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How an Elimination Diet Cured My Daughter’s Eczema and Gastrointestinal Tract {GUEST POST}

This is a guest post from Nikki at Christian Mommy Blogger and has been reviewed by Sheila Kilbane, MD.

Do you have a breastfed baby with eczema? There is hope! 

breastfed baby has eczema

Maybe “cured” is a strong word. She still has eczema. She still has gastrointestinal tract issues. She has “struggled” since day one, however, I finally found the cure for my baby’s eczema – through diet. Here is my story (the Reader’s Digest condensed version).

Karli was born on Christmas Eve last year. She was born at just over 6 pounds, but was a mere 5.6 pounds when I brought her home from the hospital. I stress “I” because my husband was deployed during her birth, another stressor during this early time.

Breastfed Baby With Eczema 

  1. Frail, fragile, gassy: For the first several weeks of her life I swore I was done with breastfeeding every day. “That’s it. No more for me. I am going to the bottle. I can’t handle this!” I won’t delve into the specifics here, but she didn’t latch well, she was too frail and fragile and she was extremely gassy.
  2. Irregular digestion: Would you believe she only went #2 once every 5 to 7 days? I found that was not uncommon with breastfed babies, but I later learned it should get more regular as they grow. Her “poop” schedule did not get more regular. In fact, at 11 months it was still not regular.
  3. Eczema and extremely dry skin: Karli had red splotchy spots on her skin. She had very dry skin. She would scream and cry at the mere thought of the bath tub (okay, maybe a newborn didn’t know she was going into the bath, but I did. And she hated it). NOTE: We have a new post here at KS about knocking back eczema without changing the diet, in case the other bullet points here don’t sound like you.
  4. Loss of weight/not gaining weight when growing: She was eating regularly by about 3 months old. I started to think we were in the clear with her digestive health and she was putting on weight (though she was still very little). It was short lived. Around 4 months she basically stopped gaining weight. By her 10 month check up she weighed in at 15 1/2 pounds. She was tall and scrawny.
  5. Dark circles/sunken eyes: To be honest, she had those bags under her eyes with dark circles since (almost) day one. I failed to notice this as a symptom. It is a clear sign that your child is fighting something.

Please note, aside from all of these “little baby” symptoms, cognitively she was spot on. Her growth points throughout these months were solid, except for her size. She didn’t let her size get her down. She was always quite a little firecracker and we usually refer to her as “wild!”

RELATED: Breastfeeding a Baby with Food Allergies.

eczema in breastfed baby on cheek

How We Tried to Find a Natural Remedy for Baby Eczema

The above symptoms were not “Food allergy symptoms” in my mind. They were simply “symptoms.” We went to 4 doctors before finding our current doctor (who is uh-mazing). Each doctor (pediatrician, dermatologist, pediatric dermatologist, and internist) prescribed a different cream and suggested to just “let her grow out of it.”

Clearly, none of these doctors had been woken up by their tiny little baby clawing at herself until she was bleeding. Screaming and crying simply because her gut was miserable.

But we tried the creams. We ended up finally finding a prescribed anti-histamine and a prescribed skin oil that helped keep her eczema under control. She had some relief (and so did we!). Problem solved? No. Problem covered up.

My husband and I dabble in natural remedies (and are learning more) but are somewhat quick to take prescriptions as needed to just “fix the problem NOW!” After six (or so) months of the medicine however, we felt as though she needed to have a break. We needed to stop patching and start curing the problem. Enter: our 4th (and final) doctor – the man with the plan!

Katie here, interrupting because I can’t tell you how many doctors have told me that a skin issue likely isn’t related to food, even eczema. Dr Shiela Kilbane is convinced otherwise. In this interview I talked to her about how she became convinced, and how eliminating one food can make a HUGE difference for eczema.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Sheila Kilbane, M.D. of Infinite Health in Charlotte, NC, and founder of Healthy Kids, Happy Moms.

Eczema in Babies Foods to Avoid

Our (new) doctor asked us a series of questions to get to know us. This was already a bit different for us. “Did he actually care about us? I mean really care?” We asked ourselves this question throughout the appointment and each time we shared this story with our friends and family.

Yes, yes he did care. He genuinely wanted (still wants) to fix Karli from the inside out.

Doc: “Nikki, in my opinion, Karli has some very clear, common symptoms of food allergies.”

 

Me: “Common? I have been to 3 other doctors, no mention at all of food allergies?”

Doc: “Well, I think that is the path we need to take right now. The creams haven’t been working and there is more going on here. Have you tried eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet?”

Me: “NO BUT I WILL DO ANYTHING I NEED TO DO.”

