September 21st, 2013 was an amazing day in my life! This was the day that my sweet Adriano was born. Not only does it represent his birth but it was a day that changed my life since I was able to have a natural pain-med free home water birth after cesarean section. He was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). My first child, Myla, was an emergency C-Section. She was over 8 weeks premature and due to an abruption of my placenta I had to have an emergency C-Section. I had so much emotional pain, guilt, and trauma from the whole experience that I knew my next birth had to be a VBAC. I literally felt the moment he was born that I was emotionally healed. I felt strong. I felt proud. I felt joy. The moment was perfect and he was perfect! The next couple weeks were perfect. He was such a good baby and nursed and slept well. I have heard that the first couple weeks of most babies is usually bliss. My guess is God wanted woman to be able to heal and give us a break which I am grateful for! Fast forward to when he was about 3 weeks old and he all of a sudden was colicky and developing eczema. I wondered what did I do wrong? I felt that I ate and took care of my body almost better than ever during my pregnancy with him. I ate organic whole foods, took high quality prenatal vitamins and supplements, ate fermented foods, took probiotics, and lived a very natural life. I felt like it was my fault that my boy was suffering from red rashes, “welts” (as my husband called them) on his legs, cradle cap all over his head, and dry patches on his skin. His body was covered head to toe. I felt like I was to blame, I felt embarrassed for others to see him because I didn’t want people to judge him or me, and I felt depressed about the situation. This began the journey of me finding a way to get rid of the eczema. But not just getting rid of it, I needed to get rid of it naturally because what I did know is that this was an internal issue manifesting externally. This knowledge didn’t mean that I didn’t try every natural oil, lotion, salve, topical remedy out there because I did (I think many parents do), but it meant that there was more to healing his body and that would involve healing from within. I lived, breathed, and dreamt about a cure. I spent hours every day on my phone surfing the internet for answers. I would read about how other people healed their child’s eczema and it would give me hope. I would immediately order or buy what they used and anxiously wait to try it. However, whenever I would try what they did and it didn’t work I felt hopeless again. Those moments of hope are what kept me going though. I wouldn’t give up. Never!
Trying to get rid of Adriano’s eczema was such a journey for me. I have learned so much on this journey. Looking back there are many remedies, lotions, supplements, etc. I tried that I can’t believe I thought would make a difference but when you are determined, overwhelmed, and consumed by “fixing” something you get desperate. Somethings that I never got desperate enough to try (very close though) were steroids, hydrocortisone creams, or antibiotics. These are probably the most common treatments prescribed if you go the conventional medical route. I knew that steroids would make it go away for a moment but then it would come back, with a vengeance. I also knew that steroids are known to cause other problems like asthma and wreak havoc on the liver and other organs. I also knew that steroids would cover the actual problem going on in his body just like a band aid; even if it “looked” better it actually wasn’t. I have also learned that many people who go the steroid route end up with red skin syndrome (RSS) is “characterized by red, itchy, burning skin that can appear after ceasing topical steroid treatments, or even between treatments. In RSS, topical steroids are effective for a period of time to treat the skin condition. As time passes, however, applying topical steroids results in less and less clearing. The original problem escalates as it spreads to other areas of the body. In the case of eczema, this “progression” is often mistaken for worsening eczema” (ITSAN Red Skin Syndrome Support). These are the reasons I knew I had to find a natural route, besides our family is very natural/holistic in everything we do, so why would this be any different?
I did mention that I came really close to using conventional methods though so I wanted to add a little about that. When Adriano was about 1.5 years old I was getting desperate and tired of dealing with the eczema. I felt like it was controlling my mind, my actions, and my life. I wanted out. I totally understand why so many people go this route because it seems like the “quick fix”. However, that “fix” doesn’t last long and isn’t actually “fixing” the underlying problem. But at this moment I didn’t care. I mean, I really did care, but after reading a lot about Dr. Aron (a doctor who specializes in eczema in South Africa) I figured maybe I should try it. His method is applying a specific topical steroid, topical antibiotic, and emollient which is all compounded together. He has a different prescription and ratio for each patient but that is what his treatment is in general. You may start with a certain amount of applications a day and eventually you keep weaning down to hopefully nothing or maybe one application a week or month. I figured this sounded better than putting steroids on straight since it is diluted with the emollient and I hoped that he would wean off of it quickly since he was a more mild case. Dr. Aron has fan pages, Facebook pages, and a lot of people who have written blogs about him and their success. He has had a lot of success with some very severe cases. Part of me felt like my case was milder at this point so I shouldn’t try it, but the other part of me felt like even though it is mild to him it is severe to me. I paid the online fee and got the prescription list but that was as far as it went. After talking with my father-in-law (whom usually is more conventional in practice since he is a doctor himself) we decided to not do the treatment. He didn’t feel comfortable with the prescription and side effects. I felt defeated again. I really wanted to do it but after speaking with him and him bringing me back to reality (which I needed and am so grateful for) I realized it was not a good decision. Back to square one again.
