Eczema, I Hate You

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Eczema is red, dry, itchy patches and is often the result of an allergy, whether it be food or topical irritants (perfumes, dyes, and chemicals in common household products like soaps, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and bubble baths). It can also flare up due to being overheated, so light layers are extremely important.

My battle with eczema began around the 3 month mark. It started off on his thighs, but I was able to get rid of it by using Tyrus' diaper rash balm because it contains Calendula. I was told by my public health nurse that eczema is common with babies and that anything containing calendula will heal it. It was never explained to me what eczema is and why it can occur. I never thought to google it, but wish that I had so I could have gotten it under control much sooner.

Anyways, the eczema flared back up within days. He had a patch on his belly, one on his right arm, all over his right cheek, and forehead. Both of his calves were covered, as well. I asked a local mom group for tips, but they were all telling me things that I can put on his skin. So, I tried it. I tried coconut oil, baby oil, olive oil, Penaten cream, you name it and I probably tried it. Everything made it worse, so bad that he ended up developing a terrible case of cradle cap, as well. My poor baby was so uncomfortable and itchy and there wasn't anything that I could do for him. I was feeling absolutely helpless. So, I posted on the mom group again explaining the situation and that I'd tried everyone's recommendation. This time I included a photo of what his face/head looked like and that's when people realized just how serious his case of eczema and cradle cap really were. A friend of mine, that also belongs to the group, messaged me and said that I should try breast milk for the cradle cap (I wrote a blog about that here). Thankfully it was a success, so now I only have the eczema to deal with.

After talking to a nutritionist, it became quite clear that Tyrus is allergic to something that I'm eating. I've had to cut sugar, gluten, dairy, wheat, and fermented foods from my diet and it's helping! I've also resulted to using baby Vaseline, which I didn't want to, but it seems to improve it, as well. The eczema started to clear up within a three days of being on the diet and we were both SO relieved. However, it's a very hard diet for me to stick to. I'm exclusively breast feeding, so it's important that I eat lots, but I was struggling to get enough food/calories into my body and my milk supply was beginning to suffer. Breast feeding is the absolute most important part of motherhood, for me, so I refuse to give it up. I have my good days and my bad days with the diet and his skin has definitely suffered, but it's healing slowly. I've been trying to pin-point the exact foods causing a reaction, but it's so hard. I know for sure that ice cream, milk, and peanut butter cause flare ups, but that's it so far.

The best remedy that I've come across is La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume. It can be found at Shoppers in the dermatology section. Yes, it's a little pricey, but it's so worth it! I apply it immediately after a bath, while he's still damp. I also apply it numerous times throughout the day. In addition, I use baby Vaseline and Aveeno Baby Eczema care, but find the lipikar baume seems to work best.

Of course, this isn't going to fix the issue. You need to heal from the inside out, so my diet change is going to prevent it from reoccurring. This is a brutal, long battle and it can be very tiring. I'm sick of people making nasty comments and giving me "helpful" advice of what worked for their "not as bad" case of eczema, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel... somewhere. Hopefully I can help a few momma's out with this post. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me!

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Elizabeth Harrell May 1st '14

My 4 month old also has it really bad but she is formula fed, I think hers is a milk allergy though as I am also lactose intolerant. but the past few days she cant handle her soy formula and her skin has flared up bad once again and I don't have the $$ for the creams, so im relying on one her doctor gave her but it has steroids in it and I hate having to use it all the time and only have so much of it...

Good Queen Bess May 2nd '14

Elizabeth - have you tried all natural coconut oil? It is less expensive than the creams, it is also far more gentle. Just apply a thin layer to the skin, it will help to calm the angry redness and itch.

Also, when you bath her, add a bit of olive or even baby oil to the water, it will help lock in moisture. Make sure the water isn't too warm, as that will dry out her skin as well.

You can also try using baking soda in her bath, that can help relieve the itch and redness as well.