Planting the Seeds for Eczema: My Story
My daughter (2.5) has always been a sensitive little one. She arrived 10 days early and from the start we worked very hard to soothe her sensitive body. With both of my children I developed a mastitis infection as soon as my milk came in (3 days after giving birth for BOTH babies). Do you remember day 3 after giving birth to your baby? Yeah, me neither—I was so sleep deprived, just home from the hospital, recovering from labor and so, so tired. As a result, with both bouts of mastitis on day 3, I ended up taking antibiotics. My body (and my mind for that matter) simply didn’t have the energy to fight off the infection with natural remedies no matter how much I tried. I breastfed both my babies for over a year, and with both of them I had multiple clogged milk ducts and episodes of mastitis—all of which I healed from naturally without medication (cabbage leaves and Epsom salt baths!)—however, 3 days after labor—it was antibiotics for me. The antibiotics I took for my mastitis were the first medications I’d taken in over 20 YEARS and it was a very emotional decision for me.
Because my daughter was exposed to antibiotics early in life through my breast milk, she showed signs of gut issues and colicky behavior immediately. Enter: MAMA GUILT. I took very strong probiotics during and after my round of antibiotics, and I also gave an infant-friendly probiotic to my daughter from day one and I believe this helped her, however, it did not heal her tiny digestive tract completely and she still has gut symptoms to this day. Are her symptoms all related to the antibiotics I took early on in her tiny life? Certainly not—she also carries a strong genetic disposition from both my husband (asthma child, severe seasonal allergies as an adult—now gone through diet modification!) and me (recurring ear infections, food sensitivities). Because of genetics and early exposure to antibiotics through breast milk, my daughter has always exhibited symptoms of a: LEAKY GUT.
Lucky baby girl!
Leaky Gut Symptoms
My daughter’s symptoms started early. She had reflux symptoms as an infant (I helped this by modifying my diet and will write about it soon), thrush symptoms (I helped her with probiotics), eczema flares (currently still healing) and cradle cap (helped by modifying my diet). I have been able to manage her eczema symptoms without the use of pharmaceutical drugs using diet modification, supplements and natural remedies but I have never healed it completely. Although her eczema is generally mild, we still see flares if her immune system is working hard like when she is fighting off a cold virus, or after a period of traveling and eating out at restaurants more than normal. During the last two months we have done a lot of traveling and eating out. Travel, combined with her first cold in a few months, and lo and behold her eczema flared again.
This time it looked pretty bad.
During her recent eczema flare she wasn’t happy AT ALL—lots and lots of whining. Oh the whining! And she had the tell-tale constant (clear) runny nose— telling me her body was in a chronic inflammatory response. On her worst eczema day ever, we had professional photos scheduled (OF COURSE!).
The photo shoot was the final straw for me. She was so miserable.
(A miserable toddler…her skin looks clear thanks to photo editing but her expression tells the real story)
Finally I said: ENOUGH!
Healing Eczema Naturally
I decided to make healing her eczema naturally my number one focus. I know her eczema symptoms are a result of her leaky gut and to heal her eczema I must first heal her digestive tract. I know eczema is not a skin condition, but a gut condition. But even though I know all this—it would still be much easier to slap a lotion on that rash and call it a day!
But alas, that’s not how true healing works, is it?
The Eczema Cure
To help me create my holistic healing plan for my daughter’s eczema I read my friend Emily’s book, The Eczema Cure (Click here to view more details about the book and to order your copy). She covers a lot of what I talk about here on Kula Mama about true healing coming from the inside and reading this book helped me to organize my daughter’s eczema plan. I highly recommend it if your child is suffering from eczema.
Emily cured here daughter’s eczema using diet and lifestyle modifications to strengthen the digestive tract. This book was an amazing resource for me as I put together my Caroline’s healing plan. She also includes a lot of yummy, safe recipes for kids with eczema and walks you through the steps to heal your child, so I can’t say enough good things about it. The photos of Emily’s daughter tell the story of healing for themselves, take a look. This is her daughter before and after implementing the Eczema Cure.
