Childhood Eczema

While eczema is unsightly and has been known to ruin self esteem, it can be worked with and corrected naturally, given enough time and dedication.

by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP

This article is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. It is meant for educational purposes only. Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health, and Nature’s Sunshine Products accept no responsibility for results you get, whether good or bad, from using this information. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

Note: More information about the products mentioned can be found at the end of the article.

Eczema, the “rash that itches,” has several technical names. The most common ones are atopic dermatitis and neurodermatitis. It can be present anywhere on the body.

From a clinical point of view we know that the stomach, adrenals, liver, and bowel can play very important roles in the severity of eczema. The bowel is a big topic so we’ll address that in a later article.

  • Symptoms

ezcemaSymptoms of eczema include an itchy rash and oozing skin, often giving way to scabs. Sometimes the itching irritation is so persistent that scabs never have a chance to form and infections take hold in the open wounds. Other symptoms that usually accompany eczema, but are actually caused by weak adrenals and a congested liver, include craving sugar and/or salt, irritability, insomnia, and fatigue. Eczema is always a symptom of underlying allergies. Those allergies may be to foods or things in the environment. The offending allergens are often difficult to identify.

Another symptom of allergies is called “Morgan Dennie’s lines.”1 This is the presence of extra creases in the skin, starting at the inner, lower corner of the eye and radiating under the eye toward the ear. These may be present at birth or may develop over time. There does not seem to be any solid explanation as to why these occur. Other general indications that allergies may be present are pale skin and very wrinkled palms.

  • Causes

Genetics, stress, etc. Dr Lendon Smith in his book Feed Yourself Rightsuggests that some eczema comes about because of “genetic tendency, stress, inappropriate nutrition experienced by the mother during the victim’s gestation, stress at delivery or premature birth, multiple sicknesses in the past, recent physical or emotional trauma, overwhelming allergic load.” Dr Smith is pretty direct – and his comment about gestational nutrition is not meant to be a guilt trip – simply a statement of fact. I have also seen in my practice, and experienced myself, that maternal stress during gestation can create more allergies, including eczema and asthma, in babies.

Allergies. Eczema is also recognized as an allergic reaction. Tired or weak adrenals play a major role in allergies. Doctors often prescribe cortisone cream and/or antihistamines to mitigate allergy-induced eczema. Cortisone is a synthetic version of the natural hormone, cortisol, created by the adrenals. This hormone helps one to cope with stress and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Antihistamines are normally created by the liver, but often in allergic situations the liver is not performing up to snuff, either. Because of this, many people find relief by limiting their contact with their own individual allergens. Common food allergens include milk, wheat, egg, citrus, soy, shellfish, corn, and tomato. Common environmental allergens include laundry detergent, shampoo, soaps, body lotions, and fabric softeners. (On an adult note – some women can develop eczema from taking the birth control pill.)

Nutritional Deficiencies. Eczema can also be caused by too little linoleic acid, which results from not enough or poor absorption of essential fatty acids, consuming oral antibiotics which kill bacteria that produce biotin (an important B vitamin) in the gut, low niacin levels, B2 deficiency, and/or low magnesium.

Adelle Davis, in Let’s Get Well,3 shares this study: “Despite the need for improved nutrition, I can find one study of a mere 32 allergic children in which an attempt was made to give an adequate diet. These youngsters, who suffered from bronchial asthma and allergic eczema, were given generous amounts of protein, no refined carbohydrates, adequate essential fatty acids, and a daily supplement of 600 milligrams of vitamin C, 32 milligrams of vitamin E, 20,000 and 800 units respectively of vitamins A and D, and moderate amounts of the B vitamins. Most of these children recovered in a single month and all within two months.”

  • Natural Options

Eczema does not necessarily have to stay as eczema over the years. About 50% of all sufferers ‘outgrow’ eczema and develop hay fever or asthma instead. In other words, the root cause of eczema hasn’t really been remedied but is now affecting other body tissues instead. The typical progression I have seen in my practice is eczema/asthma (they often happen together) leads to hay fever as a teen or young adult, which leads to arthritis as a mature adult.

Aloe vera tends to work on many of the problems at once. Taken as juice, it can help to build digestion, provide some of the building blocks necessary to produce healthy skin, and aid elimination of toxins and metabolic debris. Topically, as gel, it can soothe irritated skin and speed healing.

Nutrients. Suggested nutrients to consider using to strengthen the body and reverse the eczema include calcium, magnesium, B complex, vitamins C and A, zinc, lecithin, and essential fatty acids. 

Herbs. Herbs can help. With the liver involvement in this condition it can be deduced that liver oriented herbs, including liver formulas, may be useful. The challenge is that most liver herbs taste just awful. They fall into the category known as ‘bitters,’ which should give you a hint as to their flavor. I usually choose to use herbal extracts, liquids, or chewable remedies with children whenever I can. Many children under the age of 12 cannot swallow capsules. I have used all of the following liquids with newborns and older children alike as liver supports. 

The adrenals need to be supported in order to help them make cortisol to reduce the inflammation in the skin. The essential fatty acid oils can be taken internally and/or massaged into the skin with good results. In addition, B-vitamins, licorice root, and hawthorn (all either liquid or chewable) are all excellent adrenal gland supports. When we add Black Walnut to the mix we have the added benefit of stabilizing blood sugars. You see, if the blood sugar drops too low the adrenal glands panic. Keeping the adrenals calm allows them to mitigate inflammation more efficiently. 

