Our Family’s Battle with Eczema (Part 2 of 2)

Our Family's Battle with Eczema 2

If you missed Part 1 of the story, you can view it here.

On April before his third birthday, Tristan’s poor body was 90% covered in eczema and what appeared to be severe burns. It pains me to even remember him that way now. I just can’t articulate how horrific it was to see my lovely little son in such misery with red, inflamed irritated skin. And the itching! Wow, don’t get me started. Thankfully, it only started around this time and he didn’t have a problem with itching before, but when it started, it was hell and back. No sleeping at night (him or us), screaming hysterically day and night, and the “scratch trances” (as I call them, when his eyes would blur over as his mind shut down and his scratching instincts kicked in).

Tristan with an infectionThe scratching led to bleeding, which led to infections and it was just one big vicious cycle. The dry, red, inflamed eczema skin we could deal with – lots of moisturizer and he was ok, as long as we used something that didn’t sting him too badly. But the itching was out of control. Out of our control. Out of his control. He was so helpless and that was horrible to witness. This was a serious and painful time for all of us. We had to find a solution. And fast.

First, we tried to control the itching or at least prevent him from hurting himself. We found ScratchSleeves with Scratch Mittens which he miraculously couldn’t remove and we used them religiously. They also helped to break his thumb sucking habit, which was an added bonus. Tristan did not take a nap or night’s sleep without these mittens. If we forgot them, his skin would be a bloody mess. If he became itchy while at the park, we’d throw the scratch mittens on him and distract him until it passed. Many times he didn’t want to wear them and it’s not easy to reason with a 3-year-old, but we managed.

Next, we tried to find a moisturizer that didn’t burn or sting him terribly. Drug store brands were out of the question as they all contained some sort of alcohol, which seemed to burn Tristan’s skin. We also found that most natural moisturizers weren’t as natural as they claimed or contained a type of alcohol or preservative as well, so labels became our friends and we studied them extensively. In fact, eczema was a blessing in disguise as it helped our family live a much more natural, non-toxic lifestyle, so for that we’re eternally thankful. We found some great creams that worked well, but our go-tos for Tristan became the salves and balms because they never contain alcohol, but instead gentle oils. The Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream is our absolute favorite. Tristan was happy because the stinging and burning stopped, so we were happy too.

The salves kept Tristan’s skin moister than without, but his case was severe and something more drastic was necessary. I learned about wet wrapping and gave it a go. Wet wrapping is AMAZING! Learn more: What Is Wet Wrap Therapy for Eczema? I really didn’t believe it would work, but we did it three times per day for one week and the results were incredible. His skin was close to perfect – almost nicer than when he was born! But after one week, the intense moisture therapy backfired and started drying him out, so it was only good for a quick fix and for “skin emergencies,” but it was enough to show us there was hope.

The itching was again starting to really consume Tristan, so we started using the anti-histamine prescribed by the dermatologist. We gave him the minimum dose and it worked like a dream. The itching completely stopped for two days at a time and didn’t seem to make Tristan drowsy…fabulous! But after two weeks it started losing its effectiveness. We had to stop for one week, give him a break so his body didn’t resist it anymore, and then it would work again. We’d take that scenario any day; it was better for Tristan to have a few really great days rather than all bad ones. It was at least another step in the right direction until we could determine the root cause of his itching.

At about the same time we were trying the new salves and skin protecting clothing, we started a food elimination diet. I read Dealing with Food Allergies in Babies and Children, by Janice Vickerstaff Joneja PhD RD, front to back and followed her methods and recommendations for the eczema elimination diet exactly. We found a long list of food items that made him itchy immediately after consuming (e.g. soy, corn, tomato, red peppers, etc.), as well as some that took at day or two of continuously eating before causing the itch (e.g.. cantaloupe and pineapple). One huge trigger for the red, irritated eczema skin we discovered was gluten. Once this was removed, Tristan’s skin started getting better immediately and after three weeks his skin was 90% better! A breakthrough!!! The itching was still pretty intense at times, so we cut out almonds. He was eating rice-almond bread, drinking almond milk and eating almonds as snack and in his cereal. It was too much! And once we cut them out totally, the itching completely stopped!

