Eczema help: Creams, supplements, and prayers

First of all, no single magic cream is going solve our fiery eczema problems. Not even if it is named Egyptian Magic Cream (which I love for Lil Pea’s itchy, raw skin, by the way).

Topical Steroid Withdrawal, also known as Red Skin Syndrome and Topical Steroid Addiction, is real. Most mainstream doctors don’t believe this, but the National Eczema Association in America recently formed task force to conduct a scientific study published in 2015. It shows up as red hot itchy skin – weepy and raw or dry and scaly.

Burning, stinging, and bright red skin are the typical features of topical steroid overuse and withdrawal. The signs and symptoms occur within days to weeks after TCS discontinuation. – National Eczema Association

What works for Lil Pea may not work for you – because your skin is different, your diet is different, your allergies are different, and the way you react to foods and products is different.

Even the products that used to work for him during the earlier stages of the flare-up may not work in later stages of the flare cycle, or so many other TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal) sufferers have told me.

If you want to stop using steroids, be prepared for what is to come. It isn’t pretty, it’s really tough and painful, and it will take a long time to heal. But you will heal – slowly, but surely. Like what happened to Lil Pea, who had red, raw, weepy skin or the Red Skin Syndrome.

Here are some of the products which helped him, including moisturisers, ointments, and supplements.

The bottom-line is this: Healing the gut is more important than any cream we can apply. Creams and ointments are like band-aids, they soothe the itch, calm the redness, let you sleep better, or even disinfect. In some cases, some applications are necessary to help treat staph infections, for example.

But most importantly, you have to heal the root cause – which is the immunity system. It resides in the gut; and research shows that eczema has links to leaky gut syndrome (see this article with references to medical research). Leaky gut is more serious than the funny name it has, by the way.

For ointments, moisturisers and creams. I’ve tried SO MANY products, scrambling to buy this and that and spending a fortune to find creams and ointments that are:

  • Anti-itch
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Highly moisturising
  • Not stinging to skin

And I had to figure out what cream or ointment was suitable at different stages of the flare-up, or for a different ailment. It’s important to moisturise well and often, 5-8 times a day even, to help re-create the natural skin barrier that is sorely lacking in eczema patients’ skin. Dry skin can also lead to a itching and flare-up. Little wonder they call eczema the “itch that scratches” – the itching is actually activated by scratching. Once you start scratching, you can’t stop, and the flare-up gets worse.

Lotion, cream, ointment – in order of long-lasting moisturising, lotion is the least because it’s water-based. But ointments or balms tend to be occlusive, which could make it really hot and unbreathable for the skin (and make the flare-up worse), so watch out for that, especially if you live in conditions similar to the tropical climate of Singapore.

We were at our wits’ end, didn’t know what to do, and could only pray that God would heal our son. And God is good. I hope this guide will help you or your child. Press on, healing will come!

CREAM/OINTMENT GUIDE

Moogoo Eczema and Psoriasis Cream

Also known as Moogoo Irritable Skin Balm in retail shops in Singapore. I bought it online from Moogoo Australia, because it’s cheaper even with shipping thrown in.

Lil Pea used their new improved version with marshmallow and elderberry, but Moogoo also offers their original version for customers who didn’t want to switch to a new product.

The cream has the consistency of a lotion, and feels cool when applied on skin. It doesn’t sting even raw, weepy wounds. At least, not for Lil Pea, who was vocal enough to tell me every time a particular cream or lotion hurt his raw skin.

After I wrote to Moogoo Australia, they explained to me that their Eczema cream worked more as a soothing balm than a moisturiser. They recommended this as the first layer on the skin, followed by a thicker cream like their MSM Soothing Cream.

Effects: Helps with itch, calms irritated skin, does not sting, light consistency.

MSM Soothing Cream

Although this cream came highly recommended by other TSW sufferers in the Facebook group which I’m part of, it didn’t quite work for Lil Pea.

In fact, he told me that it stung his raw skin. But he was fine with this cream after his skin had healed.

Which goes to show, what works for someone else may not work for you. What did not used to work for you could likely work well in the future. So don’t rule out anything.

