Children and Eczema

Over the last few year, I think I’ve heard it all when it comes to curing Eczema. Typically the most outlandish and even harmful remarks tend to come from those who lack any level of indepth insight ranging from what the  condition they are looking at actually is all the way up to how to Cure/Treat it.

When I say I have heard it all,  I mean I have heard it all. Its always Ringworm and when its not Ringworm, its Shingles. If this makes no sense to you, follow a few Eczema/Skin Irritation posts around the web and it will all come together and make perfect sense.

There are several forms of Eczema. Some being mild and fairly easy to treat, while other forms of Eczema can be severe and be a constant uphill battle to treat.

Its been 3+ years since Eczema disrupted my life. My son was affected at a year and a half old. He was misdiagnosed with Ringworm (collection of Ringworm Photos)when he infact had a form of Eczema called Nummular Discoid Eczema which is a form of Eczema not commonly found in children and most typically effects the senior population. Misdiagnosing Nummular Eczema as Ringworm is quite common since most people are not aware that many skin conditions can often resemble another condition. We had some reservations about the Ringworm diagnosis since a majority of the classic characteristics were not present. When it was discovered we were infact dealing with Nummular Eczema, I dove into Eczema research head first with the goal of learning everything I could to help improve my sons skin.

Unfortunately, my son wasn’t one of the cases that was easy to treat. We explored every possible cause and attempted every possible treatment to get his skin under control including medications. During this process we learned a lot and made it a  mission to heal my son. 

What is Eczema
Eczema is a term for a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated.

Eczema affects about 10% to 20% of infants and about 3% of adults and children in the U.S. Most infants who develop the condition outgrow it by their tenth birthday, while some people continue to have symptoms on and off throughout life. With proper treatment, the conditions often can be controlled.

No matter which part of the skin is affected, Eczema is almost always itchy. Sometimes the itching will start before the rash appears, but when it does, the rash most commonly appears on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, or feet. It may also affect other areas as well.

Affected areas usually appear very dry, thickened, or scaly. In fair-skinned people, these areas may initially appear reddish and then turn brown. Among darker-skinned people, eczema can affect pigmentation, making the affected area lighter or darker.

Causes
The exact cause of Eczema is unknown, but it’s thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritant. It is this response that causes the symptoms of Eczema. In addition, Eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or Asthma.

Some people may have “flare-ups” of the itchy rash in response to certain substances or conditions. For some, coming into contact with rough or coarse materials may cause the skin to become itchy. Some people are sensitive to exposure to certain household products like soap or detergent, coming into contact with animal dander or even an insect bite  may cause an outbreak. Upper respiratory infections or colds may also be triggers. Stress may cause the condition to worsen for some individuals. Although there is no cure, most people can effectively manage their condition with effort. The condition is not contagious and can’t be spread from person to person, however secondary infection is always possible.

There seems to be some debate concerning whether Eczema is caused by Food Allergies or not. While many experts discount the possibility of allergies as being a possible cause and others argue that Eczema is a response to an allergen.  I would urge families who suffer from Eczema to explore this as a possibility. While I am confident that my sons Eczema is related to environmental factors unrelated to food, I do believe certain foods do further agitate his already inflamed condition.

Free Printable Food Journal – Great way to chart food consumption and help determine if your Eczema is connected to anything particular.

Bath Regimen
This bath regimen and moisturizing plan has been the single most productive tool in combatting Eczema that we have encountered.

10-15 Minute (warm, not hot) Bath. In cool weather, its often helpful to warm the bathroom with a small space heater (away from the water) or heat lamp. Don’t scrub your skin. Pat dry.

Why your skin is still wet, apply your prescription medication then apply your moisturizers over top of that.

Bath Regimen Bath Additives
     Emollient Oil Bath – An Emollient Oil added to warm bath water can be very soothing to skin. However, it does make the inside of the tub (and possibly the floor once you get out) very slippery. Oil will leave a slick film in your bathtub and can pose a slipping risk for other users of the tub/shower if it is not cleaned after each use.

Suggested Oils:
Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Scenting these oils is only recommended by using a high quality Essential Oil, preferably Lavender Essential Oils.

Bleach Bath – I have to admit, this is one we have not tried and concerns me a bit due to Dioxin Factors involved with bleaching. Soak for about 10 to 15 minutes and rinse off. Use 2 – 3 times a week. Bleach baths decrease the bacteria on the skin and decrease bacterial skin infections. Use ½ cup household bleach for a full bathtub, ¼ cup for a half bath. Id highly recommend keeping this bath water off your hair.

Vinegar Bath – Add one cup to one pint of vinegar to the bath. Can be used as a wet dressing as it also kills bacteria.

Oatmeal Bath – An Oatmeal bath can be soothing. Oatmeal added to a bath or made into a paste can be used to relieve the itching. However, it can be a bit messy. There are a few ways to help reduce the mess. Grind Oatmeal into a fine powder and add it to a large tea bag. In a pinch, oatmeal can be added to an old sock and placed in the bathtub.

Salt Bath –  This is another bath treatment we have not put to use. When there is a significant flare the bath water may sting or be uncomfortable. Add one cup of table salt to the bath water to decrease this side effect.

Baking Soda Bath – Baking soda added to a bath or made into a paste can be used to relieve the itching. If you have a high Baking Soda content in your bath water, you will probably want to avail getting it in your hair. As many “No-Poo’ers” know, excessive amounts of Baking Soda is difficult to remove and can make your hair feel brittle like straw (but wont damage your hair).

