Eczema, Food Allergy, and EE
Our Journey Into the Allergy World
Caroline is a very allergic child. It began with eczema as a newborn, which led us to discover her many food allergies. Then, we found she had GI symptoms as well.
January 11, 2012
Eight years old now, Caroline is still allergic to multiple foods. Her RAST numbers were way down in her last test, last autumn, but not enough for the allergist to suggest trialing any new foods. She is doing fine without wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, quinoa, chickpea, sesame, and barley anyway. There are plenty of other foods to eat.
She still hasn’t had anymore eczema since she was a baby, so for her it clearly was food-related.
If you have come upon this page looking for information on allergies or eczema, among all the places to which I’ve linked below, the first place I recommend you visit is Kids With Food Allergies http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/index.php . Their forums are more active than ever!
And feel free to contact me through my Contact form if you want to talk.
Caroline’s First Year & Eczema Diary
written November 2004
When Caroline was around 4 weeks old she had bumps on her face. I didn’t pay much attention to them because I assumed they were just baby acne, like Rhiannon had. Rhiannon’s bumps soon disappeared and she has had beautifully smooth skin ever since. Caroline’s disappeared too. But then more appeared. They disappeared and reappeared several times. When she was nearly 3 months old we started to become concerned as a rash seemed to be spreading on her face and she was scratching a lot. I came to realize the cute habit she had of burrowing in when I lay her down, rubbing the sides of her head against the blanket under her, was a way of scratching. When someone asked me if she had eczema, I said, “I don’t know. Do you think so?” I had only heard of eczema, and knew nothing about it. That would soon change.
I began researching eczema online. I gave up dairy and we kept Caroline’s cheeks moisturized with Badger Balm (olive oil, beeswax, castor oil, chamomile and calendula), but the rash didn’t go away. We went to see the pediatrician a couple of times, and we gave Caroline the prescribed antibiotics because the ped said the rash was infected, but the rash only got more itchy and weepy. In fact, it got worse and worse. I had to hold her all the time, even for naps, or she would scratch enough to draw blood. This made it hard to go anywhere, because its hard to prevent her from scratching in the car seat. Next we went to a couple of dermatologists. The first was awful, but the second spent over an hour with us and tried to support our desire to care for Caroline as naturally as possible. I’d been reading about steroids, and I felt suppressing Caroline’s immune system was not a great idea! But the derm was very reassuring and we did use the steroid creams for about a month (not continuously). The steroids did clear her face up quickly, but the itching never stopped. And the last time we tried to use them, they didn’t work anymore.
Meanwhile, the day before the the second derm visit we also took Caroline to see an allergist for skin prick tests. I’d already decided to go on an elimination diet, but she reacted to some things I never even considered! See Foods I’m Avoiding below. It has been very very hard to make connections between what I eat and Caroline’s skin condition. It has been hard to feed myself too; I haven’t weighed so little since early college, and I sometimes worry about my milk supply.
I have also consulted with a holistic doctor, who gave me lots of useful information, I spent over two weeks following a regime suggested by a naturopath, which I think was no help at all, and tried some things I learned about from other moms with kids with eczema. I also switched to Shaklee natural laundry detergent and always put Caroline down on a fresh blanket. I vacuum and dust as often as I can too.
When Caroline was 6 months old I started using Earthworm Herbals eczema products (salve at night, often following a short bath, cream during day). I continue to avoid a lot of foods, but I’m not doing anything else. But Caroline’s face is looking better, despite still occasionally having flare-ups. I’m starting to be able to see connections between what I eat and her flares, such as when I dared lick some of the batter for Rhiannon’s birthday cake and Caroline had a major itching fit that evening. I suspect her age has a lot to do with her improvement, as her digestive and immune systems are more mature. I’m verrrry slowly introducing solid foods, and hoping the reactions she had to the allergy tests were mostly (or all!) wrong!
What we have tried…
* leaving it alone (at the beginning, and again, now our approach is minimal)
* used a humidifier in winter
* creams/lotions: Vaseline petroleum jelly does keep her moist, but I think it made her hot and/or irritated too, Aquaphor, Cetaphil, a few natural ones
* elimination diet (still doing this; I’m mainly just eating meat & produce, and I’m hungry!)
* allergy tests (skin prick)
* essential oils (briefly)
* baby probiotics for her and Udo’s Oil for me
* steroids and antibiotics and antihistamines (we have continued using the antihistamine for rare excessive itchies that interfere with sleep)
* bathing more often AND less often (alternately; I think bathing actually does help her, just plain water/no soap, washing away irritants and providing moisture we lock in with salve)
* hemp oil topically, a homeopathic remedy (just called “eczema/psoriasis, a liquid combination of a few things), and my taking an enzyme (told I’m not digesting well enough) [I think none of these three did much]
* GLA Forte We applied this oil twice a day, and it did clear her skin quite a bit. We only stopped using it because we ran out and before getting the refill we began using Earthworm Herbals and seeing even more improvement!
* trying to find the cat a new home
* frequent vacuuming/dusting, changing bedding, washing clothes in natural detergent & double rinsing, only 100% cotton clothing
Foods I’m Avoiding (2004)
* her 3 strong reactions in the allergy tests: peanuts, wheat, barley
* her 3 moderate reactions: eggs, sweet potato, rice (although someday soon I hope to test this one and see if it really is a culprit!)
* some of her borderline reactions: dairy* (because it’s a common culprit), green beans, peas, limas, tomatoes, squash* & soy (because it’s not too hard to avoid those) (oats are also a borderline one, but I’m continuing to eat them) *continued eating yogurt until April for the healthy bacteria, tried zucchini in June
* corn (because it’s a very common allergen and I think I’ve seen some connection there despite a negative test at the allergist)
* white sugar because of what I’ve been reading about healthy eating. In June I started to try not to eat too much sugar of any kind (I was eating a lot of honey and maple syrup).
To learn about Caroline’s diagnosis of EE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis) see
The best allergy sites
Kids With Food Allergies (formerly POFAK) http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/index.php This is where I spend most of my “allergy research time” now. If you are dealing with food allergies, this is the place to go! KWFA was so helpful to me in those scary early days upon unwillingly entering the food allergy world and I still highly recommend them!
Food Allergy Survival Guide http://members.shaw.ca/allergies/
Kirkman Labs http://kirkmanlabs.com/ This is where I buy our allergy free supplements.
Resources I read over the first year
This was the resource given to us by the dermatologist: http://www.nationaleczema.org/
A discussion of natural treatments for eczema http://www.health-report.co.uk/eczema_natural_treatment.html
Why probiotics? http://www.mercola.com/2003/jun/14/eczema_prevention.htm
The Doctor Within http://www.thedoctorwithin.com This isn’t directly related, but I found it fascinating. I keep finding myself going off onto tangents relating to healthy eating in general whenever I research more on eczema and allergies.