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Posts tagged ‘itchy skin’

10 Years of Eczema: What I’ve Learned (Guest Post)

Our guest today may only be 16, but he is wise beyond his years due to many years of suffering from severe eczema. He healed himself through dietary changes, something I’m a big proponent of, and is currently writing an e-book (which will be free) that will discuss how he did it. I think that’s pretty great. And a reminder again – he’s only 16! What were you doing at age 16? I certainly wasn’t trying to help others find inner peace and healing, like Harrison. I can only hope my son can take his experiences from growing up with allergies, asthma, and eczema, and turn them into something beneficial for others.
-Jennifer

10 Years of Eczema: What I’ve Learned (Guest Post)

By Harrison (Bio below)

I’m really happy to be featured on Jennifer’s blog today. I would like to share with you the lessons I learned about life when I had eczema. Let me introduce myself. I’m Harrison and I have had eczema since the age of 6. I developed this horrible skin disease and never grew out of it even when I got to high school. I prayed to God every night and hoped that he would help me grow out of it too. But I guess I wasn’t lucky enough. Until in the 10th grade of high school, the social consequences of having terribly scratchy, bleeding wounds had greatly reduced my self-esteem to the lowest point possible. I was very embarrassing when asked “jeez, what happened to your skin?” And, as you know, sweating can cause an itching frenzy, so having eczema also cut out any physical activities. It felt unfair when all I could do was sit back and watch my friends shoot hoops on the court. I hated my restricted life. I realized it was time, I had to get serious about getting rid of this skin problem.  It had to go. So I began hours of internet research on possible permanent treatments that were not steroid-related or overnight fixes.

I combined multiple resources together and developed my method. After a little over 6 months, I was free of eczema! After the past 10 years of struggling with this annoying, ugly, humiliating skin disease, I was finally free.

During those 10 years, I learned some lessons along the way. I’d like to share them with you.

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Could The Eczema Company Win The Cribsie Awards?

Why not?!!! But we can’t do it without your help!


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IF, and only IF,  you love The Eczema Company, then show us and nominate us!

Until December 20th you can nominate The Eczema Company for the Cribsie Awards. The Cribsie Awards recognize the best products, services, and websites for babies and tots. These are the ultimate open choice awards. You can nominate any product, brand, website or service! It’s your choice. Speak up and tell the Cribsies who or what you love.

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NEVER EVER GIVE UP! One Mom’s Struggle to Help Her Son (Guest Post)

Today’s guest post is an emotional one. This incredible mom followed her intuition and stayed strong for her son, who suffered terribly, but ultimately now is thankfully on the road to recovery. I am proud to share their story with you.

- Jennifer

NEVER EVER GIVE UP! One Mom’s Struggle to Help Her Son

by Megan Pringle (see bio below)

THE HISTORY

Logan Dec 2012

Logan Dec 2012

We don’t come from a family of allergic people, although there is a history of family members (on both sides) with autoimmune diseases. So, when my Logan, at age 2 developed mild seasonal eczema as well as seasonal allergic rhinitis, we were able to manage it fairly easily with nasal sprays, antihistamines, moisturizer, emollients and the very odd application of topical cortisone.

Fast forward to 3.5 years old. Suddenly Logan’s skin took a massive turn for the worse. Full body bright red welts, weeping skin, intense itching. And nothing helped. It could not be kept under control. We suspected everything from the washing powder, to the carpets, to the fact that certain times of the year birds used to nest in our roof. I cleaned the house like a maniac on a daily basis worried the dust was affecting him. He ended up with a severe staph infection, which saw him covered in pimples from head to toe, even in his scalp. His skin was flaring up all year round. More visits to the same GP who told me ‘there is nothing we can do – just accept he has eczema’. Another GP I saw told me I was neurotic for keeping a detailed diary trying to find some kind of link to why he was so sick. I left there in tears, completely devastated that we were not getting the help we needed. Skin prick tests showed that he was allergic to cats, pollen, grass and dust mites. No food allergies presented.

The next 3 years were extremely difficult. Skin issues on and off. The itch and the scratch was uncontrollable and intense. I would constantly get phone calls from the school asking me to fetch him as he had been scratching until he bled. I was getting very little sleep and trying to balance being a single mother, who worked full time with a son who needed care, and expensive medical attention. We moved house in a desperate attempt to see if that made any difference.

August 2012 again in desperation we visited a different university allergy diagnostics centre. I wanted a complete allergy blood test done on him but they pushed me into another skin prick test – telling me ‘it isn’t necessary’ and will yield the same results as a blood test. The test showed the same results as before – AGAIN we were no further to a solution. He suggested an elimination diet – cutting out wheat (but we could still have rye!) – dairy – and many more things. We struggled on with this diet for many months with no effect. In fact over Nov/Dec/Jan 2013 things took a turn for the worse, if that was even possible. I got married in November and Logan was so sick he had to leave the wedding early with my mother, as his body was so sore he couldn’t stand up. I find it hard to look at our wedding photos for this reason.

Logan Jan 2013

Logan Jan 2013

He was fading in front of my eyes. Face pinched, drawn and gaunt, dark rings around eyes, getting skinnier and skinner every day. He was also getting terrible large painful boils all over his body. I made the decision in January to take Logan out of school for a few months to recover.

