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Eczema--I'm SO frustrated!

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Here's our story:

My DS has had eczema since he was a few months old. He had severe cradle cap and now severe atopic dermatitis. When he was little, he had it everywhere, including huge spots on his cheeks. Today, he has it on his arms, hands, legs, and waist.

He has been skin tested for allergies. The only one that came back "slightly positive" was peanuts. The allergist said the peanut allergy and eczema could, or could not, be related. DS never gets peanuts in any form and he still has severe eczema.

We tried every lotion and cream possible to no avail. We finally found a homeopath and are trying that out for treatment. He first took Psorinum, which caused a huge aggravation but never improved the condition of his eczema. We then tried Sulphur. We are putting Florasone cream on his spots daily, along with Aquaphor to soothe it. Last week our homeopath had us give him cardiosperum (the stuff that's in florasone) orally for a week. Now we're waiting. He's still covered, though.

He wakes up at night itching and will itch (daytime, too) until it bleeds. His arms and legs look TERRIBLE! :

Here are a few pics from right before we started the homeopathy treatments, pretty much how he STILL looks.




Thanks for reading/looking. Any thoughts/tips/comments/suggestions are definitely welcome!
post #2 of 33
Please don't take allergy testing too seriously. How old is your child in the pictures? Did you have SPT or RAST testing? I would start eliminating foods immediately, start with the TED or one food at a time, begin with the top eight. It will and can get better.
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
It was a skin test on his back. (??)

The pictures are just from 2 months ago.
post #4 of 33
Food allergies are different from food intolerances and Eczema can be an effect of a food or foods intolerance.
Wow on those photos, that is horrible for your child.
I would suggest an elimination diet ASAP, keep in mind that it can take up to 4 weeks for a food's protein material to leave the body.
#1 dairy/ and all dairy derivatives
#2 wheat/ gluten
#3 soy
#4 corn
#5 work you way down the list of fruits and veggies that are partiularly reactive like tomatos, mangos, etc

It may not be dairy alone or gluten alone, it could be the combination of both or any combination of other foods.

I truly believe food is the answer in cases where Eczema is helped by nothing else.
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
Boy, an elimination diet and the upcoming holidays isn't going to be fun.

After we eliminate the dairy for 4 weeks, do we eliminate the wheat/gluten AND the dairy for 4 more weeks? I don't even know what he'll be able to eat if we have to eliminate all those things at the same time!

Oy, this stinks. I am grateful that it's "just eczema" and nothing something seriously life threatening.

Where can I find food lists and support for this? Is there enough info on this board?

Thanks a million,
post #6 of 33
In my reading, dairy is usually the main culprit of Eczema, but that was many years ago. I've seen a shift from dietary to pharma for the correction of Eczema.

Dairy itself is not hard, it's just a consciencious effort. We've never been a big dairy household, so maybe that is why I think this. Be aware that some soy cheeses are casein in them and are not free of dairy proteins.
Dairy and Gluten is hard, but is obtainable through effort.
Incentive is huge for you to at least try it IMO, scratching to bleeding can cause scarring andalso could lead to infections which are worse. I feel for you I truly do, I imagine the pain you must feel when you look at the Eczema, it makes me cry (but I'm preggers and overly emotional).

I would see how just dairy goes, give it 4 weeks. If you see even some improvement, then you know you're probably on the right track.

FYI - mashed potatos with chicken broth is just as good as with milk and butter, it's also a Weight Watchers menu tip in the event less calories for mom&dad is desired. I used rice milk for baking substitution, coconut milk was suggested by another MDC mama to me, water works too in most cases, almond milk is tasty. My son prefered rice milk on his cereals.

I personally would do dairy first and then add Gluten if results were minimal, but that is just because I have seen so many kids who are intolerant of both lately. And a symptom of Celiac Disease is a skin disorder called dermatitis herpetiformis which is cleared with the GF diet. FWIW - the photos definitely look like classic Eczema to me and not DH photos I've seen.

The autistic diet is GFCF and a google of that should give you some helpful tips. I think if you were to google dairy allergy you would get a list somewhere of things to look out for. Even though you are not dealing with an allergy, the word food allergy or dairy free will bring up lots of information on foods and alternatives.

