Friday, December 7, 2012

Still Doing Great

I have to admit that I never was able to stick to the rigorous cleaning routine that I outlined for myself and committed to in the previous post. I tried for a couple of weeks, but eventually gave up for two reasons: 

1) I realized that being so vigilant wasn't a very realistic goal for my already quite busy life that includes three children and the many daily obligations that come with raising them, including homeschooling in my case.  I was having to give up things that I consider precious priorities to make the crazy cleaning happen (like quality time with my children in the evening) and I wasn't happy with the trade-off.

2) When I was running myself ragged hyper-cleaning, it just wasn't making enough of a difference in Sam's areas of exposed skin to make the time and effort worth it.  Vacuuming every other day and having the kids change clothing every time we come in from an outing just wasn't yielding dramatic enough results to justify the trouble. (Did I just say the same thing twice? Yes I think I did.)  

What I have settled on is to vacuum once or twice a week, and wipe down surfaces every other week. I no longer have everyone change clothing when we come and go. Depending on where we've been and how blotchy red Sam's hands and face look  after an outing, I sometimes will change only his clothing.  If I don't change his clothing then at the very least I always wash his face and hands with soap. 

Over the past 6 months that we've been detergent free and using all traditional pure soap products, our results have been pretty consistent. Sam's new normal is largely eczema free skin the majority  time. This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago before a nap:

I disrobed him briefly for the above photo. But his skin actually only stays clear like that because in addition to eliminating all detergents in our home, we keep him covered 24 hours a day in all cotton clothing from neck to wrist to foot. This would not be necessary if we had alternative flooring, but despite all of the other changes the carpet remains too large of an influence to overcome with any amount of cleaning. The detergents of 10 years are just too embedded. They constantly irritate.

Sam's clothing:

Clothing pictured comes from Cotton Comfort eczema clothing in Europe (very quality but very expensive) and the footed pants and opening mitten shirts in solid colors are the  Kumfy Cotton brand which I think might be made in Canada but they do ship out of the US via The Eczema Company (linked above.)  We love the Kumfy Cotton brand and have about 8 each of tops and bottoms that Sam lives in. 

You definitely don't have to have specialty clothing in all cases, I know that not everyone can afford them (we couldn't on our own but were blessed to have generous family willing to chip in)!  I know some children who are able to get by with just long cotton pajamas with socks on the feet and hands. I tried that route for awhile but it did not work for us because Sam would immediately pull the socks off hands and feet, leaving them exposed. He would then push up his sleeves and pant legs, exposing them to the carpet and we would have eczema everywhere!  We needed clothing that was secure at all the joints.

What I really like about the specially made clothing and what makes them worth the expense in my mind is the double thickness in the hands and feet where it is needed, the absence of irritating seams or tags, and the fact that Sam cannot undo the mittens on his own at night to scratch. I also prefer the footed pants because while he will take socks off if he is wearing them, he can't remove the footed part from the pant!

Just one more thing regarding clothing. Sam only wears mittens at night. During the day, he needs his hands for development. For a while he was pushing his sleeves up and having his arms exposed to the carpet and having eczema on his arms every day. We solved that problem by placing velcro straps or clear tape around his sleeves at the wrist so he would not be able to push them up, but can still use his hands:

You may have noticed I said that Sam is majority eczema free most of the time. Since we can't keep his hands or faced completely protected, we do see daily dustings of eczema in those places.  His face is the easier of the two to manage. He is at the age where he doesn't lay on others so much or roll around on the floor. He walks upright and plays upright and only contacts the carpet if he is being wrestled by a sibling. Still, if he rubs or touches his face too much with hands or mittens that are contacting the carpet more frequently, we get some blotchy redness. I am able to manage this by washing Sam's face with soap twice a day. We do this in the early afternoon just before his nap and again at night before bed.  (Basically any time they are going to be down and out is a good time to wash and barrier so that sleeping time can double as healing time.) 

I want to clarify here that carpet is not the only thing that causes Sam's eczema. It's just the only remaining and most prominent influence in our home. That's why I'm always bringing it up and griping about it. (Sorry!) But when we go out there are countless sources that can cause outbreaks. An interesting example is when I took the kids shopping at Kroger the day before Thanksgiving.  Sam always gets a little red when we go to any store because the detergent levels are so high. But on this day, I was shocked by how blotchy and red his face got as I pushed him through the store in the cart, and how quickly too! I realized that on this day there were so many people doing last minute Thanksgiving grocery shopping, so many bodies bustling around and pushing past each other through small spaces, that the detergents and dusts coming off all those bodies from clothing, hair and skin just created one big invisible detergent dust flurry in the air all around us. That is how sensitive Sam is, and how sensitive a lot of these kids are.  

Sam's hands suffer the most from daily exposure. More often than not, Sam's face is clear even without midday washing.  In contrast, his hands are nearly always a shade of red. See the very distinct line where his sleeves begin? And yet this is still better than what they were before we found! They are basically very red and dry, but they don't seem to be very itchy (at least I don't see him scratching very often) and as long as I am washing them several times a day this little bit of remaining eczema never gets out of control.  I am so happy that we can manage this without drugs.  And  I am currently experimenting with washing frequency to see if that will make a difference in these hands.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are we crazy?

Several months ago, on the Solve Eczema User's Forum, a mother in desperation asked, "Are we crazy?!" She was referring to the experience so familiar to all of us on the forum; that is, trying to explain to spouses, extended family, other parents, and even doctors (especially doctors!), this off-the-books approach we have taken to healing our children's eczema. She was also referring to the tendency of those same people to respond as if we were crazy.

I wanted to record here, part of my response to that question:
  I think this method is just so full of 'new concepts' that are foreign and run completely counter to what most people already understand (or think they understand) about what causes eczema, what causes dry skin, what 'fixes' those things, and even what a detergent is or what soaps are. I can say detergent is the problem, and then even go on to explain everything that contains detergent and detail exactly the process we've had to go through to remove it, and at the end they will still say "Oh, we changed our laundry detergent and only wash our kid with plain water and it didn't help our child, so that's not our problem." (What?! Did you not just hear anything I said??

...I just honestly think that when you come out and challenge so many pre-conceived ideas and definitions all at once, that's a huge mental leap for people to make!! Also many of these parents have not arrived at the point where they can bring themselves to believe an entire global medical community could be wrong or so far off the mark about something so common as eczema. Many people WANT to trust the "experts", the ones who went to school for 12 years and studied these things. There is security when they feel they can trust their doctors. They might even feel a bit threatened when 'just another mom' comes out and suggest that the experts who are treating their children might be actually making things worse.