At this stage – I again requested full allergy blood tests, blood count, thyroid test – from our pediatrician. I was terrified my child was dying and had some terrible illness like cancer, that was being undiagnosed. Again, I was told, it’s unnecessary and expensive – and was offered more oral cortisone to clear his skin, and antibiotics to clear repeated scalp and skin infections, stronger antihistamines, tranquilizers to help him sleep. Regardless of the fact that I kept telling them ‘this is not just eczema’ nobody would listen.

Here there we were with 7 GP’s, 2 allergy specialists, 1 pediatrician and 2 dermatologists (not to mention the myriad of well-meaning strangers who stop you in shopping malls and offer advice of teabags in bath, and all kinds of weird and wonderful homemade concoctions).

Then: earlier this year, we were referred to a professor of immunology who did a stool sample test on Logan.  The Professor took one look at my son the day we walked in and was absolutely horrified that nobody was taking this seriously enough. ‘This is not just eczema’, he said, ‘This is a systemic inflammation and infection problem’ leading to failure to thrive. My son has always been small, but at 6.5 years old he weighed just 15.6 kg (34lbs) and stands only 108cm (42 in.) tall!!! Frightening! But this still had not been enough to spur the previous doctors into action.

THE DIAGNOSIS

Jan 2013 - legsThe results of stool sample showed severe inflammation of the gut, as well as candida levels 1000 times higher than normal. It also showed positive results for Celiac disease. He told me that the many years of strong medication to fix his skin, had destroyed Logan’s natural gut flora, which had led to a leaky gut, inflammation and the inability to absorb nutrients. Not to mention the effects the untreated celiac had been having on his digestive system. Up until now, he had a bloated, hard, distended stomach, often complaining of stomach pain, lack of appetite, irregular hard pellet shaped bowel movements. His muscles were wasting away – there was loss of weight and hair loss. Wounds would take very long to heal… Excessively dry, skin and constant uncontrollable skin flareups with no apparent trigger. For the last 5 months he was extremely tired, depressed and lethargic, and could not summon the energy to get out of bed much at all. It was frightening to see my child like that. It didn’t matter what Logan ate, he would react to everything. His skin would literally break out ‘for everything’ and we wracked our brains trying to figure out what we could give him and what we should stay away from.

THE TREATMENT

The professor told us to use a turmeric based supplement powder to heal the stomach, as well as grapefruit seed extract drops to kill off the candida. Twice daily doses of a good probiotic, as well as a daily multivitamin supplement, a zinc supplement, omega oil capsules, and L-Glutamine. The professor gave us a time frame of 4 months until ‘we would have our son back’.

THE DIET

Food wise – we needed to cut out gluten of course due to him having celiac disease. Potatoes, rice, chicken, meat and fish were all fine. Dairy I was nervous of, as he seemed to react to dairy in the past, so we are keeping off it for now. Same for corn. Veggies of all kinds he can eat, which is fantastic, but we were told to stay completely away from sugar, from fruit juices, and fruits that ferment – namely grapes, mangoes and pineapples. Preservatives and additives are a no no. So basically what he is eating now is an extremely HEALTHY diet, one that anyone could actually live on indefinitely, not nearly as limiting as a food elimination diet. As time goes and we see improvement, we can try adding certain things into his diet, and seeing the results. The aim right now is to HEAL THE GUT so it is able to handle and (most importantly) ABSORB the nutrients he needs to grow and thrive. The idea is: healing the reaction and inflammation inside – will heal the reaction and inflammation outside.

(I just would like to add that I am still consulting with the professor, alongside Logan’s pediatrician and our family GP – keeping them all in the loop with his treatment and progress. For once I can say we have a good TEAM. I am able to email each of them at any time and send them regular updates of how he is doing. It makes such a huge difference having the RIGHT people on your side.)

THE RESULTS

On the Road to Recovery

On the Road to Recovery

As far as results go – after one month of this treatment…here is what we have noticed.

  • Energy levels are back (and then some!) he is playing, acting silly, laughing and running around, instead of being confined to the bed, unhappy and depressed.
  • No more complaints of a sore stomach & swollen distended belly has gone down.
  • Regular daily bowel movements.
  • Massively increased appetite. (He is eating us out of house and home!!)
  • Drastic improvement in skin. We are still seeing redness and flareups – but they are isolated to one part of his body at a time, they take place far less often, and tend to subside very fast. His skin is well moisturized and completely clear in places. At the moment we are still struggling with feet, hands and head, but even these are not ‘open and weeping’. The intense uncontrollable itch is under control.
  • Our use of cortisone has drastically reduced, as has our use of antihistamines. We still use them as needed, as instructed by the professor, and we still continue with our skin care regime of regular moisturizing with a good cream, and emollients in the bath. Even the wet wraps we used to use (which are a wonder) we no longer need.

We are looking forward to even more improvement as time goes on…

WHAT I‘VE LEARNED

I’ve learned that as a parent or a patient, YOU have to be the one that pushes for treatment and investigation. You have to be firm with the doctors and demand referrals if you feel they are not listening to you or helping you. You need to read up as much as you can to find out more about your condition. You also have to be able to distinguish between the millions of ‘miracle cures’ out there and something which is valid and could work for you. You also need to take help and advice from the right people, and ignore the rest. Sometimes it’s okay to fall down, and let people catch you but NEVER EVER GIVE UP!

