Topical steroid addiction is gaining a lot of press these days in the eczema community. If you or your child are using topical steroids to treat eczema, then I urge you to read today’s post. While topical steroids can indeed provide relief, they can also cause harm when misused. When my son was first diagnosed with eczema, we tried using topical steroid creams, but we had to keep increasing the strength to see relief. In the end my mother’s intuition told me cortisone wasn’t the answer for us and we turned to internal healing through dietary changes. If you have questions or concerns about using topical steroids, please speak with your dermatologist first before discontinuing their use. And please, never give up the hunt for your eczema triggers. You will find them, your eczema really can improve, and you’ll be less dependent on medication and skin care! Read more
Posts tagged ‘itchy skin’
Eczema can really get you down – whether you have eczema yourself or you’re a caregiver for someone who has this skin condition. Either way, it’s not easy dealing with the daily emotional and physical stress that eczema brings. After a long journey of battling eczema physically, today Abby shares her advice for coping with eczema emotionally. So get ready to relate to this piece, big time.
I’m going to introduce someone special to you today – you know her, but you just don’t know it yet. Sabra has been helping edit and promote our Itchy Little World blog posts for over one year now. While she’s been behind the scenes for a while, I thought it was high time she made her official debut on the blog. I’m not calling this a guest post because Sabra will continue to write posts based on news and clinical trials. Her background, which you can read below, makes her an ideal candidate for this. I will continue to write posts as well, but as always, my posts will be based on personal experiences and are very passionate and from the heart. Reporting on news and clinical trials is not a talent I have, so I’m thrilled Sabra is here to help us interpret her findings with us.
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.
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.
Why not?!!! But we can’t do it without your help!
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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.
NEVER EVER GIVE UP! One Mom’s Struggle to Help Her Son
by Megan Pringle (see bio below)
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.
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 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 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’.
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.)
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!
Bio: Megan Pringle, mom to Logan (age 6), and works in fundraising for a non-profit hospice organization in Cape Town, South Africa.
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!
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.
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!
Bio: 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.
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.
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 :)
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. Read more