Jennifer Roberge is the founder of the award-winning It’s An Itchy Little World blog and The Eczema Company. Propelled to find a solution for her son’s struggles with eczema, allergies, and asthma, Jennifer has established herself as the go-to resource on integrative and holistic methods, and the best natural products for healing both inside and out.
As a parent, one of the hardest things in the world is watching your child suffer and feeling like you can’t do anything about it. I personally experienced such feelings of helplessness when dealing with the emotional impact of my son’s eczema. Despite constant trips to doctors and dermatologists, and after a multitude of doses from different medications – including topical steroids – my son wasn’t getting any better.
It was one of the darkest periods of my life – one that nearly destroyed my marriage. Each night, I felt like I was drowning in my own tears and despair.
If Western medicine wasn’t having a positive effect on my son’s sensitive skin, how could I help him heal?
It was then that I had a turning point. I decided I would resort to holistic methods, hoping to help my son heal from within instead. And guess what? It worked.
After countless nights watching my son struggle to sleep and endless days pleading with him not to scratch. After numerous disappointing visits to the doctor and far too many painful moments attempting to soothe the itchy, red patches covering his little body to no avail, we moved to natural, holistic methods and were finally able to heal his eczema by 95%. Needless to say, it was a huge relief.
In a previous post, I shared some tips for quick itchy skin relief, but today I’m going to delve deeper. My sincere hope is that by sharing my favorite healing treatments and methods for both the body and mind, you or your loved one’s will be able to find effective eczema relief.
As previously mentioned, I began to turn towards holistic treatments after we noticed Western medicine wasn’t have a positive effect on my son’s eczema. In addition to natural treatments, we also focused on various alternative treatments to heal from within.
The relationship between diet and eczema is real and is something Dr. Sarah has often addressed. In fact, what you eat could be the difference between clear skin and a sudden flare-up.
We noticed this when my son experienced severe flare-ups after eating gluten for more than two days in a row or almonds every day. We also discovered that eating tomatoes further exacerbated his symptoms as did quite a few other foods.
I know it can be difficult to determine which foods are triggering the reaction, but I found an elimination diet to be incredibly helpful. This process involved completely cutting out the consumption of certain foods for about a month and then slowly working them back into his diet and watching for flare ups. We found it to be instrumental in understanding my son’s body and his relationship with food.
Healing Diets (Paleo)
Healing diets like Paleo have shown to help reduce the severity of eczema by eliminating inflammatory foods. This is usually done through the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, also known as AIP, which works to feed the body nutrients while simultaneously avoiding foods that might be contributing to the disease.
By eliminating top allergens like dairy, eggs, refined sugars, grains and more, as well as introducing nutrient-dense foods, this diet can heal the gut wall, restore gut flora and reduce the chronic inflammatory response of the immune system that results in autoimmune diseases.
Although most of my son’s skin improved through an elimination diet, we were able to clear the last bit of his eczema on the AIP diet.
Natural Eczema Treatments
Applying a natural cream or ointment like this Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream, one of Dr. Sarah’s favorites, can help strengthen this barrier and prevent bacteria or irritants from passing through.
This cream in addition to a few others, worked wonders on my son’s eczema. Today, its helped countless others heal their inflamed, itchy skin.
Scratching is eczema’s worst enemy. When scratching is prevented, the skin has a chance to begin healing.
I know what you’re thinking…how do you get a child to stop scratching? As my son was only three years old, I know full well how impossible it is to reason with a little mind when scratching provides such quick relief.
That’s why I was so thankful for these gentle ScratchMeNot Flip Mittens. They were perfect folded up during the night and left open during the day so that he was still able to play.
As the infamous itch-scratch cycle is difficult to break for adults too, I recommend checking out these protective adult mittens.
Wet wrap therapy is a natural treatment that worked wonders on my son. After taking a warm bath, we applied a natural emollient to his body and then wrapped him in a damp piece of clothing for two or more hours with a dry layer overtop. Once we removed the clothing, we reapplied the moisturizer to his skin.
We found exclusive clothing for wet wrapping to provide very effective relief.
…Or Dry Wrapping!
Since water can start to have a drying effect on the skin if used long term, an alternative to wet-wrapping is dry wrapping, which happens to be much easier and less messy. To dry wrap, we simply applied a layer of cream on my son’s skin and followed up with a dry layer of eczema clothing. The clothing helped the cream permeate his skin, making the emollient last longer.
Healing Through the Mind
Although healing the body first might be the most logical step in treating eczema, the mind is just as powerful and needs to be incorporated into any healing regime.
There’s no denying it – stress is the root cause of most of our health problems, and eczema is no exception.
Stress releases hormones that affect our immune system. Because people with eczema actually have weak immune systems, stress can exacerbate the condition and cause skin to flare up.
In the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to keep stress under control but fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to calm your mind.
Taking time out of your day to calm your mind can have great benefits. Even 15 minutes of meditation a day can help. For children, there are tons of great meditation apps out there to get them to wind down and take it easy.
You can also consider keeping a journal to help eliminate negative thoughts or exercising to sweat away toxins. Lastly, an eczema massage can always benefit your body and mind by reducing stress and anxiety.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
My son spent far too many nights tossing and turning, unable to sleep because the urge to itch was so consuming.
In turn, my husband and I were also sleep-deprived as we took turns doing our best to stop him from scratching himself raw. Having a great night’s sleep has a direct effect on both your happiness and wellbeing, so it’s important to always set yourself up for a good night’s rest.
If you’re suffering from lack of sleep, then I wholeheartedly recommend Dr. Sarah’s Go To Bed Program. This comprehensive program includes guide books, meditations, checklists, support and so much more, so that you’re not only increasing sleep, but actually improving the quality of your night’s rest.
Trust and Acceptance
It can be difficult, but sometimes accepting this fate is just as important.
Back when my son’s skin was at its worst and in the midst of all those dark emotions, things weren’t so clear. Those were some of the darkest times of my life and it felt like the nightmare was never going to end.
However, there are so many resources out there that can help you on this journey. I encourage you to accept the situation at hand and find a way to move forward in whichever way you feel most comfortable. Join eczema forums, Facebook groups, local meetings where you can share your story and feelings with others who can relate.
This inspiring video from my friend Marieke Bosche is a great start to trusting and accepting your journey. I hope it can bring you peace during difficult times.