Eczema, allergies and asthma…. Three common childhood conditions that are often linked together.
Eczema is often the first of these conditions to appear, with 50% of kids who develop eczema developing it within the first 12 months of childhood (Williams 2005). Food allergies are also common in kids with eczema, with 30-40% of kids with eczema also having food allergies (Eigenmann 1988, Tham 2019).
While typical approaches to eczema tend to focus on the skin (with steroids, moisturisers, bleach baths and wet dressings), this symptom-management approach fails to address the bigger picture.
By focusing on these elements alone, the root causes remain ignored.
Research shows that eczema is a complex condition, which has many different contributing factors. While every child with eczema may have different triggers than another child with eczema, the pieces of the puzzle may be similar and most – if not all – need to be addressed to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Food triggers for eczema are common – either as allergies or food intolerances.
What we use on our child’s skin can also be soothing or irritating – and in Australia and the USA, it is up to consumers to determine for themselves!
Environmental triggers are often those unseen and may include mould, synthetic perfumes and cleaning chemicals, can play a significant role in eczema and a healthy-home audit should be completed to ensure these are minimised or removed from the home.
It is becoming increasingly clear from the research that in kids (and adults) with eczema, their gut health is commonly impaired. ‘Gut Health’ is becoming more and more mainstream these days – less so 8 years ago when we started working on this with my son with eczema (no longer!).
What is gut health? It is the mini eco-system of microorganisms (both beneficial and harmful) throughout our digestive tract. You may have heard of our gut microbiota which houses most of our immune system.
In the research field over the last few decades, poor gut health has been linked to eczema, allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and much, much more. Poor gut health – ‘Leaky Gut’ also known as ‘Increased Intestinal Permeability’ in the research literature (type that in on PubMed if you’re curious), is a key area to address for kids with eczema.
While gut health is becoming more mainstream these days (which is fantastic!)…some of the commonly recommended approaches to ‘gut healing’ that I see recommended in FB groups by well-meaning people are often triggers for kids with eczema!
Many parents that I work with have spent between 7-12 months searching for information on how to really help their child – usually on Google, FB groups, or blogs – to help their little one.
And it’s a world of conflicting messages out there, with lots of different approaches and opinions…
Parents don’t have the time, energy (any parent of a child of eczema knows that itchy skin can sure contribute to interrupted sleep for the entire family!), or research background to be able to interpret the current research …
And they just want the right, evidence-based information so they don’t have to keep wasting time looking for it… often ending up down a rabbit hole without getting the information they want and need..
And when parents are sleep deprived, stressed, anxious or feeling overwhelmed it can be so hard to even know where to begin…
For parents wanting to move beyond a band-aid approach, I’ve pulled together a free guide – The Busy Mum’s Quick Guide to Childhood Eczema that you can access right here.
Eigenmann PA et al (1988). Prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy among children with atopic dermatitis. Pediatrics. 10(3): E8
Tham EH, Leung DYM (2019). Mechanisms by which atopic dermatitis predisposes to food allergy and the atopic march. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 11(1):4-15
Williams HC (2005). Atopic Dermatitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 352 (22):2314-2366
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