So, with Emily’s story to encourage me, I am working on my own daughter’s healing. Here’s a look at what we are doing…
How to Heal Eczema Naturally: Caroline’s Healing Protocol
Eliminate Food Triggers.
I stopped my daughter’s colicky symptoms as an infant in 48 hours by removing dairy from my diet while breastfeeding. We generally have kept her dairy-free, however, after moving to Argentina last year our diets changed dramatically due to the availability of food (or lack of availability as the case may be) and her dairy intake has increased. We removed dairy completely a few weeks ago and her eczema went from red and inflamed to calm within 3 days. She still has some bumps and a nose that runs off and on, so we know it isn’t completely healed and we are currently removing gluten to see if she further improves.
Increase Healthy (dairy-free) Saturated Fats and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Saturated fats are so important for children. Saturated fats from grass fed sources strengthen the immune system, strengthen the resiliency of skin cells and provide much-needed vitamins like A, D and K2. We now cook with coconut oil exclusively (find out more about safe oils for cooking here.) and also increased her fermented cod liver oil intake to ½ teaspoon daily so she is getting her healing, omega-3 fats.
Eliminate Environmental Triggers.
In my regular life (in California surrounded by all the green products a girl could ask for) I keep our home environment green, clean and non-toxic. However, since moving to Argentina my green choices are limited and I admit, I’ve gotten lazy. In the last year we’ve used commercial laundry detergent, been drinking questionable “filtered” water housed in toxic plastic, and both my air purifiers broke. So in a way, Caroline’s eczema has given me a much needed call to action. Where is my holistic KULA MAMA head???? Sheesh. As a result of Caroline’s symptoms we are now creating our own laundry detergent (recipe to come soon), installed a reverse osmosis filter (It took some searching and effort but we found one!) and, well, there isn’t much I can do about the broken air filters so that will have to wait until we move back to the states. Baby steps.
I have been helping Caroline to detox naturally by giving her a weekly detox bath with baking soda, Epsom salts and sometimes essential oils. You can read about my detox bath protocol here.
Daily Probiotic Food, Drink and Supplements.
Because I know eczema originates in the gut, I need to make sure my daughter is being fed healthy bacteria to balance her gut flora on a regular basis. She sometimes drinks probiotic apple juice, but mostly she prefers her probiotic supplement and I am giving it to her daily, before she goes to bed. I plan to keep offering fermented food and drink though and hope she develops a palate for fermentation.
Increase Gut-Healing Foods.
I’ve written before about how elimination diets are only part of true gut healing. By removing dairy from Caroline’s diet we have eliminated a dietary trigger, but her gut is still “leaky.” I’m increasing her intake of gut healing foods like bone broth. Bone broth contains natural collagen that helps to seal the gut lining. She drinks a cup of bone broth daily, in a mug with a metal straw and she loves it. She also likes to tell me it’s good for her runny nose. Ah, from the mouths of babes.
DIY Cream for Hydration.
My daughter HATES lotions and potions so while I would prefer to put our homemade eczema cream on her every day to keep her skin hydrated she won’t hear of it. So… I wish I could tell you uses this awesome cream…but she won’t. My son loves it! But he doesn’t suffer from eczema. Go figure. Instead of a cream, I make sure she is drinking lots of water each day to stay hydrated from the inside out.
Healing our Baby Naturally
We are on week 2 of this healing protocol and I will say her eczema is MUCH better. In fact, I imagine you would not even notice it if you didn’t know to look for it. However, her nose is still running off and on and I still see some bumps around her mouth and nose. We will continue with her protocol for several months and I will report back on my results so stay tuned! Here she is today, after 2 weeks on our healing protocol, a little dry in places but the redness and the bumps are almost completely gone.
Do you have a child with eczema? Have you healed your child’s eczema? Tell me about it in the comments!!!
For an empowering story about healing severe eczema with the GAPS diet, read my friend Trisha’s story. Moms rule the world.