Megan and Logan

Megan and Logan

Bio: Megan Pringle, mom to Logan (age 6), and works in fundraising for a non-profit hospice organization in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

Battling Eczema: A Family Affair (Guest Post)

I think you’ll find today’s guest post interesting as it’s told from a sibling’s perspective. Rarely do we hear about how a sibling’s battles with eczema affect the other siblings….and even more rare is to hear about the experience first hand from one of the brothers or sisters. This story touches my heart as it’s clear how much these children cared for their brother as they would do anything to help relieve his suffering – even behind their parent’s backs!

- Jennifer

Battling Eczema: A Family Affair (Guest Post)

by Malvina Beker (see bio below)

“Wow, that looks terrible!” The doctor started to say, looking at my brother’s exposed stomach that was covered in red patches, scabs, and puss.  My older brother Eugene and I had decide to take matters into our own hands and take our younger eight-year-old brother, Milan, to the doctor our selves.  His rashes were just completely out of control and nothing that my parents were doing was helping him.

Mavina's brother with moderate eczema flare-up.His rashes began very early on, when he was about six months old.  My parents had no idea what the patchy rashes were or where they had come from.  He had struggled with them ever since.

What started off as little patches began to formulate to bigger patches.  It would appear seasonally around the folds of his skin and had gotten my parents attention from the beginning.  They went to the doctors who had confirmed that indeed these patches looked like eczema and prescribed cortisone cream.  Since they had never seen or heard of eczema before, my parents didn’t know how big of an ordeal it would be. My parents started using the prescribed cream with much caution, being very uncomfortable with it because it had steroids in it.  More so than treating the rashes, they wanted to prevent them from resurfacing.  My poor brother went through all sorts of preventative methods that my parents had tried, including homeopathic medicine, diets, hypnosis, even a trip to the dead-sea, but the patchy rashes continued to come back, and what was worse, the older he got, the less control they had over them, since my brother would scratch at them whenever they would appear. By the time he was eight-years-old my brother was being wrapped like a mummy for bed to prevent him from scratching.  His stomach especially was a problem.  My parents had no real direction or answers on how to battle eczema and had given up going to the doctors.

And so, my older brother and I had snuck him off to see a doctor hoping that we could find something to help control the eczema.  The doctor prescribed cortisone yet again.  “Unfortunately there is not much else that will help, especially because he has an infection in the area from all the scratching.”  The doctor then had a chat with him and told him to  be a bit more responsible about his eczema and encouraged him to try to control his scratching urges.  We were once again back to square one. To treat the really bad outbreaks we resorted to using the cortisone cream, but in the meanwhile I started to help my brother with some easy solutions to prevent the outbreaks in the first place.  These easy solutions included restricting any perfume based soaps from ever touching his skin and during a scratching urge, I insisted he bathe or shower or put ice around the itchy area.

My brother’s eczema was something that everyone in my family had suffered from and lived with right along with him.  It was a real ordeal for him in his daily life.  He had to be wrapped to go to bed, he even wore wraps around his body during the day sometimes.  He didn’t feel comfortable going swimming and exposing his stomach to anyone, and did not like discussing his eczema either.

With time however, eventually, the eczema sort of stopped coming on as strongly.  He was lucky that there were no scars left behind from all the scratching that he had done, and with age, had gained control over his rashes whenever they would come back.

As my brother grew into his teenage years, his eczema was like a forgotten dream for me.

And then I gave birth to my child, Alyssa.  A few months later, I almost had a melt down when I noticed the very same patches of red rashes forming on her skin.  I made an appointment to see the doctor right away, there was no way I wanted to go through this again.  The doctor didn’t seem concerned at all.  She prescribed yet again, more cortisone cream.  Was there no other solution?

My husband found a more natural cream, that had no steroids in it, which I started to apply at once.  I didn’t bother with the cortisone and stuck with applying the cream every time I felt the eczema patches forming on her skin.   Our battle to control eczema continued as I noticed my one-year-old daughter, Emma’s, skin began to break out too, but by then I knew what I was in for.   I have now incorporated a daily routine with my kids to always check their skin after they’ve had their baths, to look for any potential patches forming, and to put cream around those patches so that they don’t spread or continue to form.  Neither one of my girls have ever experienced anything remotely close to what my brother had, and I hope that we can keep their eczema as much under control as possible so that they never do.

Dealing with severe eczema outbreaks is a very tough battle that sometimes can affect the whole entire family, as was in our case.  In some cases, it can be a difficult fight, as it was for my brother, but for the most part it can be kept under control.  For our family, monitoring our children’s skin daily and using natural based creams has been very helpful in preventing major outbreaks and keeping the eczema under control.  Good luck to everyone else battling!

Malvina Beker - Start with MomBio: Malvina Beker is a teacher, an author, a sociologist and a mom. She has a Masters degree in Sociology, a Bachelor of Education, and a background in child psychology and development. She has taught high school Family Studies, Parenting and Music courses, and has research experience through interviewing as well as surveys. She is a mother of two little girls that inspire her the most, and is always excited to share and exchange opinions and experiences with others.  She is also the founder of Start With Mom www.startwithmom.com, an online resource/directory for moms seeking solutions to healthy living. You can follow Start With Mom on FaceBook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Confession: I Overlooked a Suspected Allergen In an Ingredient List

I feel really lucky at this moment because I made a mistake, a HUGE mistake. Thankfully, Tristan is ok.