Eating out is the biggest issue we have, I have found wonderful substitutes for almost everything normal children eat (I think). I make my child's bread, there is one I buy when I'm not up to baking. It looks expensive at first, but he is the only one eating these special foods, so they last longer than similar items purchased for the family.

You might also want to read up on elimination diet techinques. I'm not 100% familiar with all the ins and outs and levels. I forgot to mention eggs are highly reactive as well. I mentioned corn, I have a friend who's child breaks out in hives after eating any corn, including corn syrup!

Please keep me updated, ask if you need help. I hope that dairy alone alleviates your child's eczema.

My oldest had a small bit of eczema under his knee in 1999 and I began my research. It cleared thankfully, I was wondering how on earth I was going to eliminate dairy when he drank so much milk! I cut him way back and it was tough, but we've never gone back either. I recently came across over in vax forum a mom asking the question if eczema could be related to vaxing, it made me think back to my own son's incidence. He was 15 months old and had just received some of the offical 12 month vaxes... Hmm, maybe there is a connection.

I'm a non-vaxer now, back then I was selective and delayed.
post #7 of 33
I just wanted to say also, if you are still BF (which is good for allergies) anything you eat can affect them. Please remember that. I have had to eliminate all legumes from my diet for months now because we thought that was the culprit, however, DD has had rash almost idenitcal to your child's (just more patchy). It has gotten to the point that the daycare person has basically accused us of neglect.

I was the same way as a child, to the point where my mother just gave up. I had constant rashes - I even remember once in 3rd grade the Dr. calling in other Dr.s to come look at it because it was so bizzare and strange. I was on allergy shots by the time I had entered elementary school. One thing they found out with me was that when the farmers sprayed thier feilds, we lived on a farm, the residue would affect me for weeks. (I am now viligilant about chemicals, some idiot DEET sprayed a campground we were staying at and let me tell you, I gave him a peice of my mind).

We are currently undergoing testing with DD. I have no idea what kind of testing, just that she had about 2 vials of blood drawn on Friday. I am hoping they can provide some answers.

Good luck with your child - we also found that Aquafier was the only thing that could remotly tame the rash. My DD's skin looks very simmilar to yorus, only not as severe except for her joint areas (where they bleed).
post #8 of 33
I agree with an elimination diet! Also, these are some things that work for me. I have had flare-ups almost as severe as your son's.
-fragrance/dye free clothes detergent
-only 100% natural soap
-fragrance free sensitive skin lotion, preferably of the "light" variety (Personally, I have found that heavy or greasy creams often touted as eczema safe actually aggravate it)
-cool, not hot or even warm, water for baths/showers
-very clean bed sheets/carpets
-patting, not rubbing, skin dry
-lots of air time (naked)
-no scratching!
-Hydrocortizone cream

Hope that helps
post #9 of 33
Ditto what everyone else said. Even if the skin test was negative, I would still suspect food. Sometimes people don't react to the skin test the way they do when they actually ingest the food. And I think that is especially true with eczema. The only way to be sure is an elimination diet.
If you do the elimination diet, remember that a person can be allergic to ANYTHING. Most elimination diets are based on rice....but a person CAN be allergic to rice. My dd was and it made the elimination diet really frustrating, though in hindsight I should have figured it out much sooner than I did. It's totally possible that your son is allergic to a food that they didn't test for....how many things did they test?

Have you heard of NAET? www.naet.com
It sounds really weird, but lots of people swear by it, and I think it's really helped my dd. If it's something you're interested in, I can tell you about our experience.
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 
I can't thank you all enough for all the support being given!

Stacy--what cream/lotion have you found that works best for you? We do all the things you mentioned! I stopped washing him with any sort of soap about a month ago b/c everything seemed to make him itch more. So now it's just water!

Pauli--I am checking out the NAET website as I type this. Can you PLEASE share your experience with me?

We are going back for allergy testing on Monday. It's been over 1.5 years since he was tested. As soon as I get to the store to get some "safe" things for him to eat/drink, we're going to start by eliminating dairy. I know it's going to be SO hard on him, he loves milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. Any tips on what to give him so he gets enough calcium in his diet?

