I think us parents are pretty much all familiar with eczema. If you're like me you dread the appearance if those dry, itchy patches that can drive a child (and parent) crazy. In fact, it's so common that as many as 10% of all infants in the US have some form of eczema (nationaleczema.org). Fortunately most grow out of it by the age of 5. I am feeling grateful because Lexi seems to have grown out of it.
Scientists believe that eczema is inherited, so there's no way to prevent it. But because specific triggers can make it worse, flare-ups can be prevented or improved by avoiding possible triggers. Sunblock and harsh detergents were a trigger for me as a child and are for Lexi too. Triggers include:
dry winter air with little moisture
skin that gets too dry
certain harsh soaps and detergents
certain fabrics (such as wool or coarsely woven materials)
certain skin care products, perfumes, and colognes (particularly those that contain alcohol)
In my experience, not enough emphasis is placed on how food can affect eczema and how healthy diet can help manage it. Here are a few things that I found helped me get Lexi's eczema under control and prevent flare-ups.
To help figure out what foods were triggers for Lexi, we started with an elimination diet. Nothing too extreme, I just cut out dairy products, eggs and nuts to help rule out allergies. Turns out that Lexi doesn't suffer from allergies, so we slowly reintroduced these foods in small amounts.
Boost the immune system
Lexi has had daily probiotics her whole life. But it turns out that sometimes a change of brand is needed. I upped her dosage and changed to a probiotic with higher lactobacillus. I also started giving her more immune boosting foods such as:
I started brewing my own kombucha. Kombucha is particularly helpful if you have a child that loves juices and fizzy drinks. It has replaced all sugary drinks in our lives and we get the wonderful immune boosting benefits.
I had never really considered that Lexi's diet may be lacking in healthy fats. She always ate oily fish, seeds and I cooked with coconut oil. Extra flaxseed and avocado oils in her diet made a huge difference. I supplement with Solgar's Lit'l Squirts chewable DHA. This amazing source of Omega-3's is not only good for children's skin but also for brain and eye development.
Opt for Hypoallergenic Foods
Hypoallergenic or low allergen foods are less likely to trigger allergic reactions. Hypoallergenic fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, apples, pears, squash, cucumbers, kale, Brussels sprouts, celery, lettuce, zucchini, beets, bananas, blueberries, apricots and turnips, are generally considered safe for people with eczema.
I found though, that the most beneficial foods were leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Celery, bok choy, spinach, kale and broccoli are our favourites. These vegetables are packed with flavonoids and anti-oxidants which are alkanising, reducing inflamation and promoting healing.
These tips are just that, tips based on my experience. I would recommend doing some research of your own and experimenting to find what works for your family. However, I think that it boils down to common sense and healthy eating.
If you would like to do further reading I recommend starting with these pages:
13 Good Foods for Eczema Sufferers (http://topeczematreatments.com/13-super-foods-good-for-eczema/) the infographic on this page is particularly helpful
Dr Axe on eczema (https://draxe.com/eczema-symptoms/) has another great infographic and links to other articles by Dr Axe