When my son, Tristan’s, eczema peaked at 3 years old, he was head to toe covered in red, itchy, dry skin that was inflamed and painful looking. I cried on and off throughout each and every day back then out of sheer frustration over not knowing how to help him and with worry about how this may affect his quality of life, both at the time and in the long-term. Sleep was rare because my husband and I had to take turns laying in bed with Tristan to prevent him from scratching himself until he drew blood. And we had a newborn child that needed us the other half of the night. To make matters worse, my husband and I disagreed, rather intensely at times, about how to best treat Tristan’s skin. My husband wanted to jump back to the topical steroids that were being prescribed at ever-increasing strengths by his pediatric dermatologist and I felt in my heart that it wasn’t the answer for Tristan. You can read more about our journey with topical steroids here.
They were dark times for my family and I can honestly say I hit rock bottom. I remember calling a nurse at National Jewish Hospital and just sobbing over the phone. I had dreamed about taking Tristan there, but since we lived in Canada, it was just too difficult. I think I just wanted a connection with their Atopic Clinic. Of course they couldn’t provide me any real advice over the phone, but it was nice to speak with a nurse that understood what I was going through.
After that call, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was determined to heal my son and wasn’t going to give up until I did. I needed to find some natural remedies for eczema to help him.
And guess what? I did it!
It was far from easy and it took time and it was certainly challenging, but I did it. While Tristan is not completely healed, he is 95% better and for us that’s a HUGE win!
So today I’m going to share what worked for us. It may not be the answer for you or your child, but I do hope some of it will spark ideas for new things for you to try or will inspire you to take control of your or your child’s skin. The important thing is not to give up.
Here are the natural remedies for eczema that worked for us…..
Scratch Mitten Sleeves
Mitten sleeves were the very first thing that gave us immense relief. Tristan wore them at night to prevent him from scratching in his sleep and they allowed my son, husband and I to finally get some much-needed zzzz’s. When the itching was really intense during the day, he’d wear the mittens then as well. Not long after Tristan started wearing scratch mittens sleeves, his eczema became much less inflamed because he wasn’t constantly scratching his skin – they allowed his skin to start healing itself. Not only did mitten sleeves help my son, but they also quite literally saved my sanity and my marriage.
Shop for ScratchSleeves Scratch Mittens.
When we needed quick relief, we turned to wet wrapping. It was certainly a challenge to keep my 3-year-old still enough to dress him in wet garments and even more difficult to keep him still for the full two hours for the treatment, but wow. Just WOW! Wet wraps were a miracle treatment for Tristan. They worked so well at a time when nothing else we’d found provided any relief.
For more information, please read: Our Eczema Trials – Wet Wrap Therapy
Our first step to healing from the inside out came from the advice of a naturopath at a local health food store. She insisted we try some homeopathic tinctures. Well, we’d tried homeopathy before and they were custom blends made specifically for Tristan, but they never worked. You can read more about that journey here. We then learned that not all homeopathy is created equal. This is the pre-formulated homeopathy that our naturopath recommended that really worked for us!
Homeodel 48 – Weeping Eczema (We didn’t use this one because Tristan’s skin was dry, not weeping. We used the first two listed, but if you’re dealing with weeping eczema, this one may be helpful along with the R23.)
We used the first two in the list for a while and eventually were able to wean Tristan off of both of them.
We’ve tried so many supplements and vitamins and we just didn’t see results. I do believe probiotics and fish oil can work well for some children and adults. In fact, there was an interesting new study about a certain strain of probiotics that have been proven to be beneficial for eczema, read about it here.
BUT, one thing did work for us and again came as a recommendation from the naturopath mentioned above, Moducare Immune System Support. We used this immune booster for a while and then were able to stop it completely without seeing an increase in eczema flares.
For more information, please read: Our Eczema Trials – Immune Balancer
While the mittens and wet wraps worked well to heal the skin, I was looking for eczema prevention. I wanted to look beyond simply reacting to a flare up, I wanted to prevent one from occurring in the first place. Although our dermatologist told us there was no way our son’s skin could be linked with food, I wasn’t so sure, my intuition was telling me otherwise. To guide me in a full elimination diet, I used the book Dealing with Food Allergies in Babies & Children. And THIS was our golden ticket. Only days after following the elimination diet in the book, we saw my son’s skin heal up by 95%. It was remarkable and quick.
Please always work with a health practitioner when eliminating food from a child’s diet.
For more information about elimination diets, please read: Our Eczema Trials: Elimination Diet (How You Can Do It Too!)
[Update 1/10/2017] The last little bit of Tristan’s eczema cleared up on the AIP diet. Read more about our experience with Auto Immune Paleo and Eczema.
[Update 10/12/2018] I really like this Elimination Diet Book by Abby of Prime Physique Nutrition. It’s worth checking out!
For many people, laundry detergents can actually cause eczema to flare, but for others, like my son, it just further irritates an existing eczema flare up. And since causing additional irritation to my son’s skin was the last thing I wanted to do, we made the switch to a more gentle laundry option. At first we tried natural detergent and then we tried natural free & clear detergent, but neither were gentle enough. We moved on to soap nuts and now use the SmartKlean Laundry Ball, which we’ve been very happy with.
For more information, please read: Our Eczema Trials: Safe Laundry Detergent Alternatives
Shop for the SmartKlean Laundry Ball.
Bathing & Hand Washing
Overall, we found bathing and hand washing to be very drying for our son, but a few key points helped to insure his skin stayed well hydrated.
- Only use soap when it’s absolutely necessary.
- Never sit in soapy water. If using soap for bathing or hand washing, always rinse it off immediately.
- Use a gentle, simple soap. We’ve had the most luck with olive oil based and tallow soaps best.
- Use a good moisturizer after every bath, shower or hand washing. See my favorite below.
Shop for gentle eczema soap.
Skin Care – Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream
While all of the above really helped Tristan’s skin, we still found he flared up from time to time and he definitely still has dry skin. To combat this, we are devoted to our beloved Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Skin Cream. It contains simple, very healing ingredients that just work so well for my son. We apply this cream morning and night to prevent his skin from drying out.
For more information about Manuka honey, please read: Manuka Honey Benefits: Heals Eczema Naturally
Shop for Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Skin Cream.
Lastly, this online workshop for baby and child eczema is a great resource, full of ideas to try!
That’s a list of what we use and love. What about you? What are your go-to natural remedies for eczema?