb as an option to consider. Very kid friendly.

If you want to try them, during the month of October, 2011, you can use the coupon code NEM50 to get 50% off any order. Now, that’s a pretty good deal!

But it gets even better! Vidazorb would like to offer one lucky reader a two-month supply of Belly Boost for their child. That’s an $87.20 value! Simply post a comment telling me which Vidazorb product you would like to try (click on the link to see them all). I will pick a name toward the end of the month of October using Random.com.

Product Reviews Coming Up – Probiotic & Air Purifier

I am very excited about two product reviews that I will be doing within the next month or so, and I wanted to announce them. In a few days (as soon as I can get time to write it) I will be doing a review of a children’s probiotic and a give-away! Check back in a few days or subscribe to be sure to find out more details.

The second product review I will be doing is for an air purifer from Bionaire. I just selected this air purifier this morning, and was told I will receive my product “shortly.” I suppose that means next week. Once I have had a chance to try it out, I will do a review here.

My son has a lot of environmental allergies on top of his already extensive food allergies, so having an air purifier with an allergen filter will be a real blessing. You may have heard that indoor air quality can get pretty bad, especially in the winter when we tend to keep windows closed more, or in summer if where air conditioners are used a lot. At times I had wished I could have an air purifier of some kind, but I never thought about actually getting one, because we just don’t have the budget for it. But thanks to this blog, I am getting the chance to get one. I’m really excited!

And I’m also excited to offer you a coupon from Bionaire. You can get a free air filter that will fit any of their machines. You will need to have purchased one of their machines to use it in, but if you have an issue with air quality, having a good air purifier would probably be a good idea.

What do you think? I would appreciate your comments on air quality and its affect on things like eczema and asthma, and how an air purifier could be helpful.

 

My Baby Has Eczema: The Cause Found and the Healing Begun

It has been 5 months since the last post, and a lot has happened. Before I fill you in on the results of the stool test, what we did as a result, and the results, let me briefly review our journey with my son’s eczema for those who don’t have time to read all the posts from the beginning.

He developed eczema at 1 month old. It was diagnosed around 3 months, and we tried to avoid all steroids, even hydrocortisone. But he was a really miserable little baby. We tried everything, even goat’s milk formula (turned out all dairy is off limits, not just cow), and I restricted my diet to the point of frustration until he was weaned at 12 months. We added Triamcinalon, a medium-level steroid around 18 months just to control the symptoms, and not long after that we started to see a naturopath who was recommended by his pediatrician. When I ended the last post, we were waiting on the results of a stool test.

Test Results

The results came late in February. For insurance reasons, they were sent to his pediatrician, and we received a copy in the mail as well, which we shared with the naturopath at the next visit. It just so happened that my son got a bad cold that turned into bronchitis just after the test results arrived, and before the scheduled naturopath’s visit–which I think got delayed for some reason, probably the cold. My husband took him (since I think I was also feeling under the weather at the time), and the pediatrician went over the results of the stool test.

In a nutshell, he had a gut full of pathogenic bacteria. Which confirmed his suspicion that the source of the eczema was in his gut.

Let me explain a little. You may have heard about beneficial bacteria in the gut. They help to digest food and do other things. They coat the surface of the intestines. If they are killed off and yeast (such as candida) is present, the yeast will multiply to fill in the gaps. On the other hand, they can be killed off by pathogenic bacteria–and they had certainly been doing that, because showed almost no beneficial bacteria in the test at all, in spite of all the probiotics he had taken for the past year. There were also neutral bacteria, neither beneficial nor harmful, but taking the place of the good bacteria.

The doctor, of course, prescribed antibiotics to treat the bronchitis. Normally I would have hesitated, but when I realized that some of the pathogenic bacteria was susceptible to the antibiotic, I figured this would be a way of killing two birds with one stone!

Not long after we met with the naturopath. He reviewed the test results and explained them to me. He asked us to up the Infaskin probiotics that had already proved to help him so much, to counteract the antibiotics. I think he also upped the Vitamin D from 1,000 IU to 2,000, because he felt Manny could be getting a little more of that.

On a side note, the results for the parasite test came in later, and they were negative. He also showed a little yeast, but it didn’t seem to be a significant problem. Especially since he eats mostly gluten-free grains and I sweeten his home-made rice or teff milk with stevia, so his sources of sugars are quite limited.

What Happened As a Result

Just around the time the antibiotic treatment finished, a tree fell on our house. It was quite a disaster, and we’re still not back in our home almost 5 months later. That was March 15th. We spent the next 10 days living with some friends in their house nearby, and during that time, we used the Triamcinalon for the last time. We haven’t used it since.