Doc: “Perfect. Let’s eliminate most everything and give you both a break.”

Me: “Me? I’m fine. I am worried about her.”

Doc: *smile/snicker* “Ok, here is a sheet of what you CAN eat, it is easier than following what you cannot eat.

Me: “Should I stop breastfeeding if I am giving her these allergen foods through me?”

Doc: “Not a chance, keep breastfeeding. Don’t stop. And you may want to consider going past a year.”

Done and done. Eliminate this, eat more of that. Breastfeed. Got it.

He also mentioned that the eczema is what I can see on the outside. Due to food intolerance and allergies, her gut on the inside was struggling. Her body wasn’t able to take in all of the nutrients of the food I was giving her because it was already becoming damaged. He said once her gut has a chance to rest through this diet, she would start “packing on the pounds.”

Eczema Elimination Diet

I started on my modified elimination diet on November 10. By Thanksgiving Karli had clear skin and had already gained half of a pound!

By December 1, we had discontinued the use of any medication. Her skin is free and clear and oh so cute and….squishy!

Yesterday, December 13, Karli weighed in at 17 pounds. Yes, she is little for an 11 1/2 month old, but she is really “packing on the pounds”! After one month of the elimination diet she has gained 2 pounds. That is progress people! That is a cure.

RELATED: Katie’s Elimination Diet Recipes.

What Baby Eczema Taught Me

  1. Find a doctor who cares for you from the inside out. Medicating, covering up, patching what is broken. These are good qualities in a doctor, and one’s that I appreciate, but they are not fixing the root problem, regardless of the severity of your condition.
  2. If breastfeeding, keep on keepin’ on. With all of these dietary restrictions, some have thought (and actually mentioned to me) it would be best and easiest to stop breastfeeding. After all, Karli is 11 1/2 months old. I personally decided that the benefits of breastfeeding outweighed the struggles of the elimination diet. Added perk? By sticking to the elimination diet, I have fixed my own health struggles. I would not have discovered my own food allergies (and years of build up due to intolerance) had I not given my body a break from gluten and dairy due to the elimination diet for my daughter.
  3. Keep a record of symptoms and time frames. Even if you think a symptom may not be directly related to a specific ailment, let the doctor make that decision (no offense). If the doctor really cares about fixing you from the inside out, he or she will need a lot of information.
  4. Don’t put this off! If you think there is any chance, any chance at all, that your child (or you!) could have a food allergy, go to the doctor – or try an elimination diet. Right away. Anytime before 2, your child’s gastrointestinal tract is so fragile. By removing foods with allergens, you allow your child’s gut to grow and get stronger. By 2, you can perhaps introduce these foods, properly prepared, and find that the allergy is no longer there. This information is directly from my doctor (a resource I thoroughly trust).

Dr. Lauren Jefferis Weighs In on Skin Issues and Eczema 

Katie had an opportunity to interview Dr. Lauren Jefferis and they talked about all sorts of things – you can watch the full interview here or this little snippet below is where we talked about eczema and other skin issues.

Resources
  • Dr. Cranton’s explanation of the benefits of an elimination diet plus a detailed list of all things to be eliminated and avoided.
  • Need to find a good doctor? My doctor (a D.O. – Ophthalmologist) recommends going to Osteopathic.org. Search terms to “live by” for a doctor: integrative, holistic, osteopathy (“D.O.”)
Have you experienced food allergies in your own life or your children’s lives? How have you identified these?
healing eczema in breastfed babies
Nikki from Christian Mommy Blogger with her breastfed babyNikki blogs at Christian Mommy Blogger, sharing about her life with 2 girls, a wonderful husband, and a strong faith. She shares recipes, encouragement for homemakers, gardening, home organization, and humorous family stories, all to help inspire you to keep a godly home.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

27 thoughts on “How an Elimination Diet Cured My Daughter’s Eczema and Gastrointestinal Tract {GUEST POST}”

  1. I’d like to get the list of foods you could eat that the doctor originally gave you. I can’t find a christianmommyblogger site. Thanks.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Jeanne, Nikki no longer blogs on that site and this is such an old post, I doubt she checks in with comments still. It looks like the pdf link she shared in a few comments to the Institute for Functional Medicine has been incorporated into the paid membership option on that site. This is a total elimination diet that gives you a limited number of foods to eat instead of foods to avoid. https://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/feeding-infants-toddlers/food-allergies/elimination-diet/ I hope you’re able to find the resources you need and I’m sorry Nikki’s links are too old to be helpful!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      If the baby is allergic to fish then yes it can. My son has eczema triggered by dairy so I had to remove it from my diet while breastfeeding.