According to Moogoo Australia, this is supposed to be applied as a second layer on top of their Eczema cream. This has a really thick consistency, and the moisturising power lasts well.

Effects: Stings raw skin, helps with skin barrier, very moisturising, thick consistency

Moogoo Nappy Balm

If the skin is raw and weepy, and oozing, the first step is to dry up the ooze first. This nappy balm has high zinc oxide (15%). Now, it seems strange to use diaper cream for face and body, but this nappy balm is key to healing and drying up wet wounds during the weepy phase.

Read this study done on healing wounds using topical zinc. When Lil Pea was going through the oozy phase, his skin was really red and hot and itchy, plus the open wounds hurt. This cream cools down the hot skin. Lil Pea really liked it whenever I put this on him, followed by calendula balm or Egyptian magic cream.

I follow a rule of thumb – if the wounds get too wet and oozy, I don’t moisturise those parts. Instead, I slather on this diaper balm instead, to dry it up. The skin turns flaky (which is fine and part of healing). When the oozing is gone, you have to moisturise very well again.

Effects: Dries up oozy skin, cools and soothes down hot skin, speeds up healing

Egyptian Magic Cream

Pity about the name. For people who are unfamiliar with this, it sounds like snake oil or a Hogwarts potion. But hey, Hollywood actress Kate Hudson says it’s her go-to skincare!

When Lil Pea’s dad first saw the jar’s label, he made a sound that seemed something inbetween a snort and a “tch”.

But don’t diss this cream. It works wonders. It’s very moisturising and lasts long, and has the consistency of an ointment. But it doesn’t feel gluggy or occlusive, and is absorbed well into the skin (yup I used it on my face as well). And most importantly, it does not sting.

It helped Lil Pea with itching, and I would slather it on even parts that had open wounds because it has antibacterial properties. When he has this cream on, I noticed that he scratched less.

When it’s time for moisturising, Lil Pea will point to say approvingly, “This! This!”

The little boy recognises immediately the creams that sting his skin and says “Noooooo! Don’t want!” if I even made a move towards that tube or bottle.

Effects: Anti-itch, anti-bacterial, emollient, does not sting raw skin, absorbed well, highly moisturising, ointment consistency

Four Cow Farm Calendula Remedy

I love the way this balm simply melts like an oil as I rub it between my hands, just before I apply it onto Lil Pea’s skin.

It’s ultra-moisturising, and smells pleasantly of calendula flowers – it has the healing flower’s signature golden yellow hue, too.

Needless to say, it is one of my favourites right alongside Egyptian Magic Cream.

In the night, before tucking him to bed, this goes onto his skin all over, so that the air-conditioning doesn’t dry out his skin.

This balm also serves to calm down his irritated skin.

Since it’s so very moisturising, this works very well on skin that has become very dry and flaky.

When it’s time for moisturising, Lil Pea will also point to this and say approvingly, “This! This!”

See my other post for more on Four Cow Farm’s products and to score a promo code for your purchase!

Effects: Does not sting raw skin, absorbed very well, ultra-moisturising, emollient, ointment consistency that melts into skin

Madre Magic Cream

Its ingredient list is very similar to Egyptian Magic Cream’s. In fact, on US online store iHerb.com, Madre Magic has replaced Egyptian Magic Cream.

It was with some trepidation that I tried Madre Magic on Lil Pea, after much success with the tried-and-tested Egyptian Magic Cream.

I’m glad to report that it did no ill harm to Lil Pea, in fact, it went very well.

The consistency of Madre Magic is softer than Egyptian Magic’s balm, and it is well absorbed too. In fact, it one-ups Egyptian Magic Cream with its inclusion of manuka honey. That, and Madre’s olive oil and beeswax are organic.

Effects: Very moisturising, does not sting, emollient, antibacterial, anti-itch, well-absorbed

Ingredients: Olive (Olea europaea) Fruit Oil*, Beeswax (cera alba)*, New Zealand Manuka Honey, Bee Pollen Extract, Royal Jelly, Bee Propolis Extract, Glycerin (Plant-Derived), Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopherol (Non-GMO).

