Eating Our Way to Better Skin

My sweet daughter, Lily, will be 8 years old on Monday!! We are so excited to celebrate on her day. She is such a sweet child and a wonderful addition to our family.

She struggles, though, with one thing….ECZEMA. This poor girl has been struggling on and off with eczema since she was a toddler. It was usually more “off” than “on,” but this Summer the eczema went crazy! And I mean, gross-pictures-on-the-internet crazy. She has two big patches, one on each of her outer thighs, and a few smaller patches down the back of her legs. The two big patches appeared mid-Spring, and we went to the doctor for advice on how to fix them before Summer and swimming (because we know the pool chemicals irritate the already irritated skin). Our doctor gave us a prescription for steroid cream, as the hydro-cortisone cream we had at home wasn’t working, and we quickly ran to fill it. I thought for sure she would do a course of the steroid cream and all would be well.

Wrong.

The patches started to heal initially, and she seemed less itchy. But, after a while they kind of stopped healing. I was online and came across a woman’s story about steroid withdrawal and started reading it out of curiosity. She wrote about her young child that had severe eczema and was on a strong steroid cream but the skin worsened so much after stopping the cream – to the point of not being able to wear clothing or touch the skin without pain. The child had to sit in water for most of the day to keep it soothed. As you can imagine, that story freaked me out a little. I searched online for more info on this, to make sure she wasn’t exaggerating the story for shock value. Sure enough, I found several stories of people talking about this steroid withdrawal and how starting a steroid cream makes it extremely difficult to heal the skin completely because once you stop the cream, the skin goes through a withdrawal period and the condition WORSENS!

I immediately had Lily stop the steroid cream that she was using twice a day. Sure enough, in the couples days after, the skin worsened – being more red and irritated and itchy. I was upset; I knew the cream was the “fix”…but I couldn’t have her use it because it became UNfixed the second she stopped using it and more spots showed up further down her legs! And I was aware that prolonged use of steroid creams is bad for the body.

I went back online to look for homemade remedies. Several sites/blogs mentioned honey and essential oils. I made a honey salve using raw honey and beeswax and almond oil and essential oils. She started using that and it seemed to soothe the irritation but not necessarily make the skin look any better or heal it. (And it was sticky, which made the skin stick to her shorts/pants. Ugh.)

For the third time, I went back online to look for more remedies. Everything I found topically was to soothe but nothing really claimed to heal. I considered going gluten-free for her, to see if it is a gluten allergy coming out as a skin condition. Or maybe dairy? Or something else?? Everyone has an explanation for what allergy causes it, but none really made sense for Lily.

So, we’ve been treating it in a variety of ways the past three weeks – Cetaphil lotion when it is dry and itchy, lavender coconut lotion (homemade) from time to time, aloe (from our plant) and vitamin e oil, and shea butter when it needs a thick covering to protect it. It looks much better than it did a month ago…but my husband, who doesn’t see it as often, was shocked at how raw it looked the other night. To me, it looked great compared to earlier this Summer. But he wasn’t convinced that going off the steroid cream was the best idea, so I don’t know that I’ve won him over with my homeopathic stuff yet!

Just this morning, I FINALLY found a site that has useful info for HEALING the eczema. As I thought might be the way to healing, the site recommended food changes. BUT, these changes have nothing to do with allergies. Instead, it suggested several things that made perfect sense – completely cut out processed foods (we are about 70% there right now, slacking off a bit this Summer), increase alkaline foods intake, decrease acidic foods intake, increase super food consumption (think wheat grass, blue-green algae, avocado, etc), and limit grains and beans. It is not a gluten-free diet. It says to cut out yeast. Also, it mentions to eat only in moderation brown rice and beans. It suggests cutting out dairy completely and replacing with rice or nut milks, as well as only eat soft raw goat cheeses. And nuts and seeds are perfectly ok.

Silently, I am praising the Lord that this condition happened to my BEST and most diverse eater. Lily loves nut milks, nuts and seeds, goat cheese, avocados, coconut milk, and she is willing to try smoothies that are green. 🙂 I won’t have to change much for her, except the cutting out completely of processed foods as well as white rice, white flour and white sugar. I had moved away from white rice and flour to brown rice and whole wheat flour. And I have been sweetening things with honey or maple syrup lately.

Yeast can be a huge trigger for eczema, from what I read today. It mentioned that most people with eczema suffer from a candida issue. Since we make our bread and drink water kefir, Lily does get quite a lot of yeast weekly. I could see this as a good first thing to cut out. She may not be happy with no bread, but she might be willing to try the Ezekiel bread suggested.

While I don’t think I can convince the whole family to change their diet, for now Lily and I will stick to these guidelines. Here is what the site recommended for meals:

Breakfast – raw fruits, smoothie (no dairy but rather coconut water/milk, fruits, ground flaxseed, blue-green algae, wheatgrass, coconut oil).

Lunch – boiled eggs and veggies OR brown rice and veggies OR mashed potatoes made with coconut milk and veggies OR sweet potatoes and veggies

Dinner – fresh dark green juice (kale, parsley, cucumber, etc), salad with raw nuts and seeds

It does mention to cut out all meat (including chicken), but I think I may just limit her meat intake more. We don’t eat that much meat (usually spread out in a casserole rather than a portion of cut meat).

Snacks include nuts, seeds, cut veggies, fresh or dehydrated fruits.

I expect the next few days will be difficult, mood-wise, as she and I will detox a bit from the sugars (although I am keeping my coffee! I will just sweeten with maple syrup…it is quite delicious in coffee!) and from the white rice and flour. BUT, I am excited to try this. There is absolutely NO RISK involved, so if we find out it isn’t the solution she hasn’t suffered in any way….as opposed to the steroid cream not working!

If you think of my Lily, please pray for her. She is tired of the itchy legs and ready to sleep without scratching in her sleep. Pray that this change in foods works or that we come across what will work if this doesn’t.

And pray for me, as this will be a new challenge to feed two types of eaters – Lily and I eating no processed and more super foods, and everyone else eating normal. 🙂

AND pray for my food budget! I will definitely need to be more cautious about my shopping and not cave for easy foods when I am tired. I will need to stick to my plan and do more prep for meals (already hard-boiled our eggs for lunch today!), but it will be worth it if her legs finally heal!

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