Eczema: One Mom’s Journey Through Hell

I have known the Reynolds family for FOREVER. They have been my clients for as long as Krystle Kay Photography‘s doors have been open. I shot Matt & Katie’s engagement, their wedding, all 4 pregnancies and their annul family pictures. I love these guys and have so many fun stories about my time with them. Watching Katie struggle to get Elijah’s eczema under control has been heartbreaking but it has also been truly inspiring. A mother will do ANYTHING for her children. Read below about her journey. -Krystle K

When did you realize your son had eczema?

We first realized that Elijah had eczema at 2 months old. It appeared right after his first round of vaccinations. At that time his eczema was on his head and face. His pediatrician (at the time) told us it was cradle cap and a touch of eczema and we should moisturize him as often as we could with Johnson’s baby lotion and Aquaphor and to give him Benadryl to help with itchiness and that eczema was a common childhood condition.

What was the first route of treatment?

We used moisturizers and a special eczema “shampoo” for the cradle cap but I was back to the pediatrician within the week because he was worse. At this point the Dr. prescribed a round of topical steroids and an antibiotic, as a fungal infection was prevalent on his skin at that time. We continued to battle the red and dryness with lotions and oils and things that we thought were good for him or that other people had suggested from their experience. We had continued the treatment of steroid creams per Dr.’s orders over the next bit and it did seem to provide some relief but once the steroids were gone- the eczema was back with a vengeance. He also only wore 100% cotton clothes and we stayed away from baths and water in order to let his skin ‘breathe’ and not dry out through over bathing.

What are some things that would make him flare the most?

At this point I was exclusively breastfeeding him so I couldn’t really pin point a food or foods that would make him flare the most. It seemed to me the worst flare ups were after any vaccination appointment. I started a delayed vaccination schedule where he wouldn’t get all his ‘appointed’ shots all at one visit but still every time we came home from a vaccination appointment we encountered a ‘flare’. A flare is the perception of the condition worsening above an established baseline. With this definition, Eli’s skin was constantly red so that was what we thought was his normal and our baseline. When seeing a flare after vaccinations, his skin would be swollen all over and become raw in spots and even at 2, 4, 6 months old he was finding ways to scratch and open his skin up raw and oozing in places.

 

face legs  feet

 

What were some things that helped the most?

Its hard to give a ‘must haves’ list because eczema is so specific to the person- what works for one person may not work for another thats what gets so frustrating!! But yes, Definitely list: organic apple cider vinegar, fermented cod liver oil, vitamin D, bee venom/raw honey– also eliminating household cleaning chemicals including laundry and dish detergents and change to pure soaps. –About coconut oil it was used until he tested sensitive to it.
its funny because All of those things feel like staples by now that I don’t even think of them as ‘eczema’ specific. We all (our whole family) use them. Eli ended up being sensitive to coconut so we don’t use coconut oil any more for his dryness…. But the rest of the fam uses it for other things. Eczema is so specific to each person that its hard to pass on (with confidence) what works for one may not work for another.

What is hardest part for you as a mom?

The feeling of defeat and many moments of helplessness. I felt defeated as a mom and care taker of this little life. As my understanding grew and as I was learning so much about his issues, my Mommy guilt would creep in. The thought that some how, some way, I was responsible for his condition and his suffering was overwhelming at times. I know the hardest thing for me, as his mom, was not being able to really heal and ultimately give him relief. There were times where my husband and I were up all night long rubbing his itchy legs, then arms, then back, then feet. It was heart wrenching. Listening to his sobs and trying to give comfort. The sound of him itching at his skin would wake me from a dead sleep.

The sound of him itching at his skin would wake me from a dead sleep.
It was unbearable at times. It was incredibly difficult to try to talk with friends or family who hadn’t seen him or experienced his itchiness and hear them say, Oh, well just try (insert everything under the moon here) and it helped my son/daughter/granddaughter/brother’s friends girlfriend/dog…. Ahhhh!!!! But sure enough, the next day, I would try whatever that advice was in order to try to give him SOME relief. Or playing at a playground and having someone ask me if he was contagious…. Um, no. It’s eczema. sigh

When did you begin to treat him naturally?

We had changed pediatricians and were then being sent to an allergist and dermatologist and because of breastfeeding I was doing elimination diets of dairy free. Gluten free. Grain free. Paleo. Raw. And a combination of all of the above over a series of months and months! As we approached Eli’s first birthday my Mama heart, brain and body ALL screamed for me to start to do my own research in the area of allergies, nutrition, medicine and skin. 

my Mama heart, brain and body ALL screamed for me to start to do my own research

One day he woke up from his nap and was an itchy mess and miserable. Crying, scratching, bleeding and I was in tears. I picked him up from his crib and noticed portions of his skin looking real tight- like stretched too thin- and almost see through.  He took one swipe along his arm with his day old trimmed and filed nails and it broke open his skin to the point of bleeding and it was at this point that I said in my heart and out loud we were DONE with the steroid creams and the lotions and potions and the way we had been living for the last year.