      Yes, the trouble with  AJ Lumsdaine's theory- while brilliant! - is that understanding it requires reframing one's entire paradigm and adopting entirely new definitions for things like detergent, soap, and dryness.  So many people will get rid of SLS products and think they've done enough to check off detergent as a potential cause for eczema or skin problems. But they won't realize that detergent goes by a thousand other names (SLS is only the most recognizable) on ingredient labels! They won't realize it is added as an emulsifier or a stabilizer in so many products they would never suspect contain detergents at all. They won't stop to think how detergents are involved in every manufacturing process from clothing to food, that their food is bathed in detergent baths before arriving on the store shelf, and how detergent residues on dishes and utensils on which food is prepared may be as likely a cause for mealtime eczema as food proteins. (Both exist, but my little guy for example, his face would break out red and blotchy at meals, and we could never trace to one food because it was so random. We finally got to the bottom of it when we learned it might be what we were washing the dishes with. It was! No more dish detergent, no more mealtime reactions.)

People will not readily understand that AFTER getting rid of detergent in their products, they will only have barely begun to address the issue. There will be detergent in their dust, their carpets, their furniture. Indeed, detergents coat every surface in an industrial society, and our skin is constantly in contact with them.

They won't understand that detergent residues are stubborn and that water alone will not remove them. So that by removing SLS products and then only washing with water, they are actually forgetting to address all the detergents picked up by the skin from other sources outside the home (or inside the home, but in non-obvious sources like furniture or drapes)  and aren't truly removing them from the skin.

They'll have to make another leap to understand why only true soap will remove the detergent residues so ubiquitous in society.  Then, in order to get over their fear of using soap, they will have to make the leap to understand that true soap does not cause dry skin as we've all believed. In truth  soap making has changed over the past 60 years or so to include detergents, changing the chemical composition of soap so it no longer even qualifies as true soap, chemically! The traditional definition of soap has changed- that is perhaps the biggest problem of all!  So they have to learn how to tell if a "soap" at the store is actually soap- and 99% of them aren't.  And if its detergent disguised as soap, it will lead to drying (across all skin types!), and for some it will cause eczema.  It is the detergent in our soaps today that make us believe "soap is drying, and not good for sensitive skin".  They have to understand what constitutes PURE, true soap.... the kind that humans used for thousands of years, without the crazy rates of eczema we exhibit today.

They might then be surprised to learn that the Tide company invented detergent in 1943 and then as it became the preferred laundry product, replacing soap flakes in the 1950's, eczema immediately increased in rate and severity.  (I would argue that steroids were introduced at this time as an answer to the demand for a solution to this new predicament- babies weren't handling detergent very well. We never had that problem with soap flakes!) There has to be a reason infantile eczema increased so sharply in the 50's and 60's, causing so many steroid prescriptions to be handed out in the first place. And many researches agree the cases have risen at far too quickly a rate to be explained by ordinary gene mutation (ie, the genetic theory).  Many will say it is environmental, as rates are much higher in cities, and industrialized countries over those that are less so. But so far, science has not been pinpoint what it is about the industrialized environment that makes eczema more common.  I don't think detergent is the only factor, but I think the factors are fewer than we realize, that whatever the others are they likely all tie in together, and detergent is clearly one of the primary factors.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Update on Sammy's Skin: The Learning Curve

In the past 6 weeks or so since I last posted about Sam's miracle healing, I've been riding the learning curve. After our initial success it was tempting to feel as though we'd 'made it' and that the hard part was over. I'd imagined that things would be so easy moving forward. I have since learned you never really 'make it' when it comes to this kind of eczema.  In some ways, maintenance has been easier than the initial work required to get his skin clear, and I'm told it will definitely get easier in the future as Sam gets older and his skin becomes naturally less permeable.  But I did make the mistake initially of slacking off once we got rid of the eczema, thinking that I could let vacuuming and house keeping slide just a little since he  did not seem to be reacting as readily to detergents.   

The problem with slacking off is that detergent levels rise very quickly when left unchecked.  No matter how much I reduce the detergent levels in our home, the levels are always going to be so much higher everywhere else we go or visit.  Whether it is the grocery store, a clothing or toy store, Grandma's house, the library, a friend's house, a homeschool science class at the nature center, or the park playground, all of us are coming home tracking in that detergent dust on our clothing, skin, and hair and then leaving trails behind on everything we touch at home.  Technically, to keep on top of things I really need to continue vacuuming every other day (if not daily!) and regularly wiping down surfaces to get rid of those dusts we track in to prevent them from accumulating and becoming problematic for Sam. We should all be changing our clothing as soon as we come inside, putting on 'safe house clothes' and washing our hands and arms to minimize what is tracked in. 

As you can see this is definitely a huge lifestyle change requiring a great deal of vigilance. I discovered that I was not staying on top of detergent levels well enough the hard way when, a few weeks ago, Sam's arms began to breakout more readily at home when he would push his sleeves up during the day. It got to the point where they would turn red even before they had significantly contacted any surface, just from being exposed to the air,  which told me there was too much detergent dust present and flying around. The rest of his body remained (and still remains) entirely clear so this arm eczema is a minor issue comparatively, but still bothersome because I know I can do better.

Once I realized I was slacking and needed to drastically reduce our detergent levels again, I went on another crazed vacuuming and washing spree like I'd done the first time around, only this time including many areas I had actually neglected the first time.  In June I focused mostly on exterior surfaces Sam could touch. This time I went further, including higher and interior surfaces as well. This extended to taking every item out of kitchen cupboards and washing down the insides and outsides with  a soap/water spray (followed by a vinegar/baking soda spray to prevent scum) inside and outside of the fridge, sucking the dust off every individual knick-knack, vacuuming and washing windows, doors, door frames, baseboards, I even 'vacuumed' every inch of wall ceiling to floor with a flat attachment (certainly walls collect a layer of dust too?),  removed hundreds of books from our bookshelf and vacuumed each one to suck off the dust, washed down all the bathrooms again... etc. Pretty much ANYTHING that might have detergent dust or residues that could be spread around I tried to wash or vacuum. 

After all of this, his arms are significantly better. He is still getting eczema on them but that's okay. They really only bother me because the rest of him is very clear and eczema-free. Luckily the washing every night with soap and applying the ointment prevents it from ever getting out of control.  So overall, I feel satisfied that we've retained our progress. I suspect that our carpet is such an overwhelming influence that no matter how much I clean everything else, we'll always have the issue of the carpet puffing up some amount of dust from under the pad and causing the eczema to exposed skin. SolveEczema.Org  actually recommends removing carpets if possible for full implementation of the detergent-removal methods.  If we had wood or linoleum floors instead of this awful old carpet I can't get rid of,  I'm sure the cleaning I've done would be that much more effective and we could let him wear regular shorts and t-shirts and not have to worry so much. 

