Please note this skin problem story was updated on October, 2010, September, 2011, June 2013 and August 2015. You can read the updates at the end of the post.
My oldest son, Noah was born with sensitive skin – extremely sensitive. He was a happy baby with baby zits and an adorable smile. We thought he just had dry skin because we live in the desert. His cheeks were always red from the dryness. But it also affected him in his cute little rolls, his elbows, back of his knees, and his ankles.
We figured, like cradle cap or other random baby skin ailments, that he would just grow out of it. We tried different over the counter moisturizers to help, but he reacted to most of them and some made the problem worse.
We bounced from brand to brand trying new lotions and different creams. Some controlled it better than others. They would work for a short period of time, and then it would get worse again.
We tried every cream anyone suggested but we had little success. Some would even burn him and leave him screaming and reluctant to let us apply anything else. When he turned 2, the problem started to fade from his face, but got worse on his arms and legs.
My mom and Jenni suggested it could be caused by allergies to different foods. So, I tried cutting out milk and dairy and then rotating to grains. I tried cutting out everything I could think of at different periods of time, but I didn’t see any results when it came to his skin. It can be difficult enough to get small children to eat anything, so I finally abandoned that idea.
I tried natural and herbal ointments too. They would sometimes suppress it, but it never went away completely, and after a while it would get worse again.
Even thick creams wouldn’t stop it. His skin was red, it would crack, and at night he would itch in his sleep. He would wake up 1-3 or even 4 times at night crying and screaming (sometimes in his sleep) because of the pain and itching. His arms and legs would bleed from all the scratching. We gave him Benadryl when it was really bad, but sometimes that didn’t even help.
When he was 3 we took him to a dermatologist. The doctor told us simply that it was eczema and that he would probably grow out of it eventually. In the mean time he gave us a handful of samples for a cream that he promised would clear it right up, but that we could only use the cream for 10 days at a time. The cream contained 0.1% hydrocortisone butyrate.
We tried it for the 10 days and his skin magically cleared up. It was amazing. I had never seen this kid with clear skin before! He stopped itching, started sleeping through the night and life got better all around. We stopped using it after 10 days, and within a couple weeks it came back.
So we went through the cycle again until we ran out of the sample cream. We looked into buying more and found that a small tube of that stuff (45mg) was $186!! HELLO! I was in shock– $200 for a tiny tube of cream?!? I started to research places to buy it online, but instead of finding a cheaper place, they were all more expensive.
I learned more about the cream and its side effects. They may not seem horrible, but they included possible skin thinning, redness, other skin irritations, skin discoloration, stinging, burning, etc. This is why you can’t use it for more than 10 days at a time.
We decided we didn’t want to go that route long term, and within a few weeks it all came back and we sadly returned to square one.
I was thrilled to try essential oils on my son because they are natural and powerful without harmful side effects. I felt confident they would work. I started with lavender and melaleuca, with a little coconut oil. It calmed his skin discomfort down and helped, but it didn’t take the problem away. I heard somewhere that geranium oil was also good for skin, so I added that into our mixture.
Shortly after, a friend told me that her son was allergic to laundry detergent and that cutting it out helped his skin. I use the “Free and Clear” detergent on my kids’ laundry, so I though I was okay, but I decided to cut it out as a precaution. I started washing his clothes alone with baking soda and a few drops of essential oils (mainly lavender and melaleuca). I noticed that this actually did help his skin. But, I still couldn’t get the skin issues to clear up completely and go away.
I ran out of lavender and melaleuca so I grabbed another oil to try until my replacements came in. The oil I grabbed was a blend with frankincense. After a week or so we started to notice some improvement– FINALLY! And this oil not only tamed the problem, but helped the skin to heal!
Frankincense is known for helping with skin problems as well as healing, but for some reason it hadn’t dawned on me to use it. So, I started making my own blend of frankincense oil diluted with coconut oil in a roller bottle that Noah could put on himself. Within another month his skin had cleared up COMPLETELY! He now sleeps through the night like a normal child!
