How I Cured My Infant's Eczema
I had an interesting reader question this week, and I thought it best to answer in a post, in case others have the same question:
Hi Rachel, I love your blog, your commitment to Jesus, and your desire to inspire others with the freedom that comes from minimalism! I read your recent recipe post for dairy-free caramel apples (link here) and was struck when you mentioned your youngest’s eczema. My 5 month old daughter is suffering through her first outbreak of eczema which started last week (I exclusively breastfeed her). There is a history of eczema on my husband’s side of the family, but I know that diet can also play a role in causing flare ups. Would you be willing to share how you pinpointed dairy and gluten as the triggers for your son? Did you follow a particular approach to an elimination diet? Anything you’d be willing to share either via a blog post or private response would be most appreciated! Thanks in advance, and keep up the wonderful writing! ~Sarah
First, a little background:
One of my older sons had eczema as an infant and it went away when we went off dairy. I had heard that eczema was a common sign of a dairy allergy, and for him, that’s all it took. At that time, he was on formula and so it was a simple change.
When our youngest started showing signs, I went into denial. Though, at this point in my life, I knew I could eliminate dairy, it’s not something I really wanted to do. Since he’s exclusively breastfed, it was all about my own diet.
At some point he had red cracked skin over most of his body and in every fold of skin (neck, armpit, inside the elbows, behind the knees and all over under the diaper) and his chubby little fingers would scratch and scratch when I would change his clothes. There is just something heart breaking about a baby scratching. So, I had to do something.
I decided to get rid of dairy first, since my older son had had the same issue. It was going on 3 weeks, there had little to no improvement. Still, everything I read said to give it a full month.
I was talking with a friend, who is on the GAPS diet and she mentioned that the casein (milk) protein and gluten (wheat) protein are so similar in chemical composition, that in order to test for allergy, you have to eliminate both.
I had been off gluten before. Several years ago, I was on GAPS myself and found that gluten had been causing my migraine headaches. Over the years though, I had also found that I could eat gluten, if the grains were properly prepared: sourdough.
So, for 2 years I had been thoroughly enjoying eating sandwiches and toast again. To give that up, as well as cheese and butter?
So I did. I gave up gluten and dairy.
It worked. Within 2 weeks you couldn’t see the patches of eczema anymore. Now, 5 months later, there is nothing. His skin is perfectly clear and beautiful.
After his skin was clear for a month, I tried adding ghee back. Ghee is just the butter fat without the cream and is tolerated by many with dairy sensitivities, but sadly, his eczema started coming back.
So, what do we eat right now?
I have been able to buy goat butter and goat cheese and have been using that, which is tolerated just fine. We do eat rice and a few gluten free mixes that I like (King Arthur GF Pancake Mix), but other than that, we eat a lot of grain free meals. Most Paleo recipes are grain free and dairy free, so when I need a recipe, I will search Paleo first.
We don’t eat out. There is very little available without gluten and diary and it’s frustrating to try. When I do find something I can eat, I find that whatever I cook at home just tastes better than the GF/DF options out there.
When he gets to be a year old, I plan on doing the GAPS Intro diet with him, in order to heal leaky gut, which I believe is the root cause in both of us. Currently, he’s not interested in solid foods, so I will just start with GAPS foods, which are nutrient dense and easily digestible, and hopefully before he is 2, his leaky gut/food sensitivities will be healed.
If you (or your child) have been struggling with eczema, I know there is a cure. It takes work and determination, but so many have found relief and healing through diet.
Here are some great resources:
The Eczema Cure
The GAPS Diet Starter Kit (Browse this site to find tons of info on healing the body)
Hi Rachel, thanks for taking the time to write this! I’ve been dairy free for 5 days now, and in addition, our pediatrician (a holistic MD) has our LO on aquilinum taraxacum (a homeopathic remedy that promotes gut healing and support) for the next six weeks. I’ve already seen huge improvement in her face and no outbreaks anywhere else. It’s very helpful to know the connection between dairy sensitivity and gluten sensitivity (I’ve also heard that 50% of those sensitive or allergic to dairy are also sensitive/allergic to soy). Oy! I’m with you about not wanting to give up those staple dairy delights and delicious breads, especially while breastfeeding! I think what’s been hardest for me is no more organic half and half in my morning coffee (coconut milk just doesn’t cut it). I’m really hoping dairy is the sole culprit. We’ll see in few more weeks once I try reintroducing it. Again, thanks for taking the time to write this and share your knowledge/experience with your readers!
My daughter gave up gluten and dairy and is eczema free for the first time in 26 years!