If you saw the top of Adriano’s dresser during the early months of his life you would see bottles, tubes, and containers of various lotions, creams, and remedies. It’s hard for me to remember everything we tried but here is a list of some that I can remember: aloe vera gel (from the plant and from the store), Manuka honey, shea butter, mango butter, calendula homeopathic ointment, olive oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, flax oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, emu oil, vitamin E, zinc, turmeric powder mixed with water (that left a huge stain in our carpet), various essential oils such as frankincense, geranium, lavender, melaleuca, sandalwood, and several other natural lotions/cream mixtures we bought from Amazon that I had heard of others using or read good reviews on. We also often did Apple Cider Vinegar baths or Epsom salt/magnesium flake baths and occasionally baking soda baths. We still do high quality Epsom salt baths as I really do believe it helps his skin.
I also tried tallow balm which I made by first rendering organic grass fed beef fat. I was not a fan of doing this but I would do anything for my boy. My kitchen stunk when I was making it and it was such a hassle cleaning the fat out of pots and bowls and utensils afterwards. I added olive oil to it as well as frankincense oil and sandalwood oil. According to Vintage Traditions, “tallow is nature’s original skin care product and works better than the man-made products that began to replace it in the 20th century. Modern-day research has confirmed the traditional wisdom of our ancestors. Tallow contains abundant natural fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and fat-soluble activators, which are found only in animal fats and which all promote skin health. Tallow also contains fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and palmitoleic acid, which has natural antimicrobial properties. No plant-based skin care ingredient or product can remotely compare to tallow in its power to nourish and heal the skin”. This was convincing to me and I will admit, although it didn’t make his eczema go away, it did seem to relieve his skin and calm it. Plus it was a learning experience.
There was also a probiotic lotion called Lipikar Baume AP+. Someone on a Facebook eczema group raved about it and had success using it. They even wrote a whole blog about their journey and trials with this product. There were other people who commented that they had some positive results with it as well. I really thought it would help us. I figured if probiotics are so crucial for a healthy gut then I figured putting a specific strain on your skin would also be beneficial. It literally didn’t seem to make a difference at all and it was expensive. There was also a probiotic spray that we ordered off Amazon that had good reviews and we tried it too but, again, nothing.
I got really hopeful when I found a herbal Indian cream called Herbavate. This product was comprised of biologically active medicinal principles extracted from 6 traditional Indian Medicinal plants, which are documented in Ayurveda. I was able to message back and forth with the founder. He told me how to use it, how often, and for how long. I ordered 3 tubes and it took forever to get here as it came from India. After a few weeks; nothing. If anything, it irritated his skin more. So I’m left with 3 tubes of it and no use for it just like many of the other “stuff”.
One moisturizer that I really liked (and still use on him when needed) is called Honey House Naturals Baby Belly Bar. It has shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba, lanolin, sweet almond oil, meadow foam, red raspberry, calendula, beeswax, vitamin E, and essential oils. It comes in the shape of a bar. We order it off Amazon.
I guess my whole point with listing all of this (besides the fact that I want to remember our journey in full) is that these are all marketed well and are good at giving you hope but in reality you need to heal from within. Some of these will help relieve the irritated skin and moisturize it, but it isn’t going to make the eczema go away. I don’t even want to know how much money we spent on all this “stuff”.
Some supplements we tried were various probiotics (which I do believe helped), Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin K, Moducare (which is an unique blend of plant sterols and sterolins – naturally balances the immune system), L-Glutamine (which is known for healing the gut lining) and a couple homeopathic remedies. I am sure there are more but I can’t remember. I do believe that many of these did help and I feel that his skin would have been worse if I hadn’t used some of these, especially the probiotics and vitamin D.