Over the months since then, I have watched my son’s skin steadily improve. He went from breaking out in small patches most everywhere to breaking out only on his tummy, face, neck, groin, and folds of elbows and knees. And in the last month I haven’t noticed anything on his tummy. I ran out of the prescription 2.5% hydrocortisone and bought some 1% at the drug store recently. I remember when we would go through a 2 oz. tube in a week, but now I think that tube will last us a couple of months–and I don’t use it every day, at least, not on the same spot two days in a row. He scratches less. He’s a happy little 2-year-old when he’s not having a melt-down. And he’s steadily improving. At the last visit with the naturopath–back in May, I think–he didn’t change anything about his treatment and scheduled his next appointment for September, saying to only call if he got worse or stopped improving. Which he hasn’t.

So that’s the latest. He’s not cured, but he’s on the way. It’s going to be a while before we start trying things we have eliminated from his diet, though we occasionally try new things (like parsnips–he likes them and they don’t cause a reaction, yay!).

So now it’s your turn. Share this story with others or share your story. What have you done that has worked? What didn’t work? Every case is unique, and what worked for Manny might not work for the next reader. But what worked for you might. If you would like to share your story here as a post instead of just in a comment, let me know!

My Baby Has Eczema: Trying Natural Methods Again

Last week I shared about how we found a new doctor when we moved and eventually started using the steroid Triamcinalon. Once the pediatrician had exhausted his store of resources, and after a couple visits to an allergist proved that we were already doing everything conventional medicine had to offer, we decided to try a naturopath recommended by the pediatrician.

Dr. Dramov in Tigard

Dr. Dramov has got to be one of the nicest doctors I have ever met. Unlike your average MDs, he greets his patients in the waiting room and goes with them through every step of the visit. If he has an assistant other than the receptionist, I haven’t seen one. He acted like he has all day, asking me several times per visit if there is anything else I want to ask–very thorough.

During the first visit, he went over Manny’s history of eczema and asked what we were giving him. Then he asked me to try several things: upping the probiotics he was already taking, adding quercitin, switching from the digestive enzyme we were using to one with ox bile in it, and adding in evening primrose oil. We were to make one change per week, and to not add the next thing if we noticed improvement.

Well, we did our best, but nothing made the slightest difference. I had gotten him to where I was using the Triamcinalon only every other day most of the time, but I couldn’t taper off more than that. He would just get worse if I tried.

B12 Shots and a New Probiotic

At the next visit, he told me that he had just been to some kind of medical convention to learn more about the treatment of eczema. He said there were two things that seemed to help that we weren’t already doing: B12 supplements, either sublingual or shots, and a special probiotic called InfaSkin. He had ordered the InfaSkin, but it hadn’t arrived yet. My husband picked it up later.

He asked me how I wanted to do then B12. Because I wasn’t sure how well the sublinguals would work on such a small child (by this time he was just weeks away from his second birthday), I opted for the shots. He showed me how to give them, doing the first one himself. Then he sold me the tiny vial of serum and enough insulin syringes to last a month. I bought a sharps container at the drug store, and have since gotten so good at them that my son actually likes his daily shot!

It was almost two weeks after that visit that my husband was able to stop and get the InfaSkin probiotics. We started him on them on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Within two days, I knew they were doing something; I hadn’t reached for the Triamcinalon since his first dose! In fact, he was able to go 4 or 5 days without it–his longest stretch ever! I still used the hydrocortisone 2.5%, but I was actually using less of it. As you can imagine, I was thrilled! This was the first non-drug anything to actually make a difference!

Further Tests

At this second visit, the doctor also ordered stool and blood tests. We will get the results of those tests at our next visit, which will be next Friday

A couple of weeks after starting the Infaskin, I received samples of Renew lotion. Rather than repeat myself, I’ll just refer you to the post that tells what results Renew had on my son.

This brings the story up-to-date. I will continue to post updates as they occur. Now it’s your turn. Would you like to share your story? If so, please contact me; I would love to publish others’ stories here on this blog.

Does Melaleuca’s Renew Really Help Eczema?

If you can’t watch the video, the long and short of it is that yes, it did help my son. We use it twice a day, and his skin is softer, and I have been able to almost cut out the Triamcinalon and cut back significantly on the hydrocortisone (often using the 1% instead of the prescription-strength 2.5%). I had been using Eucerin cream before I started the Renew, and it never worked nearly as effectively.

Here is more information that I didn’t include in the video itself.

About two weeks before we started using Renew, we were also using the probiotic  InfaSkin. Since starting the InfaSkin, he had been showing improvement in how often and severely he broke out, but the Renew lotion took it a step further. Combined, they have been helping him tremendously.

In the clinical studies done on Renew, it was found to be 7 times more effective at helping the skin retain moisture than Eucerin! I can testify to that–my son’s skin is soft almost all the time now, with just two applications a day.