Sam lives in the footed pants and opening-mitten shirts from this website and also some awesome outfits from here.  These create a safe barrier between his skin and the carpet, allowing him to stay clear where he is clothed. You might wonder why I even bother cleaning anything else if I have to worry so much about our carpet, but I do think reducing our detergent levels as much as possible makes a huge difference. I've noticed when he is at someone else's house his clothing becomes more easily saturated with dusts.  I know this because later he will have developed a  light spotty eczema under his clothes that he doesn't get at home.  He also tends to break out on his face, neck and gets puffy around the eyes which does not happen at home either.   Pulling his pants down to change his diaper at any other house might mean itchy leg eczema from just that brief exposure, but he is not effected by numerous diaper changes on our carpet at home. The overall levels make such a difference.  (See the Bucket Analogy for Allergy)

It has become very tricky to make extended visits with friends or family because of these type of exposures. I do not intend to be anti-social but I do find myself turning down more invitations that require Sam to be in another person's home for any significant amount of time. Hopefully as he gets older and is less prone to break outs I will not have to worry about this so much. It's just that when we make house calls and he comes home with eczema, it can take a few days for him to heal.  Prescription medication isn't really any option anymore either.  I am committed to never using steroids again if I can absolutely help it!   I have learned that many steroid creams contain detergents as an inert ingredient and overall make the skin more permeable and susceptible to the irritant with every application. In the short term they might suppress symptoms but in the long run they can only make things worse. 

I am hoping to avoid having to do any future massive cleaning overhauls like I did last week by getting into a regular schedule of vacuuming and wiping down surfaces. My goal is to vacuum every other day at least and also wipe down exterior surfaces with soap or a vinegar wash, switching between upstairs and downstairs surfaces every other day. I hope this will make this maintenance phase easier... of course that means I have to somehow muster the discipline to stick with it... hmmm. 

Lest I give the impression that this transition to a detergent-free home and an eczema-free Sam has been all tedious work and worry, I want to copy an excerpt from a letter I sent recently to a friend, highlighting the most wonderful part of this whole journey. This letter contains some rather sensitive personal content, but I've decided to post it here largely unedited in hopes of presenting a more honest portrayal of our experience, and hopefully encouraging others who might feel similarly that  better days are within reach :

Regarding Sam- yes I think you are right, and I hadn't really thought about it, but when you mentioned his skin looking even healthier than when on steroids (and that it looked kind of flat and pale before) I had to go back and look at photos and there is clearly a difference. That steroid skin that I always thought was so beautiful (because it was the only 'clear' I knew) was nothing, nothing compared to this truly healthy skin. I see children all over the internet everyday, some clear into their teens and STILL with terrible eczema, and I nearly want to cry at times thinking that we've managed to find ourselves numbered among the  "lucky few" who have found a working solution, and so early on.  My heart literally aches when I think of all those others.  
 I love seeing Sam this way, without eczema, with healthy skin. I feel like this is my REAL boy! I  always was so determined to find a solution for him, but I really thought it would be tweaking his diet just right, I never ever in a million years would have suspected what it turned out to be.  
It wasn't just Sam's skin that healed as a result of following []. I feel like our whole family life is healing now.  I was so depressed for so long when I realized around Sam's first birthday that he'd been on steroids for 8 months and his skin was just getting worse and worse. I felt so helpless. I spent every ounce of energy looking into finding a solution for him. It was all I could think about -despite many other priorities that needed attending to- and I tried so many things. I blew our budget nearly every month on this diet and that, purchasing special allergy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc health foods and just obsessed over my youngest son, even to the neglect of my two older children.  I simply could not give them as much of myself, I was so drained, they were both acting out in ways that were out of character I think because they must have felt that I wasn't really 'present' with them. We were all miserable. Even my marriage was beginning to suffer because of the amount of time I was giving to this endeavor. Honestly I think my husband preferred me to keep applying the topical steroids to Sam if it meant we could pretend the eczema didn't exist. 
I think back on that mess, it was such a dark, difficult time... while I am a person of deep faith, and I prayed so long and hard, I am not the type who is very good at "putting on a happy face" or maintaining my serenity in times of trial, I take things too personally... and I take too much responsibility on myself to ensure those around me are happy and well and taken care of, so I was simply not functioning.  
For the past few weeks, our life has felt a lot more... "normal".   Finding a solution to Sam's eczema freed up so much time for me, no longer having to search for answers.   I'm doing more with my kids now...  I am getting more rest, and I don't feel so helpless regarding Sam's skin. Last Saturday we spent the day together as a  family, we all went to the pet store to see the animals, to north UGA campus to walk around (my husband works for University of GA) and  then out to eat. I realized, it was the first time I was out enjoying my family where I wasn't completely preoccupied with Sam's skin.  I looked around and saw everyone, including Sam, smiling and laughing, and realized that for that moment at least I was carefree. Though I was curious how his skin would react to the animals (he'd never been to a pet store before!) I didn't obsess, because I knew if he broke out a lot or even a little, we could take care of it quickly and effectively.  
Now that Sam's skin is clear, we've been able to add every food back into his diet, except for tree nuts and peanuts. For the longest time, that kid did not have a bite of any fun foods such as cookie, or ice cream, or pizza (not that he needs any of those things!) but that also meant his siblings didn't get those things either. We had to be fair. And my daughter, who is 6, would often ask "Why does Sam have to have eczema? Is he always going to have it? Because its not fun! We never get to do anything fun or even get treats because of Sam."  And now when we go to the grocery store, they get to eat kid cookies from the bakery, and that is the best thing in the world to them.  Sam is still getting used to this business of getting treats. You should see his face when I hand him a cookie! His mouth and eyes gape open in amazement and his little face nearly shakes with excitement! It is one of my favorite things. What a terrific discovery to find out he was not allergic to all the foods we thought he was after all. 
One starfish on the sand... no... an entire family! ... Every person in my family has been blessed.
It's true- despite the hard work involved and the hyper-paranoia over long visits away from home, I feel incredibly blessed to have been literally handed the knowledge to know how to heal my son's skin, how to predict and prevent break-outs, and remedy them when they occur.  I wish this kind of power and change in perspective for every parent who has a child with eczema.  I know how very helpless it feels to be on the other side of this.   If you are needing help and not sure where to start with using Solve Eczema .Org,  please visit a brand new Solve Eczema User's Forum at  I am sincerely hoping that within 6 months time we can see the category for Success Stories completely full of testimonials and photos of babies and children with healthy, eczema free skin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Detergent-free products I use at home

I am frequently asked by other parents of children with eczema which detergent-free products we are using for everything, so here's the breakdown. You might be surprised to discover that all of these products you use in your home normally contain sodium laurel sulfate - a major skin and tissue irritant- or another form of detergent in them when purchased off the shelf from a regular store. I had no idea detergent went beyond my laundry and dish products before I started this journey, but we've really had to search beyond our local stores for detergent-free alternatives for all of these common household products.  It is important for us to be fully detergent-free, because even retaining one favorite product such as commercial hair gel would result in a continual source of 'detergent dust' created by flaking hair and scalp cells, which then causes the eczema.  (Kids with this "allergy" really are that sensitive!)