We tried diet changes by eliminating various foods at times. When he was only a couple months old, due to his colic and eczema, I went on a very strict diet. I basically removed gluten, dairy, sugar, cruciferous vegetables, and any fruit or vegetable with seeds in them (my midwife mentioned sometimes those can be irritating for colic). The hormonal, physical, and emotional changes you go through with a newborn are already really tough so adding this put me over the edge and eventually after a couple weeks I couldn’t do it anymore. I did, at times, remove dairy and gluten completely and noticed some improvement but not enough.
We also tried NAET which stands for Nambudripad’s allergy elimination technique. NAET, is a non-invasive, drug free, natural solution to alleviate allergies of all types and intensities using a blend of selective energy balancing, testing and treatment procedures from acupuncture/acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic, nutritional, and kinesiological disciplines of medicine. We did this for several months a couple times a month. It is expensive so after a while of doing it and not seeing any changes we quit this as well.
One other treatment we tried often is known as wet wrapping. Wet wrapping can be done different ways, however, I will share how we did it. We were mainly concerned about his feet so we only wet wrapped that area. I have heard of people wet wrapping their entire body though. After a bath, we would put a moisturizer on Adriano’s feet then cover it with a pair of wet socks and then another pair of dry socks. This tends to lock in the moisture and it also relieves itching and irritated skin. In the morning when we would take his socks off his skin looked much better but throughout the day, and especially by evening, it was awful again. This is another treatment that I really liked though and we did often up until about 3-4 months ago.
There has been so much that his eczema held us back from. I wanted to protect his skin as much as possible, so I never wanted to let him go swimming, whether it was a lake or a swimming pool with chlorine. I didn’t want him to play in the sandbox or get too dirty. I didn’t want him to sit on the grass. I didn’t want him to be around fragrance or other chemicals. I didn’t want him to eat certain foods. I basically wanted to keep him in a bubble. That could all only last for so long and eventually, slowly but surely, I started to let go a little and let him do some of these things. But looking back, my boy didn’t get to be the little boy that he should have been able to be. I held him back. I held him back too much due to fear – fear that his eczema would get irritated or get worse.
We moved to Michigan the end of July and, as usual, I kept researching and trying to find a way to help my sweet boy. One night, on a Facebook group, I stumbled across a woman who wrote the book “the fruit cure”. Her daughter had horrible eczema along with other health issues and she tried everything. Eventually, she heard about a live blood analysis and her results showed parasites, candida, and food in the blood. She continued to research and ended up trying a strict raw vegan diet. After weeks, she started seeing a change and after a few months her daughter had improved a lot so she continued. Months later she was basically eczema free. Here is a link to her website if you are interested in checking it out http://www.dehappy5.com/2014/09/17/heal-eczema-from-the-inside-out-2/ . Anyways, after reading through her website I decided to try this diet. I bought her E book too. Being that I was still breastfeeding Adriano (I like to breastfeed my kids until at least 2 years of age—so many health benefits!) I had to do that diet too. My husband and daughter followed the diet about 75% of the time whereas Adriano and I were very strict. We avoided dairy, gluten, sugar, meat, eggs, and ate 80% raw vegan. A typical day consisted of big smoothies for breakfast, raw cut up fruit and vegetables for lunch, and dinner usually consisted of a small portion of sprouted brown rice or quinoa, along with zoodles or more raw vegetables. I usually had a large salad at dinner most nights actually. It was so hard not allowing him to have all his favorite snacks and foods. Both my kids could be considered slightly picky eaters so it was amazing seeing them try things and start to enjoy foods that they normally wouldn’t have. It felt so good knowing that they were eating such healthy foods. All. Day. Long. It was also expensive and time consuming to keep so much raw foods around. I got good at using the Vitamix, dehydrator, food processor, sprouting jar, and a basic knife. I also got good at never leaving the house without containers of cut up fruit and vegetables for my kids and a couple bananas for myself. I got some raw food books from the library or searched Pinterest and tried some really yummy recipes. Some of my favorites were raw tacos (lentil and walnuts as meat) or raw alfredo (made with a cashew sauce and raw zucchini noodles). After about 6 weeks of this and being obsessed about sticking to this diet, I started to experience morning sickness from my new pregnancy and I just couldn’t keep up with this diet anymore. We then started to slowly introduce foods back in but continued to keep gluten and dairy out. *Side note: I do think this diet is important for people with eczema to help the body remove candida, parasites, detox, and give the body proper nutrients and help to strengthen the immune system as well as get the organs functioning better again. However, my personal feeling is that I don’t think it is practical in our culture/society to keep it up long term. If you can do it for 1-2 months at least then I think it is a great help and I do believe this helped us a lot!
