Happy Healthy Babies VI: Eczema

May 12, 2018


Eczema in babies and young children is more common than it should be and entirely avoidable. Yes, that is a true statement, even if it runs in the family. Just as with all of the topics in my Happy Healthy Babies series, the answer to eczema will be found in addressing the root cause of the symptom and that is certainly not the skin! Eczema is merely an expression of the body’s inability to eliminate optimally. Because the bowels and/or kidneys are overburdened, the skin becomes an emergency exit for cleaning. You can read more about this topic here.

While topical treatments may give temporary relief, they cannot heal eczema. The only way to put an end to eczema is to support bowel and kidney function and eliminate inflammatory foods that are adding to their load. In adults, the healing of eczema can take months, but in babies the process is usually quite straightforward and simple with the right support. Before taking a look at Marie’s story, let’s revisit last week’s post because it is related.

The Complications of Suppressing Symptoms

Last week I shared the story of Sam and the respiratory troubles he faced, waking in the early hours of the morning and giving his parents a fright as he struggled for breath between coughs. What we learned from Sam’s story is that these acute respiratory episodes need a two-fold approach. First, an acute protocol (Black Currant and Lithy) was in order that would give immediate relief to his spasmodic cough. Next, and just as important, Sam needed a daily protocol of Gemmotherapy to improve his elimination. The extract needed for Sam’s elimination would be individualized based on symptoms pertaining to his elimination, vitality, and inflammation. Because the daily protocol would take a week or more to help establish better elimination, it was likely he would have another acute episode or two and it was important his parents had an option.

I’m drawing your attention to Sam because children who have similar respiratory symptoms and are treated with medications to suppress the symptoms often exhibit skin conditions like eczema next. The same can be true in reverse as well: children who have skin symptoms that are suppressed often develop respiratory symptoms.

Eczema and croup or coughing symptoms are connected but only because they both share the same root cause – poor elimination. While elimination can and will be improved by the correct Gemmotherapy protocol, this must be paired with a diet that does not add to the inflammatory state. While there are many groups of inflammatory foods, it has been my experience that consuming milk and products made from milk is the greatest cause of symptoms in children. This can be problematic if the child is under one year of age and not breastfed because the options are limited. However, there ARE options and knowing the age of the child will guide the best choice. This is something I help parents with on a daily basis.

Baby Marie

Let’s take a look a Marie’s story. Marie’s parents began to notice the first small patches of eczema on her cheeks and then on the back of her neck when she was five months of age. They found they could give Marie some temporary relief with coconut oil but after a few weeks they noticed the eczema was spreading when they discovered a patch on her leg and upper arm. At this point Marie began waking frequently at night irritated by her skin. When offered a steroid cream by their pediatrician, her parents began looking for options.

By the time this family made it to my office Marie was not a very happy baby. Itchy and uncomfortable, she seldom slept straight for more than an hour or so. Needless to say Marie’s parents were quite exhausted and worn down as well. The intake for her case, as with all babies, was quite simple and it wasn’t long before the root cause was clear.

Change in Diet

Four weeks before the eczema appeared, Marie’s parents began giving her a night time bottle of formula to supplement mom’s breastfeeding. The plan was for mom to return to work when Marie was six months of age and so it seemed to make sense to begin introducing formula.

Wisely, Marie’s parents introduced it slowly with one bottle at a time but after the first week of watching carefully for any reaction they felt safe in their choice. Like many parents, Marie’s expected a negative response to be immediate and obvious. The fact is that there was a reaction, a mild one, but important.

Impact on Elimination

The frequency of Marie’s bowel movements changed within the first week of beginning the formula but had gone relatively unnoticed. Normally having had 3 per day on breast milk only, she began to not have one until late in the day and on occasion she skipped a day between movements.

The next symptom to appear also seemed random and that was the onset of a wet cough. Marie’s parents treated this cough with all natural syrup for children from the local health food store and continued on with the nightly feeding of formula, attributing all of what Marie was experiencing as normal babyhood.