I'm sure there's something else...I'm sure I'll be back.
post #11 of 33
My sister has bad eczema and she only uses Aveeno lotion and soaps. There are probably other brands with natural ingredients, but Aveeno's the mainstream brand that's recommended by dermatologists. For itch relief, you may want to add some baking soda in the bath. You may want to use honey as a cleaner since you are not using soap. I use honey as a face wash -- I spread honey over my face and then wash it off with water. It really keeps my skin clear. Plus I've read that honey creates natural hydrogen peroxide, and is an antibacterial. Incidentally, I also use honey on burns.
post #12 of 33
Hi There- I know how you feel- my son has bouts of severe excema as well, and has had them since he was about 8 months old (he is 4 1/2 now).

I have tried elimination diets and allergy blood tests...but don't think it is food related. This is a battle I have been fighting almost 5 years. (I am so lucky that i later read about probiotics during pregnancy; my diligence in taking those may have helped my 2nd child turning out excema-free.)

The one thing that seems to help my son is 2 teaspoons daily of Flax Borage Oil. There was a great article in Mothering a while back that mentioned that people with excema are not as able to convert lineolic acids properly, and that supplements of GLA (gamma lineolic acids?) have helped some people. It takes about a month of taking the supplements for a noticible improvement. But now I really notice when we are on vacation or somehow away from his borage oil that the excema flairs up.

I also stay away from soaps with laurel sulfites. There is a woman in my town that makes great natural soaps and shampoos (as well as a great anti-itch oil that I use on him and put in the bath) for people with sensitive skin and exzema. I am really noticing a change in his skin since I started using them. She has a website: www.moonessence.com . She doesn't show the anti-itch oil on her website, but you can ask her to make it for you.

But- there will always be something to cause a flair up now and then. I honestly feel like we are victorious if he has less than 4 patches on his body, and if the patches are not red. So...it is always a battle, and I am so sensitive to the comments of classmates and looks of mothers when he wears shorts.

I am so glad you posted your pictures- for me personally to not feel alone!

Good luck, and share what you find out,
post #13 of 33
Originally Posted by Laurabelle View Post
The one thing that seems to help my son is 2 teaspoons daily of Flax Borage Oil. There was a great article in Mothering a while back that mentioned that people with excema are not as able to convert lineolic acids properly, and that supplements of GLA (gamma lineolic acids?) have helped some people. It takes about a month of taking the supplements for a noticible improvement. But now I really notice when we are on vacation or somehow away from his borage oil that the excema flairs up.
This is a really great angle to look at. It actually had slipped my mind. It makes perfect sense that some people without some amino acids (or the inability to convert to them) have different problems. I take a few amino acids myself, but not for eczema.
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
Laura--Where did you find the Flax Borage Oil? We don't have a health food store anywhere near us, so I suppose I could order it online. I'm going to check out that website, too. Thank you!

We are going to start probiotics, too. It can't hurt! Interestingly enough, my DD has no symptoms of allergies and her skin is perfect. I hope the same will be true for this new one.
post #15 of 33

Regarding the borage oil, i have bought bottles from ihealthtree.com of Spectrum Organics. At first I was just puncturing and squeezing out capsules that I bought at the vitamin store- but buying it in liquid form is much better!

I give my son a teaspoon in the morning and a teaspoon at night. When we first started this regimen I made sure to give it to him after his b.m.- as the oil can kind of loosen things up! But now he is accustomed to it and it doesn't cause any runs.


Whatever you buy, just make sure it includes GLA (Gamma-lineolic acid)- regular Flax Seed oil supplements may not.

Also - one food related thing that my husband and I argue over is citric acid. I think that if my son eats too many strawberries, pineapple, oranges, or other acidic fruit that his condition is exacerbated- my husband disagrees. Anyway- I try to keep him away from juices and that kind of fruit (hard in summer!).

good luck...
post #16 of 33
I haven't seen this posted anywhere on mothering, so I just want to chime in and say that I had a naturopath advise me that biotin would eliminate cradle cap - and sure enough when I added it to my diet, the cradle cap went away on my bf son.
post #17 of 33
I use www.vitacost.com for my supplement purchases on-line. I can't seem to beat the price!!!
post #18 of 33
We used crisco for moisturizer for awhile, and organic shortening which is palm kernel oil. It worked great. Now we use Vanicream which was recommended by our allergist. It's good too, and not so greasy. I get it at www.dermadoc.com but it might available in a drugstore.