By the way, I am not affiliated with and of the manufacturers or companies that sell these products, and I don't get anything from 'advertising' for them. These are just my personal favorite products - the ones I actually use at home for maintaining Sam's skin.  My entire family uses these products, because Sam's skin is that sensitive and its not worth the risk to have even trace detergents if we can help it. I am providing the links through which I usually buy for your ease. But feel free to shop around for the best prices. You might even find some of these locally if you have a Whole Foods or other health food store in your town. 

Laundry  - Cal Ben Seafoam

Hand Dish Washing -   Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Castile Soap  in a dish wand  or just vinegar/water or water/baking soda.

Automatic Dishwasher  -  I have used and recommend Cal Ben Destain if you like pre-made. However, after running out I now use this homemade borax-free dish soap recipe just because its simple and inexpensive and I don't need to order online. The recipe calls for a liquid soap and I use Dr. Bronner's for that.

Shampoo  - Cal Ben Five Star Shampoo.   I hate to say, nothing quite compares to detergent-based shampoo and conditioner. This is something I did bc I knew the detergent dust from my hair was inflaming my baby's face. I was never 100% happy with the results of soap-based hair products but I made this switch for my child.   There will be a time you may be able to go back to a very mild detergent shampoo, when your child is older and the eczema is healed, usually with age they become less susceptible.

For Hands and Body  -  Sappo Hill Natural Unscented bars   (also search on Amazon)
( I looooove this soap so much! I just purchased 25 additional bars after going through the first 10 my sister-in-law bought me and I was as giddy as a kid at Christmas when they arrived. We use them on hands, body, face, they are amazing.)  (Note added 2016: STILL using this soap. For 3 years I used it on Sam almost daily.  Its my favorite.)

Apple cider vinegar diluted with water in a spray bottle, spray on after shampoo, leaves hair silky soft when dry!

Aquaphor Ointment has worked the best for Sam while he's been healing.  We've tried so many other lotions and moisturizers, and this truly works best as a barrier cream  (applying creamy or oily lotions everyday to dry skinwill backfire and just cause more dryness).  If you suspect your little one's eczema may be infected, adding a small amount (start w/ just 1/2 tsp)  of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar to a small container of Aquaphor and mix. Apply this on your child after each bath.  (My local grocery store carries this)

I honestly don't use any lotions right now. My skin used to be so, so, so severely dry that I would never have believed I could go even two days without moisturizer. I always hated how dry my skin felt coming out of a bath.   After ditching detergent products and switching to true soap, I find my skin is so 'normal' feeling I don't need any moisturizer at all. I know this is contrary to what you've always heard- that soap is drying. Usually a soap is dry because it either contains detergents (and therefore is not really and truly soap) or has been over-saponified. Traditional soap has chemical properties that are so very similar to that of our human skin barrier, unlike synthetic detergent molecules which are a different shape and protrude from the barrier causing permeability and moisture loss.  Just keep in mind that humans used true soaps for thousands of years without the widespread skin problems and eczema we see today. Detergents were only introduced in the 1950's- and that same decade is also where history records the first significant jump in cases of eczema. 

For Cleaning
I keep two spray bottles handy. One has a TBS of  Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Castile Soap mixed with a full spray bottle of water,  the other one has water with a little bit of vinegar.  I probably don't need both but after I clean a surface with soap I like to follow with the vinegar to prevent and slick soap scum build-up.  For tough stains and soils, try baking soda and water on a spot, let it sit, then scrub. The amazon link is an expensive price, I have found this at my local grocery much cheaper. 

Crystal or Salt Stone Deodorant is as natural as it gets and is good if you are not going to be very active. I'll be the first to admit though, it isn't the most effective if you're moving around and breaking a sweat.   I haven't found my favorite yet but if you go to Skin Deep Cosmetic Database and search "deodorants", any of those with a 0 to 1 rating should be safe options to try. 

Hair Gel
Right now Adam uses 98% pure Aloe Vera Gel. Really anything natural and gel like will work. You can also search 'hair gel alternatives' on the web and turn up some fun recipes. You could also search the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database for hair gel and again, look for a 0 to 1 product rating.

Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Soap
When we first started I was using a bottle of Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Castile Soap for almost everything, but since Sam really didn't make much visual improvements in the beginning, I wasn't sure if it was the right product for us and quickly moved onto other products. However now that his skin is clear I've tried the Dr. B's again with no reaction so I am sure this is a good product to use for many aspects of going detergent-free. It's also probably one of the most readily available and economical options, they carry it at most of the stores here locally. I've even heard of people brushing their teeth with it!  I recently read a review from a users   who used it as a laundry soap, just a little squirt with a 1/4 cup washing soda.  It can also be used for cleaning, as shampoo, body wash, hand soap, floors, and probably a lot of other things I'm not thinking of. 

Save Money: Make Your Own Detergent-Free Products
I love all the products listed above that we've used, but most of them I've had to order online and pay for shipping, and now that I'm starting to run out of some things I may try to make my own detergent free products. I've found quite a few recipes online that look easy and would probably save a lot of money. If you need to pinch pennies and are feeling ambitious, try an online search for "all natural personal products" or  "all natural cleaning products".  

*The last product remaining in our home that I haven't switched out yet is my make-up. Cosmetics do contain detergents as well (which is likely one reasons many older women get facial and eyelid dermatitis... I'm just guessing).  Luckily I wear so very little so I've compromised to wear it just when going out and keep my face washed in the house.  Detergent-free cosmetics are out there but the ones I have seen are ex-pen-sive!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Miracle.

I really have to apologize for the poor quality of these photos, but in the absence of a working camera my husband's ipad was the best I could do.  Still, you get the idea?  These were taken this morning. Sam's skin looks incredible. Truly this is the best it has looked ever, in his entire life. This is without aid of any medication.  No steroids, wet wraps, supplements or creams whatsoever.

  Sammy says: "Thank you!!"

By the way, I do not gain anything from linking to the solve eczema website in every post but I shall continue to link to it because if any parent looking for eczema help stumbles upon this blog via google search, I want them to easily be able to find this miracle-working website that has changed our lives. I would be so happy if someone else found the answer to their child's eczema through Sam's blog! I really believe as the author of the website does that this particular cause of eczema accounts for up to 60% of eczema cases. I see children all over the internet who look just like Sam did, who's stories sound just like his, and I just want to reach through my computer screen and shake their parents and say "TRY THIS!"  Most will pass by this solution though because it is so involved and it requires work and time and problem solving, while western medicine has trained us to look for quick, easy, overnight solutions. It took 5 weeks of hard work before seeing small improvements and nearly 8 weeks before seeing big ones. Now at 10 weeks, we are seeing and maintaining clear, healthy, baby soft skin and enjoying the fruit of our labor. Stick with it!

PS - Below you can see what his skin looked like at its worst, 2 1/2 months ago. Red, itchy, burning skin!