It wasn’t until the eczema appeared that Marie’s parents began to seek outside help. The problem with eczema is that the medical community does not have a cure – they have a treatment. The treatment, topical steroid creams, can temporarily suppresses the eczema but it will never address the reason it is there in the first place. Lucky for Marie her parents weren’t pleased with the prescription they were handed and so they looked for further help.

It’s important to understand that by the time the body begins to use the skin for an emergency exit the elimination organs have been overburdened for some time. Resetting this compensation to use the skin to clean takes some time and in Marie’s case no further feedings of formula.

Gemmotherapy Support

After one week on the Gemmotherapy extract Silver Birch Sap and only breast milk, Marie’s parents saw a return to normal bowel movements, the cough subsiding, and no further spread of the eczema. The rest of Marie’s eczema cleared over the following weeks with continued daily doses of the Silver Birch Sap. Once all three symptoms, bowel movements, cough, and eczema were corrected she would no longer need the Gemmotherapy protocol if she kept all dairy out of her diet.

As I have mentioned before, addressing these early symptoms in babies is so important and can be simple when the case has not been complicated by suppressing medications. I love this opportunity to offer parents an alternative that really works and I’m already looking forward to sharing next week’s post on babies and sinus congestion. What if Marie’s parents had used he steroid cream? Well this is a good question to ask. They would see a temporary relief of the external symptoms but her cough and poor elimination would not have resolved. In many cases, those symptoms would only increase in intensity leading parents to seek another separate solution for the cough.

Important to note is that all eczema cases can be resolved, even when they have been suppressed. However, the protocol and time required will be slightly different from Marie’s.

Has Marie’s story has sparked your interest in Gemmotherapy? You can find out much more about restoring your child’s immunity with Gemmotherapy in my latest book. If you are a practitioner or interested in becoming a practitioner consider joining one of my upcoming Foundations of Gemmotherapy courses.


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  1. pat on July 21, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    i was just wondering. Did the elimination of Dairy (formula) for a few weeks cleared his skin? what was the role of the Gemmo Therapy in this case if Sam has to continue to have a no dairy life? i thought Gemmo therapy would help the body so that it does not get inflammed with the Diary any more? Could you please elaborate on that ?

    • Lauren on August 16, 2016 at 5:06 am

      Hello Pat Apologies for a late reply to your great question. In cases such as Sam’s where the inflammation comes so early in life the body often needs both organ support and dietary change. In my practice I see that only in people with very strong constitution who have not had inflammation build over the years can a dietary change alone relieve the symptom. Gemmotherapy supports the weakened organ- in Sam’s case this is his kidney. By the time the inflammation reached his skin there was already a problem building due to his inability to digest dairy completely. There are two points here- dairy was never meant to be digested by humans, we have our own milk supply and in addition the more disruption to a child or adult’s microbiome the greater the problem digesting inflammatory foods.

  2. Jacky on July 28, 2016 at 1:05 am

    “the answer to eczema will be found in addressing the root cause of the symptom and that is certainly not the skin!” I agree! What a great post. very informative and good to read. Thanks for this!

  3. Carlotta Crosby on June 17, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Ok… So I would like to know, was it necessary for the breast feeding mother to eliminate dairy from her diet also in this case?

    • Lauren on June 18, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Hello Carlotta,
      That’s an important question. Yes is the answer I would give to any mother in this situation and there is good research to back the fact that elimination of dairy in the mother resolves inflammation in breastfeeding infants.
      Warm Regards

