9 Eczema essentials
Eczema cases have mushroomed in recent years. The majority of new cases of eczema are in children under 5 years old. In fact 1 in 5 children now suffer from eczema in the UK.
Atopic eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, characterised by dry, itchy skin. Scratching the skin leads to skin red, sore, inflamed skin that becomes increasingly itchy, the more it is scratched the more risk of bleeding and skin infections but the itch-scratch-cycle is difficult to stop.
The impact of regular eczema flare ups can be severe causing major disruption to family life. Lack of sleep, anxiety and distress are felt acutely by the child and their families, parents report taking time off work due to sleepless nights and children won’t wear short sleeves in the summer or swim with friends due to their discomfort.
Family life can be altered drastically with daily cleaning drills, skincare and wrap routines, GP and Dermatology hospital appointments. Parents invest enormous time and money into specialised clothing, bedding, cleaning equipment, gadgets, holistic therapies, natural remedies and skin treatments, in anything that can help to relieve and soothe and avoid triggers.
Steroid creams did work for us but the eczema was more severe each time it returned. Skin creams and anti-itch solutions can help, I began to make my own deep healing skin treatment, Leafie Tallow Body Balm, but this is only a part of the long term solution.
To find a longterm solution to my son’s Eczema I looked to tackle the route cause from within his body. Working with 2 nutritional experts we planned a diet tailored for him, focused on relieving intestinal system inflammation, rebuilding his gut microbe eco system to allow the body to heal and to produce healthy natural responses.
This process and the healing that resulted has fundamentally changed the way I view health and diet.
Here are my own top tips for long term eczema healing for your child:
1. The Brilliant Outdoors
Our kids need contact fresh air, Vitamin D and with naturally occurring bacteria to maintain health.
Children lead busy lives, live in modern clean houses, travel by car, are schooled indoors and so their day to day contact with natural organisms has massively diminished. There are a number of studies that point to the importance of children getting outdoors to balance essential friendly gut flora.
The best way to increase your child’s outdoor time is to make it a core part of tyour every day routine and to lead by example. Walking or cycling to school is ideal, via natural areas or bridle paths where possible. Other ideas are to visit a farm, start an allotment plot or garden veggie bed, take up a regular outdoor activity, anything that works to get your child outdoors each day, getting dirty is one of the healthiest things your child can do!
2. NO to junk
Eczema is a inflammatory condition, so removing inflammatory foods and drinks reduces the stress that the body is under.
Fizzy drinks and squash, all processed foods, foods that contain preservatives flavourings, colourings and particularly E numbers should be removed from a child’s diet to make way for more wholesome beneficial eating. Treats can be upgraded to healthy whole foods, which may sound a little dull, but we have enjoyed the learning experience of making healthy food attractive, tasty and fun for kids.
Try: Frying a banana in coconut oil, sprinkling with milled pumpkin and flax seed and serving with natural yoghurt or homemade custard.
There are a number of factors profoundly changing the makeup of microbes in children’s intricate gut eco system, microbes that are essential for preventing illness and maintaining health. Antibiotics, assisted births and a decline in exclusive breastfeeding are significant factors in denying children’s intestinal system the diversity of microflora needed to fend off illnesses and produce normal reactions to daily irritants.
Certain foods and supplements can be introduced to improve our children’s microflora. Many foods that we eat are alive, teaming with tiny quivering, living organisms. Yogurt is a great example of a food containing ‘good bacteria’ or probiotics., living microrganisms that can provide health benefits when taken regularly.
Tip: be careful when choosing new probiotics marketed to children, as they can contain sugars and flavourings and may not be proven to improve gut health. Look for live yoghurt cultures that contain Acidophilus and Bifidum Bacterium.
4. Sneaky Smoothies
5. Drink more water
6. Go organic
7. The power of the broth
Not so sexy perhaps but the good old fashioned hearty broth does have special properties. Rich in easy to absorb minerals and amino acids, a good bone broth can helps to build strong immunity and is ideal as a source of nourishment.
8. Go big on GOOD Fats
Children in particular need plenty of healthy natural fats in their diet to maintain health, immunity and support growth and development. In our low fat, high carb, high sugar society children are generally receiving their energy through the wrong foods and are not getting enough healthy fats in their diets.
- Regularly eating oily fish nuts and snacking on seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds) and nuts.
- Give your child a cod liver oil or krill supplements daily
- Cook with excellent quality oils stable at high temperatures, such as coconut oil and pure animal based healthy fats Tallow, Lard and Deer Tallow.
- Use nut and seed oils (avocado, extra virgin) in their raw form for making dips and dressings such as Mayonnaise.
Enjoy the road to learning what works and helps your child to heal. I found that although there are challenges from no longer eating the same foods as some of our friends we also made many great new connections, with new families, food groups, nutritionists, farmers and local producers and online communities. Changing your diet to a wholefood diet is exciting and fascinating, our family feels more a part of our local community, understand and are an active part of improving our food culture.