This eczema blog has been sent in by one of our readers who wanted to share her story about her battle with eczema and food allergies. By sharing her story she’s hoping to help others who may be going through similar struggles.
We hope you enjoy it! Please comment at the end of the blog if you can relate to anything Veronica and her children have been through.
I heard recently that eczema is mostly a childhood thing, that most kids grow out of it when they are about 5. I never did. When I started getting formula at 6 months, my skin started getting bad. As a kid, I remember getting prescription Eucerin. I remember it being very expensive for my family and being torn between using the lardy oily goo liberally and rationing it at the same time. I knew I was a drain on them.
I remember being told by a dermatologist to take daily showers but to only wash my armpits and privates. Then to gently pat my skin dry, apply Cortisone to any bad spots, and then Aquaphor or Vaseline to the rest. Ivory soap was the recommendation – because it was “pure” and baby shampoo. I would never use those things on my kids now.
MY ACTIVITY WAS LIMITED!
To help my skin, my activity was limited. Overheating made it worse. Contact made it worse – with grass, cats, dogs, dust, pollen, with sun exposure at the start of each year, climbing trees – normal kid things. I stayed inside and read a lot because of the heat and the plants outside. I wore socks on my hands at night to prevent me from itching. I bit my nails to keep them short.
My allergies were bad too. My eyes were puffy, itchy and pink almost all of the time. When I had an allergy flare, my skin got bad too. I slept upright on a stack of pillows. I remember watching The Elephant Man and identifying with his desire to lay down to sleep. (I wasn’t that bad, but I felt him!) I took a little yellow pill for a long time, then Tavist-D. I remember taking it daily for years and years. I also remember when the FDA recalled it because it was causing stroke, seizures, and hemorrhages in children and in woman. I was both.
( This is my allergy test results)
My mom says they were always trying to balance giving me enough of the right medicine to work but not so much it would make me hyper. Apparently, I’m in that small % of people who get hyper when they take Benadryl. After the Tavist was recalled, I began allergy de-sensitization shots. I took them for 8 years.
READ OUR ARTICLE ON Eczema prick testing and patch testing for allergies
As a teen, I remember losing friends because of flaking, red, bleeding skin. They looked at me horrified. I got steroid shots many summers because my skin would just get out of control.
I’m 36 now, and my skin is beautiful, and my allergies are almost non-existent, I take about 6 allergy tabs per year, 3 in the spring, 3 in the fall.
What happened is that I had kids. My son started having bad eczema too, but I just figured it was par for the course. When I stopped nursing him (at 18 months) he started getting a rash around his mouth and bottom. This was a surprise to me. Those are the symptoms they tell parents to look for when they are feeding their kids new food, as a sign of a food allergy. This kid wasn’t eating a lot, he was a fussy eater. He ate raisins, goldfish crackers, and applesauce. I already knew he’d get a rash if he ate cinnamon, so it was plain unsweetened applesauce.
It was pretty easy to do an elimination diet on him – and it turns out it was goldfish. It was wheat. So I eliminated wheat from his diet. We went from shredded wheat for breakfast to Rice Krispies. He was not “as bad” but still not healing like I expected.
The G-Free Diet
It turns out there is something else happening – gluten. So I learned all about Gluten. One of the best resources for me at the time was The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide by Elizabeth Hasselback.
It showed me how even a tiny speck of gluten or cross contamination could make my son sick. It empowered me to be firm in the need to keep him safe. It took time, but we switched him over to this diet and his skin was well again.
Then I gave birth to his little sister. Almost from birth she nursed and spat up a lot and had “normal” baby eczema just like my son did. I felt it was “within the range of normal”, but one of my friends mentioned it asking if my son had done the same. As I said, “Yeah, but he had a food allergy” a lightbulb literally went off in my head, that this new baby was probably having issues too. So, I made the switch too. It was very, very, very hard. My daughter stopped spitting up when I cut gluten, but then she got dairy reflux. I cut dairy and moved to almond milk. That bothered her too. At this point, I was an overwhelmed mother of 2 under 2 and afraid that everything I was eating and feeding to my kids was making them sick. I hated it. I resented it, but I was controlled by the desire to take care of them and get to the bottom of their problems. I was living in a different age. I could do for my kids what my parents couldn’t do for me. They didn’t have the food labels or information that I have at my fingertips. I was determined to help my kids.
We have other articles on ‘Foods that trigger eczema flare-ups‘ that may help you.
A few months later….
My son was playing in the yard and I was carrying my 6-month-old and standing in the grass barefoot.
Did you see that? I was standing on the Grass Barefoot and I was fine.
Grass, which used to touch my skin and make it crawl before giving it soft pink welts that itched like madness….. did nothing to me. I actually sat down in it. I touched the soft grass with amazement, I was fine.
It was my first sign that something had changed.
A few months later, it was fall, a friend was complaining that her Oak allergies were acting up really badly. I was surprised. My allergies weren’t acting up badly. In fact, I hadn’t taken allergy medicine in months … since last spring actually. My body skin was a lot better too, I just had this one persistent rashy hand. My right hand had a terrible rash, it would break, crack, bleed, itch. It was the hand I used to open bottles, jars, and wash dishes. It was very hard to take care of.
You have Dumbledores hands
I went to the dermatologist and he said something along the lines of “yeah, moms and dishwashers at restaurants get this, sorry” I got a white cotton glove, some serious steroids and instructions to keep it dry, and Aquaphor it. My husband called it my Dumbledore hand. He would say, “Why did you try to destroy the Horcrux without me” and then laugh. He is mean. I love him anyway.
After about 2 years of pain in my bad hand, it faded. I changed all of my lotions and soaps, no SLS, no phthalates, nothing drying at all. Everything I use now is designed to bring my body back to balance.
I’m trying to heal my body – not just treat symptoms. Especially my liver, which bore the brunt of my illness for so many years with medicines and steroids. I’m working to heal and restore the acid mantle of my skin, and the microflora of my body which was seriously damaged by all of the drugs I took internally and externally almost from birth. I am trying to make my body a healthy and happy place, and being gluten-free is the keystone to that.
Thank you, Veronica, for sharing your eczema blog, It’s very brave of you to do this to try to help others.