Eczema and elimination diet

I think any parent would do whatever it takes to protect their children and make life better for them. At around 10 months my little guy got eczema.  I say that like it’s something you catch, but you don’t catch it. It develops slowly over time.  It can get better or worse depending on what irritates it.  

His eczema was on his knees, belly, neck, back, and arms.  Here’s what I did to help him.

Beginnings of Eczema

For Zeke, it wasn’t so bad at first in early November 2019.  I cut milk and peanuts from both our diets (he was still nursing) and slathered some good old all-natural remedies on it. It cleared up from December 2019 until March 2020. 

In March I couldn’t figure out what had caused it to return.  We still hadn’t had peanuts or milk, so I slathered more creams on.  And waited and waited.  During the Covid-19 lockdown, I watch my little guy get itchier and itchier. Arms, legs, back, neck, and belly were covered in eczema.  He was having trouble falling asleep as he was scratching it more. 

None of the creams that worked the first time helped.  None of the new creams helped either.  I really didn’t want to put medicine on him.  All the steroid creams say to apply as little as possible, so those couldn’t be good for him.

Could Eczema Be Caused By A Food?

We are what we eat right?  Three of my nephews have pretty bad food allergies and one of them has eczema too, so I asked my sister if it could be related.  I told her about the foods I’d taken out of our diets.  I said I was going to remove a few more. 

She told me to eliminate it all.  At his age, he would be okay eating what I chose to give him.  He wouldn’t cry because he wanted something particular, but in a few more months he would.  

She has five kids and knows a lot more than me so I decided to try it.  I would rather get to the root of the problem than put a band-aid on it or steroid cream in this case.

Elimination Diet

For two weeks he ate blueberries, oatmeal, cantaloupe, watermelon, chicken, broccoli, and cucumbers. That was it. And you know what?  Eczema that had bothered him for three months cleared up. 

We were ready to add foods back in every 4 days or a little more.  The goal was to find out what caused it by seeing if there was a reaction. 

I didn’t know what to add first.  I wanted to give him scrambled eggs because he loves them.  My sister advised me otherwise. She said there is an order that’s best, low histamine to high histamine.  

I looked for a list I could follow, but couldn’t find one. Fortunately, my sister knew a lot about histamines since she had done the elimination diet with her third child. I gave her a list of foods that we cook often in Google Docs and she put them in order. Slowly, I added foods to his diet.

Progress and Pauses

It’s January 2021 now and we are not done.  We’ve paused the process because eczema came back behind his knees. His belly, back, elbows, and neck are still clear.  I think it’s the change of New England weather and his love of puddle jumping may have irritated his skin. I can’t be sure.  But we will wait because it’s been a lot of work to carefully add food. 

Elimination Diet Challenges

It’s been hard to stick to this slow process because I think I know the cause.  I think it was his vitamin D drops. We ran out around Christmas 2019 when his skin cleared up. The stores happened to be out of stock when I went.  Once I bought it, our habit of giving them to him was broken.  It took a while to remember and it was around March that we remembered again regularly. It was around March that his eczema returned.  The timelines match.  

In case you know someone with eczema and want to try an elimination diet to see if it’s caused by a food allergy or leaky gut I am uploading the sheet that shows how we reintroduced foods. 

It may not be the cause, but if I can get to the root of the problem rather than treat it topically then I’m all for that. Please talk to your doctor or pediatrician too.  I had a telehealth call for his check-up in June before we started his elimination diet.  I had his doctor’s support.