I am often asked the question, ‘How do I get rid of my child’s eczema?’ In fact, it’s not really a question of getting rid of eczema, it’s more about managing it.
It’s a little like getting pimples; we get them for a whole range of reasons – whether it’s due to hormones, a bad diet, an unhealthy lifestyle or just a predisposition to getting them.
It’s the same for eczema: children’s skin might break out due to an allergy, heat, stress, or for other reasons.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema or simply eczema, is a disease that causes irritation, redness and inflammation of the skin. Because eczema causes inflammation and other skin conditions, the skin will become irritated and this provokes itchy skin. The person who suffers eczema, especially if it’s a young child, will find it difficult to avoid scratching.
When scratching happens, the inflamed skin breaks and eczema rashes become worse, making it more difficult to manage eczema flare ups.
What heals eczema naturally?
There are various treatments for keeping eczema at bay. Each treatment might work more or less effectively for each individual.
Although it’s difficult to advise what to do for each individual baby or child, here are the top treatments for managing eczema.
Colloidal oatmeal: just bathe your child regularly in colloidal oatmeal
Oatmeal, that’s fine. But why does it have to be colloidal?
Can’t it just be oatmeal? Normal, regular oatmeal?
In fact, it is.
This is how you ‘colloidalize’ oats.
Buy whole oats and grind them until they resemble coarse flour. To make it colloidal you need to have the oats and the oils from the oats infused in the water. That’s it. Now you have colloidal oats. By making oats into powder, many more of the eczema-fighting agents will impregnate the bath water.
Put about 1/2 cup of your magical powder into a muslin cloth and tie it at the ends with a rubber band (so you get something that resembles the picture).
While you are running hot water in the bath, put the oatmeal sachet into the water. Then add the cold water to the bath. When your child is in the bath, use the oatmeal wrap and dab it over your child’s body.
Keep baby’s body moist and lubricated
There’s a plethora of products on the market, but a combination of vegetable and mineral oil works best. After the bath, rub a good quality vegetable-based oil onto the skin; our favorite is Grahams skin range (the oil or the cream). Then apply moisturizer – a mineral-based lotion – on top; Dermaveen is quite inexpensive and widely available from pharmacies.
Why use two oils? Vegetable oils are absorbed and don’t act as a barrier. They are used for their repairing and nourishing qualities.
The mineral oils act as a barrier and prevent moisture loss. So they work well together. Remember, apply the vegetable base first, then the mineral oil.
I am sure some of you are thinking, ‘Mineral oils? Aren’t they bad?’ In this situation you need to weigh up the pros and cons: the dry skin and what is more important when dealing with severe eczema. For short stints, I find mineral oils fine to use.
What foods should I avoid with eczema?
After moisturizing, be sure to remove ‘allergenic’ foods from the child’s diet. These include eggs, tomatoes (especially raw), strawberries, eggplant, capsicum, oranges, peanuts, chocolate, wheat, dairy and sugar.
This doesn’t mean these foods need to be eliminated forever, but it’s recommended for 2 weeks. Then you can re introduce each of them individually over 2 days. If there is a reaction when you introduce a particular food, then you’ll know which one to remove.
You might be thinking, ‘If I can’t give my child wheat, then what bread can I offer instead?’ Luckily, there are many alternatives to wheat breads available.
Kamut, though considered a type of wheat, appears to be tolerable by people who are sensitive to normal wheat. The Healthy Bake brand is widely available in supermarkets.
As for dairy – specifically milk– my favorite is the Miranda Dale Jersey Milk (full cream of course). My local health food store sells 2 litres for $4.25, which is seriously cheap. Most places sell this milk for $6-7.
I love this milk because it comes from organically grass-fed Jersey cows and predominantly contains the A2 beta-casein. It’s fantastic for people who have sensitive tummies when it comes to milk. If you are a cow’s milk drinker, consider switching to this milk (or any A2 milk).