About a week after I started the raw fruit cure diet we started to see a Traditional Chinese medicine doctor. I actually found him online and made our first appointment with him about a month before we even moved to Michigan. I knew once we decided to move that I wanted to see what natural doctors were out here so I googled it right away. I found a couple but this doctor stuck out to me. I emailed back and forth and I felt that he would be able to help us. The first day we went to see him, I felt like he was speaking my language. Many of his beliefs on health aligned with our beliefs. I knew we were in good hands. From energy testing, he was able to discover that Adriano’s liver and gall bladder were not functioning correctly. He advised us to stay away from gluten, dairy, and sugar and he started Adriano on a herbal remedy and a homeopathic remedy. He also advised us to continue doing probiotics as we were but recommended a brand called HMF. We then started doing the remedies that day and continued our already strict diet. After a few days Adriano’s eczema on his feet were burning red. I vividly remember my husband coming home one day from work and Adriano and Myla running over to him. Adriano must have recently pulled his socks off because I noticed my husband looking down at Adriano’s red hot eczema. He didn’t have to say anything because I could feel what he was thinking. I felt my body get hot and go numb for a second. I felt sad. I felt embarrassed. And part of me felt defeated again. He said “I don’t think it is working”. Part of me agreed with him and the other part of me thought “sometimes it gets worse before it gets better”. I had to stay positive because at this point I was desperate and losing hope and wanted so badly for this to work! We continued on our strict raw vegan diet and the remedies. The next week his feet started to look like he had a hundred red dots all over. I felt this was a sign of yeast and a sign of detox. It still didn’t look like I was hoping for but looking back now this was a very good sign. His body was detoxing and cleansing itself. His organs were “starting” to work better. A few more weeks passed and it was visibly starting to look better. We met with our Traditional Chinese medicine doctor about every month. He would add new homeopathic remedies and sometimes stop current ones or continue current ones and add new ones. After only a couple months, Adriano’s skin was so much better. He even could be barefoot without itching. Before this, I ALWAYS made sure he had socks on because he would itch when exposed to air. We have been working with this doctor for almost 5 months now. Adriano has essentially been 90% eczema free for the last 3 months. He still has a small area on his thigh but it has improved significantly as well. If you looked at his feet today, you would never believe he had eczema there for two years. His skin there looks new and baby smooth. Occasionally, he will get a couple rough patches on his shins but it is gone within 1-2 weeks. Last time we met with his doctor he wanted to focus on his kidneys, so we are doing some new homeopathic remedies as well as a flower essence. We have also seen some other symptoms Adriano was having improve. For example, Adriano doesn’t sweat so bad like he used to. He used to wake up from sleeping and his hair would be wet or he would be playing or running around and his head would be drenched in sweat. I knew this was not normal and sure enough that hasn’t happened in months now! He also used to have a darker color under his eyes, as well as a more sullen look, and now that darkness is gone and his complexion is brighter. His lymph nodes behind his head are not swollen anymore at all. He is overall healthier and on the road to having a body that functions better!
I HATE eczema as much as I am GRATEFUL for it. It has taught us so much about ourselves, helped us grow, strengthened us as a family, and taught me more faith and patience. It has also shown me that no matter the issue that you are facing Heavenly Father will help you through it. Trials are hard but they are given to us to help us to grow and to teach us and for that I am grateful. I pray my future children don’t get eczema like my sweet boy Adriano, however if they do, then we will choose a natural path again, although hopefully this time it would be a straighter and shorter path since we have traveled that path before. If you are struggling with eczema, I hope some of this information and my story will help you in some way. Everyone’s body is so different. People who have eczema have it due to different issues going on in their body, so treatment will look different but I hope that you can focus more on healing the inside versus focusing on the “ugly and uncomfortable” rash which is just a symptom of something much greater going on with the body. Our journey with eczema is still not over, however, we have finally gotten that “hope” I was looking for and feel confident that we are on the right path now.