So here we are today. Tristan is 90% better. He’s rarely itchy, but he still has small eczema flair-ups from time to time, but overall he has made a miraculous recovery. Doctors had told us that he’d have severe eczema throughout his entire childhood, if not into adulthood. At 3-years-old, he’s not cured, but he’s got a mild case of eczema at best and no longer needs scratch mittens. Our family’s tears of frustration have truly become tears of joys and of triumph. Tristan is well on his way to eczema free days – I’m confident they’re not too far away.

For details about products and therapies that worked for us, please check out Natural Remedies for Eczema: What Worked For My Son.


  1. Rebecca Wilson on October 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    We’ve seen poor Tristan suffering with this horrible condition and reading your story is heart breaking. But now that solutions have been found and the eczema is improving we are estatic for all of you. Tristan is a very lucky little boy to have a determined mom (and supporting dad) to guide him through this journey to healthy skin.


  2. danielle wilson on October 14, 2011 at 8:55 am

    your story is truely inspriational and gives me hope that one day ivan will have nice skin again. it’s so great to hear that his skin is improving 🙂

    • Jennifer on October 14, 2011 at 9:29 am

      Thanks Danielle – I know it will happen for Ivan soon. Just stay strong for him, as you’ve been doing and know that you have lots of friends and support throughout your journey.

  3. Jen on October 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    What is the “immune balancer”?

    • Jen on October 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      Just subscribing to my own reply!

  4. breannapetersonphotography on November 2, 2011 at 3:42 am

    so glad you guys have found so much relief & will continue to move forward! The ‘not knowing’ is so challenging, & probably what makes me the craziest, but compared to where we & you guys have been, we’re all in such a better place now!

    • Jennifer on November 2, 2011 at 10:25 am

      Hi again – yes, not knowing is incredibly hard. All we can do is try to educate ourselves and try everything possible that is safe. We’re still contemplating doing the elimination diet, but not one that is liquid only in the beginning. Let me know if you want to do it together – could make it more fun!


  5. robinsview on February 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Good luck with continuing the search. My youngest son also had bad eczema, but nothing compared to what your did, although we had a few summers where shorts were not ever a clothing option because he would scratch the backs of his knees bloody. His allergist did find some food intolerances (wheat, eggs, spelt, radishes, etc) that have done wonders for his skin. Outside factors are interesting too, my husband’s grandmother was a smoker, but never smoked around my son, but just being close to her would break him out. New thing pop up all the time, he is eight now, we have been doing this for 5 1/2 years. It’s a constant battle, but worth all the time and effort. Kudos to you for making the effort.

    • Jennifer on February 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Hi Robin – Isn’t it incredible how closely foods can be tied to health conditions like eczema? If the skin reacts in such extreme ways like eczema, imagine the battle that is going on inside the body. Ick. Thanks for your comment! Jennifer

    • Jess on August 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      Thank you for sharing-at times I’ve felt like my (1yr old) little girl’s the only one constantly in pants, even during a hot SC summer. I know it could be worse and am very grateful, but admit I’d love to put her in little dresses or shorts:). But it’s worth it to not have her scratch until she brings blood! She’s done that to the backs of her knees, sometimes arms, and ankles. She’s gluten/nut/soy free and we’re still trying and praying-and hopeful!

      • Jennifer on August 9, 2014 at 8:02 am

        Jess- I’m sorry to hear that your family is battling this right now, just know it will get better! Your daughter will be wearing dresses in no time. Jennifer

  6. Lee-Ann O'Connor on September 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Power to you mama and dada! We went through something very similar with our Lola-Belle since she was 3.5 months and at some points we had it under control but less so now..she is nearly 5 years old now. We just cope with it the best we can, sometimes our best works well enough for us all to get sleep and her to have good days at school and other times..falls flat on it’s face despite the best of regimes. We can’t control everything in her environment anymore, so this makes the condition a lot more tricky to deal with. Last year was our first family holiday abroad, we learned some lessons and are hoping to take a 2nd family holiday abroad this year. I was hoping to get back to work but it just never seems possible on those off days. We just need to take each day at a time. Thanks for sharing Tristan’s story, it gives light and hope and support to all of us parents to eczema/allergy/asthma etc.

