Healing Eczema Naturally
Thank you for your interest in this catalogue of my on-going research of homeopathic remedies and information resources available on the internet regarding childhood eczema.
Almost all of the information below was acquired via the internet through extensive "searches" and from correspondence with others dealing with eczema and allergies themselves or as parents. After more than a year of fighting my 18-month-old daughter’s eczema with conventional medical treatments to no lasting relief, I have decided to fully explore homeopathic alternatives. My purpose for creating this list is solely to share what I have learned with others who also seek to heal eczema naturally, i.e., with as little use of cortisone and steroid creams as possible due to their possible effects on skin after long term use. I originally intended this list to be used primarily by parents of babies and children with what I term "unyielding" or "relentless" eczema. So for some this may be more than enough information. Yet those who have been dealing with this problem for a long time may find nothing new here. Please bear in mind that homeopathic treatments work in the body very differently than conventional medicines. Essential oils rarely make a difference in eczema's appearance "overnight" as is sometimes the case with steroid creams. Though improvement can begin to show in as early as a week, most treatments should be followed for at least eight weeks before evaluating its effect. In dealing with Gemma's eczema I have come to understand homeopathy as a long-term commitment, and steroid creams as a brief fling.
Anyway, here is the information I have to offer. It's a lot to read, I apologize:
Essential Oils and Other Alternative Products
~ Primrose oil and Borage oil. Having had several recommendations for their use in eczema treatment, we tried these oils. We put them on her topically, as opposed to the flaxseed oil which we put in her cereal and fruit in the morning. Primrose, Borage, and Black Current oils all contain Omega-6 fatty acids, so it's only necessary to choose one of these to add to the diet. We may begin to give her Black Current oil orally because of Dr. Weil's recommendation (see below).
~ Black Current Oil. This is suggested in the treatment of eczema by the famous self-healing enthusiast Dr. Weil whose site is athttp://cgi.pathfinder.com/drweil. Search for "eczema" at this site for his suggestions.
~ Flaxseed oil.During the time that we have been giving our daughter this oil her facial skin has improved dramatically. Apparently, allergic reactions of many kinds have been linked to a deficiency in Omega-3 fatty acids (the "good oils") in the body. Go to the website at http://www.eczema.cc/flaxseed.html which is The Eczema Connection's page on flaxseed. They suggest 2 tablespoons a day for adults. We originally divided it down to 1/2 teaspoon a day for Gemma, but now have raised that to 1 teaspoon daily. Recently on the eczema message boards there has been some discussion of flaxseed oil by parents who believe their children’s skin has had unpleasant reactions to flaxseed oil being added to the diet. Though these cases are the exception, it is of course a good idea to always keep a watchful eye out for any potential side effects when anything new is added to a child’s diet.
~ Florosone Cream. A natural alternative to hydrocortisone with no side effects. It is homeopathic with a base of cardiospermum which is herbal and completely safe unless your child has a sensitivity to cardiospermum specifically. I get it at the healthfood store. I know it's also available online athttp://www.pennherb.com/.
~ Calendula Cream.A natural, protective baby cream we found at the healthfood store. We use this as a general moisturizer because it really seems to help smooth out her skin. And, it smells great. However, if your child is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts do not use this cream because its first ingredient is peanut oil, and though peanuts are actually legumes (and not nuts) people with allergies to nuts are advised to avoid peanuts as well because of possible cross contamination in their production.
~ Chamomile Oil. Frightfully expensive. $28 for a very small bottle at our healthfood store. But if you can get your mind (and budget) around that, use this as a soothing oil on dry patches. But use just a drop in a larger base of apricot kernel oil (perhaps 1 drop of chamomile to 15 drops of apricot kernel oil) because too much chamomile oil can sting or burn on irritated skin.
~ Eucalyptus Oil. A drop or two in your baby's laundry helps clear away allergens and dust mites lurking in the fabric. Also, washing baby's things in the hottest water you can use without ruining the clothes helps remove allergens as well.
~ Tea Tree Oil. This is a natural antiseptic. Put a drop or two in a base of about 10 - 15 drops of apricot kernel oil and use to clean vulnerable areas. Avoid the eyes and genitals because it may sting.
~ Chamomile Extract Cream. A natural skin healer available in healthfood stores. Choose one that has chamomile as a primary ingredient, as opposed to being the tenth ingredient listed.
~ Skin-E-Dip.A zinc oxide cream that is safe for babies. Many people had reported that it helps take the itch away and calms the skin, so we ordered some at www.skin-e-dip.com/, the only place I believe it is available. Bottom line: We really love it. We put it on the oozier and pricklier parts. Gemma's skin clears quickly after an application of it, and she doesn't mind us putting it on her (a first!), we think because it feels soothing going on. And it smells great.
Organizations and Individuals
~ The Eczema Connection (http://www.eczema.cc/) is a resource for research and product information. There is a yearly membership, about $30 if I remember correctly. There is an impressive amount of information at this site. They are also where I first learned about SKIN-E-DIP cream. Some people criticize The Eczema Connection’s product list as a hang-out for "snake oil salesmen". I'm skeptical. Use common sense. Basically, if it sounds like someone is trying to sell you something miraculous, regard them with caution. Otherwise, this site can be very informative and supportive.