A little background:

We think Tristan has an allergy to almonds. He used to drink almond milk daily and was incredibly itchy. After stopping the milk, the itching stopped. So, now, as far I as I know, he hasn’t had almonds for about a year. No, I take that back, he tried a bite of yogurt made from almonds the other day (completely dairy free) and he got a little pink around his mouth, so he didn’t have any more. I avoid almonds now because I just don’t know if he could have developed a more severe reaction to them, like he did with dairy not long ago. Blood and skin testing was always negative, like most everything else – even for his anaphylaxis to dairy.

Back to the present:

He’s been eating these crazy healthy gluten-free snacks for several months now, from ShaSha Co. They’re organic, raw, vegan, with no added sugar, and contain prebiotics. Just a really great product. He eats a few here and there for “dessert,” but doesn’t eat them religiously.

shasha_snacks

Yesterday I got a new bag out and checked the ingredient label like I usually do for a new package of a favorite food item. Just wanting to make sure the company didn’t add anything new and unwanted in the item.

And what did I read in the ingredient list? Almonds! What??!!! I snatched the bag away from Tristan and quickly explained that mama made a mistake and these snacks may actually contain almonds. He was totally fine. Didn’t make a sound of protest. I guess his only anaphylactic episode is still to recent and at the top of his mind.

Surely, this company has just recently added almonds to their snacks. I would have clearly seen almonds in the ingredient list before. I am SO careful!

I take a bite just to see if they taste the same to me. Hmmm…they taste exactly the same. Adding almonds probably would have given them a slightly different taste. And they sure do look the same.

At that point a big, hard, rock started to form in the pit of my stomach. I emailed the company and asked them if they’d recently added almonds. They quickly replied and said, no, always contained almonds.

Oh man. Wow. I missed it……what if Tristan had a reaction?!

MAJOR Mom Guilt!

But…he didn’t have a reaction. He’s been eating a little bit of almonds for months now apparently and without reacting. But, I don’t feel safe testing almonds on him at home anymore, so we’ll wait and talk to his new allergist about it. No more Sha Sha snacks for now. Hopefully we can do an in office food challenge and see how it goes. I’d love to be able to give Tristan almonds from time to time. Unlike most his other allergens, almonds are actually healthy and I hate that he’s missing out on them.

So, lesson learned. We make mistakes – as hard as we try not to – it happens. I am certainly humbled by this experience and am thankful everything turned out ok.

Now it’s your turn, confession time. What colossal mistakes have you made in regards to your child’s health? Please don’t tell me I’m the only one that put their child at a HUGE risk…..

It’s time to get it off your chest. Trust me, it feels good to confess :)

NEW Eczema Ointments Made with Traditional Chinese Herbs

With eczema, we all know that what works for one person, may not work for another, which is one of the primary reasons I founded The Eczema Company. I am fortunate to have found some wonderful natural and non-toxic products that have helped soothe my son’s chronic eczema, but I know his “miracle” cream may not offer relief for everyone. With eczema, it’s all about trial and error – finding your unique triggers and the right products for you. The Eczema Company provides options to those suffering with eczema via a variety of creams, balms, and clothing for use while trying to determine the root cause of your eczema and your own unique triggers.

I believe in modern medicine, but I also believe in alternative medicine, which usually focuses on treating the root cause and not just the symptom. I think both types of medical practice have their place and often when used together, amazing results can be witnessed. This is why I am thrilled to announce The Eczema Company now carries a new line of topical salves formulated using one of the world’s oldest alternative medical practices, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Zi Zai Dermatology’s EczeHerbal™ Ointments are available in three formats to best match your specific type of eczema. Because Traditional Chinese Medicine can seem so very foreign, I’ve asked the founder of Zi Zai Dermatology to explain more about how traditional Chinese herbs can help eczema and how she formulates the EczeHerbal™ Ointments.

If you’re interested in a basic overview about specifically treating pediatric eczema with Traditional Chinese Medicine (including tea and herb consumption), please also take a look at this previous guest post.

Zi Zai - Diana Hermann

Bio: Diana Hermann is the founder of and product formulator for Zi Zai Dermatology.  She is a licensed acupuncturist and is nationally certified in Oriental Medicine.  She received her Master of Oriental Medicine degree in 1999 from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and shortly thereafter completed an internship with the Director of the Dermatology Department of Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, P.R. of China.  After working in private practice for several years, Diana began to specialize in the treatment of dermatological problems.  She was dissatisfied with the lack of safe and effective topical herbal products available in the U.S. for skin conditions, so in 2009 founded Zi Zai Dermatology. Diana continues to maintain her private practice, Acupuncture of the Rockies, which allows her to increase her experience in the treatment of skin conditions and additionally it serves as a clinical testing ground for Zi Zai’s products before they get to the public market.

