I have three daughters and one of them suffers from seasonal allergies and eczema. She struggles with dry, itchy skin for part of the year, but the worst outbreaks come in Springtime. With the weather warming up and little blossoms coming into bloom, her skin cries ‘Ahhh!’ and her immune system goes into overdrive defending itself from pollen floating through the air. The poor girl breaks out into a rash, making her feel uncomfortable and itchy.
Last year, I was taken by surprise when a rash broke out over her entire body. I thought it was a viral infection, but the rash wasn’t clearing up. So my next thought was eczema. She had had a few bouts of dry, scaly skin rashes behind her knees, but this rash was far worse than that. This rash started behind the knees, but quickly grew, covering her body with light red spots, causing great discomfort. Chicken pox, maybe? Nah, she had a strong bout of that when she was 10 month old. Something more sinister? There were no other symptoms. No cough, no runny nose, no headaches, no sickness….what was left?
I scoured the internet, I made repeated trips to the doctor, I took her with me to the chiropractor and we got a referral to a consultant. They all had an explanation and an anecdote. After many weeks of dealing with a rash that wasn’t going away and a cranky child, I was fed up and looking for an answer. And the professionals wanted to help.
So, I tried it all. Hydrocortison creams, antibiotics, daily baths, moisturizing creams (the last count was 7 different brands), cutting out dairy, chiropractic adjustments, probiotic vitamins and omega fish oils, and at one desperate point, we cut out wheat as well. It became all-consuming and ridiculous. I had had enough.
Then, July rolled around, we took off to Canada for 4 weeks and the problem disappeared. Her skin was normal again and all traces of a rash were gone. Just like that (snap!). I was relieved and thought our skin problems were over. Before our holiday, the consultant had assured me at that point that it was indeed a viral infection and it was clearing up. So, I didn’t give it a second thought.
Then November rolled around. The weather was getting colder, the nights were drawing in earlier and we cranked up the heating to keep warm. And so it began again – only behind her knees at that point. But I still despaired. On went the creams she could tolerate and I kept a close eye on the rest of her skin. The winter progressed without further rash development, but it inevitably got warmer and in April, the whole thing started again! But I was not going to let this eczema take over – not again!
I decided to scale back my efforts and concentrate on a few key treatments to help contain the eczema.
- First, I decided to make my own cream (recipe below). This was made up of all natural ingredients containing healing properties. It provides relief to itchy skin and keeps the skin supple to allow it to repair itself. I use it every morning and evening wherever she has dry, itchy skin. More importantly, as part of her treatment regime, I use it as a soap substitute in the bath. When her skin is warm and moist, I massage this homemade cream in and let her soak a while longer. This has made such a difference in keeping the rash contained as my daughter isn’t constantly scratching and spreading the rash.
- Although I am a keen advocate of natural remedies, I have opted to give her a daily dose of Piriton. Because it is an anti-histamine, it helps stop the itchiness and keeps her allergy symptoms at bay.
- The natural remedies I am giving my daughter include probiotics, omega3 fish oils and local unpasteurized honey. I have also tried giving her nettle tea, but it’s a no go. She just won’t drink it.
- I have also opted to cut out cow’s milk during this period as dairy seems to aggravate the irritation. I’ve substituted with almond milk, but I’ve not cut out yogurt or cheese. She struggled with the substitutions last year and I couldn’t face doing it to her again.
These remedies have played a vital role in keeping her skin as healthy as possible by strengthening her immune system and helping her fight off the allergies triggering her eczema. I believe this because when I compare this year’s rash to last year’s outbreak, they are vastly different. Yes, we still struggle, but the eczema is much milder than it was last year.
My hope is that next year, we won’t struggle so much with allergies and eczema. Maybe, just maybe, with the all the remedies we’re trying this year, her immune system will be strong enough to cope with allergy season next year. Fingers crossed!
Homemade Skin Cream
1/2 cup unrefined Shea Butter
1tsp cold pressed Jojoba Oil
5 drops Lavender Essence Oil
Warm shea butter to soften slightly. Whip the butter with jojoba oil and lavender essence for a minute until desired texture is reached. Transfer to a jar or container. If cream is kept in the fridge, it will get hard. Rub between hands to soften. If kept at room temperature, the cream will be firm but softens easily.