  4. hilary on May 14, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Curious how to help a strictly formula fed baby? We started EBF, but my son was 2 months premature. NICU insisted we add neosure powder to the BM he was being tube fed. We immediately noticed reactions, but they were mild enough that the staff played them off as cradle cap/baby exploring face, reflux from extended gI feeds. When we got home we continued with the neosure as instructed for about 8 weeks, but things just kept getting worse. We had never wanted to formula feed so decided to ditch the neosure against the NICU staff’s insistence, but with the support of our family doctor. He was monitored for weight/milestones etc. and never skipped a beat indeed has caught right up with his peers. However, his skin was still suffering. We were seeing long bowel transit times, rancid smelling fatty poo’s, red flakey eye brows/scalp and persistent anal rash still. Went to a dermatologist who said he may still be reacting to dairy in my diet and perscribed a very mild steroid for use up to 3x’s daily as needed for up to two weeks. We used this as isntructed for about 7 days, and I removed dairy. Again we saw mild improvements, but still flares. We continued steroid (for 7 more days as per derm-wish we had not). We trialed him on a hypoallergenic formula while I cleaned my diet out of the top 8 food allergens for 2 more weeks. The formula was initially like magic. Eating and sleep was suddenly a joy (we didn’t even know he was having problems as first time parents). His scalp and brow cleared 90% within the first week. His bum however never fully healed, but bowels started to gain regularity. We returned to breast feeding and feeding expressed milk and while it did not look too bad, slowly things started to go back in the other direction again (not as bad, but still there). Becoming frustrated and at husband’s insistence we started adding two hypoallergenic formula feeds before nap and bed time but I continued to remove from my diet until I got down to just turkey/chicken broth with shredded turkey and rice. I spent two weeks on that and things seemed to be looking up, until we had our 6 month vaccines 🙁 followed by a “mystery illness” that swept the whole family (concerns abound as it nearly coincides with early COVID discovery in the US). Since then his cheeks continue to get red, swollen, blotchy with tiny rough pimply patches. He is teething also so we assume that is aggravating the skin. We are at our wits end, my husband insisted I go back to eating as he considered my diet to be near starvation (I’ve lost 36 lbs below my prepregnancy weight- had it to spare so not at risk or anything, but I”ve never lost that sum in so few weeks). We are now fully on hypoallergeic formula. We trialed a second one just in case it was an ingredient int he first or the % of hydrolized milk protein. He had a massive flare on trying new formula on his cheeks/face/eyes/forehead and behind his ears. We are beginning to believe that his issues stem to early antibiotic exposure as a result of his prematurity (I was put on IV abx during delivery, which resulted in a Cdiff infection and again more abx while early breastfeeding) He was also on a 48 hour course of abx until his cultures came back “clear” in his first two days. Add in the well intention steroid from the derm and we really think his system has just been on overload. We’ve cut out EVERYTHING from soaps and long warm baths, opting for shower rinses in tepid water or a warm face cloth to dob clean. We sparingly use wipes on his bottom and only on his outer bum, we rinse the anal area in bath each time and pat dry. Only use AD ointment as a barrier. We were perscribed bactroban ointment 14 day course because he tested positive for staph, used it saw some improvement, but immediate relapse upon stopping – and DO NO want to go the route of oral antibiotics if we can help it. Can anything be done for a bay who is now strictly on formula (he is 8.5 months old – for several months before we cleaned dairy out of my diet he ate constantly and was miserable gassy and in pain constantly, he is finally happy with feeds, but skin looks rough). Any thoughts to run by our pcp (who is very open minded and happy to refer us to specialists as needed). We have not had an allergy test done yet due to the outbreak of Covid, and requirement to go to a large city hospital as well as him being so young when we originally started noticing issues. We noticed issues starting in the NIC around week 4, things were progressivly worse til week 12, continue to have issues crop up 3 months til now 8.5 months. Nothing has seemed to help us heal his gut or balance his body.

    • Lauren on May 14, 2020 at 11:12 am

      Hello Hilary
      What a journey you have been on with your son! I am sorry you both have been suffering. In short my answer is an absolute yes there is much that can be done for your son at this point. It will take working with a practitioner because you will need someone seeing this through a different lens. Once your son is healing I am sure you can manage his care on your own. I suggest you have a look at my interns (listed under consultations on my website) to see if you feel drawn to working with one of these amazing women, all mothers, all with extensive training. I know you will find the support you are searching for not only for your son but to trust yourself again.

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