NEW Eczema Ointments Made with Traditional Chinese Herbs

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine is the most comprehensive and well-organized system of herbal medicine known to humankind.  It has developed from thousands of years of observing and recording the medicinal use of thousands of natural substances to improve human health.  This ancient system of herbal medicine continues to evolve in our modern world.  All of the products made by Zi Zai Dermatology are formulated according to the theories and practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Using Chinese Herbs for Eczema

Each of our EczeHerbal™ ointments contain 6 to 7 individual herbs that are excellent for use in eczema, both internally and topically.  Herbs for Zi ZaiIn TCM, when we compose a formula, we choose herbs that address our underlying TCM diagnosis for the condition being treated, as well as herbs that directly alleviate symptoms.  Typically, I believe simpler is better when it comes to formulating topical products and so I chose to use herbs that have multiple uses.  For example, Ku Shen (Radix Sophorae Flavascentis) not only Clears Heat (reduces inflammation) and Dries Damp (dries exudate), but it is known for its ability to reduce itching.  Studies have shown that Ku Shen has antimicrobial action against the Toxin Staphylococcus aureus (the bacteria commonly found to be overly proliferate in eczema lesions).  What a perfect herb for eczema! But Ku Shen alone is not enough to address all of the energetically imbalances involved in eczema, so we support its function by combining it with additional herbs to address the Toxins (Zi Hua Di Ding/viola and Bai Xian Pi/dictamnus) and herbs to further Dry Dampness (Huang Bai/phellodendron root and Huang Qin/scutellaria root).  While each herb in each of the formulas is useful in its own way, the synergistic combination of all the herbs in the formula working together are more energetically effective than any one herb alone.

Our Herb and Ingredient Sources

We hand craft all of our products ourselves in very small batches so that we maintain the highest level of quality.  We do not outsource any part of the manufacturing process and every product is made from scratch with only the finest ingredients. Herbs for Zi Zai

The official Traditional Chinese Herbal Pharmacopoeia lists the medicinal properties of many natural substances including plants, animals and minerals.  Zi Zai Dermatology chooses to use only plant and mineral substances in the making of our products.  We never use any herb derived from species of flora or fauna that is considered endangered.  We never use any substance that has been shown to be poisonous or harmful to human health.  We purchase our raw herbs from two different U.S. companies: NuHerbs and Mayway.  Each of these companies source the raw herbs from their indigenous regions and they examine all herbs to ensure correct species identification.  Furthermore, each of these companies does in-house and third-party laboratory testing of herbs to check for bacteria, pesticides and heavy metals.  Herbs are processed in GMP-certified facilities.

The carrier oils and other ingredients used to craft Zi Zai Dermatology products are sourced from three different U.S. companies that have strict quality guidelines.  Whenever possible we purchase only raw materials that are Fair Trade Certified and/or USDA Certified Organic.  The pure honey and unfiltered beeswax we use comes directly from a responsible beekeeper here in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Safety of Our Herbal OintmentsZi Zai Cruelty Free Logo

Zi Zai Dermatology’s EczeHerbal™ line of herbal ointments are safe for topical use on adults, children, babies and even pets.  It is important to us at Zi Zai that our ointments are non-toxic if ingested because it is impossible to keep young kids and infants from putting their hands in their mouths; and  unless you place an Elizabethan collar on your pet, they will end up licking some ointment off.  So rest assured, if our EczeHerbal™ ointments end up on the inside of your child or pet, there is no need to worry.  The ointments are made from food grade organic extra virgin olive oil, Chinese herbs that are safe for internal consumption, and beeswax (which is non-toxic). We do not add any artificial dyes or fragrances to any of our products. And because all of the ingredients used in our products have been safely used by humans (and even animals) for many many years, there is no need for us to safety test our products on animals.

Why We Offer Three Different Ointment Formulas

I am a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  When a patient comes to me for treatment of eczema, I must first diagnose the individual based upon the principals of TCM theory.  Proper differentiation is the key to effective treatment. Once I have differentiated their condition according to TCM, then I can formulate their treatment plan, including an internal herbal formula as well as any topical treatments that may be helpful.  Since every patient is a unique individual and eczema can manifest in several different ways (even at different times in the same person), every internal herbal formula I prepare is unique and custom-designed for that patient.  Of course, making a custom topical ointment for every eczema patient is not very practical.  But one single ointment for every eczema patient isn’t very effective either.  So I decided to take the top 3 most common TCM Differential Patterns for eczema and I formulated an ointment for each of them.  Again, proper differentiation is the key to effective treatment, and that is why Zi Zai offers more than one ointment for eczema.  Use the one that matches your skin best. EczeHerbal Ointments

Before I can describe our 3 eczema ointments, I need to give you a very simplified summary of the terms we use when describing the possible patterns of energetic imbalance in TCM dermatology.  When we say a skin condition has “Heat”, that typically translates to redness and inflammation. Sometimes Heat can be quite severe and it will get deeper into the body, so we say this is “Heat in the Blood”.  When we use the term “Damp” or “Dampness”, it usually refers to skin conditions that have weepy lesions, fluid-filled blisters, or things that ooze. In contrast to Dampness, we can also have “Dryness” which develops when the moistening and cooling factor of the body (“Yin”) is insufficient or becomes damaged. When a skin rash itches, we describe that condition as having “Wind” (because it moves around and tickles the surface).  And finally, the TCM term “Toxins” or “Fire Toxins” can mean several things but typically refers to abscesses, ulcerations or skin lesions that contain pus or are infected with bacteria or virus.