OK, about NAET. First I have to say that even though we're doing this, I'm very sceptical. The only reason I tried it is because it's the only "cure" for allergies. Everything else just treats the symptoms with the probable exception of probiotics. Also our midwife got certified and that seemed like a sign to me. I trust her judgement very much and if she's into it, it was worth a try.

The first thing you should do is read Dr. Nambudripad's book Say Goodbye to Children's Allergies.
Anyhow, they use muscle response testing to identify the "allergens". For the purposes of NAET any undesirable response to anything is called an allergy...they don't necessarily mean an immune system response like we mean when we say allergy here, kwim? NAET lumps allergies, intolerances and everything else together and calls it all "allergies". So how we did it is I would hold Kelsey and also hold a glass vial with a substance in it. Then I would hold my arm out and the practitioner would press down on my arm and if I couldn't hold it up, she would treat me (again while I'm touching Kelsey) with accupressure on my spine. Then we would avoid the offending substance for 25 hours and after that, supposedly the "allergy" is gone. It's based on the idea of unblocking your meridians of energy. Honestly, the whole thing seemed (seems) very silly to me. But within a month of starting the treatments (about twice a week), Kelsey gained almost a pound. She has been super slow to gain weight all her life...a pound is HUGE for her. Within the next month she started eating solid food. She had just turned two. She also rarely gets hives anymore..she was getting them 3-4 times a week and we could never figure out the cause. (I'm talking minor hives, like 2-10 small ones anywhere on her body).
It could have been a coincidence, but it just doesn't seem like it to me. I won't give her any of the things that she is classically allergic to (milk, eggs, beef, and pears) but she failed the muscle response test for a number of other things, like Vitamin A, Iron, Sugar and some other stuff. She actually still hasn't passed the sugar one, I think because she can't avoid it for 25 hours because she's nursing, and I am absolutely saturated with the stuff myself. But after the treatment and avoiding for 25 hours, she passed the others and she is eating now and gaining weight, so I'm sold! I hesitate to tell people about this because to me it really does sound nuts and also, I have NO idea how it works and I'm someone who always wants to see the science and the studies behind everything. NAET was a really out of character act of faith for me. Still, I believe that every treatment out there works for some people or they wouldn't still be around. But probably there's not one treatment that will work for everyone, so you have to mess around until you find the one that works for YOU.
Anyhow, you can easily spent $2000 on NAET treatments before you get through the list of things they test.....and I don't know if insurance pays for it. We don't have insurance so I have to say again that I am really sold on it since we are paying out of pocket and it's been tough. If you have any questions about our experience or want more details, feel free to email me or polst here, but I don't always get a chance to check the board every day. pauli_dog@hotmail.com
post #19 of 33
Thread Starter 

We had an appointment with the allergist yesterday. They retested DS for allergies and we are still only getting a + for peanuts. I asked the doctor why his eczema was so bad if he's not eating peanuts and not allergic to anything else. He said that some kids have eczema and no allergies, while others have both. Sometimes eczema is caused by or aggravated by allergies, sometimes it isn't. In our case it seems that Gabriel's eczema isn't related to his peanut allergy. He also diagnosed DS with mild asthma yesterday. He gave us an Rx for a cream to help heal his skin and for a daily dose of Zyrtec. We are also starting Flax Borage Oil and Probiotics.

I am frustrated that we didn't get an answer that "Yes, he's allergic to this and it's making him break out" and confused on all the conflicting allergy/eczema information. I just hope the route we're taking will help! We go back in 6 months for a follow-up.
post #20 of 33
read Doris Rapp's book http://www.drrapp.com/

Is This Your Child

She explains why most allergists do just what your ds's doc did. Also goes into elimination diets and how allergies come out differently in different people.
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