My son Nathan was 3 months old when the first little patch of eczema appeared on his belly. During his 3 month checkup, I didn’t think anything of it. The doctor, really a nurse practitioner, told me to watch it and apply some baby lotion. She took it more seriously than I did at the time. At the time, I was exhausted from a wild 28 month old daughter, nursing around the clock, co-sleeping, and worry over my son’s two other congenital conditions, metatarsus adductus and a mild hypospadias. So eczema was far from my mind!
When my son was 5 months old, I tried to give him some conventional formula. I was already eating “healthy” whatever that means! And thinking about organics, that sort of thing. It was kind of a fluke giving him the formula sample, me just thinking, hey maybe I don’t have to nurse all the time! Maybe I can go out sometimes!! Nathan didn’t know exactly how to drink from a bottle nipple, and a lot came spilling out of his mouth because he was sucking too hard. Everywhere where the formula spilled on his skin, he developed an instant case of hives. On his lips, chin, neck down his belly and his hands. I took away the bottle right away and was shocked! Also saddened that I had a feeling nursing would continue for quite a long long time to come!
After the hives incident, I called our pediatrician and told her what had happened. We went in for an appointment. We were prepping him for his hypospadias surgery at that time, and the doctor didn’t take it very seriously, to my surprise. We had bigger concerns at the moment. I went off all dairy as a precaution. The eczema did not improve from removing dairy from my diet and Nathan’s diet. Still, I used rice milk in my coffee and cereal, and avoided cheese, yogurt, etc. I told my doctor I thought the eczema was a food allergy, but couldn’t prove it, and was told that it would clear up on it’s own, hopefully by age 2.
After surgery, and more doctor appointments, I got a referral for a dermatologist. We saw an assistant dermatologist since it was 2 month’s wait to see the one that was so highly recommended. Nathan was formally diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, a fancy term for eczema. I was told about using more creams, a prescription steroid cream which made me nervous, and a liquid antihistamine. The steroid cream would clear up any eczema for a day or two, but since the amount of coverage was nearly his entire little body, I never felt comfortable with that approach.
Things went on this way for over a year, and I researched more and more different creams I could use and started using Ava Anderson Non Toxic diaper cream, coconut oil, and other natural ways to treat his skin. I also had the pediatrician’s office do a blood test on Nathan for food allergies which came back negative. I have no idea how. I thought maybe it was environmental allergies and not food. I took out all toxic substances from touching his skin, using the natural soaps and detergents from Ava, cleaning my house with lemons and vinegar, etc. No improvements.
At age 21 months, my son ate from a local bakery and developed itchy bumpy red dots covering his entire torso and resulted in screaming pain when I put lotion on him. I finally had enough and made the appointment next day for an allergy specialist. I had been talking to many friends who suspected either gluten or dairy to be the main culprit. We went back off dairy and also off gluten the very next day. This was a big first step for me! The itchy bumps cleared up, but not the persistent eczema in his arm and leg creases, back of his ears and neck, and on his wrists, knuckles and ankles.
Finally, the day of the first allergy appointment arrived. The allergy doctor was very good at working with small children. He took down Nathan’s entire medical history, and also took into account my allergy history, which the pediatrician had only glossed over. I am allergic to tree nuts, stone fruits and have seasonal allergies and cat allergies. The allergy doctor ordered 3 panels of the skin prick test, which was a pain quite literally. It was over quickly enough and he measured the size of the rashes that had developed. My poor baby was allergic to rye, dairy, egg whites and apples!