EczeHerbal™ 1 Ointment: This ointment is specially formulated according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) pattern known as Damp Heat (with Fire Toxins and Wind). It is designed for acute eczema that appears abruptly or is growing in size or number of lesions. This manifestation of eczema typically has more exudate (oozing) than you might see in more stable phases of eczema. Lesions can be swollen, red and itchy and crust may form. This phase of eczema is typically seen in infants and children. From the perspective of TCM, the herbs in this ointment Clear Heat, Dry Damp, Eliminate Wind and Resolve Toxins.  EczeHerbal™ 1 is more appropriate for cases where Dampness predominates over Heat.*

EczeHerbal 1

EczeHerbal™ 2 Ointment: This eczema ointment is specially formulated according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) pattern known as Heat in the Blood (with Fire Toxins and Wind).  All variations of eczema will have some degree of redness and itching.  But this ointment is most appropriate for cases where redness, dryness (flaking) and itching are more predominant than oozing.  This phase of eczema is typically seen in infants and children or during acute exacerbation of the condition in adults. From the perspective of TCM, the herbs in this ointment Clear Heat, Cool Blood, Dry Damp, Eliminate Wind and Resolve Toxins.  To compare, if your eczema has much oozing or blisters, then EczeHerbal™ 1 formula would be a better choice for you.*

EczeHerbal 2

EczeHerbal™ 3 Ointment: This ointment is specially formulated according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) pattern known as Blood Dryness (with the presence of some Fire Toxins and Wind). It is specifically designed for chronic eczema where dryness and scaling are more predominant than either Heat or Dampness (compared to the other EczeHerbal™ formulas). Lesions are usually paler red or pink. Thickening of the skin may also be present where scratching has occurred. This phase of eczema is typically seen in teenagers and adults. From the perspective of TCM, the herbs in this ointment Enrich Yin and Nourish Blood (to moisten the skin), Dry Damp, Eliminate Wind and Resolve Toxins.  If your eczema oozes or is weeping, do not choose this formula; instead choose EczeHerbal™ 1 formula.  If your eczema does not ooze but is very red, and there is no thickening of the skin, then EczeHerbal™ 2 would be the best option for you.*

EczeHerbal 3

About Zi Zai DermatologyZi Zai - Diana Preparing Ointments

Zi Zai Dermatology is a micro company that cares about your quality of life.  We are based in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA and we hand craft small batches of exceptional herbal skin care products.  At Zi Zai, we have put thousands of years of experience into the formulations of these fine herbal products.  We hope you enjoy using them as much as we have enjoyed crafting them for you.  Seek Health…Find Beauty.

*FDA DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products and statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your doctor or other health care professional.

How Quickly They Forget or Choose to Forget the Hard Times

One of things I worry most about with Tristan’s eczema is, will he look back on his toddler years (when his eczema was the worst) with fear in his eyes?

  • Will he remember the countless nights he spent writhing in itchy agony in his bed as my husband and I took turns holding him and trying to calm his irritated skin and restless mind?
  • Will he remember his hysterical pleas to skip just one bath or how it felt when the cool bath water burned his broken skin as he screamed and lashed out?
  • Will he remember my husband and I holding him down as we slathered on cream multiple times a day, every day, each time the stinging and his tears were relentless?
  • Will he remember seeing mommy cry all those times?

At 4.5 years old, I’m very relieved to say that Tristan doesn’t remember how itchy he used to be or how severe his head-to-toe eczema actually was.

Happy Eczema Free Days

A happy Tristan and a tear-less mom enjoying these eczema managed days.

Just a few months after he turned 3 we FINALLY got a handle on his eczema. (You can read about our family’s battle with eczema here. Or you can view our various Eczema Trials for all the details.) That was just a little over one year ago.  He has memories from around that time, just nothing to do with his eczema. For that I am grateful. I’m guessing this is an example of selective memory at it’s finest.

If you’re dealing with the emotional and physical stresses of eczema today, hang in there. Things will improve. Just stick with your intuition and be an advocate for your child, like this mom.

If all this talk about the challenges of dealing with severe eczema has got you down, take a minute to enjoy a laugh at our eczema spoof “Stuff Eczema Mamas Say.” I’m sure you can relate….and please try to look past my horrible acting skills.

Our Eczema Trials: Elimination Diet (How You Can Do It Too!)

our eczema trials: elimination diet

Try an elimination diet and stop eating the foods harming your body.

An elimination diet really isn’t that hard and for many it provides a great sense of relief when food allergies or intolerances are discovered. In truth, it’s deciding to do the diet and embracing your decision by fully planning and preparing for it, that’s the hardest.

Why an Elimination Diet?

After years of worsening eczema and unsuccessful attempts with multiple doctors to identify the triggers, I finally realized I could no longer put off an elimination diet for my son. It was time to figure out which foods were aggravating his eczema when allergy testing all came back negative. The best way to do that, according to many health professionals, in fact it’s considered the “gold standard” for food allergy diagnosis by many pediatricians, is by conducting a food challenge. A food challenge is when certain foods are consumed in small doses and then the individual is monitored very closely, in a physicians office is best, to determine if the food causes any reaction in the body.

Food challenges are the only 100% accurate way to prove a food allergy exists, other than a history of reactions with specific foods. Allergy testing is not usually reliable as false positives and false negatives, like was the case with my son, can frequently occur. In order to successfully conduct the food challenge, it’s best to remove the foods in question from the diet completely for a given amount of time in the form of an elimination diet.

Overwhelmed? Embrace the Diet and Plan, Plan, Plan.