Chemical Free Soap
     Often you will see many Eczema sources tell you not to use soap. But what are they really saying? Let me break it down. That bar of Dial, Coast or Leaver isn’t actually soap. Neither is Dove, Oil of Olay or Body Washes. And these are the “Soaps” they are telling you to steer clear of. These products all fall into a category loophole embraced by the FDA

FDA and Soap: The Loophole

The FDA on Soap

What is REAL Soap

If you are using a good quality, chemical free, preservative free, purfume free soap free from unnatural coloring there is nothing to fear.

Our Soap – This is what we use. A few of our personal favorites are Honey Chamomile, Pomegranate Carrot Soap and Coconut Milk and Honey Soap. All of which are chemical free fragrance free and contain 100% Natural Coloring and Natural Skin Humectant.

But chances are, you will not find a bar of soap in most stores that will meet these standards. Investing in a Quality Made Soap with a PH level between 4-5.5 (which is the range of PH Levels of skin) isn’t nearly as expensive as people tend to think it is for several reasons. You are eliminating highly toxic chemicals that are known to be toxic and even carcinogenic and replacing it with ingredients geared to helping improve your skin will give you the benefits you are looking for.

Will soap cure Eczema?
     No. There is no such thing as a soap that cures Eczema. Be wary of anyone who bolsters this claim. Soap is a cleaner. It is not a moisturizer. Good soap does contain moisturizers. Soap made from saponified oils is geared towards cleaning skin.

Chemical Free Moisturizer
Chances are, if you see a commercial for it or find a coupon for it in your Sunday paper…I’m going to tell you not to put it on your skin. I can’t tell you how many times I see “Just put some Aveeno Baby on it” or “so and so makes an Eczema lotion now” and it makes me cringe. First of all, people who are dealing with severe or continuous forms of Eczema are not going to be “Cured” by Aveeno, Luberderm or any other chemical laden lotion especially if its a water and mineral oil based goop.

Ingredients in Aveeno Baby Naturally Aveeno isn’t going to come forward and write on their bottles that these ingredients may have untold health risks. Would you spend your hard earned money on a product that states it contains dangerous ingredients?
Lets break down a handfull of these ingredients.

Paraben :
     They are becoming increasingly controversial, however, because they have been found in breast cancer tumors (an average of 20 nanograms/g of tissue). Parabens have also displayed the ability to slightly mimic estrogen (a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancer). No effective direct links between parabens and cancer have been established, however. Another concern is that the estrogen-mimicking aspect of parabens may be a factor in the increasing prevalence of early puberty in girls.

Octyl Salicylate : Is also listed as a Pesticide – take a minute to read over the toxicology of this chemical and what they actual know about how this chemical effects humans and the environment. It was quite enlightening just how much is truly published about it. There is literally zero information about this chemical.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Dangerous Health Implications from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which can include Hormone Imbalances, Decreased Fertility, Eye Irritation and Eye Deformities in Children (“tests show permanent eye damage in young animals from skin contact in non-eye areas”.), Protein Denaturing, Carcinogenic Effects.

What is Protein Denaturing – SLS exerts its effects on proteins by forming a chemical bridge between the fat-soluble and water-soluble parts of the protein moecule. This disrupts the hydrophobic forces needed to maintain the protein structure and the molecule collapses, rendering it useless. This effect is usually irriversible.

In the skin, this process can be so severe, that skin layers may separate and inflame due to its (SLS’s) protein denaturing properties.

What Are Good Moisturizing Options?
Organic Coconut Oil – Its easy to find, faily affordable. A little goes a long way. You can cook with it. It wont poison your dog if they ate it, or your child for that matter.

Raw, Organic Shea Butter
Raw Organic Cocoa Butter – Both of these are nut based (which can be an allergen for those sensitive to nuts) but both have fantastic moisturizing benefits. If you purchase food grade butter, you can also cook with it. And again, it wont poison your child. Cocoa Butter does have a nice Chocolaty Natural Scent. However, these can not be purchased at standard big box stores like Target or Walmart. You will need to order this product and have it shipped to you. No, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter isn’t even a comparable product. So save yourself that headache.

Side note: Shea Butter is a softer butter than Cocoa Butter. Cocoa Butter is most easily applied if its been softened with subtle heat to make it pliable as where Shea Butter has a lower melting point and can be warmed in your hands.

Always apply your moisturizer in the direction that your hair grows to avoid causing any additional skin irritation. Avoid brisk rubbing while applying moisturizer since this friction can cause your skin to become itchy and irritated ultimately causing further agitatation.

Why you want to avoid Topical Steriods and Cortisone Creams

Steriod Atrophy – The potential for the condition exists whenever topical corticosteroids are used, even with low potency preparations. Skin atrophy, along with other undesirable side effects such as telangectasia and striae, can appear within 2 to 3 days of starting daily application, the greatest potential occurring when the application is occluded or when the preparation is applied to fragile skin.

Steriod Atrophy Photo
Steriod Atrophy Photo 2

Reuters on why Skin Creams are bad for Eczema

Study: Lotion Preservatives Hurt People with Eczema

Fast Food impact on Eczema and Asthma

Probiotic Use in Pregnancy believed to Reduce Occurance of Eczema in Child

As with any medical advice, you should contact your licensed health care provider and discuss your medical needs with him/her before making any changes that may have an impact on your specific health condition or your overall health. I am not a physician and this information not been provided to you to serve as medical advice.

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