~ The Eczema Mailing List. This list is an ongoing dialogue between people dealing with eczema (either themselves or as parents). It is free to subscribe, and what people write each day shows up in your inbox as one long (and I do mean LONG) email. It is a place for people to share info, as well as to vent. Mind you, there is no one official "expert" at this list, so you will have to sift through it all and decide what is useful and what isn't. There can be a lot of technical medical lingo here, as some of the writers know an awful lot about skin and skin products, either from formal study or from simply years of personally dealing with skin disorders. Of course, you also have the opportunity to add to the list once you are a member. The web site is athttp://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/david_hough/
~ Shirley’s Wellness Café.(http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/1158/ECZEMA.html I have not found this page - Hong) Shirley is an eczema sufferer who uses this site to document her progress using various treatments. There is a lot of information here, including information on getting the Eczema Association for Science and Education’s quarterly newsletter.
~ The Food Allergy Network. A really great resource for info and products for people dealing with allergies. (http://www.foodallergy.org/)
~ The Julius Roth Foundation.This is a non-profit British organization which works solely towards the relief from eczema in children, but also provide help for adults. Please go to their site http://www.flair.co.uk/jroth/. They accept cases overseas and have a very high success rate. After you send them a case history, they call with MANY suggestions and then send you ointments of fruit and plant extracts that have been specifically formulated to your child’s symptoms. They have been very informative and caring. Their concern for Gemma is as strong as any of her doctors' have been. There is a registration fee of 60 pounds (about $90), which was a bit hard to swallow at first, but I figure I've spent more than that on creams and ointments and doctors that did nothing, why stop here? So far, they have really raised our consciousness about the need for protecting Gemma against dust mites. Dust mites that occur even in reasonably clean homes, it is being discovered, may play a really big part in the aggravation of eczema and many other allergies.
~ American Health and Comfort Online SuperStore. (http://www.ahcp.com/)A very well-stocked place to look for any and all "allergy-aid" products, from humidifiers to mattress covers and beyond, and a Baby Store to boot.
Because eczema misery can never get enough company.
There are so many parent-and-expert boards out there. Here is just a small sample. If you know of a really good baby eczema, homeopathic, or pediatrician board that’s not listed here please let me know. I’ll add it to my collection.
~ iVillage.com ParentPlace boards at (http://boards.parentplace.com/messages/get/ppeczema/.html). You have to join iVillage (the Women’s Network) to get to this. It is free and also has a large "read only" archive eczema message board at (www.rainforest.parentsplace.com/)
~ BabyCenter Board: Baby’s Health at (http://www.babycenter.com/bbs/1852/) Go down the list of topics and look for "Baby Eczema".
~ The Parenttime boards, Topic: Skin Care(http://boards.pathfinder.com/) A rather new and intimate little message board where I have been giving and receiving info and support for only a short while. Just another place to feel not-quite-so-alone in this.
~ Dr. Elizabeth Burch. She is a naturopathic pediatrician who specializes in alternative therapies. She has been very helpful to me and has a very warm manner. Her chat meets at iVillage.com on Tuesdays at 10pm. I try to be there as often as possible.
~ Dr. Deanna Aftab Guy. Though not a homeopathic doctor, Dr. Guy has tracked me down at other message boards to answer my eczema questions. That’s tantamount to making a house call these days! Search for her message boards at (http://boards.pathfinder.com/).
~ Downy Free Fabric Softener. This product has no perfumes or dyes and makes clothes as wonderfully soft as the regular one does. Soft clothing helps keep irritated skin more comfortable. This Downy only comes in 40oz bottles, though because Proctor and Gamble say there isn’t enough demand for it for them to make it available in bigger bottles. There is an e-mailing campaign afoot to P & G’s web site asking for larger bottles.
~ Oatmeal baths. The world of Aveeno (or your store’s generic equivalent). Oatmeal powder, oils, and cleansing creams and bars. Some don’t bathe without it. Some say it is ineffectual. I say, it can’t hurt (unless, of course, your child is allergic to oatmeal). Every case of eczema is different. Their are recipes on the message boards for making your own oatmeal bath powder from regular oats which can be more economical if you wind up going through a lot of this stuff.
~ Epsom Salts. Yes, salt is drying. But this works like a dip in the ocean. Salt water can be very healing to the skin. Give it a try. Epsom salts are cheap enough to warrant an experiment with it anyway. I put a ˝ cup in Gemma’s bath on nights when I’m not using oatmeal. Add it to the water and let it dissolve completely. It is very soothing for Gemma and helps clear up the oozier parts. After the bath I coat her with Aquaphor or Vaseline (any clear gel-like moisturizer without active ingredients will do) while she is still damp to seal in the moisture.
So there you are. I've left out stuff that I'm sure you've heard dozens of times while dealing with this, i.e., removing milk products and other suspected allergens from the diet, only cotton clothing, etc., etc. And I hope there was something here that maybe you weren't aware of that can really help. Please let me know if this does help you, and if you have anything else you want to say or ask please do not hesitate to e-mail me anytime. People dealing with eczema really need to support each other as much as possible to stay sane. Hope to hear from you.
Good luck! Gabi