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 inflammation and what functional medicine calls, leaky gut.
Lucky baby girl!
My daughter’s symptoms started early. She had reflux symptoms as an infant (I helped this by modifying my diet), 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 internal inflammation and that eczema is not just a skin 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
I used a lot of trial and error when trying to heal my daughter’s eczema. In the end there were a few specific things we did to help heal her skin from the inside out. It wasn’t easy, but in the end we were able to heal here completely of her eczema. The result of healing my daughter’s eczema was a happier girl with clear skin, better sleep and an overall more joyful disposition. Eczema is so much more than a skin condition. SO much more. I’m publishing a short version of our healing plan below, but if you are someone suffering from eczema, you will appreciate my eBook: Eczema Home Remedies. In my eBook I expand on everything mentioned below and really dive deep into the healing process we used with Caroline. My eBook works for children and adults and I hope it helps you or someone you love. Check it out here.
How to Heal Eczema Naturally: Caroline’s Healing Protocol
1. 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. We are currently removing gluten, eggs, and corn to see if she further improves.
2. 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, 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.
3. Support the Liver
I have been helping Caroline to detox naturally using gentle, liver-supporting herbs and lifestyle practices. I will talk about this more in depth at a later time, but supporting the liver has been one of the most important things we’ve done to heal Caroline’s eczema.
4. Increase Healing Foods
I’ve written before about how elimination diets are only part of true healing. By removing inflammatory foods from Caroline’s diet we have eliminated dietary triggers, but we still need to work on adding in healing and immune-boosting foods to her diet. Aloe Vera, wild blueberries, papaya and cucumber are all deeply healing foods for the skin and we are trying to eat more of them. We have found this book to be instrumental in our lives.
5. Targeted Supplementation
We’ve worked to increase my daughter’s immune function with supplements (in addition to food and lifestyle practices). Along with a high-quality probiotic, she is also taking a few important immune-supporting herbs and supplements that help her greatly. As she has gotten older, these supplements have changed. I’ll talk more about this soon.
6. DIY Cream, Manuka Honey and Deep Hydration
My daughter isn’t crazy about lotions and potions, but sometimes if she’s got a really dry patch of skin I can talk her into using my homemade eczema cream. (We like this cream when we don’t make our own.) I also focus on hydration internally and make sure she is drinking lots of living water (I add a few drops of lemon to our water to give it some life), fresh green juices and coconut water. (Update: as she’s gotten older we have found straight manuka honey to be very healing when she has an acute skin flare. These flares don’t happen often anymore but if she shows any sign of itchy skin we cover those spots with manuka honey before bed and by morning her skin is calm.)
Healing our Baby Naturally
After a few months on our protocol, our daughter looked so much better (see photo below). It’s been 4 years now since I first wrote this post and I’m happy to report she is now an eczema-free 6 year old. I’ve tried so many things with her to calm inflammation and heal her skin for good. Some things have worked, and others haven’t. I have FINALLY put together the simple strategies we used to heal my daughter in one place. You can read about our eczema-healing plan in my new eBook: Eczema Home Remedies.
Do you have a child with eczema? Have you healed your child’s eczema? Tell me about it in the comments!!!