Support digestion. Poor digestion and/or elimination can also play a key role in skin problems. Food that is not digested thoroughly tends to create acid responses in the blood that lead to inflammation, with the skin being used as the closest elimination portal for the acids. The following chart shows liquid or chewable herbal products that support and strengthen digestion.

A bowel that is sluggish allows the body to reabsorb toxins. This often creates an ‘overload’ situation and the skin may be called on to help get rid of the excess. This is, for some children, a huge contributor to their eczema. As the parent, do what needs to be done to help your child have at least one, and preferably two or three bowel movements per day. Solutions as simple as prune juice and stewed prunes may be ancient, but that only means they are tried, tested, and true! 

Topical Applications. Specific herbal salves and lotions can be used topically to promote healing of the skin, although they will not correct the internal imbalances that lead to eczema. From the chart below, Pau d’arco lotion may be used topically to speed healing of irritated skin tissue.

Diet. The skin requires specific nutrients to heal and maintain itself. Silica is one of the most important. Silica is a mineral present in the tough, edible skins of vegetables like cucumbers and fruits like apples.

Some sources recommend that a diet loaded with sulphur, copper, bioflavonoids, and biotin-rich foods may be helpful. Sulphur-rich foods include garlic, onions, radishes, turnips, horseradish, kale, watercress, cabbage, cranberries, and eggs. Sulphur-rich juices include red cabbage, carrot, spinach, brussels sprout, cranberry, red raspberry, logan berry, peach, apple, cherry, cucumber, grape, potato, and blackberry. Copper is abundant in leeks, garlic, parsley, beet root, almonds, beans, peas, whole grains, prunes, raisins, and pomegranates. Strawberries, prunes, buckwheat, apricots, blackberries, cherries, and rosehips are good sources of bioflavonoids. Biotin is available in nuts, brewer’s yeast, egg yolk, and unpolished rice.

Other considerations. Other non-nutritive helps include showering in tepid water with little or no soap. Wearing soft cotton or bamboo clothes may also be helpful, as synthetics often promote perspiration which aggravates eczema. Avoid overheating, as this leads to perspiration, which leads to itching. Keep fingernails short and clean to help prevent the possibility of infection from scratching the eczema sores. A warm, dry, sunny climate is also helpful.

Eczema is often worsened by viral infections, and for this reason it is especially important that people with active cases of eczema avoid contact with people with cold sores. Contact with people who have recently had smallpox vaccinations should also be avoided. (Included in this is the understanding that the person with eczema should avoid smallpox vaccination also.) The results of exposure include not only worsening of eczema, but also fever and serious illness.

Other allergies can be expected to develop if severe eczema is present, the child has many allergic relatives, there is an allergy to eggs, or the person has elevated IgE and eosinophil levels in his blood.

In conclusion, critical factors in correcting this problem include keeping the blood and bowel clean (bowel hygiene is a topic for another article), improving digestion, strengthening the liver and reversing allergies. While eczema is unsightly and has been known to ruin self esteem, it can be worked with and corrected naturally, given enough time and dedication.

If you are having challenges with eczema or just don’t know where to begin and would like some help, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available. I also invite you to Follow my website (cobblestonehealth.com) and Like us on Facebook (Cobblestone Health Ltd).

Products mentioned above:

Products (in their order of appearance in article):Nature's Sunshine Products CANADANature's Sunshine Products USA
Calcium, MagnesiumHerbal CAHerbal CA
B ComplexLiquid B12 PlusVitamin B12
Vitamin CChewable Vitamin C with ElderberryElderberry Immune
Vitamin AVitamins A & DVitamins A & D
ZincZinc & C LozengesZinc Lozenge
Lecithin (almost always from soy - do not use if allergic to soy)LecithinLecithin
Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3, 6)Super OilSuper GLA Oil Blend
Super Omega 3
Aloe VeraAloe Vera JuiceWhole Leaf Aloe Vera
ChlorophyllChlorophyll ES
Red Clover Blend is available through the Sunshine Direct program (contact Nature’s Sunshine Canada at 1-800-265-9163 for instructions) or by special order from Cobblestone Health (judith@cobblestonehealth.com or 403-850-5503).Red Clover Blend
Oregon GrapeOregon Grape
Licorice Root ExtractLicorice Root Extract
Hawthorn Berries Extract is available through the Sunshine Direct
program (contact Nature’s Sunshine Canada at 1-800-265-9163 for
instructions) or by special order from Cobblestone Health
(judith@cobblestonehealth.com or 403-850-5503).
Hawthorn Berries Extract
Stress-J is available through the Sunshine Direct program
(contact Nature’s Sunshine Canada at 1-800-265-9163 for
instructions) or by special order from Cobblestone Health
(judith@cobblestonehealth.com or 403-850-5503).
Stress-J
Black Walnut ExtractBlack Walnut Extract
Catnip & Fennel ExtractCatnip & Fennel
Papaya Mint chewable tabletsWhole Foods Papayazyme
Digestive Bitters is available through the Sunshine Direct program
(contact Nature’s Sunshine Canada at 1-800-265-9163 for
instructions) or by special order from Cobblestone Health
(judith@cobblestonehealth.com or 403-850-5503).
Digestive Bitters
Pau d’Arco LotionPau d’Arco Lotion

Sources: You’ll notice that I’ve cited some pretty old books. Some of them may even be older than you are. What this really means is that some information is simply true, and time is not going to change it one iota.

  1. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Dennie-Morgan+fold
  2. Smith, Lendon. Feed Yourself Right. McGraw-Hill, 1983.
  3. Davis, Adelle. Let’s Get Well. Signet, 1988.

Copyright © 2015 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).

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