Solve the Puzzle of Baby Eczema

Solve the Puzzle of Baby Eczema

There are few things worse than seeing your baby struggle with bright red cheeks, oozing wounds, and scratching themself bloody. Watching their skin flake off and leave piles where they sat is horrible. The sleepless nights and tortured cries are gut-wrenching. 

As a parent and a clinician that sees this on a weekly basis, my heart goes out to the parents who are watching their little ones suffer. I’ve been there myself having had eczema and with little ones that had it too, so I can relate to the experience of the parents and the kiddos suffering through it. 

Thankfully, you can solve the eczema puzzle with the right steps. The key is identifying the underlying root causes and treating them appropriately. 

In adults, the underlying causes are many ranging from genetic predispositions, stress/trauma, and toxicity, to dietary factors, hormone and nutrient imbalances, and a disrupted microbiome- especially in the gut. Inflammatory conditions like eczema arise when the environmental factors mentioned collide with genetics (dig deeper into this subject in another article I wrote).   

The GREAT news is that eczema in little ones is much easier to resolve since they don’t have decades of stress, trauma, and environmental exposures that make it trickier in adults! Plus, their little bodies have an incredible capacity to heal.  

Taking a Thorough History to learn more about your baby’s eczema

The first step in this process is taking a thorough history to uncover predisposing factors. Some of the issues we commonly see in little ones with eczema are:

  •  C-section birth or birth complications/ interventions 
  •  Mom had Group B Strep, UTI, or yeast infection during pregnancy 
  •  Stress for Mom during pregnancy
  •  Mom having known GI issues that were not resolved prior to pregnancy.
  •  Family history of the allergic triad (allergies, asthma, and eczema), 
  •  Nursing or feeding troubles, colic, or early food allergies (rejection of solids or food   avoidance can be a sign something is off with the gut)
  •  Seasonal skin flares indicating an allergic component
  •  History of mother or baby living in a moldy environment or near high chemical or pollutant concentrations such as farms, golf courses, airports, highways, industry, etc.
  •  Baby or child having constipation, diarrhea or loose stools, gas, burping or bloating

Having a thorough history allows us to see the big picture of what the likely causes are and what tests we need to order. I always order a comprehensive stool analysis so gut imbalances like dysbiosis can be identified, as well as the bacteria, fungi, and parasites that may be causing it. GI health markers are also helpful in determining inflammation, immune activation, and digestive function. 

Additional Testing for an accurate diagnosis and treatment

Additional testing is sometimes necessary and could involve: 

  • serum labs to assess the immune system or allergens 
  • organic acids to assess fungi/mold and harmful bacteria
  • food allergy or sensitivity testing or other specialized testing 
  • we can also do genetic analysis if the child or parent has completed a 23andMe.  

Regarding testing, it’s important to note that you should wait until you see a qualified provider to decide which tests are needed. If you order them on your own, you may order the wrong ones and end up having to spend extra money unnecessarily on the right ones. In my practice, the only tests we order are ones that directly inform the course of treatment. 

Once the test results are received and reviewed, a treatment plan specific to the needs of the patient is made. The bulk of treatment in little ones is generally focused on balancing the immune system, replacing nutrients, and supporting proper gut and digestive function. 

Skin healing typically begins during the first 1-2 months and is often almost resolved by 3-4 months. Total treatment time for babies is generally around 4-6 months total and sometimes a little longer in older children. 

Our goal is not only for your child to find relief and have soft, smooth skin, but also to give parents the tools to support their kiddos if skin issues crop up again. 

Dr. Stephanie Davis

Pimple Be Gone

So often with disease, as I am often apt to point out, we can prevent it. Once again here is a disease process that has its connection to your diet, even though a lot of doctors claim there is no connection to food, the data does not bear this out. It’s interesting something so commonplace and insufferable as acne is treatable without meds and is so readily responsive to changes in lifestyle. Puberty does not have to be the “Time of the Pimple.”

Testosterone increases the size of sebaceous (sweat) glands and this is why puberty brings about increased incidence of acne. We cannot get rid of the testosterone, although most parents of teenagers would love to, but we can defuse the powder keg this hormone presents to the sebaceous glands by addressing the “fuses.”

Acne is a response to inflammation. This inflammation and hormonal changes affect how your sweat glands react. With increased swelling your sebaceous glands get clogged, infected and viola’ you have acne. No amount of face washing will rid you of this problem. You have to get to the bottom of it and it starts with your fork-let me explain why.

Pimples are a symptom of disease just like water on the floor is a sign of a broken sink. We need to fix the sink if we are going to get rid of the problem and not just mop up the floor. There are several underlying factors in acne and I will explain how by addressing these we are going to fix the “sink.”

Acne is one of the signs of the body having insulin overload. That is why eating lots of sugar and processed food predispose you to this problem. Insulin is responsible for building up tissues and growth. It makes sense that sebaceous glands (sweat glands) also would grow from its stimulation and we get acne. To solve this aspect of acne it becomes simple-stop eating or drinking crap with high sugar content and foods that are highly processed. This is simple in theory but becomes hard when we think about all the things we eat that fit this description, but it is a place to start. With the demise of Hostess this all becomes a little easier.

Milk is another hidden acne contributor. Although the marketing for milk suggests it does a body “good,” I have to disagree. This food has insulin growth factor 1 in it, and increases insulin resistance in the long run. Research Link With this molecule the sweat glands are more primed for overgrowth and a “bad” diet, greatly increases our predisposition to acne and eventually, when one looks at its mechanism of action, diabetes. No society that lives without milk as a staple suffers from bad health or weak bones. We will be just fine without it and our skin will thank us.

“Warning: Broken record to commence….” Inflammation is caused by diet. Gluten is a very inflammatory molecule in our diet. Keeping gluten out of our diet, or at least to a minimum, will decrease inflammation. Inflammation causes acne so gluten elimination is another factor to consider as treatment.

Supplements are helpful in acne and zinc is a must. This simple element in one study reduced acne from 100% to 15%. This has to do with anti-inflammatory processes and improvement in insulin receptors. This needs to be elemental zinc and 30 mg a day is very helpful (Zinc Piconilate is my favorite because of increased absorption). Other supplements that should be considered include Chromium at 200 mg a day (improves insulin resistance) as well as Selenium (400 mcg) and a very good omega 3 fatty acid (fish oil-decreases inflammation along with good diet).

Acne is not inevitable for teenagers or adults. We have to change our lifestyle and make better choices in our diets and make sure our deficiencies are addressed. Testosterone increase for young adults is inevitable, but with lifestyle changes this plague on teenage dating is easily treatable and can help those adults who are suffering as well from diseases of increased testosterone such as Polycystic Ovary Disease.