September 13, 2011

Stop the Itch!

Sep 13
Infant eczema is a growing concern and now affects anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of all infants. Eczema is one of the first signs of allergy and is thought to be due to the delayed development of an infant’s immune system. It manifests itself as red, itchy patches or rash on the skin. What most people don’t realize is that this is more than just a ‘skin’ problem. As a result, many parents wind up using expensive and potentially toxic solutions on their children that don’t get anywhere near treating the underlying cause.The rash is simply the symptom of a larger issue at hand. Fortunately for worried parents, it can be relatively simple to treat both the symptom and the cause. The appearance of eczema signals a problem with the infant’s immune system. In fact, the Mayo Clinic ascertains that about three out of four children with eczema will later develop asthma or hay fever. One of the most common underlying causes of eczema seems to be lack of good bacteria in infants. Recent research suggests that children with only a limited variety of bacteria in their intestines one week after birth are much more likely to develop eczema by the age of 18 months. I believe that giving all infants probiotics can help ward off eczema by positively altering the early colonization of bacteria and in essence, may help to develop and mature the infant’s immune system. It is actually quite easy to see how probiotics help with eczema. The unborn infant’s GI tract is sterile but after birth, a rapid colonization of bacteria begins to occur until a stable indigenous gut microflora is established. It is essential that the beneficial bacteria predominate over potentially harmful bacteria. If this balance is out of order, it is only natural that there will be adverse symptoms. There are a number of ways to help increase the good bacteria while decreasing the bad bacteria in an infant/child’s body. It is important to realize that if you are breastfeeding your infant, your diet is just as important and you should follow the below advice for yourself as well:
  • Breastfeeding helps to ensure immune-building good bacteria in infants. Breast milk is loaded with nutrients to support the growth of beneficial bacteria while also containing components that inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and yeast.
  • Limit the usage of antibiotics which kill off both the good and bad bacteria in infants. It might be worthwhile to research natural methods of treatment unless antibiotics are absolutely necessary.
  • Supplement with high quality and beneficial bacteria specifically designed for infants and/or children. This can be necessary as our bodies are constantly under assault from outside sources such as antibiotics, chlorinated water, pollution, and much more.
  • Limit intake of sugary foods. A nutritious diet that is low in sugars and processed foods will enable the good bacteria to flourish and will naturally build up a great defense against excessive amounts of bad bacteria.
For those who have children already suffering from eczema or are themselves suffering from eczema, I highly recommend you try probiotics. Along with probiotics, the suggestions below may also help alleviate symptoms without the use of hazardous toxins:
  • Ensure your skin is hydrated from the inside out. It may be important for you or your child to take a high quality omega 3 and omega 6 supplement. Skin creams are only topical and in order to truly hydrate your skin, you need to replenish from the inside first.
  • Try to limit your intake of gluten and dairy. Food allergies can play an enormous role in eczema, even if they are undiagnosed. Gluten and dairy allergies are more common than you would think and  often exacerbate the symptoms of eczema.
  • Increase your sun exposure and perhaps supplement with vitamin D. Healthy sunshine exposure on your skin will not only metabolize vitamin D but will also help restore ideal skin function.
For those you who may be interested, there is testing that can ascertain which bacteria are present in your gastrointestinal tract. This can help determine which good bacteria you need to supplement and which bad bacteria you must eliminate. This testing can also help determine how well your digestive tract is functioning (ie. how fats are being digested). Instead of relying on steroid creams that further disrupt your immune system, these tests allow for a customized approach to resolving the truly underlying causes of eczema as well as other auto-immune conditions. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or would like further information on eczema, probiotics, or testing options.