I just want you to know – I’m no angel! I love the sweet taste of sugar. But I have to limit my intake otherwise my eczema flares up.
I have swapped sugar for agave which is so good, you won’t even taste the difference. I use Spiral Health Foods Agave nectar. I substitute it wherever I would normally use sugar.
This delicious golden-colored syrup is composed of 90% fructose sugars and 10% glucose sugars. Because fructose seems sweeter to the human brain than granulated sugar, less is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness.
Plus it does not raise insulin levels as much as normal sugar. I bake with it, add it to my coffee and drizzle it over my French toast. Yum!
Omega 3: boost your immune system
We’ve discussed how to attack eczema with the cleansing regime, proper creams and diet… but here’s one more piece of advice. Start taking a good fish oil – and by ‘good’ I mean pure.
My favorite is Nordic Naturals. All my friends know how much I love this brand. I am not affiliated with this company in any way but I wish I were.
Give your child 3-6 capsules a day, depending on the severity of the eczema. Fish oils take anywhere between 2 and 6 weeks to take effect, so be patient. Severe flare ups can take time to become milder.
When it’s taken regularly, it will help prevent flares. This is the highest form of EPA and DHA for kids, and they are made from soft gel so kids can chew them. They taste like strawberries and my daughter thinks they are lollies.
Anyway… get your kids onto Nordic Naturals fish oils. They’re fantastic for the brain, nerves, joints, obesity, concentration, sugar addictions and eczema… have I convinced you yet?
What triggers eczema the most?
Eczema flare ups appear for a series of reasons, not just one. The more of these factors concur, the more readily eczema symptoms will appear.
#1. Dry skin
Research shows that dry skin breaks much more easily than naturally moisturized skin. In a person with eczema, the flare ups occur mainly in dry skin patches.
#2. Irritated skin
When you have sensitive skin, anything can irritate it. Contact with certain fibers, lotions, perfumes, soaps and detergents can damage sensitive skin and cause skin inflammation.
Irritated skin will also dry up much faster, making the skin more vulnerable to eczema flare ups or other skin diseases.
#3. Enviromental factors
Cold and dry weather or dampness can make your skin dry and fragile.
Living conditions such as pet fur, mold or dust mites will also contribute to a person’s skin condition.
#4. Allergens and foods
People with eczema know that their diet affects the flare ups. Remove allergens from your intake until you’ve eliminated them all and spent a few weeks without any. Then you can reintroduce them one by one to see which will trigger eczema symptoms and flare ups.
When you’re breastfeeding your baby, you need to remove allergens from your diet. This will be very well received by your baby but also by your own body, which will benefit from a change in diet.
Emotional eczema triggers are more difficult to address, especially in a baby or a young child.
Try to identify what can be causing emotional stress to your child. It could be something obvious (like a family loss, a big move) or something more subtle, such as as tension in the household, or adult worries that send children vibes that ‘not everything is cool at home right now’. Yes, they do notice. Even in the womb, babies notice whether their mother is happy, upset, frustrated or sad.
My treatment plan for emotional stress in babies and young children is about improving your communication with them. We tend to think they don’t understand and we try to keep them away from ‘unnecesary emotions’. But children need to feel included, to have things explained and to understand that, although these negative vibes are present, they will pass and they are not their fault.
Talk to your child, explain everything that happens and how it makes you feel. Not only you will help your baby by keeping stress levels as low as possible but you will also be helping greatly in the development of a healthy emotional intelligence.
Controlling eczema in babies
Preventing eczema or at least having only mild eczema when it flares up would be ideal for your baby.
Make sure you keep your baby’s skin well nourished, healthy and moist. Beware of allergens in food and skin irritants and talk to your baby as much as you possibly can, especially in stressful situations that are affecting the family emotionally.
Make sure you dry your baby’s skin thoroughly after the bath. When your baby is teething, excess saliva is a common eczema trigger. Try to keep your baby’s skin as dry and moisturized as possible.
Read more about this in these articles: