What is Eczema? Mayo Clinic defines Atopic dermatitis or eczema as a condition that makes your skin red and itchy.
When Olivia was born, we had no idea she was allergic to dairy, eggs, walnuts, pecans, almonds, sesame and cashews.
I was a first time mom, concerned that her baby wasn’t drinking enough breast milk. She was born a few weeks early and I think that may have contributed to her not being able to latch on. I tried very hard to breastfeed her, but she just wasn’t interested in feeding from the breasts. The hospital I was in, suggested I give her formula to supplement because we thought maybe she wasn’t eating enough. She drank perfectly from the Similac bottle the hospital provided. I was relieved that the baby was drinking at least from the bottle, but a little frustrated she wasn’t breastfeeding, especially having read so many good things about it. It was the way society portrayed breastfed is best; I was stressed out and felt pressured to keep trying and I did (even though she never stayed on for long to drink enough).
We came home from the hospital and ended up pumping her my breast milk most of the time since she wasn’t taking my breast milk straight from my breast. She drank milk from the bottle like a champ! Within the first month, I noticed she started to get itchy where her cheeks were and she would rub her cheeks or try to itch them even with mittens on until they were red, bumpy and raw. It even started to crack and get crusty; it was heartbreaking to see my daughter like that. Eventually, the rashes stared getting much worse the second month and she was covered in those red, itchy bumps and crusty cuts; she had it all over her face, neck, belly, legs and back. I was so happy I finally got to meet my baby, but felt so sad, frustrated and helpless I couldn’t help her. She never really slept for more than 30 minutes straight. She woke up around the clock either itching or crying because she had tummy problems, which we found out later were also related to what she was allergic to. We used the Windi a lot on her, which we stuck up her butt and the poop squirted or flew out of the other end of the Windi; that product was a lifesaver at times when she was gassy and couldn’t poop out the food she as eating because she as allergic. She itched all throughout the day and we were lucky to find a product made for children with ezcema– super silky (not bad looking), sleeves.They helped immensely to lessen the rawness that rubbing did to her skin. We felt blessed Olivia was such a happy baby, no matter how uncomfortable or itchy she was. She was always filled with smiles.
We took her to the pediatrician who waved it off and just ended up prescribing steroids and telling us that it’s normal and told us that lots of babies have eczema. We were sad and worried that our barely one month old would already have to be put on steroid cream. We were determined to find a way to overcome this hard time and set out to look for another pediatrician for a second opinion. We had a family member who recommended a different pediatrician that they knew had treated a child with severe eczema.
This new pediatrician was astounded at how severe the eczema was; she was red and her skin was inflamed and swollen too. She told my husband and I to try the elimination diet (since whatever she’s allergic to was probably from my breast milk) and told us most likely, the eczema was triggered by food I was eating. She was too young to do a blood test, so I agreed to try the elimination diet. Since Olivia’s eczema was so bad, she had me eliminate lots of items right away. She told us even if I eliminate the items for a week, the allergic things that she invested through my pumped breastmilk can stay in her system for even up to a month or take several months this to get back to normal. I was told to eliminate the following:
I was pretty much left with nothing to eat. That was my pretty much my entire diet (the food items that I ate everyday). It was a great challenge. I realized dairy and egg was almost in everything: cookies, cake, meat loaves; seafood was hard to work around because fish sauce and sesame was in all the asian dishes I used to prepare (I was left with salt). I also missed having chopped up tomato with my food and tomato sauce for my pasta. I have friends who visited in day, who knew about my elimination diet and Olivia’s eczema and brought me a bunch of dairy free goodies cookies and cakes (I was so grateful and excited after having to give them up).
Within one month of the elimination diet, I was able to see a great improvement in Olivia’s tummy problems; it seemed to be easier for her to poop. Within 2 months, we noticed her itchy lessened and she was able to sleep longer than in just 30 minute intervals. My husband and I were so happy. Her cracked skin started to heal and she wasn’t covered in red from every part of her body anymore; she was finally getting back her normal skin.
We were also told during the elimination diet to change to a very expensive, dairy free formula, Enfamil Nutrimagen. I’m not sure the exact details of this, but I think it had less dairy proponents than regular formula. I believe Similac has a similar formula which was recommended to us, but couldn’t find at the store, so we needed up with the Nutramagen and it worked very well.
Instead of steroids, they doctor told us to mostly treat her with the inside of fresh aloe, a teaspoon of coconut oil in her bath, oatmeal baths (which we still do today if her skin gets bad). She also told us to use a little of Desitin (zinc oxide or diaper cream), to put a drop of coconut oil and run them in our palms to put all over her inflamed areas. Sometimes when her skin is extra dry, she recommends us to dilute it in water too before rubbing it all over her. We also used Aquaphor a lot for cracked parts of her skin to help heal it or when it’s extra cold outside to prevent cracked skin.
When Olivia was about one and a half, we took her to do a blood test and sure enough, she was was allergic eggs, dairy, and certain nuts. I was happy to learn finally what she was truly allergic to; and grateful her allergies weren’t the most severe type; and that we didn’t need to carry an epipen.
I’m happy to say Olivia’s eczema has gotten much better after that. We still avoid all the things she’s allergic to. Occasionally we will have “cheat” days and give her some eggs and pizza (which is one of her favorite foods) and her skin is okay. However, we find that when we give her things she’s allergic to for more than a week, she will start itching again. We still do what our pediatrician recommend us til this day when she occasionally has a bad skin flare up. These days, when she has a bad flare up, sometimes the pediatrician will suggest a low dose of Bendydrl along with the low dose steroid cream to treat it.
I want parents who may be dealing with babies or children eczema that there may be a way to overcome it. Perhaps an elimination diet is worth a try or a blood test to find or flare up triggers.
**Note: I am not a medical professional, please seek your own pediatrician for advice. My intent is to share my experience with other people who may be dealing with eczema.
Have you ever had a personal experience in regards to eczema whether it be baby related, child related or adult related? Any helpful tips from your pediatricians?