Monday, July 30, 2012


I've had a few family members asking how Sam is doing and when I am going to update this blog. It's probably time.  I've mostly been putting this off because I'm a picture kind of gal and my camera broke a couple of weeks ago. I was really hoping to be able to post a photo of Sammy's skin just so I could say... TA-DA! ... and blow you all away.

Sam looks like a different child and I am constantly finding reasons to undress him so I can admire his clear, soft skin.  By using the eczema solution described at, we have seen a complete and total change for the better in Sammy's skin. My heart is full.   I am grateful that after so many months of discomfort and struggle and prayer and pleading, that Heavenly Father has mercifully led us to the information that would finally unlock the door we'd been pounding upon in vain for so long. I am grateful beyond words for so many benevolent angels sent our way, without whom Sam would not be where he is today.  Among the kindnesses bestowed upon Sam and our family were prayers, fasting,  help with specialty clothing, soaps and other "safe" products we could not have afforded on our own, advice, invaluable support and encouragement.  Thank you so much to all of you who made this progress possible.

This process has been a lot of hard work, but the results are definitely worth it.  The redness in Sam's legs finally disappeared- all but just a faint hint around the thick skin of his knees. I have found that if  I keep all of his body clothed and covered with the exception of his face and hands, he is able to remain comfortable and eczema free the majority of the time. He still has minor break-outs when we visit other people's houses or stores or the library - all of which have much higher levels of harsh detergents than our home.  But those break-outs are limited to exposed areas of skin, typically hands, wrists, neck and face.  Some break-outs can be washed away within hours by simply washing the detergent out of the skin with soap. Over time the irritation fades.   Other break-outs still take 2 to 3 days of washing to heal, not sure why but I think those must be from harsher detergent exposures.  Sometimes I can prevent an exposure from showing up on the skin at all if I know it has occurred and wash the area immediately. In that case the eczema will not develop at all.

The most important thing that has emerged from this entire pursuit of detergent removal, is the understanding that eczema is not random, but rather predictable and follows certain rules (thank you AJ)! Once you are able to understand the rules, you go from being ruled by the eczema to being in control of it. For parents of children with unrelenting, full body eczema, this shift in understanding is nothing short of life changing.  I no longer worry about Sam's skin the way I did ten weeks ago.  Even when he is not completely clear or a new rash appears on his body out of the blue, I am not phased because I understand where it came from and how to handle it. I know how to make it go away.  Such a contrast to the feeling of helplessness, despair, and anxiety that I used to experience when seeing new rashes appear on Sam's body.

Good news, no??  I promise I will post some pictures very soon! ( If I can't figure out how to get my camera fixed I'll just have to borrow Grandma's!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Biggest Improvements After 5 Weeks:

Well things are looking better this week. A couple of weeks ago I started a support/discussion group on facebook for those using or interested in using SolveEczema.Org as a guide and I am going to copy here what I posted over there a few moments ago (with some additions for the purpose of this blog) ....

"Biggest improvements after 5 weeks of implementing the SolveEczema.Org methods:

1 - No more dry skin! Sam's skin feels totally normal and healthy, I only apply aquaphor once a day. Such a difference from before when I did not dry him completely and then slathered on vanicream 4 to 5 times a day and his skin was still dry after all that! I used to literally get a cloud of white skin flakes whenever I changed his clothes, no more! Even the areas that still have the most redness feel soft and naturally moisturized and not the least bit dry.  I am interpreting this as his skin barrier being repaired and restored. This confirms the principle taught on the SE website that dryness and eczema are actually separate issues and not a direct cause and effect as the majority of the world preaches. It also confirms to me that most of what we do to 'cure' dry skin and eczema, namely applying more and more moisturizing products, only exacerbates both issues. In the case of dry skin, less is more. And, I think also of all the times I have been told never to use soap on Sam's skin because it is too drying, and in the end it has been switching to traditional, true soaps for washing him that has so quickly restored his skin's healthy feel and moisture.

2- Face, arms, and back are beautiful clear 95% of the time now, and quick to heal when they do have minor break outs which does not happen as frequently or easily as before. I attribute this to an improved skin barrier and greatly reduced antigen load.

3- No more splotchy redness or flaky skin around his eyes. He used to have that all the time. Now his eyes are clear and soft.

4- S-L-E-E-P ! Sam has been sleeping through the night for 4 weeks. That means I'm sleeping too!

5 -  I'm not seeing any new rashes or worsening areas on his belly or legs
He has some permanent rashes that have been there for about 5 months on belly and legs, which I still don't know for sure what it is but the ACV (apple cider vinegar)  baths seem to really be helping. The healing is slow slow slow and changes almost imperceptible, but it is a huge thing that these areas are not getting worse or showing new irritation.  The only places I see new rash now are his hands, neck, and cheeks (exposed skin only, go figure!) but they are minor and controllable and I can usually help them to clear up within 12 hour or so by washing with soap and applying an ointment barrier.

6- Sam's itchiness is minimal now and discomfort caused by his skin almost none. Again, a huge change from before when he was constantly itchy and scratching. The only time I ever see him scratch is when I remove his pants for a diaper change, he'll take the opportunity to scratch his legs! Or during naps if I have failed to mitten him he will usually scratch at his hands and wrists.  As for discomfort, the red skin that remains on his legs and belly bother me much more than it does him.

7- I can now predict and head off breakouts. Eczema is no longer "random" . For example today we went to the library and I clothed him in thin but long cotton clothing, then when we got home removed it all, washed him thoroughly with soap and put clean clothing, and no break outs from dust or detergent exposure. Also did this yesterday when he took off his shirt and was sliding down the stairs on his back. Washed him right away and was able to control the break out so it was very minimal and almost gone today.

If we can in fact sustain these improvements over a few months, I think it will be easier to accept that I will likely not see 100% elimination of Sam's eczema while we are living in our current home because of the old carpet. The change in quality of life for Sam and for me and our family has been night and day with these changes from the detergent removal. I hope others who have little ones suffering from eczema will be able to make some of these changes and see big or even little improvements over time! Even little improvements in eczema can make a big difference in quality of life and easing the stress level!"


To anyone who might be new to this blog, I want to reiterate that all of these changes have come without any steroids creams, prescriptions, special producs or lotions. The changes we are making are exclusively to our home environment. To read more about what has led to these great improvements, please visit and review the information contained on the pages of I promise it will change the way you view and think about eczema! Every itchy, sleepless child needs this information.  Every day I am so grateful I came across this website. I wish I had been more open to trying it the first time I found it nearly a year ago! Oh well, better late than never. ... of course this information will not help every child with eczema but its author estimates that this particular cause is accountable for up to 60% of childhood eczema. From what I have read on forums, so many other parents describe their child's eczema as nearly identical to Sam's in presentation and behavior, so I could only assume that the are caused by the same environmental influences. 

