Eczema: The “Itchies” at Their Worst
Is your child extremely itchy? Do you notice dry, itchy skin, sometimes red with raised bumps? Do you find yourself often reminding them “Don’t itch, baby.” If so, then you know how helpless you feel as you watch your child endlessly itching and struggle with eczema.
You are not alone in this battle! About 20% of babies and young children have eczema. It usually starts in infancy, with 65% developing symptoms within the first year of life and 90% developing symptoms before age 5. My 3-year-old son has suffered with eczema his whole little life and I can finally say we are on the ‘up side’ with less and less itching and more and more clear skin – and the best part is we have done this naturally.
Read on to learn more about eczema, specifically what it is, how it effects your kids, what products to stay away from when treating it and what all-natural solutions can possibly help you.
What is Eczema?
Medically speaking, Eczema is an autoimmune condition in which symptoms include chronically itchy, reddened, cracked and dry skin that can ‘flare’ with certain internal or environmental triggers, usually allergies or sensitivities of some sort. It is interesting that not many people know that eczema is a gut and immune system issue. According to research and Dr. Leonard Smith, a healthy gut balance during early life is associated with protection against a range of health conditions, most notably the atopic diseases of childhood – allergies, eczema and asthma. Gut balance during infancy is dependent on factors such as mode of delivery, diet, and administration of probiotics or antibiotics. This early gut microbial development primes immune function that can have life-long effects on health. Just two weeks before delivering my son I was given two doses of heavy antibiotic for an infection. I believe this compromised his gut health, therefore contributing to his eczema.
What triggers an eczema flare?
This answer is as diverse as the children who suffer from eczema. There are no lists that can pinpoint an eczema trigger. It’s just not that simple. It is usually an allergen or a sensitivity to something, but that ‘something’ can be a certain food, pollen, perfume, chemicals, allergens in the air, or even a strong emotional or physical stressor.
What should you do for eczema?
The best thing you can do is get environmental and food allergy testing. If allergens or sensitivities are found, stay clear of these triggers. Then start your child on a good probiotic and also fermented cod liver oil. These are great for gut health. Stay away from processed foods/grains as they compromise gut health even more. Look into GAPS diet if child is on food. If your infant is still only on breast milk/formula, then be very strict when it comes time to introduce foods. In the meantime, be sure you know what all the ingredients of the formula are. We recommend finding a holistic practitioner willing to support you on this journey of healing from the inside out! Remember topical steroids and different lotions may be a quick band aid fix, but they do not help long term.
Common Misconceptions of Eczema
1. It is “common” in infants/children, therefore it is “normal”
Just because something is common doesn’t mean it is a normal way for the body to be and we should just live with it. Cancer is also becoming quite common, but we all know that doesn’t make it “okay” or “normal.” Unfortunately, eczema is becoming common because we are not fixing the cause, we are just turning to quick-fixes on our health issues and therefore passing along bad health to our children.
2. It can be cured by a topical cream/steroid.
Steroid creams or lotions can help relieve SYMPTOMS from eczema but they do not cure it. Putting a steroid/cream on it will just be like using a band aid….it won’t solve the actual problem. More often than not, these creams can suffocate healthy skin cells from growing. It is also common that these creams hold in bacteria and can bring on a second issue- bacterial or fungal infections. Especially ointments that are petrolatum (petroleum) based like Aquaphor. These types of ointments make cell regrowth extremely difficult and hold bacteria on skin increasing the risk for secondary infections.
3. Eczema is just an external issue.
Eczema is an autoimmune response. In addition to external irritants, eczema is a response to something happening inside of the body. Most of our immune system is in our digestive tract. When a child flares up with eczema it is most likely linked to poor gut health.
4. Your child will most likely outgrow eczema.
This may be true but it doesn’t mean their gut is healthy…it just means your body is choosing to display a symptom elsewhere.
5. Your child will most likely have asthma if they experienced infant eczema.
Asthma, food allergies, and eczema usually go hand in hand with each other but they don’t have to. These are all SYMPTOMS of poor gut health…so if you improve the gut health you will improve the symptoms.
6. Continue with vaccinations
Vaccinations can interfere and make matters worse by compromising the immune response. During times of healing it would be advised that vaccinations cease.
While working with a holistic practitioner, be sure to stay on the care plan. Supplements and homeopathic remedies each have a job in helping rid the toxins and aid in healing the gut with the result of much better skin. It is a process of healing but well worth the money, time and energy to be itch free!
Katie Reynolds – Mother to 3-year-old Eli, who has been battling eczema since birth. They started their holistic journey in January 2013. Eli’s eczema went from severe head to toe with broken, oozing skin to small patches on his knees – most likely environmental in cause. (click here to read more from Katie)
Nicole Brown – Mom to 2-year-old Sawyer. Sawyer had severe eczema starting at 3 months of age. He experienced head to toe eczema (poor guy looked like a burn victim, needing gauze on his infected, out of control inflammation). They started their holistic journey when he was 5 months old and he is now 99.9% eczema free without any medication!
Snap Mom Approved Suggested Products: (for mild to moderate cases)
Officially, we recommend as a FIRST LINE to get allergy testing and to work on gut health (probiotics and diet). However, we recognize that you will want to moisturize your child’s skin in the meantime and if you are going to use anything, we encourage you to use 100% NATURAL products. For this purpose, we have included two below that you may find helpful for mild to moderate cases. If your child has severe eczema, even the best natural product will not be enough and you really must work from the inside out. We wish you all the best and encourage you to contact us on The Snap Mom Community page on facebook for any further help!