Actually, the information you got helped but was partly wrong. Casein and gluten are processed by the same enzyme in the body and as a result, if you react to one–it’s good to rule out the other. Casein and SOY protein look similar to the body because of their chemical makeup and so I usually have people eliminate those two together first and then add one back in to see if they are reacting to just one of them or both of them. And regardless, allergy testing in children under 2yo is a complete crap shoot because their own antibodies are not fully developed–they are still managing on the maternal antibodies passed to them at birth (not through breastfeeding). Those don’t wash out until somewhere between 18-24 months old.
GAPS is a really big undertaking. Most people are left resorting to that because it’s hard to find someone that can narrow down the potential food irritants; and walk them through rebuilding the gut any other way. But it doesn’t have to be that severe! I’ve kept more than one client from having to resort to GAPS. It’s wonderful if you need it and it won’t hurt anyone–it’s just a lot of work if you don’t HAVE to do it.
Glad your little is better and you have found the solution!
Actually allergy testing can be very helpful for young kids. I did a gf df trial when my son was 10 months and suffering with terrible eczema. It didn’t really help. Allergy testing revealed additional peanut, but and corn allergies. I would never have figure that out on own with an elimination diet. So yes, testing can give false negatives and positives but it can also be extremely helpful. My son has now outgrown the corn and dairy allergies and I’m hopeful he will outgrow the others in time.
If you are having problems with eczema and leaky gut, you most likely are being exposed to chronic low levels of hydrogen sulfide, probably from sewer gas leaks in your home or workplace. Most leaks are from unused drains that don’t get filled with water so they let the toxic gases through into the building. Fill unused or little used drains monthly. The water evaporates and, if it gets low enough, allows the toxic gases through. Another common leak is from loosened joints on the pipes under the sink. About every 6 months, check to see if they’re tight. Plumbers put hand tighteners on pipe joints under sinks in case you drop something down there you want to retrieve or as a way to clean out a clogged or stinky drain. The best way, though, to make sure you don’t have leaks is to do a smoke test, but that can cost money. I noticed you said that goat milk was OK but not regular milk. The reason for this is that the cows bred to provide more milk also have way more of a chemical in the milk causing inflammation than Jersey or Guernsey cows and also goats. I usually drink goat milk but sometimes organic cow milk, hoping that it’s from a Jersey or Guernsey cow, but it’s not specified on the label. Also, the eczema can be caused by an imbalance of too much acid. That’s one aspect of sewer gases, they are acidic. Hydrogen sulfide is the worst. It mixes with the water on your skin, in your mouth and sinuses, in your lungs and turns to sulfuric acid. The more hydrated you are, the more diluted that acid will be.
Egg allergy can also be a big reason for eczema. My son had an egg allergy and was covered head to two in eczema. He was exclusively breastfed and as soon as I cut out all eggs it cleared up right away on its own.
We also found eczema relief by eliminating wheat.
I totally agree with everyone on the difficulty of giving up favorite foods like dairy and grains. I have suffered myself for years, sadly, with an itchy leg that I’m sure is eczema. For a couple years it would appear and then go away after a couple months or so. Now its here to stay and getting worse, more of same leg and other one, too. I know dairy could likely be the problem, and yet, I just finished my coffee with cream. Kudos to all who research and make changes for your little ones sake. Beware it could be you one day, too, so if you can quit or cut back yourself, permanently, I’d say go for it. Change in diet seems to cure or improve a host of other ailments for many people. Dairy, carbs, artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, all good things to skip as much as possible. Joe Rogan interview with Jordan Peterson about how the carnivore diet changed petersons life and that of his daughter was eye opening for me with regard to dietary changes and the profound impact what we eat has on our body, mind, and health. Great article. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I just may find the willpower to start eliminating things, dairy first, probably, before I scratch my leg off. Ha. Anyway, one note, i did want to add i believe i read somewhere that one person mentioned they changed their child to a natural toothpaste after trying everything with out results(pretty sure it was eczema they were dealing with) anyway, that finally did it. It was the sodium lauryl sulfate which sometimes you hear to eliminate which is found in soap, etc, but who would think it would be in toothpaste? I checked my regular ol brand i had and sure enough. There it was. Just something else to try if need be
My one-year-old has terrible eczema and I had tried everything (aquaphor, CeraVe, Dove, BabyGanics) foderma serum is the only thing that worked to help clear up his eczema! After only a few uses it was so much better. I would highly recommend this!!
My daughter has suffered with eczema since she was a baby. We have tried everything including steroid creams but they only help temporarily if at all. This winter has been particularly bad and she had a few really bad eczema patches on her skin that were not going away even after applying steroid cream. Since I’m not really a fan of applying harsh chemicals on small children I decided to order Foderma baby eczema serum based on all the positive reviews on google. After 3 days of use her eczema patches have gotten 95% better. I am so glad that I ordered this and it will definitely be a staple in my home.