I am just amazed that the medical community does not yet have or recognize or accept this huge piece of the eczema puzzle. I am also amazed that most of the guidelines I have taken from that have worked (no small miracle after 18 months of trying literally every  recommendation out there) are exactly opposite of the things that Sam's pediatrician, allergist, and dermatologist advised us to do.  I can see now that many of the things that were doctor recommended were actually perpetuating the eczema.   I think the medical community probably does the best they know how but it seems many are regurgitating information that hasn't really helped anyone, because they just don't know any better or aren't willing to consider drug-free options.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Not much to report.

Not much has changed.  Adam could not find the Lotrimin product, but its just as well because when I looked up the ingredients online I wasn't sure they were all safe anyway.  For the many strengths and the wealth of info contained on the Solve Eczema website, I am still left very confused about the most important thing of all - how to know whether a product is safe or not for detergent-related eczema by reading the label. I feel utterly lost as to what makes something a mild detergent. I know there is more to it than SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate).

In my research I did come across a list of natural anti-fungals. One is raw un-diluted Apple Cider Vinegar with "the Mother"  (that is the term for the enzymatic healing part)  mixed in with bath water. This works just like the bleach, but sounded a lot safer to me! I picked up a jug of this stuff at Earth Fare for about $16 and we've done two days worth of ACV baths.  I also picked up a small dropper sized bottle of Oil of Oregano. It cost me $25. Yikes. For a tiny little bottle. It is also supposed to be a powerful anti-fungal when diluted heavily with olive oil and applied topically. I just applied in a very small spot on one knee yesterday and today. His knees seem to have the thickest and most irritated spots of red.

Sam still appears to look amazing in the morning. This morning I thought, wow, that ACV must have worked a miracle! But tonight at bedtime, same as always, he was very red again.  Even though this has been happening for months, it still shocks me how different his skin can look from morning to evening. I also can't seem to keep my emotions from riding daily on how his skin looks.  It seems my spirits soar when he seems to be clearing, and come crashing down again when I realize he's not.  I have kept Sam covered in long sleeves and pants in the house for the past 2 months at least, and washing with soap every night. If the red was just contact eczema, I should be seeing more of a difference.  A lot of what I am doing is to treating for possible yeast infection, but it could even be something totally different like hypopigmentation which is a documented side effect of the particular steroid cream we used. I read that sometimes this unnatural pigment due to prolonged steroid use can last months or even years when the steroid is discontinued.  I have no way of knowing what this redness is due to really. Since none of the doctors I've been to will even attempt to find out, I guess I'm on my own to figure it out.  The only thing to do really is continue the anti-fungal treatments and continue the detergent-removal and constant dust removal and hope that something will give.

That probably sounds like a repeat of previous posts, but that's where we are.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

And yet...

There is still that underlying red patchy look to Sam's skin, that makes me think we might need to treat for possible yeast infection. It looks so much like the yeast infections my other kids would sometimes get on their bums as diaper rash.   The dilute bleach seems to have helped the infection ever so slightly, but this rash is so persistent. It keeps fooling me too, because in the morning it is so faded that I keep thinking his skin is more healed than it really is. I think I read that morning to early afternoon is when natural cortisol levels spike, causing the skin to appear more natural. I could be way off. But his skin always looks awesome in the morning, I get so excited. Then by evening/night its back to looking redder again and I see those stubborn red spots more clearly. Still better than before, but not the progress I want to see. I'm having Adam get some Lotrimin for yeast infection tonight, will try on a small spot first for awhile to see what happens. SolveEczema clearly points out that if eczema skin is infected, it will not respond to soap washing until the infection has been treated and eliminated. So maybe this is what is impeding more rapid progress.

Something is working

Well I am not seeing the immediate results of soap bathing - as in, clear skin minutes later- but I am seeing definite results and that is the important thing. I wrote in my post yesterday how Sam came home from Grandma's with a red rashy face and arms. I washed him off in the bath with Dr. B's Baby Mild Castille bar soap and puzzled over not having it 'wash away' before my eyes, but when Sam woke up this morning his face is 90% clearer and arms and hands 75%.  So it is working! Perhaps his skin just so weak and sensitive that it takes longer to see the healing. I never would have seen clearing like that with his regular eczema,  normally those rashes existed in the same place for weeks or until we slathered them in hydrocortisone cream.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Two steps forward, two steps back.

It has become quite obvious now that Sam's eczema is of the detergent-related variety.  I keep reading and re-reading the solution to this kind of eczema on the Solve Eczema website but I am still a little confused about how to manage it in our particular situation. This is something I know I will just need to figure out with time. Due to our circumstances of being in a rental that will not allow removal of the carpet, and being in GA in the humid summer where washing the carpet ourselves might induce mold, I feel like there is only so much I can do.  I don't know if we'll get all the way to clear skin for Sam  while living where we are, but if I can just manage the rash to where it is not out of control, that is still much better than where we've been.  The rashes that do still exist don't bother him nearly as much as they used to. We are all getting sleep!

Certain areas of Sam's skin have regressed a bit in the past two days.  Grandma lives across the street and often watches the kids for me, a couple of hours here and there so I can get things done, or else she just invited them over for the company.  Sam spent just an hour there Wednesday evening, and a few hours today, and he is quite broken out now.  The breakout screams detergent because it is only on his face, arms and hands, which were the only parts exposed at Grandma's house. (Even though I keep him in long sleeves inside, he still pushes them up.)  His legs, which I have kept covered in footed pants, continue to heal.  But his lower arms and hands are pretty bad compared to how he looked before going to Grandma's.  Both times after coming home I stuck him in the bath right away and washed him well with soap and then dried with a layer of Aquaphor, straight in to clean cotton clothing.  His face looks a *little better from the washing but his arms and hands are still red and rashy.  I am not sure why we are not getting that washed-away result from bath time.  It certainly has worked for my own eczema, but doesn't seem to work that way with Sam.

I don't want to have to keep Sam home all the time, my other two children would go crazy, but maybe I do need to commit to keeping him home for at least a couple of weeks to give his skin a chance to fully heal, or at least to discover how much it is capable of healing in our home environment.  It's tough because I think the only way we survive is by getting out and doing things! It is pretty hard to keep a 6 year old, 4 year old, and 2 year old happy in a tiny two-room apartment all day in the summer.  We already do not play outside much just because the sunshine exacerbates Sam's eczema,  and now it seems all of the indoor places are also problematic and consistently interrupting healing. *Sigh*.

Another thing I have found to be a huge challenge personally is keeping on top of 5 people who are coming and going at various times, picking up detergent and dust residues and bringing them home. I'm still not sure if everyone has to change and bathe whenever they come home before lounging about. If they don't is it just undoing everything I have done?  The solution makes so much sense in concept and on paper but I am finding it difficult to implement practically. I know it must be doable because I've read the letters and testimonies of parents who have done it and been successful. One mother saw her son's skin heal after EIGHT years of severe eczema by implementing the methods.  It's a learning process I know, and I am constantly having to step back and remind myself of the scope of this process and the ongoing work involved, and to be patient.  The reassuring thing is that it IS doable, and it IS a real solution that does not involve any creams, oils, drugs, wet-wrapping, or other crazy quick-fix band-aids that are a pain in themselves. This solution addresses the cause and I'm convinced that when its done right and all the way it knocks out eczema. Just knowing that possibility is out there is exciting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sammy's Skin June 13th - We are smiling!

