Eczema and Eczema Treatment
A repeat of helpful info:
Everyone’s always asking me about eczema. What I do for it, did for it, have I tried this, that, the other thing, will I talk to their friend who has a child with eczema, etc etc. So now, if anyone asks, I can send them the link to this post.
Eczema is a pretty nasty beast and it changes with every person, but these are some things I have done for The Boy’s eczema, in no particular order. They may or may not work for you. Good luck.
1. IgE and IgG Blood tests. IgE and IgG are two different kinds of antibodies that can appear in your blood in response to allergens. When you visit an allergist, they usually test for IgE allergies. A person with an IgE allergy has an immediate reaction, eg: hives, anaphylactic shock. An allergist can test for them by either drawing the blood and testing it or doing what I call “the back scratch test,” where they essentially give you a bunch of paper cuts and then swipe them with the different possible allergens and wait 20 minutes to see if there’s a reaction (like hives). IgG blood tests look not just for reactions that take place immediately, but reactions that take place over time, usually two weeks. They’re more like intolerances. This is a time-consuming, expensive blood test that many insurances do not cover and doctors will disagree on the accuracy of its results. Keep in mind, though, ALL allergy tests run the chance of inaccuracy. The Boy has had three IgE blood tests and 1 IgG blood test and none of them have had the same results. Most of his diet restructuring is based on the results of the IgG blood test and his skin has taken a phenomenal step up since then.
2. Bath time Routines. All the dermatologists I ever met recommended as little bathing as possible to avoid drying out the skin. I did that with The Boy during his younger years, but found as he got older, he benefitted from taking a shower every night and cleaning all that dirt off. Try to keep the water tepid, vs very hot or very cold. Also, post-bath/shower, don’t rub the skin down with a towel. Just pat the skin dry (or better yet, air dry), and immediately put on moisturizer.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide. If the rashes start getting red/ooze-y, break out the hydrogen peroxide. If the Boy is showing any suspicious spots, then right after his shower, I dampen a white washcloth with hydrogen peroxide and pat the area with it.
4. Moisturizer. I do not use any cream lotions. Period. End of story. Lubriderm, Sarna, Cetaphil, Eucerin, Moisturel… I’ve tried ‘em all. If you have mild eczema, any of these might do the trick, but when you’re dealing with moderate to severe eczema, don’t put your hopes in a cream. I currently use Natralia Skin Nourishing Oil all over the body and the occasional Aquaphor on the knees and elbows. I’ve also had experienced good results in the past with Moisture Riser oil, Wise Woman Herbals salves, and Derma-Smoothe oil (this one is prescription only).
5. Hot Wraps and Cold Packs. This was something recommended to me by a Pediatric Dermatologist at an eczema specialty clinic in San Diego. When the eczema is particularly inflamed, after the shower, apply a thick layer of Aquaphor to the area (in The Boy’s case, it’s usually the elbows and knees, sometimes the whole forearm or shin and ankle areas), then wrap it with gauze that has been soaked in warm to hot water, followed by another layer of dry gauze or self-adhesive athletic wrap. I usually do this at night and let The Boy sleep with the wrap on. At the very least, try to keep the wrap on for two hours. If you have a prescription steroid ointment, apply the steroid first, then the Aquaphor, then the wrap.
Now onto the cold packs. Yes, I wrap up the body with warm gauze, but once he’s in bed, I tuck The Boy in with a cold pack in a fabric sleeve – the kind they sell at kiosks in the mall and farmers markets and craft sales. Ours is a fluffy purple sleeve that is washable and the cold pack is filled with corn seed and lavender. I keep it in the freezer and give it to him every night and he likes the cool softness against his skin. If you don’t have a cold pack, you could get away with a hand towel that you’ve put in the freezer (don’t soak it or anything, just let it get nice and cold in the freezer so that it feels good against the skin – think Liz Taylor freezing her negligee in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, only without the sexiness).
6. Topical steroids. Oral steroids. The Boy has been prescribed oral steroids on a couple of occasions, the kind that asthma sufferers take, and while I admit it zapped away the eczema in a couple days, oral steroids are harsh on your internal body and once the effects wear away, you run the risk of the eczema coming back with a vengeance. Topical steroids are not as bad. I’ve used pretty much all the topical steroids out there at one point or another and had the best experience with Triamcinolone ointment (I can’t remember the percentage off the top of my head, but your doctor will know best which to recommend). There’s also a foam one called Verdeso that is neat because a little bit goes a long way, but if there are too many breaks in the skin, Verdeso stings. It’s also relatively new to the market and you never know what study might come out in a year that says, “Whoops – you shouldn’t use that after all.”
7. Non-steroid prescription creams. Elidel and Protopic. I had pretty much zero success with both of these and had to chuck over a lot of money for them. What a disappointment. There are also rumors that people who have used these creams have gone on to develop skin cancer. There are no conclusive studies that prove it to the point where the creams have been made unavailable to the public, but it’s discomforting nonetheless.
8. Tea and herbs. We met with an acupuncturist who concocted a special herbal bath recipe for The Boy. It worked okay, but I found I could get the same results from pouring a pot of freshly brewed chamomile tea into the bathtub. I also know someone who poured oatmeal into her bath – mind you, not the Aveeno Oatmeal Bath, just straight up oatmeal. Much cheaper. Be careful when you drain. There’s also the age-old corn starch bath. A little bit goes a long way. Again, be careful when you drain.
9. Chiropractor. Read here for more info.
I took The Boy to a chiropractor. I fell into the 25 percent who saw some improvement. But not total improvement.
10. Benadryl. Good for the itchies that just don’t go away and ruin sleep time. I’m not a fan of drugging up The Boy, but let’s face it, he also needs to sleep and sometimes Benadryl gets him there. At doctors recommendations, we have tried both Zyrtec and Atarax (and for a short, fretful while, both) but in the end we all agreed that I would use Benadryl at my discretion because it put the least amount of drugs into his body.
11. Probiotics. For goodness, take them, regardless of whether or not you eat yogurt and especially if you’ve ever taken antibiotics. Be careful of probiotics brands though. Not all probiotics carry live bacteria and if they’re dead, then they’re doing you no good. My friend the chiropractor recommends this brand that requires a health professional’s assistance in ordering: Innate Choice.
12. Cod liver oil. I aim to give The Boy cod liver oil (flavored in either lemon or orange) every day to nourish the skin and those omega-3s aren’t hurting his brain activity either. I’ve been recommended strongly by three health experts to only use the Nordic Naturals or Carlson’s brands.
13. Bragg’s brand Apple Cider Vinegar. The ultimate panacea. Got a fever? Got an allergy? Got a weight problem? Got acid reflux? Got digestion issues? There’s a testimonial out there how apple cider vinegar changed it all. Recommended drink is two tablespoons a day mixed with 8 oz water. If you can’t stand the sourness, try adding honey. The Boy wasn’t too fond of this concoction, so I mix a little 100 percent apple juice into the water.
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