    • Jennifer on September 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Hey Lee-Ann – thanks for the comment! We can only try our best, which you are definitely doing. You are one wonderful mom! You say you learned some great tips while traveling this past summer? Would you like to write them up as a guest post for everyone to read? I’m sure you have some good points others, including myself, could learn from. Jennifer

  7. Canem on February 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Hi Jennifer, my 4 month old has dealt with severe eczema for 2 months now. You could say we have a phd in the subject now. I’ve eliminated all cleaning detergents from our house, am on an elimination diet, have done bleach baths, wet wraps, and spent literally thousands of dollars on creams, and now use neem oil and Vaseline. It’s so so hard because of the itching. Levi totally gets I to that trance you described. And he already has had several staph infections. It’s hard to explain to other mothers why I cry everyday because of “eczema” but reading your blog has given me faith. We finally had him tested, and it looks like dairy, eggs and tree nuts are the culprits. Though I don’t trust wheat or soy, even though his skin test was negative. It’s so hard to know if what we are doing is right. Since he is exclusively breastfed, my doctor said to not avoid eggs or nuts in hope that a little exposure could help him grow out ofit later. How could anyone knowingly expose their 4 mo old to itchiness like that, I don’t know. Anyway thank you for putting all this out there.

    • Jennifer on February 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Hi Canem –

      I’m so sorry to hear your baby boy is experiencing severe eczema, especially at such a young, helpless age. I’m hopeful for you that the newly discovered allergies may be a big trigger, as are gluten and soy possibly. Great that you’ve found some good oils and creams that work for you. It’s expensive trying this and that until you find what works best for you – as everyone is different and everyone will have a different miracle cream suggestion, as you well know 🙂 If the itching is relentless, make sure to keep his hands covered, which I’m sure you already do. We found these mittens extremely helpful.

      Hugs to you and your family. I know it’s so hard and it seems like there is no hope in sight, but you will figure it out because you are a wonderful mother and will fight to help your son get through this. You will find all the triggers, although I’m sure at times it seems like a helpless task. Hang in there. Just remember to take care of yourself. That is one thing that is so difficult to remember during all the sleepless nights and daily stresses of eczema. Take care of yourself so that you can better help your son.

      Please keep in touch and let me know if you ever have questions or just need a shoulder to cry on. Trust me, I’ve been there 🙂 You may enjoy this video – Stuff Eczema Mamas Say. I’m sure you can relate.


  8. Ellie on July 16, 2014 at 2:02 am

    My daughter had mild eczema and the only way to get rid of hers was to take her to a pool with chlorine and it went away she’s 4 now and her skin is dry but no more eczema, my son now has eczema too but his is so bad he is constantly bleeding from his legs, arms and stomach area!

    • Jennifer on July 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Ellie – I’m so sorry to hear that your son is now suffering. I take it dips in the pool are not helping him. Have you considered wet wrapping or the diet connection? Jennifer

  9. Andzmae on April 23, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Hi jennifer, i am so thankful that i got to read your blog. I just recently searched about steroids and found your site. I’m now currently having a battle with my 5 month old who’s eczema getting worse.we just recently used topical steroids to but have been so doubtful about it ever since.i just noticed that when i stop using steroids her eczema comes back again.so i decided to really stop using steroids and apply the natural cream and moisturizer instead since its the safest.I’m currently using moogoo products.have you heard about it?www.moogoo.com.au. by the way i would like to ask since I’ve been breastfeeding my baby,does my doos intake affects her eczema?ive been asking doctors about thos but they dont believe it would affect her.

    • Jennifer Roberge on April 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Hi – That’s great news that the natural creams are helping and you’ve been able to stop using cortisone since it was making things worse. Yes, I do believe and have seen first hand that allergens pass through breast-milk. If you are thinking your baby may have a food sensitivity, which is very possible, it’s best to work with a health practitioner who supports you and have him guide you down a healthy food elimination diet that your baby will benefit from.

  10. Patricia on September 23, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I have a 4-year-old and he was super controlled until a month ago, and I really have no idea what happened (besides summer?), I’d love some advice in how to discover the triggers :'(

    For example, how did you discover he was gluten intolerant? Maybe with an allergy test?


    • Jennifer Roberge on September 25, 2017 at 11:54 am

      Hi Patricia –

      Sorry to hear your little one is going through this! This post has a lot of detailed info about what worked for us including an elimination diet, which is how we determined which foods were triggering his eczema to flare up.

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