For those who are not interested in reading through the previous monstrous post, of which these photos are the climax, I am posting them again here so you can see why my faith and hope are soaring today!  Sam's skin looks great! It is not fully healed by any means, but the redness is fading significantly for the first time since March and I am seeing a normal, healthy skin color peeking through! His chest is clear, arms about 70% improvement from last week and legs 50% improvement.  He has been off steroids for 15 days and the only medications I am using is Hydroxyzine which helps calm the itch at night. Even still, the hydroxyzine did not even touch his itchiness and discomfort two weeks ago.  This is incredible progress and we will take it!  This is coming after a lot of hard work, to read more about that see the previous post.

Progression of Sam's Eczema Over Time

I wanted to make a visual record of Sam's eczema and how it has progressed over time. I could not explain the progression then but I feel I can explain it better now in light of AJ Lumsdaine's detergent theory.

 October 2010 :  baby eczema around 4 months. The problem started initially at bout two weeks old as pretty bad cradle cap which "crawled" down  to settle on his face (mostly cheeks) and neck. It presented  as a scant, spotty rash of individual rough pink patches. 

   The next stage of progression or "worsening" came at about 5 months when Sam started crawling. It was winter so he was still wearing pants but just the tops of his feet exposed and dragging on the carpet and also he was spending more time closer to our carpet in general. So not only did the tops of his feet develop large bright red patches but also all other areas such as face, arms and hands that had previous only been exposed to less serious detergent sources like bed sheets, now worsened also when exposed more frequently and for longer periods of time to harsher detergents in our carpet.  Sam was 5 months old when we filled our first prescription for topical steroid creams.  Until the time he became mobile on the carpet his eczema had been quite manageable.

When springtime came and Sam traded pants for shorts, he was now crawling with bare shins and knees, and I next noticed large bright red patches just under his knees, then on his knees, with smaller spots of lighter irritation in between. As summer came and the months got even warmer, I let him go without clothing all together. In just a diaper, now crawling, walking, rolling, and rubbing his body all over our carpet and furniture, the eczema worsened still with growing number of eczema patches all over, covering him from head to toe.   Here are some photos to show what this worsening and spreading detergent-related eczema looked like:

Clear on steroids in October 2011: 

Off Steroids in November 2011:

First dose oral steroids Prednisolone (as opposed to topical cream) in Nov 2011:
When Sam was just over a year his eczema worsened markedly, and he was starting to break out randomly at mealtimes. We thought he was allergic to everything. We started working with an allergist and I started putting Sam and myself on strict elimination diets to try and uncover hidden diet triggers. During this time the allergist put him on several doses of oral steroids. I remember feeling so hopeful when his skin seemed to heal but now I understand how that was just an immuno-suppressing effect, masking the damage. Steroids can never heal chronic eczema. In fact, knowing what I know now, I believe the detergents in steroid creams (most contain them!) play a huge role in worsening eczema. Literally we were taking the very thing causing Sam's eczema (although we didn't know it at the time) and slathering it into his skin. 

Off Steroids in March 2012:  This is the stage when I first became alarmed because of the growing number of red patches, closer together. From this point on we saw less and less healthy skin and more red each time coming off medication. I didn't know what to think of it at the time but now I think it was probably a growing bacteria or yeast on the skin. (Read my post about how the overuse of topical steroid creams can lead to nasty widespread infections like this one, as I believe was the case in Sam's situation after having used TS for over 16 months.) 

April 2012:  Below is Sam's eczema at its worst, completely inflamed and infected. I didn't let him run around naked much anymore at this time (except for photos like this one)  so he would normally be wearing short sleeves and shorts and you can see how his eczema follows the clothing lines almost exactly, with total inflammation beginning exactly where the clothing ends. My theory for why his exposed skin looked so much worse in his second year than exposed skin in his first is that continual accumulation of detergents just made the skin barrier more and more broken down over time so that where he may have had intermittent weakened areas before, the whole surface of skin was now more easily susceptible to break outs and irritation from even the slightest exposure.  I think the topical steroid creams we use (most of which contain detergents themselves!) further increased barrier permeability, increasing both detergent absorption and skin irritation tenfold.

(As an aside, I am familiar with and while I agree that steroids can seriously worsen a child's baseline eczema, I disagree with their interpretation and understanding of this problem.  I especially disagree with the suggested approach to healing  I will address this at a later time.)

Early May 2012: This rash is not budging! I thought it was so odd that his earlier eczema, back in the fall, had shifting and changing spots, but now all the irritations seemed to be  "stuck" and worsening. Again, I had no idea at the time that Sam's eczema was infected. In fact multiple pediatricians and dermatologists assured me this was a normal eczema presentation.

Mid-May 2012:  This is what a viral infection on top of previously-existing infection on top of eczema looks like! All 3 kids got Hand, Foot & Mouth and this is what happened to Sam's eczema during that week. Not fun!

 June 2 2012, after last oral dose of Prednisolone:  Sam came off this last dose with fully red arms and legs.  I was very unsettled by this as around this time I shifted from focusing on his diet to focusing on our environment, and was discouraged to see things seemingly getting worse instead of better:

June 13, 2012:  Wow!  This mommy is smiling today!  This is seriously the best Sam's skin has ever looked in the past 8 months while completely steroid free.  After finally being tipped off that Sam likely had an infection, I was able to start addressing that issue with a combination of bleach baths and ACV baths (apple cider vinegar is a natural anti-fungal) At the same time, following the council of we removed all detergent products from our home, switched over to only pure soap products for washing, and kept Sam's skin covered at all times to protect it from environmental detergent residues beyond our control.  

He is not fully healed by any means but I am so encouraged to see that stubborn angry redness fading a little more noticeably each day. I think he looks at least 60% better than he did last week or even two days ago.  His face and arms in regular daylight look almost normal. The timing of this correlates exactly with the last week of dilute bleach baths which I am guessing have helped with infection on the skin, presumably allowing his skin to finally respond to our environmental changes. This remains to be proven but it is my guess. 

This hypothesis would make chronological sense because our first big dust/detergent removal following the steps outlined on was about a week and a half ago, and within 3 days I was seeing similar healing. Then bam, two days later, all inflamed again. BUT, in those  two days we had been away from home, visiting Grandma and then the hospital which would have huge amounts of detergent residues from the cleaning and sanitizing chemicals.  I wasn't positive the rash was due to those outings, or that the previous healing was due to our clean-up, so to be sure I kept Sam home from church on Sunday and we've stayed close to home the past couple of days. Sure enough the previous healing repeated itself after 4 days of being at home in our newly cleansed environment of greatly reduced dust and detergent levels.   Today he looks great.