At this time I dove head first into natural research and remedies. Over the next year, through research, I realized his skin was on the verge of Topical Steroid Addiction and that he did indeed have allergies-or at least sensitivities to certain foods. I started a food journal and tried to target trigger foods. We started a probiotic and researched and learned so much about gut flora and how it plays a role in eliminating toxins. This lead me to research, understanding and learning about chemical sensitivities. We started eliminating commercial household cleaners, laundry detergents, perfumes, and scented candles- things like that around our house. We even ripped out the carpet in our house! Who knows what allergens were being held in an 8 year old carpet! We had our vents cleaned out. We tried to eliminate as much as we could within our control. We were definitely starting on the right track with all of this because he started having good days and bad days instead of being in a constant state of flare. His skin was starting to heal from the topical steroids and we celebrated his second birthday with a happier child!  For the next 6 months, I tried everything I could to see what his diet triggers were. While doing more research, I came across a Pediatric office in Orlando that would actually take our insurance and see him from an alternative health perspective. We took one trip there and it seemed to set us on a course for better health in general. I gained a bigger understanding of functional nutrition and on other forms of testing for allergies and sensitivities. But we didn’t know exactly what direction to go in from here- keep trekking to Orlando for visits? It all seemed paralyzing.

Then one day, while searching my fridge for something to feed Eli – I cried out to God (as I had on a number of occasions over the 2.5 years of dealing with this). I asked for clarity and direction in finding the route of treatment and ultimate healing for Eli. Later that same week I came across a post on Facebook from a friend who talked about how she was learning so much about PH balance in the body and how diet effects so many of the processes in our bodies. I contacted her and she put me in touch with a Dr. and his staff at a natural resource center in Palmetto.  I called and told them about Eli. During the next week we talked over the phone about my pregnancy with him and any trauma or medications and then we went through his medical history and I gave an account of vaccinations and prescriptions and EVERYTHING that I could remember us trying over the course of these couple of years.  That next week we had an appointment and the nurse had researched everything and what was in medications he (or I during pregnancy/breastfeeding) had been on and the possible implications to his Autonomic Nervous System. Using applied kinesiology, she determined a bunch of allergies or sensitivities. Many of these I had suspected and at one time or another eliminated them from his diet but never eliminated ALL of them at the same time, therefore there was always something that he was reacting to. His allergies and sensitivities include corn (this includes all products made with corn derivatives), soy, wheat, gluten, grains, dairy, oats, tree nuts, white potatoes, white rice, sweet potato, some citrus, coconut…. and more.  Environmental sensitivities include scents, perfumes, every species of grass, oak tree, cedar tree, elm tree, and birch tree. She also determined that there was a block in communication between brain/spinal cord and certain organs. The ones determined to have ‘lost communication’ were his sinuses, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, kidneys and liver. The reason behind this was found to be from metals (found in a shot he had been given) and diet. These were huge in blocking this communication. She then individualized a plan of natural supplements, herbs and homeopathics to start the healing process.

Where are you at now with his eczema?

We are 5 months into this care plan and Eli is doing amazing! We’ve had to alter supplements twice as healing is taking place and we’ve had to test and retest for food sensitivities because as he heals there are foods that we can incorporate back into his diet. We’re at an exciting stage in the healing process. His skin looks and feels better than it ever has! That’s such a motivation to keep up with the diet challenges and research.  At his last appointment it was determined that the communication between organs and brain/spinal cord was now fully open! This was encouraging news! We can do this. We can KEEP doing this. He has smooth (like ‘baby butt smooth’) skin on face, neck, chest, stomach, back, bottom, and upper thighs and upper and lower arms. His rough spots that are still healing are a few small patches on elbows, wrists, knees and lower legs down to feet. For the first time in his entire life he is smooth to the touch and a beautiful white color with no redness.

For the first time in his entire life he is smooth to the touch and a beautiful white color with no redness.
Keeping up with the changes of diet as healing progresses and changes in supplements seem do-able now that we see health and life and vitality! He is enjoying things that we never thought possible because of the extent of his skin condition.  We still have a way to go but knowing that we’re finally on the right path to healing makes each step and sometimes even a set back or two a little more bearable knowing that we’re finding answers along the way.

Below is a shot of Eli at his 3rd birthday party this week-CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW AMAZING HIS SKIN LOOKS!!!!!!

Eli

What advice do you have for other parents or people suffering from eczema?

If you find yourself or your sweet baby suffering from eczema please don’t give up on finding the triggers. Eczema is so crazy in that EVERYONE is different. The reason they have eczema is just as diverse as the triggers themselves. Look inward to gut and diet and overall health. The topical band-aids only suppress what is really going on in the inside.

The topical band-aids only suppress what is really going on in the inside.
Also, find a support system.  Finding encouragement in the fact that you are not alone. My husband and I truly are the only ones who know what 2 am used to feel like in our house and my husband has been my biggest fan as I’m the one who deals with all this in the day-to-day, daily grind of care-taking. And my friend Heidi has been a lifesaver for me. Her son battles eczema too. We feel like we can bounce ideas off each other, find and share recipes and we check in with each other to see if we still have our sanity!

{For more information regarding treating eczema simply join our support group. Click here to join!}

kate

 

 

 

 

2 Comments
  1. Turn 25$ into Millions June 29, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Turn 25$ into Millions

    Eczema: One Mom’s Journey Through Hell | The Snap Mom

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