My son’s doctors are convinced that the cause of his eczema is internal, not external. That is, there appears to be irritation or something in the gut that is causing the reaction on the skin. We are waiting for test results to confirm this and identify the causative factors more specifically. So I never really expected the Renew to clear him up as much as it might do for some. For those who have external factors as the cause of eczema, it is possible that Renew alone could be all they need.

Renew is different from Eucerin in that it contains what is commonly known as tea tree oil. This oil has antiseptic qualities. I have heard of using bleach baths to kill germs on the skin. Renew would apparently do something similar, without the potentially harmful effects of bleach, which is a toxic chemical.

I wish I had mentioned this in the video, but the Renew actually seems to calm the itch to an extent. Once I noticed my son scratching his shin during a diaper change, so I rubbed a little dab of onto the spot. He pointed to his other shin and grunted, and was very pleased when I put a dab on there too! He never was that happy about Eucerin.

If you found this page because someone told you about Renew and you wanted to know if it really works, I recommend that you get back with them to find out how you can get some. On the other hand, if you don’t know of anyone who promotes Melaleuca’s products and would like to try some, please contact me at lisa [at] mybabyhaseczema [dot] com. I will be happy to explain how it works and get you set up to order some.

Disclaimer: I am now a Marketing Executive for Melaleuca. However, I made my analysis on the effectiveness of Renew by using samples sent to me before I signed up with Melaleuca; it was the fact that Renew worked that convinced me to sign up. Even if I had not signed up with them, I would have still highly recommended this lotion!

My Baby Has Eczema: New House, New Doctor, New Plan

Last week I shared about how my life spiraled out of control as I watched my baby get worse and worse, with no end in sight. My emotions were out of control, and I didn’t know what to do about it.

New Home

I had been resisting going to a regular doctor (MD) out of fear. My husband worked for Child Protective Services, and he told me that a doctor had turned a mother in to CPS for not following the treatment he had outlined for her child. I didn’t want to have a doctor prescribe steroids for my son and then turn me in to CPS if I didn’t use them! But I was getting to the point that I couldn’t handle things the way they were. My son was miserable nearly all the time. If I put him down to practice crawling, he would put his face down on the carpet and rub back and forth. I knew I had to do something. Besides, the naturopath he had been going to had pretty much exhausted her knowledge of the subject.

My husband and I realized that we needed to have him home more. He worked an hour away, and the 2-hour round-trip commute was killing him, especially on top of all the stress we were dealing with. So he started looking for a place to rent near his work, and I decided it was time to start using the hydrocortisone more than just a tiny bit on the worst areas, as I had been.

New Doctor

I also decided it was time to find another doctor. I didn’t know where to start, but I knew of a place where I could ask for recommendations. So I logged into Mamapedia.com and asked the moms in my area for a recommendation. I specified that I wanted a doctor that would look favorably on alternative options and that would not be bothered by the fact that I had chosen to delay vaccinations.

I only received one reply, but it was a recommendation for a doctor that was only 3 or 4 miles away from my husband’s work–and even closer to the house we were going to rent! Integrative Pediatrics with Dr. Paul Thomas was her suggestion, and I eagerly checked out the website. When I read that “it is the goal of Integrative Pediatrics to bring the best of complementary, alternative and holistic medicine,” I was sold. I called and made an appointment for as soon as I could–which happened to be several days before the actual move.

The doctor was very understanding of our choice not to vaccinate yet, and even supportive of it as he learned more about Manny’s situation. I have found many swollen lymph glands on him–in the back of his neck, in his groin, and maybe some other places. For all we know, they are probably all swollen. This indicates an immune system response, and is likely a side effect of the allergies he has. His doctor believes that adding vaccinations to the picture is just not a good idea at this point.

Allergy Tests

While he encouraged me to continue using the hydrocortisone as needed to relieve the symptoms, and even suggested Benadryl (which actually made him break out more, so we stopped that), his main line of attack was with natural things. He did an IgG food sensitivity test and later an IgE food and environmental allergy test. The results told him that Manny has some kind of internal irritation that is causing the external manifestation of eczema; he is more or less sensitive to almost every food they tested on the IgG test, with a few exceptions (mostly meat, which we don’t eat, and random things like bananas and beets). He also had an IgE count of almost 3,000–the highest the pediatrician had ever seen–and was allergic to almost every food they tested, except chocolate and yeast and meat.