When I finally decided to move forward with my son’s diet, the planning seemed very overwhelming. It’s best to work with a physician or nutritionist when planning the elimination diet to ensure all the proper foods are eliminated correctly AND to guarantee you’re not putting your or your child’s health in jeopardy. Removing nutritious foods from the diet means they need to be substituted with equally nutritious alternatives and this can be tricky if you’re not very well versed in a healthy eating and nutrition.

Not only is balancing nutrition hard, but it’s VERY difficult to remove staple foods from your diet. Many of the foods that should be eliminated have been in your or child’s diet since not long after you took your first bites of food as a baby. Perhaps, your body has been used to these foods for so long, that slowly over time a reaction has been building up (in the way of eczema or asthma. You don’t always consciously think about these foods because they’re part of you. You’ve never had to think about it before. So eliminating these foods is like learning a whole new language. You must become a thorough label reader, understand the confusing and misleading world of “may contain traces of,” recognize alternative names for foods (and there are many), and learn to cook with substitute ingredients.

Find the Right Resources

My mother-in-law is a super health food fanatic, so I relied much on her expertise. I also referenced “Dealing with Food Allergies in Babies and Children,” by Janice Vickerstaff Joneja, PhD, RDN. This is an EXCELLENT book that discusses food allergies in-depth and then offers detailed steps on how to conduct elimination diets for various ailments – one of which is eczema! Using Dr. Vickerstaff Joneja’s plan, made things much easier. Her book told me exactly what to eliminate and for how long.  We followed her eczema elimination diet to the letter and it improved my son’s skin tremendously, within a matter of days. When it was time to add the eliminated foods back into his diet, by way of a food challenge, we immediately were able to identify which foods were triggering his eczema as he became very itchy after eating most of them, occasionally with hives. In some cases it took a few days of consuming the foods to see a reaction. In the end we identified the following as eczema triggers for my son: dairy, gluten, soy, and corn. We later also identified through trial and error that many tree nuts cause similar reactions for him.

I’m happy to say that through an elimination diet, we saw major improvements in my son’s skin! This was one of the biggest wins in his battle against eczema. I cannot recommend elimination diets enough.

Yes, it’s hard, but you CAN do it. Here’s how:

1)    Embrace the decision 100%.

2)    Arm yourself with the right resources: physician, nutritionist, books, friends for moral support, etc.

3)    Identify the foods to avoid and ALL the alternative names for these foods.

4)    Have recipes ready to go and your pantry stocked.  Plan on spending a few hours at the grocery store carefully reading labels and finding new food substitutes.

5)    Go for it! If you feel the need to cheat, think about why you want to cheat. Is it because you’re craving one of your favorite boxed/processed chocolate chip cookies that are no longer ok to eat? Then make some using alternative ingredients. Trust me, the alternatives are actually really good!

Here are some great bloggers featuring amazing, healthy recipes that are allergy free, some are top-8 allergy free. Prepare some of their recipes in advance and prevent the desperate need to cheat by having your favorite foods with alternative ingredients on hand and ready to go.

Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen – super healthy recipes from a nutritionist.

Gluten Free Goddess – most recipes are free of more than just gluten.

Tessa the Domestic Diva & Real Food Allergy Free – check out their Allergy Free Wednesday Recipe Hop!

Grateful Foodie – practical recipes for the family.

Allergy Free Alaska – gluten and dairy-free.

Allergy Free Yumminess – check out my Pinterest board full of amazing allergy free recipe finds from around the blogosphere.

Looking for more info and tips on how to complete an elimination diet? Check out my guest post for ScratchMeNot “What’s an Elimination Diet Really Like?”

Have you tried an elimination diet? Did you see results?

Our Eczema Trials: Dry Wrapping

With severe eczema, nothing can provide immediate relief like wet wrapping. See the step-by-step instructions on how to wet wrap in my post here. Wet wrapping isn’t a long-term solution and isn’t necessary for mild to moderate eczema, but dry wrapping is!

Dry wrapping is VERY easy to do and you may have tried it without even knowing there was a term for it.

What is Dry Wrapping?

It’s simply heavily moisturizing the skin and covering it with a dry layer, such as mittens or gloves for hands, for an extended period of time.

Why does it work?

The dry layer helps hold the moisture next to the skin and is more effective than just applying moisturizer to the skin alone. Wet wrapping is even more effective as the wet layer will maintain the moisture for extended periods of time.

What are dry wraps?

WrapESoothe wet wrapping and dry wrapping suit

AD Rescuewear suits, great for wet wrapping or dry wrapping for eczema relief.

Dry wraps are clothes or bandages used to wrap and protect eczema skin. You can use clothing made specifically for dry or wet wrapping, but items you already have at home can work too (pajamas, tube socks for hands and feet, etc). Clothing should be form-fitting and made of natural fibers like cotton or bamboo.

What do you need to get started?

  • Cream or balm/salve (National Jewish does not recommend Aquaphor)
  • (1) Set of clothing or bandages/dressings. Exact garments will depend on areas you want to treat, but can include:
    • (1) one-piece pajamas or top & bottom, form-fitting
    • (1) turtleneck for wrapping the neck, or scarf
    • (2) pairs of long white cotton tube socks to cover hands and feet
    • (1) sets of gauze bandages for wrapping the face and head

How to dry wrap step-by-step

You can dry wrap your entire body, but if the eczema is that extreme you may want to consider wet wrapping instead. Usually dry wrapping is done on specific parts of the body with chronic eczema or an irritating flare up. I like to lather my hands up with cream and slip on a pair of white cotton socks before I go to bed as it really helps the mild eczema I get between my fingers and on the backs of my hands.