  2. I have tried EVERYTHING to reduce/eliminate my Eczema and foderma eczema serum is the only one that has actually worked on my hands! I use to have Eczema all over my right hand and after 2 months of using awfully harmful soap (work required soap) on my hands; my eczema has been finally reduced down to only ONE finger!

  3. Reina K Billing

    My son had mild eczema on his back and his doctor recommended foderma eczema serum. It cleared up after less than a week of use. We’ve discontinued daily use but will apply after any flair ups. It is very thick and stays on great.

  4. My little one was having a horrible eczema flare up and I tried eczema baby serum by foderma and it did wonders for her skin! Would recommend 100%

  5. Hello, my daughter had the same problem. Not as extreme but she had major belly aches. If I change one little thing in her diet she’s miserable. I need some advise on how to help her. I want able to breastfeed add long as I hoped. She got a good 4 months in. I have psoriasis. I’m always trying to manage it. Now that I can’t breastfeed her what do I eliminate? We have a good doctor, we had switched as well but her eczema had never been brought up. Or her tummy issues. He only told us stuff to do when she’s constipated. Which is at least once a week if she doesn’t have prune or apple juic. She had the same weight problems. I think most of it was my fault because I didn’t take care of myself. She did gain weight but she’s still under weight for her age. She’s six months. I’m always worried about her weight now. She’s always scratching herself. She hates bathes but I didn’t connect it to her skin. Do you have any advise or tips?!

    1. EmmaRae,
      Hugs to you, momma – you can’t change the past, and you’re doing a great job as mom to this sweet little one. You’ve noticed a lot – now to connect the dots! You might find some good info in this newer post: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2015/03/19/the-eczema-battle/

      Did you already stop breastfeeding? Because of the tummy issues? If it were me, I’d try to keep common allergens out, gluten, dairy, corn, soy. We personally hold off on all grains until 12 mos, just because they are hard to digest. Keep looking into the eczema issue – now is the time to figure out if she’s got a sensitivity or allergy to something because it’s easier to do an elimination diet when they’re eating so little, I would think. Blessings to you!! Katie

  6. This is awesome! I love hearing stories about this 🙂

    Glad to hear your little one feels so much better!!!

    Elimination diet also helped me so much and it helped clear my eczema as well! I shared my story here 🙂

    http://www.primephysiquenutrition.com/how-i-overcame-severe-eczema-when-doctors-said-there-was-no-cure/

    I hope more ppl can continue to know how powerful food and the elimination diet are in healing eczema.

    Cheers,
    Abby
    http://www.primephysiquenutrition.com

  7. Facial eczema is the worst! Try Made from Earth’s Three Berry Face Serum. I used to have it all over my face, and its the only face serum that when i applied it would take away the eczema. . .face saver

  8. Hi… i have a 5 month old baby…our doctor said he has eczema and we did a round of antibiotics…it doesnt seem to help at all…he cannot sleep at all and he keeps crying and scratching himself…his arms and legs are all full of cuts coz he scratches himself so bad…i just read your article and i would like to try out the dairy free diet…could you give me afew tips and maybe a list of things i can and cannot eat…i am willing to try anything for my baby…please please…i hope you will respond to me with your advise…i will be so grateful…thankyou so much..

    1. Anne,
      Poor baby (and mama!). Cutting dairy just means anything with milk – cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk, cream, butter. You’ll have to read ingredients on everything. Usually packaged products will say “this product contains milk” at the end of the ingredients because of allergies. Milk powder, casein, and lactose are other names milk can hide under in ingredients lists. Focus on eating veggies, meats, and fruits, simple grains like rice and oatmeal. A lot of eczema is caused by gluten, which is in wheat, too. Something to study if dairy doesn’t work. Good luck and God bless!!! 🙂 Katie

  9. just wanted to say thank you for this post. i came across it while researching treatments for my 7-month-old son’s severe eczema. he was miserable, and so were his dad and i. we were using more and more steroid cream every few days to almost daily and still couldn’t knock out the flares. finally, we had him allergy tested and discovered his milk, egg, fish, and turkey allergies. after i eliminated these from my diet (for breastfeeding), he cleared up within 3 weeks. it’s almost like a miracle. our dermatologist had told us that only about 5% of cases are related to allergies. our baby is finally happy and sleeping better, and we’re able to enjoy him – and he can enjoy life. thanks for sharing your experience! oh, we tried a pediatric DO in our hometown, and he wasn’t even as holistic as our pediatric MD. i guess it depends on who you see. the first thing he said to us was, “so you’ve seen dermatologists…i don’t know what else you expect me to do for him. it’s eczema – a chronic condition. you just have to treat it with topical steroid creams.” that’s great that you found a good one!

