If you are an eczema/psoriasis sufferer or the parent of a child with a skin condition, this well meaning phase “Have you tried… this cream, this concoction, this miracle fix?” is said SO often it usually brings enormous frustration to the sufferer instead of hope and help the friend/family member/stranger intends by suggesting it.
Why does it bring so much frustration? I like to blame sleep deprivation thanks to itchy, sore, bleeding skin for the crabbiness to the constant onslaught of well intended advice, but I think it comes down to the fact that EVERYONE’S skin is individual, and what works for one may not work for another… and it becomes a very costly, exhausting, sometimes disheartening roller-coaster ride trying to find out what works for you.
So how do you find out what works for you or your child?
There is the standard go to your doctor with a rash, and they’ll give you a tube of steroids to make it go away. If you’re on this blog, you know where that lead us and I would do anything to reverse it (here’s a quick video if you want to know about the damage steroids can cause)
Or, you can see what helps others in a similar position, trial and error is the only way to find what works for you or your child. I have a handful of suggestions, and will do a follow up post as soon as I can about what we have done and continue to do to help the skin maintain it’s health.
#1. Gut healing.
I know gut health is all the rage at the moment, but it is so much more than a fad.
This is my absolute number one piece of advise when dealing with inflammation and chronic flares, get yourself a good naturopath and get on the bandwagon, you won’t forget it. If you (or your child’s) gut is damaged, and you don’t address this cause, anything that helps topically will be short lived and you’ll continue to go round in circles.
2. Probiotics inside and out!
Probiotics are amazing internally, water kefir is a fantastic way for kids to have “soda” that is full of pre and probiotics, more than you will ever be able to get in a capsule and most kids LOVE it!
Probiotics are also beneficial for the skin, and we often crack a capsule open and add it to the bath water to help settle flares and re-balance the skins microbiome. (topical probiotics) I’ve added shelf stable probiotics to the Skin Saver 2.0 which is coming to the end of it’s trial period with very impressive results.
3. Staph… bloody staph.
Kids with skin conditions are more prone to infections, and an imbalance of healthy microbes on the skin itself to be able to keep nasty bacteria at bay. Once staph takes hold, it is very hard to get on top of. It often becomes dormant when you do a round of antibiotics, and in our case, the flavorings/sugars/artificial ingredients of kids antibiotics caused more intense flares and further gut health damage, once the round of antibiotics finished, the immune system was vulnerable and the staph would re-flare easily and quickly. The recommended treatment for this was low dose antibiotics for 12 months, and we seriously considered it for some time but knew that the side effects of this would slow Little Rose’s healing further, so we chose to use what we called “staph protocol”:
- Green Garlic Baths: (How to make a garlic bath)
When we were dealing with infections, every bath was a fresh garlic bath
(1x crushed glove steeped in hot water and then added to the bath water, always test that the garlic isn’t too strong and isn’t causing any discomfort to your child!) The garlic needs to be “alive”, the inside shoot still green and not dried up.
We bought organic garlic and sat the individual cloves on the bench top in a little water until they started to sprout roots, then planted them in pots. This kept them alive and fresh, and we even put some in our garden to grow fresh garlic for us next year!
- Infection poultice
After a bath, we would wet wrap Little Rose to keep her comfortable and stop her from ripping her skin during her sleep. When she had infections, we would apply a poultice to draw out infections and then wrap her up to stop the staph from spreading. If you are able to get it asap, it is usually easily controlled. If not, antibiotics are often needed, but insist on a swab to make sure you are given the correct antibiotics for the strain of staph.
To make the poultice, I mixed 1 part bentonite clay, 1 part warm water and 1 part manuka honey to make a thick paste, then I would add either 2 drops of tea tree oil or 1 drop of oregano oil (make sure any oils used are mixed in the clay mixture well and do not apply “neat” to the skin as they can sting, as always patch test first!)
This was applied to any blisters or sores and dramatically reduced healing time and itchiness, once it was dry we cleaned the poultice off and let her get some direct sun onto her skin, before repeating the above bath procedure.
During a staph break out, anything she touches is hot washed with added tea tree oil, sheets, towels, bandages and clothes are washed after each use. It is a lot of work, but I’m happy to say we have been infection free for months now! The body will only push out what it is capable of fighting off at each time, so this can work in a cycle type timeline. A close eye needs to be kept on infections, if temperatures/chills/fatigue sets in or if there are not obvious signs that you are winning against the infection, get help asap! (I am not suggesting you avoid medical help, I am simply sharing our experiences)
Every bath we add:
* 1 Cup of Magnesium Flakes (Magnesium chloride (flakes) are more easily absorbed trans-dermally than Epsom Salts and Epsom salts can often leave the skin dry and itchy, but Mag flakes leave the skin with a slight oiled film, helps relaxation and sleep, boasts the immune system and acts as a gentle skin detox)
* 1 Tablespoon of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (to leave the skin at the correct Ph level to be able to produce it’s own lipids, also to clean and fight bacteria without the use of harsh chemical soaps or bleach!)
* 1/4 – 1/2 a Cup of Raw Honey (moisturisers, cleans, heals and protects!)
This mixture works as a constant maintenance measure and is soothing and nourishing. We often add bentonite clay to purify the water, but we do not use bleach baths, commercial soaps or any harsh chemicals as all of these things add to her toxic load and cause her flares.
(I have a Skin Soak mixture available to try in the online shop that is a blend of magnesium and bentonite, and if this is effective for you as well I always suggest buying in bulk online to reduce the costs (it’s not good for business but I know how much it costs to take care of skin so I am more than happy to share the cost effective tricks 🙂 )
Keep it natural!! Like seriously natural! We tried every cream we could get our hands on, but everything (even the “natural” ones contained preservatives and stabilizers!) so we made our own (Skin Saver and Skin Saver 2.0)
The biggest thing I can suggest, is to avoid adding to the body’s already overloaded detox pathways. Healing often has to start internally and the skin can take time to heal, but it is important to maintain skin barrier function, comfort, moisture and help in repair, just do not do any further damage.
Products high in Zinc, natural oils, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antibacterial ingredients are a good place to start. Anything containing water should be avoided, as the amount of chemicals needed to stop pathogens growing in that water render the “healing” lotion toxic to the body.
It also pays to be cautious of “over moisturising” the skin, the skin still needs to breathe, it needs to be exposed to healthy amounts of vitamin D and and needs to be able to create it’s own oils and moisture. Exfoliating, and moisturising either in the shower/bath or while your skin is still damp is often the best way to lock in moisture and allow the skin to breathe and regulate on it’s own. Listen to your body, if something is making you flare, stop using it, even if it’s been the best thing for you so far! The skin and it’s needs change as it heals and repairs, so if a trusted product starts to cause red inflammation it is time to either take a break from it, or trial using it less.
I hope this gives you a few ideas, or at least some different perspectives to the standard steroid + antibiotic + bleach bath recommendations. Keep searching, keep learning, and keep healing 🙂
Here’s Little Rose this morning (on the right), compared to this day last year (on a good day none the less!) Healing happens, but sometimes you need to fight for it ❤