  1. Moisturize the skin with a cream or balm/salve of your choice, making sure to liberally apply on the areas of the body that need treating. The skin should be very moist when finished. You may need to go back and apply another layer in some areas before moving to the next step.
  2. Cover the areas to treat with a dry layer of clothing or bandages.
  3. Leave the dry layer on for a minimum of two hours, overnight is great.
  4. If you’re able, remove the dry layer every few hours, re-moisturize, and cover with the dry layer again.

Tips for dry wrapping and your eczema child

  • Try wet wrapping at night for minimal objection from your child. An added bonus, keep the hands covered to prevent night-time scratching.
  • Virgin coconut oil and raw shea butter work great for dry wrapping. We also love Manuka Honey Skin Cream.
  • Use caution with long wrapping bandages that could become unwrapped, potentially creating a suffocation hazard. This would be of particular concern if the child wears the wraps to sleep.
  • Children’s eczema clothing is made specifically for those with sensitive skin and is great for dry wrapping.

Have you tried dry wrapping? Did it work well for you?

Quilted: A Poem About Living With Atopic Dermatitis

I found this poem at The Online Journal of Community and Person-Centered Dermatology and wanted to share it with you. It so accurately describes our lives, as parents, helping our children cope with atopic dermatitis and severe eczema. If you are an adult suffering from AD or eczema, you surely can relate as well. This poem will show you how hard your parents fought for you, how they tried everything, how they wouldn’t give up on you and a better quality of life, and how much they love and adore you.

Quilted

by Luu, Clara

Clara Luu’s poem is the most eloquent description of  severe atopic dermatitis ( often called S.A.D.)  that I have come across in a long dermatological career.  If you read it, you don’t need all the textbooks or review articles.  It speaks to what we are trying to do with the OJCPCD.

Persistent scratches ripping through the tranquility of the night,
and bedsheets dusty with flaked skin,
mingled with dried blood in the mornings.
Her skin stained with the purple sting of potassium permanganate,
burning from the relentless scorch of tea tree oil, smothered in topical corticosteroids.
Bandaged to retain moisture. Unbandaged to promote air flow.

A blur of diagnoses and “diagnoses” paraded by,
convictions by professionals and well-meaning relatives:
“No heat, no chlorine, no sunshine, no pollen. No butter, no wheat, no potato chips, no fat, no chocolate, no seafood, no meat, no sugar, no salt!”
Too much American food.  oxidized oils, pesticides, hormones-those damn Oreos, all to blame.
“This doesn’t appear to be a food allergy, but we can run some tests…”
“You see, the American doctors don’t study this. This is a question of inner body balance…”
A question of hotness and coldness of the body, toxicity, mystery, cortisone creams.
And a vicious cycle of irritation, scratching,
broken skin, infection, itchiness,
crying, scolding, shouting, scratching…

And the mingling of voices of authority spilled over the reddened cracks in her skin
and filled her heart with guilt and inadequacy.
“You are the only one who knows your body. Only you can know what to do for yourself-”
And the bitterness of her condition was accentuated with the bitterness of soups and broths and reductions,
darkly resplendent with Chinese medicinal herbs, kernels, stalks, and shoots.

Later, with disappointment and failures came desperation
Cycling through past attempts, various diets.  The doctors’ echoes weren’t very much help-
the relief provided through the prescribed creams and ointments was ephemeral.
Though some knowledge provided comfort – like the dreaded skin prick testing – her back gridded into a 5×7 rectangle and stabbed thirty-five times to reveal her body’s weaknesses towards watermelon, shrimp, milk, Kentucky bluegrass,
timothy hay, walnuts, chicken, turkey, sea bass, lobster, dust, mold, and cockroaches -
Her skin still burned and flared, cracked and red and dry and unforgiving, betraying her.

I’ve watched the parade of well-meaning people walking in and out of her life: smiling
pediatricians, puzzled dermatologists, vehement relatives. No one is to blame.

I’ve watched her sneak Oreos away from the pantry, stealing bites of childhood innocence;
shopping for turtlenecks; being tormented by other children
for the ragged appearance of her skin.

Watched my father drive three hours to the only Costco that stocked unscented Keri Soothing Dry Skin Formula and return home with thirty cases of three bottles each
(which by the way, also didn’t work).
And I’ve watched her grow up and out of her skin,
which still bears the scars and rough patches of struggles and treatments,
up and out of reticence, sensitivity, resentment, confusion, worthlessness.
Rising above the motley patchwork of voices to wholeness.

Author Bio:  Clara Luu was born and raised in San Jose, CA. She is currently a sophomore at Stanford University, studying Human Biology and living an exciting pre-med life. “Quilted” is drawn from a composite of household dermatological experiences from her childhood. This piece written for the “Becoming a Doctor” medical humanities seminar taught by Professor Larry Zaroff. It exemplifies the key motifs motivating Clara to pursue a career in medicine: the mutifaceted aspects of wellness, the importance of culturally sensitive medicine, the strong role of family in the healing process, and the mysteries of some medical conditions that are the catalyst for exploration, discovery, and compassion.

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