  10. Elin via Facebook

    What worked for me: In addition to all the foods listed above, I cut out *all* grains (corn is a grain, too) and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, all peppers [sweet, hot & bell] except for black pepper). My skin problems and achy joints & muscles went away in about 2 weeks and haven’t returned.

  11. Elin via Facebook

    What worked for me: In addition to all the foods listed above, I cut out *all* grains (corn is a grain, too) and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, all peppers [sweet, hot & bell] except for black pepper). My skin problems and achy joints & muscles went away in about 2 weeks and haven’t returned.

  12. Anna Law Oh, my, I feel so sorry for that little guy and your friend! How awful it must feel seeing your baby in such pain/discomfort. 🙁 There’s got to be someone out there with a solution for them; I pray that they connect.

  13. Anna Law Oh, my, I feel so sorry for that little guy and your friend! How awful it must feel seeing your baby in such pain/discomfort. 🙁 There’s got to be someone out there with a solution for them; I pray that they connect.

  14. Stefanie Cruz I think Andrea Haegele probably has a good point – if you have all those sensitivities, perhaps there is some deep-rooted gut imbalance, candida, etc in you, and you’ll pass that to your kiddos. A Whole 30 or GAPS style diet may be what you need for a clean slate. My kids have mild eczema too, on and off but especially in the winter. If it’s not serious enough for a serious intervention, MadeOn Hard Lotion for Dry Skin is a great help.

  15. Stefanie Cruz I think Andrea Haegele probably has a good point – if you have all those sensitivities, perhaps there is some deep-rooted gut imbalance, candida, etc in you, and you’ll pass that to your kiddos. A Whole 30 or GAPS style diet may be what you need for a clean slate. My kids have mild eczema too, on and off but especially in the winter. If it’s not serious enough for a serious intervention, MadeOn Hard Lotion for Dry Skin is a great help.

  16. Nav via Facebook

    My little one developed eczema at 3 monthes..breast fed him for 2 years…was not gaining enough weight. He was badly constipated . He has egg and nut allergy. Finally last year…went gluten free. His skin cleared up..Dr. told us wheat doesn’t cause eczema…if you are removng wheat from his diet he can become allergic to wheat..If you remove wheat from diet..when it is a good idea to reintroduce wheat?

  17. Rebecca via Facebook

    We are going threw much of this and getting sick of the drs brushing it off. Even the stringy diapers they say are ok. Got so much better with soy/dairy free now we are are working on gluten free for the night terrors and dry skin.

  18. Andrea via Facebook

    That is an awesome article. I wish doctors did then when I was a baby and developed eczema at age 1. The just told my mom I was allergic to almost everything and didn’t do much about it. Stefanie I would try starch fee (like a Paleo Whole 30 routine – basically meat and veggies with some fruits, adding back in fruits as tolerated) I have benefited greatly. My asthma is going, eczema clearing and body equalizing.

  19. Stefanie via Facebook

    My question is what do you do when that isn’t working? My daughter has her father’s skin and has some mild eczema. I am gf/dairy/nut/egg/soy free. Have been gf/df/soy free for several years. I have noticed some improvement in eliminating eggs but its not entirely gone and she still only has bm every couple of days which I am reading while is common is not normal (even for bfing babies).

  20. Anna via Facebook

    My best friend is actually taking her son to a clinic… kinda like Mayo Clinic in Denver for her sons skin. Doctors have not been able to figure out what is wrong. His diet has so many things that are eleminated from his diet and that doesn’t seem to help. He also gets different creams that keep it tolerable but some days he rubs himself until he bleeds. He is 2 years old. They are hoping to get answers. They have gone to allergiest, to ciropractors, to family doctors, to dermetoligest, and even second opinion doctors. I pray that they find an answer for him.

  21. Thank you for posting this! I decided to eliminate the top eight most common food allergens from my diet to see how things go with my son. I have not seen a pediatrician because I no longer trust them, unless there is a MAJOR problem with my kids- then they can direct me to a specialist. The last ped gave DS2 hydrocortisone cream at 2.5% concentration and I know the stuff must have burned off several layers of skin because I felt it burn my fingers as I applied it to my son’s face. I even asked the ped if I needed to change my diet and he said not to. Grrrr! And now, so many mommies whom I’ve talked to keep telling me to put hyrdro on him or put him on formula- so frustrating! I think more peds need to be informed of this approach of healing from the inside out. I’m going to share this with other moms who have babies with eczema as well!

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