Our food allergy story, like many of yours, began with unrelenting eczema. Itching. Scratching. Red, oozy spots. The doctor said it was common with infants and wasn’t a big deal. It pained us to watch our precious baby so miserable and raw. After changing pediatricians, I (Holly) followed my mommy gut and brought him in when he woke up from a nap in a pool of blood. That was, by no means, ok. Not at all.
That day we started a new regimen of baths, topical steroids, crèmes… The advice we received was completely opposite from what we’d been told previously, which frustrated and confused us, but we were so desperate to see a change that we followed their instructions to a t. Within a week, his sweet little baby skin began to heal. It took ten days to clear up completely, but it finally did. Once he was diagnosed with food allergies his flares became less severe and frequent, but he still struggles occasionally.
The other day a friend called and I could sense the desperation in her voice. Her baby was going through the same thing and they were at a loss. I started out by saying “I’m not a doctor. Or an expert. But I know what works for us…” And so I shared a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way. As I started to share, I realized that we have learned a lot about how to keep his eczema under control.
Every child is different, as are their triggers, but here are a few things that we’ve found to be helpful along the way.
- Read every label
When our food allergy journey began, we didn’t realize how many allergens were hidden in every day items, like lotions and soaps. That fancy organic lotion we loved? It had dairy in it! Just like food labels, be sure to read each and every labels on toiletries, detergents, etc. Cross-check the ingredients with your food allergy avoidance lists (like this one here.) Not sure what “natural oils” are? Call the manufacturer!
2. Get back to the basics
Once we ditched all of our fancy toiletries, we started our search for ones that were safe. Our allergist originally suggested Dove Unscented, but we found that we had to be extra careful to get it in his eyes because it burns terribly. When our son had his first appointment at Dallas Children’s Medical Center’s Food Allergy clinic we received a handout from the National Eczema Association (NEA) on soaps and lotions they recommend. We cross-checked their list with our own avoidance lists, to find a few products that are not only completely free of the “Big 8” but approved by the NEA! (Conveniently, we offer a selection of our favorites for sale here!)
- Bathe regularly
A huge piece of the eczema puzzle was baths. Our first pediatrician told us to bathe him less often so we didn’t dry out his skin. But what we learned works best is the opposite – bathe often!!! (The smart folks at the NEA agree on this.) We will soak him in lukewarm water (not too hot or too cool) three times a day for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. This is a good time to bust out the toys and do a little splashing because you’re going to be in there a while. Keep this routine up for 7-10 days and things should start clearing! We’ve found that adding oatmeal to his bath helps speed up the healing, and now we use Eczema bubble pods. They’re filled with oatmeal and are tons of fun! We also recommend that after you get out of the bath you dress up in a puppy towel. While it doesn’t do much to heal eczema, it does a lot for making everyone around you smile.
4. Slather up like a pig
Once you’ve finished the bath, take your little love out and pat them dry. The key is to leave a little moisture on their skin. Then, use your moisturizer of choice and slather them up like a pig. When his skin feels particularly rough, we turn to either the Hydrating Ointment Moisture Cream or Eczema Super Cream – both of these are thicker and more hydrating.
- Keep allergies under control
This is going to sound obvious, but we have to say it… If you suffer from eczema from environmental or food allergies, the best thing that you can do is avoid your allergens! The more controlled your allergies are, the more controlled your eczema will be!
5. Keep it covered
Something we had to learn the hard way was to dress our eczema baby in long pants whenever we knew he’d be out and about. That can be particularly annoying since we live in the South, but when he doesn’t then any part of his body that touches couches, chairs, or other fabrics breaks out in eczema. We try to balance controlling his eczema with keeping him cool and are still working on this!
6. Use steroids (sparingly)
Our final tip is to use topical steroids sparingly. We reserve using prescription ointments for when things are really out of control. We have found great success with prescription Locoid, which is formulated to be safe for regular use in newborns, as well as mild hydrocortisone, as found in the Soothing Eczema Care Gift Set. Be sure to only use topical steroids under a physician’s supervision. When you really need it though, a few dabs really does the trick!
We’d love to hear your tips for controlling eczema. We’re all in this together!