When we got the results of the IgG test back (the IgE test didn’t come until months later), I modified my diet to match up, hoping that his eczema would subside, even if only a little. It didn’t. Only the hydrocortisone helped anything. I began to dream of weaning him so that we could feed him an even more limited diet than I could manage to do myself, and maybe we could eliminate all the bad foods and he would clear up. So just before he turned 12 months I started the process of weaning him, cutting out one feeding per week, until by 2 weeks after his first birthday he was totally weaned. But his eczema didn’t clear up. Then I felt bad about weaning him, but I just couldn’t stay on his diet anymore. I ignored the criticism from those who said I should have nursed longer, knowing that I was doing the best I could. I had nursed my daughter for 20 months and wanted to nurse my son until 2 years at least, but I could not imagine another 12 months of eating such a bland, limited diet. In the end, I’m glad I did, because not long after weaning him we figured out that he was allergic to some of the things I had been using in my diet to replace things we already knew he was allergic to (for instance, he is highly allergic to sunflower seeds, which I was using to make a “sour cream” to replace the dairy version), and when we eliminated those foods, he stopped breaking out during meals like he had so many times when I was nursing him.

But back to the doctor. I was very pleased when he didn’t push steroids right off the bat; instead he suggested a regimen of probiotics, vitamin D, Omega 3 oils, digestive enzymes, and multivitamins. Over the months we found sources for all of these things in forms that he could handle (for instance, try finding multivitamins for children that don’t have some food substance in them took us quite a while). He also encouraged us to rotate his diet so that he didn’t eat the same foods every day, as a means of preventing new sensitivities from forming.

We Try Steroid Cream

Of course, by using the hydrocortisone .5% and sometimes the 1%, we were able to clear up the worst of the skin issues. His little cheeks no longer oozed, and the yeast infection in the folds of skin on his neck cleared up, since it was no longer raw and oozing there. Patches of good skin began to reappear around the areas of inflamed skin, and gradually the symptoms began to subside, little by little.

However, it never really cleared up. At his 18-month check-up (or maybe it was a 2 or 3 months later, I don’t remember) when the doctor asked if I would like to try something a little stronger to help control the symptoms, I agreed. He prescribed Triamcinalon, a medium-level steroid cream, and said to use it once a day or less, as needed, but not on the face or genitals.

I felt a little guilty about using this steroid, but at the same time, I realized that he was a much happier little boy. And besides, the steroid was not our main plan of attack. It was just something to keep the eczema at bay while we continued searching for the cause.

I remember there was a patch on my son’s wrist that had been encroaching on the back of his hand. The hydrocortisone had calmed it, but it simply would not go away. Manny’s father is Hispanic, so his natural skin color is a pale olive complexion. However, the eczema had bleached it as white as a readhead’s skin.  Wherever a patch of eczema would clear up, the skin would slowly get its natural color back. However, this patch would not clear up. Until I started putting the Triamcinalon on it. When I did, it cleared up and hasn’t come back! So now I don’t need to use it there anymore. That taught me that sometimes when the eczema gets too far, it really does need something to get it back under control. I can control pretty much anything on his arms with hydrocortisone and am using less of the Triamcinalon now that I did when I first started.

Of course, not every patch of eczema was that easy to clear up. But gradually his overall natural color began to show up, and some places would be almost cleared up at times. I finally got to where I was using the Triamcinalon only every other day, using just hyrocortisone on the odd days.

But I wasn’t able to cut it out entirely.

Allergist’s Opinion

Shortly after starting the Triamcinalon, at the suggestion of his doctor, we visited an allergist. That, for us, was a waste of time and money. I know many people have been helped by an allergist, but for us, by the time we went, we had already figured out almost everything he was truly allergic to, and the allergist wasn’t willing to subject such a young child to allergy testing, since he, as he put it, “he will probably outgrow most of them anyway.” Since being weaned at 12 months, he had been on a strict, fairly hypoallergenic diet, and we had also been on a fairly good moisturizing plan, so the allergist’s conclusion was that we were doing everything right and hopefully he would outgrow his allergies. And now we have a bill that we are hoping we can pay with our tax refund.

By this time, we had bought a house an hour away from my husband’s work–again. It was the only one we could afford that met most of our needs. We  decided to keep his pediatrician–especially when the allergist said he was one of the best pediatricians in the Portland area–but he was a pediatrician, not a skin disease specialist, and he was running out of ideas now too. He was convinced that the cause of Manny’s eczema was somehow tied to irritation in the gut, but he didn’t have the time or resources to really dig into that. So he suggested that we try going to a naturopath that specialized in gastrointestinal issues. So we made an appointment with the naturopath after our second visit to the allergist.

Next week I will tell you about the visits to the naturopath, what we tried, and what the results have been. That post will bring this story up to the the present day. This story is far from finished. But now you have an overview of my son’s life.

So in the mean time, please share with us about your experience with doctors and steroids–or your avoidance of either. Also, if you have something that worked for you, feel free to share it in the comments. If you want to share something with me but you don’t want to name it in the comments, please use the contact page to contact me directly. Thank you for reading and consider subscribing so you won’t miss the rest of the story!

This post is mentioned on Blogelina’s Blogging Buddy Blog Hop.