While visiting my in-laws I threw his clothes in with the rest of the laundry and his skin redness came back with a vengeance, so I think I’ve finally found our culprit. I am now super careful to keep his laundry separate and the skin problem has stayed away. Every now and then we will see a little redness or some itching, but we just keep his roller bottle full and Noah puts it right on himself without any problems.
Frankincense is a precious oil. I am grateful it is available and that we have access to it so easily.
I am so happy to have found something natural with beneficial side effects to help overcome my boy’s skin issues! It has made a huge difference in our lives!
*** UPDATES *** October 2010
Its been about a year since I posted this article a year ago and I wanted to share a couple interesting discoveries I’ve had along the way!
There is a specific incident that comes to mind that I want to share. Last July I was staying with my parents for a week in California. Noah’s eczema was mostly under control. There were faded marks from it, but it wasn’t super red or bothersome. Well, one night Noah woke up screaming and itching. Being at my parents’ home, I didn’t want him to wake them up as well as my other children so I felt a frantic need to stop the noise as loud as possible. I grabbed what I had closest for skin, the frankincense and melalueca. These did not help. I went back for another oil and decided to use helichrysum. Helichrysum is like liquid gold. It does amazing things for oozing, sores, minor pain, you name it, its usually awesome. To my dismay it did nothing for whatever was bothering Noah and he continued to scream and itch. Finally I decided to dig my “calming” oils out of my oil bag. It had seriously been like 20 minutes by this point, with all my oils doing little to help me calm him.
Since then, if Noah wakes up in the night crying or itching, those are my new go-to oils. His eczema can barely been seen faded on his legs. Its hard to notice unless you look closely, but it no longer bothers him. I still am careful with his laundry but I do add a tiny bit of the free & clear soap to his loads to help them get clean. Rinsing them twice also helps.
In conclusion, I am impressed with the ability of the oils to calm both emotionally and physically. I am a big believer in trying different oils to find what works for each individual personally.
UPDATE September 2011-This is Jenni reporting that my own baby (Ian) has had similar skin issues for the past few months. I did a cleanse while I was nursing him and I think that may have contributed somewhat. Vickie suggested that it was probably a problem with his liver or kidneys. So I am drinking lots of water and taking 1 capsule twice a day of milk thistle and Christopher’s Liver/Gallbladderformula. This has helped dramatically. When I stop taking the herbs, the eczema comes back. I’m hoping it will go away after I stop nursing, which has happened with a couple of my other kids. This is a good example of getting to the root of the problem and not just treating things on the surface.
UPDATE June 2013-This is Jenni again reporting that after I stopped nursing, and started giving my baby “Sassy Water” and berry smoothies to drink everyday, his skin issues have gone way down. He still has small patches, which I treat with oils and Dr. Christopher’s Complete tissue ointment. I am looking for other ways to gently cleanse him and resolve the problem at the root.
UPDATE August 2015-This is Jenni again reporting that my son Ian’s eczema has gotten worse over this past year as I was focused on my daughter’s health, and often not in control of Ian’s eating. We noticed that gluten seemed to be a trigger, and keeping him gluten free helped. But even too much processed gluten-free products seemed to set him off. He got really bad around the time that Raquel passed, a month and a half ago. He was waking us up at night, itching and scratching the backs of his legs until they bled. The areas were covered with scabs. I was using Dr. Christopher’s Complete Tissue with the Owie blend for faster healing. I started taking him to NAET treatments and doing Emotion Code with him (google it). It’s working! His legs behind the knees were raw from him scratching, but now they are looking so much better!
We still have a few treatments to do to clear him for all the gluten derivatives, but I know we are making progress. I’m trying for complete remission through this protocol, and I believe it’s highly probable at this point.
*Note: these remedies may not work for everyone, as every body is different. Please use caution when trying new remedies, and start with small amounts, watching for any reactions.