If this healing continues long enough to prove the correlation, my work is obviously not done. We will need to maintain the safe environment, which I am told is so much easier once the soap switch is fully complete. Then it is just a matter of continuing to use the right products and dealing with breakouts that occur from exposures, which I've also heard is much easier once the skin is healed and often a matter of "washing" the eczema away in the bath with a true soap. I know that sounds crazy and I was hesitant to believe it but AJ has not steered me wrong yet so until she does I will trust her experience with contact eczema. To me it is more productive to follow an optimistic voice even if remains to be proven 100%, as opposed to the countless other voices that preach "No Cure. No Answer. No Solution." 

Will update in a few days and let you all know if he is still looking good. Hopefully he will be even better!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sam's Visit to Georgia Health Sciences University

On Thursday I got a call from the nurse at our new pediatrician's office saying they were able to request a special favor and had an appointment for us the very next day with a prominent dermatologist at the Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta.  We figured this was our best chance at talking to a specialist without having to wait until September, so Adam kindly set aside all of the surprise plans he had for my 30th birthday, and instead of spending the day celebrating we left at 8 am and drove two hours to the health center.

Honestly, the visit was what I would have expected from any dermatologist here in town. Dr. Davis was not able to shed any light on why Sam's skin might be so red, she just said that she saw dozens of atopic kids in there every week that look just like Sam.  I stressed that I did not want to use any more steroids, and she honored that and did not prescribe any. She did prescribe Elidel, a "steroid sparing cream" but  it does not have much research behind it and is blackboxed for kids under 2, and has plenty of negative reviews already around the web for having side-effects very similar to steroids.  I will not be filling that prescription.

I was a little aggravated that this derm did not seem to want to give straight answers to my questions. At one point I guess I became impatient enough that Adam became uneasy and left the room. Well, I must have asked a particular question 8 times and she kept changing the subject, I was a little frustrated.  I was making the point that Sam's eczema started out with scattered red patches with lots of healthy skin in between, and that over time the patches had become more numerous and closer together, until the past couple of months his entire arms and legs were of total red pigment with no healthy skin in between. I told her how I was worried we had been over-prescribed the steroid creams and oral steroids, and expressed concern that perhaps they were the reason for the worsening rash and redness.  She said something like "Oh, I would never prescribe oral steroids, only as a last resort"   or "I would never prescribe Triamcinolone"  which is what we had used. So I pressed "And why wouldn't you? There must be a reason you wouldn't prescribe it. What side effects would you be worried about?" And that's when she kept changing the subject, never directly answering my question no matter how many ways I rephrased it.

She kept saying the redness was just the normal eczema.  Finally at the end, after Adam left, I got her to say that one of the side effects of topical steroid overuse and misuse would be adrenal suppression, a symptom of which can be red skin.  I told her I was worried about that and asked if we could have Sam tested for adrenal suppression. She said there is no point, if he is suffering from that I would know because he would be in great pain and misery, and he obviously was not, smiling and acting just fine in the room there with us.  I told her he'd only been off steroids completely less than a week and asked if it might take time for symptoms to show, she said she didn't think it was an issue.

When I asked about doing a skin culture to see what kind of bacteria or yeast might be colonizing the skin, she again said there was no point in doing that because the skin was not broken, and swabbing unbroken skin would turn up all kinds of bacteria that were just sitting on top and it would be anyone's guess as to which was causing infection. She also said that she wouldn't want to prescribe an antibiotic, but that if Sam does have an infection he might benefit from using an antibacterial soap like Cetaphil and also doing the dilute bleach baths.

At one point I told the doc of some of the efforts we were making at home to see improvement, I said something to the effect of "If we could just figure out the allergy or cause of Sam's eczema, I feel like we could eliminate it and..." she didn't even let me finish before laughing out loud! She said, there is no cause, that I would drive myself crazy pursuing that end and I needed to focus on making Sam as comfortable as I can until he grows out of it. I told her that was not so and that many moms had been successful finding a cause and eliminating their child's eczema. She said "Yes, that's only on the internet" ... whatever that means.

So, not the greatest visit but I'm glad we went because if we hadn't I would just be wondering if she could have helped in some significant way. Now I know, and I'm pretty convinced after all of my research and all the medical professionals I've talked to that they all feel pretty much the same way. I don't think we will find one who will tell us any different than this: Eczema and allergies are to be drugged and suppressed.

This is the regimen we were given:

1-  Bleach baths: once a week, 1/4 C bleach + half tub water
2- Cetaphil Antibacterial Soap daily
3 - Wet Wraps- as many nights a week as possible for moisture.  (this is wearing a pair of wet pjs under dry pjs)
4- Hydroxyzine (antihistamine) every 6 hours while flaring to help with itching.
5 - Doxepin 30 mins before bedtime to aid sleep.

I have already done 4 of the bleach baths since last week, which seems like a ton but next week will only be 3 and then twice a week, then once.  I hope we see improvement! So far, no difference in redness but I have noticed a huge difference in itchiness.  I can't say for sure its because of the bleach but this past week Sam has slept through the night every single night. Actually, that might also be thanks to his magic pajamas with the 'silver soothe' in them that is supposed to calm itching! I just remembered that. Gosh we love those pajamas and I wish they had a store in the USA!  Come to think of it, he has slept soundly every night he has had them on, except for one night when he wet through his diaper in the middle of the night. I had to remove the special mitted pjs because they were soaked, and put him in normal cotton top and pants, and the rest of that night he was whiny and itchy.  In fact I woke up 3 times to find him completely naked because he had pulled everything off his lower half to scratch.

I am still focusing a lot on the dust in our house. I am vacuuming like crazy, and keeping our linens and bedclothes washed in hot water at least weekly. I will probably wash Sam's sheets every few days.

I am not sure what more to do with detergents and soaps. Only because of the carpet, it is such a big obstacle in both dust reduction and switching to soaps.  Because if he is allergic to just dust or both dust and detergent, either way it is bound to have a huge stubborn amount of both that is constantly being picked up and spread to other areas of the house. We had our downstairs carpet replaced a few weeks ago, and Adam said that when they lifted the old carpet up there was at least 20 gallons of dust underneath. Ick. Our landlord was kind enough to replace our downstairs carpet but said he will not do the upstairs while we are living here. He did offer to have it cleaned for us, but I've already talked to the carpet cleaner he uses and they would only use harsh detergents, so I don't want to do that.  We cannot remove the upstairs carpet because there is no usable, livable flooring underneath. Just very raw wood with lots of tacks and staples.   I feel like placing any other carpet or floor covering on top of our old carpet would just trap the dust mites in a moist environment and cause more problems.

One day we will have an allergen-free home with all wood floors and leather furniture!! I dream of this!! And by that time, Sam really will have outgrown all his allergies. ;)