Posts Tagged ‘baby’

Dejavu

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

I strongly suspect that my second son, Rafael, better known as Ralfie, also has eczema. He has bits of red, irritated skin in the insides of his elbows, redness around the eyes, and the same yeast infection in the folds of his skin that his big brother had. He’s even got it in his belly button! In the last week, his poop went from perfect curdy orange to a smoother greenish color. This indicates irritation.

This morning his eyelid looked swollen. So I called and got an appointment at the doctor’s. I’m going to ask for an IgE Immunocap blood test, and also see if we can’t talk the insurance company into paying for a stool test. It costs over $200, so we wouldn’t be able to do it right away anyhow, which would give us time to try to convince the insurance company that it is necessary.

I’m also going to go on a strict elimination diet starting tomorrow. I’m out shopping today, so I can’t start today. I’m going to eat green smoothies for breakfast, with some gluten-free grain, cooked or sprouted. I’ll eat veggies and another GF grain for lunch. I’ll adopt hemp seeds as my nut of choice for a few days, and toss flax seed oil in every smoothie. I’ll eat fruit and whatever I can for supper. I’m going to keep it simple for the first couple of weeks–rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth. Some of those are complete proteins, so coupled with fruits and veggies, especially greens, I should be okay. I’m not going to limit myself in quantity–I’ll eat as much as I need to not be hungry and keep my milk supply up. I’ll also take probiotics, preferably InfaSkin. With this limited diet, we’ll see how the eczema does, besides wait for test results.

I feel like I know what to do this time. We won’t spend the first nine months wondering what to do. I’m going to start with what I know and run with it. Because this doesn’t just feel like Dejavu. It is.

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

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

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: Diet Disaster

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Last week I related the experience of how my son came down with eczema as a tiny baby. Trying to find the cause of it was an exercise in futility. My brother was born allergic to wheat and as a child suffered from many allergies, which he eventually outgrew sometime around puberty. So I was familiar with food allergies and had some ideas about how to deal with them. My basic understanding was this: Find the reactive foods, eliminate them, problem solved.

But it wasn’t that easy. I already mentioned last week how I tried cutting out one food at a time to test to see if that was it. This works if there are only one or two allergens–which usually is the case for most people–but it didn’t work for me. There was absolutely no change no matter what I was avoiding.

Some people speculated that maybe his eczema was not food related. But I knew otherwise. Sometimes when I was nursing him, I could practically watch him react. It was as though my milk were poison to him. Sometimes my husband would notice the reaction, and say, “He’s breaking out again.”. I began to dread him saying that. What could I do about it that I wasn’t already doing? I mean, he had to eat!

What About Formula?

We thought of trying some kind of formula, but the doctor did her best to discourage me from switching. After all, even though he was allergic to something in my milk, he was still getting the best nutrition possible. And for all we knew, he might be allergic to something in the formula. I learned later that there are hypoallergenic formulas out there, and we even got one when he was about 9 or 10 months old, but even that had corn syrup solids in it, and he has since proved to be very reactive to corn, so even if he had been willing to take a bottle, I’m not sure how well it would have worked.

My husband was convinced that if Manny could just get off my breastmilk and onto something he could handle, he would clear up. (I know now that this was not true, but we were still operating under the “some food is causing this allergy; eliminate the food(s) and the eczema will go away” assumption. We didn’t realize that allergies were only part of the equation in his case, and not necessarily the greater part.) After some research we decided to try goat’s milk formula. My mom’s milk supply ran low when I was about 3 months old, and she supplemented with goat’s milk. My very allergic brother thrived on it as well. So I figured it was worth a try

Now if you try to find goat’s milk formula, you won’t find it–at least, not in the States. You have to buy the ingredients and make it yourself. I found a source for fresh goat’s milk, got my hands on a good formula recipe, and made up a batch.

I don’t want to remember the day we tried to get him to drink it. He was about 6 months old by then and was firmly established with breastfeeding. He didn’t even want to take breastmilk from a bottle! My husband sat for hours while Manny cried for milk the way he was used to getting it and resisted the bottle with all the firmness a six-month-old can muster. I can’t tell you how hard it was to watch. I knew I had what he wanted–more and more as the hours passed–and it was killing me to listen to him cry. But Daddy was determined to try.

Finally he drank some. Then he vomited. Then he had a bad reaction on his skin. And he refused to drink more. I begged my husband to “Just let me feed my baby!” and he finally relented.

We never tried that again.

The Home Skin Test

We had much to learn, but eventually we figured out that certain foods would cause a hives-like reaction on his skin, and this was an indication that he was almost without question truly allergic to those foods. (Note: There is a difference between true allergies and sensitivities; one should avoid true allergens and limit contact with things they are merely sensitive to. This will be discussed more in depth later.) We have used this simple home skin test–rubbing an area of his skin with the food we are testing–with some success to test things  without actually giving them to him orally. Once we figured this out, we suddenly understood why he reacted the way he did to the goat’s milk: he is highly allergic to all forms of dairy, including goat’s milk. By trial and error we discovered that he is also without doubt truly allergic to wheat, all nuts, most seeds, kiwi, cranberry, and maybe one or two other things. But that wasn’t until months later, and I still had some of those in my diet when we finally weaned him.

Diet Restrictions Toughen

In an attempt to put our finger on what was causing the eczema and eliminate it, I began to cut more and more out of my diet. I was hoping that if I could just figure out all the things he was allergic to, he would stop breaking out. Meal preparation became a burden, because my husband and daughter didn’t join me in the restricted diet–meaning I had to cook two different meals. I would try to have at least one dish in common, and find a substitute for what I couldn’t have. Friends became concerned that I wasn’t getting enough nutrition to make good milk. I wasn’t so worried about that–as long as I was producing, I knew from the research that I had done that the milk itself would be fine–but it certainly did drain me. It was also very frustrating. I remember being hungry for a snack one evening, and I couldn’t find any snack foods that I could eat in the house. I was so desperate that I grabbed my purse and headed over to the local health food store (less than a mile away) and stocked up on rice crackers and other expensive snack items. Then I tried to make them last, because I didn’t have a lot of money in the food budget for things like that!

More than anything else, the restrictions that I was putting in my diet were all the more frustrating because of the lack of improvement. It didn’t matter what I tried; he just wasn’t getting better. The strain began to manifest itself in emotional issues. I came very near to a serious breakdown. I will share about that next week.

Have you ever dealt with eczema in a loved one–or yourself? Can you enter into the frustration that we were experiencing–trying to figure out the allergen(s) and not being able to pinpoint all of them? Please share with us  in the comments. If you have a blog about it, be sure to include a link. And consider subscribing so you won’t miss next week’s post, where I will delve into the emotional pain I experienced–and how I almost didn’t survive intact.