*Certified Organic Ingredient

BATH SOAKS

Rooibos tea

Rooibos or African red bush tea is highly anti-inflammatory. High in quercetin, this helps quells flare-ups, reduce itch, and cool down hot skin. Use it as a bath soak, bottle it in a spray to mist on skin, or make a cool compress with a face towel and leave on skin. Make sure bath water is just lukewarm, never hot. Hot water makes eczema skin flare up worse.

Put a few bags of rooibos tea in bath (the longer the better for higher quercetin content in the water). Have a long soak. There’s no need to rinse, just towel or pat skin dry. This calmed Lil Pea’s skin a lot.

Can be used at any stage of TSW (Topical asteroid Withdrawal) or eczema – weepy, red, itchy, dry, scaly.

Effects: Does not sting, reduces itch, calms down skin, cools and soothes hot skin

Pink Himalayan sea salt bath soak

Very good for raw, weepy skin and open wounds. Reduces itch, calms down skin, and most importantly, it’s anti-bacterial. It’s important to ensure raw, open wounds don’t get infected.

Not all salts are equal. Choose a sea salt that’s high in minerals and nutrients, as the skin will absorb these transdermally, which aids in healing. I use pink Himalayan sea salt.

Start with small amounts first. I used about 1/8 cup (think baking cups) in a baby bathtub. Soak for about 10min, and rinse well. Rinse very well.

This sea salt soak will sting a little at first, but after a while, the soothing and anti-itch benefits will be felt, and it gets quite enjoyable. Can be used also as a cool compress using a face towel.

Use only during the raw, oozing phase of eczema or TSW.

Effects: Anti-bacterial, anti-itch, soothing

Jo Lauren Colloidal Oatmeal Bath Bags

This silky bath soak really worked for his itching. His red raw skin would immediately calm down to a light pink, after a good 10-15min soak.

Colloidal oatmeal, which is simply oatmeal ground into a fine powder, is known for its moisturising properties and ability to calm irritated skin. You can find it in  many skincare products.

Lil Pea used Jo Lauren’s Colloidal Oatmeal Bath Bags with Organic Calendula and Chamomile.

Remember to use lukewarm or almost-cool water. Hot water will make the skin flare up and itch even more.

After his usual bath routine – all over body cleanser, then rinsing with water – he will step into his bath tub and soak it up.

I even use the little wet oatmeal satchets and gently pat it all over his face and upper torso, to get the moisturising goodness on his skin.

It feels silky and creamy to the touch; squeeze, and more of the good stuff will come out.

SUPPLEMENTS

*I will update this section soon

Olivaforte

LactoGG Probiotics

Lifespace Probiotics from Australia – multi-strain probiotics

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/27/new-research-shows-poorly-understood-leaky-gut-syndrome-is-real-may-be-the-cause-of-several-diseases.html

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Myths about Baby Led Weaning

 
I wondered about many things when I was considering whether to let Lil Pea go down the Baby Led Weaning route. Will he choke? Will he eat enough? Will BLW really prevent fussy eaters? Will he be really handsome when he grows up?
 

Answers, please!

Our entire family has really enjoyed BLW with Lil Pea. But of course there are some days where he wolfs down everything and asks for more – and other days where he doesn't feel like eating so much. Just like any adult, really.

So, whether – and how – you adopt BLW is a personal choice based on what you think is best for you baby and your family. You know your baby best! Don't let judgey people get you down.
 

See my other post for an overview of our Baby Led Weaning journey.

Here are some of the common anxieties for parents considering Baby Led Weaning. I will update this list if I think of more!

Baby might choke.

Don't mistake gagging for choking.

In young babies, the gag reflex is very far forward on the tongue (so that baby will spit out food that is too large or goes down too quickly).

When baby is gagging, let him sort it out himself. It's a life skill, like pooping in the toilet and chasing girls. He will get better at it.

What you can do is fight the rising panic and try to look calm, while mentally running the baby Heimlich maneuver in your head. When I first started BLW I was always on the alert for possible choking!

Lil Pea actually choked only once, from being over-enthusiastic about a huge chunk of raw apple at 7 months. I did the baby Heimlich (see below) and it worked. He wasn't afraid, he didn't cry, and went back to the offending apple without missing a best.

Since then, he's learnt and always spat out pieces of food too large to swallow or too difficult to chew. A tip is to steam hard foods lightly to soften them.

See the latest guidelines on choking and infant resuscitation. You can also learn from the videos by Sky News and UK National Health Service on how to help a choking child, and how to perform baby Heimlich.

Parents will need this basic first aid knowledge anyway, as baby becomes more mobile and starts putting things in his mouth.

Alright, back to your gagging baby.

When baby is gagging, he will splutter noisily while trying to spit out the food. When he is actually really choking, you will know – there is almost no sound at all because baby can't breathe, and the face and lips will start turning blue. He will try to cough out the dislodged item.

If you hear gagging noises, baby is fine.

Stay calm, wait a bit, then help him dislodge what's stuck in his airway using the method above.

The idea with BLW is that he will learn to chew, spit and swallow.

 

The cleaning up will kill you.

Yes, it might. Is this something you're prepared to do?

Anyway, having a baby is a lot of cleaning up, whether you are doing BLW or not.

I spent my mornings cleaning Lil Pea up, changing him into fresh clothes, and cleaning up his high chair, the floor, and the surrounding environment. That's after cooking his breakfast, just before I went to work.

Just like changing diapers 20,000 times a day, you get used to it.

 

Baby can't digest large pieces of food.

It's true, he has no teeth. But he can gum foods like steamed apples and carrots and even meats. When he's happily gumming food, it means that he's scraping small bits off – so don't sweat it.

Lil Pea never had tummy troubles even when feeding himself strips of meat.

It was just slightly disturbing to see food in huge chunks in his poop, almost the same way they went in. But that was soon resolved as his digestive system matured.

As he grows older, his chewing skills will become better, and his young intestines will also get better at digesting, so don't worry.

 

Baby will not become a picky eater.

Nothing can guarantee your baby won't become a fussy eater. Babies change all the time. Toddlers, especially, are likely to go through a phase of refusing foods.

What BLW does is that it sets the stage for better eating habits. If meal times are not a battleground but a place of fun and exploration, it makes things easier in future for the baby and the parent.

A study by Dr Ellen Townsend and her colleague suggests that babies on BLW have lower BMI while babies on the weaning style of spoonfeeding have a higher incidence of obesity. But picky eating? Not that much difference.

A more recent study by Sonya Cameron and her colleagues shows that while health professionals are hesitant to recommend BLW, parents have been reporting good experiences with BLW, in this first paper to include interviews with health professionals.

I suppose you can ask me again when Lil Pea goes into the terrible twos when food fussiness kicks in (here are some tips to combat fussy eating), but BLW has been brilliant for us and our entire family had so much fun with Lil Pea.

 

 

 

 

Lookback: The First Year

Some of my friends call my son Ah Huat.

I think it’s because he is so blessed, and gives us much joy. (And also because when I was pregnant with him, I was able to flag down cabs without waiting and win prizes in contests.)

Here are some of his milestones – including daddy’s thoughts – in his first year that I want to ink into digital memory.

Continue reading

Age guide to introducing solids

 

Whether you’re doing BLW Baby Led Weaning or the usual purée route, you will find this age guide for solids introduction amazingly useful.

I have this on my fridge and ticked off every new food I introduced to Lil Pea.

It also helped to keep track of any allergies (we found out he’s allergic to cow’s milk).

Age guide to introducing solids

What’s good about this’s particular chart is that it’s easy to use, laid out nicely, and takes a more prudent approach (later, rather than earlier for some possibly allergenic foods).

Also, it’s cross-referenced to well-known sources (see bottom of chart for sources).

This chart I pinned to my Pinterest board keeps getting re-pinned; no doubt other parents find it useful too!

You can follow my weaning and solid foods Pinterest boards here:

 

Age guide source: www.design-kat.com