It’s one of those skin conditions that can literally appear over night...
There are so many myths and stigmas attached to it but here Karen Fischer, nutritionist and founder of Eczema Life Clinic and Joliee Skin, shares her daughter’s eczema journey and her top tips for helping your child. Words: Sarah Brooks-Wilson Holding image: Julie Adams
“Is your child sunburnt (shame on you)? is a typical conversation starter when you take your eczema baby out in public. However, it was a different type of shaming that saved my daughter Ayva from years of itchy eczema and skin-thinning topical steroids. When Avya was two weeks old she developed severe eczema, which was red and weepy. She would often scratch until her arms bled. As a parent it’s heartbreaking to see your child suffer. When Ayva was ten months old, a nurse from the local early childhood centre, who had seen Ayva a few months earlier, exclaimed, ‘Has your child STILL got eczema?’ I thought what a rude comment, eczema is a genetic condition and what could I do about it? I was a nutritionist and I had not considered looking beyond the prescribed treatments, which included topical steroids and applying greasy ointments five times a day.
Avya as a little girl at the beach and now, aged 15 and eczema free
The nurse advised me to avoid salicylate-rich foods. A light bulb went off in my head – I had previously suffered with salicylate sensitivity and I knew how to treat it. Salicylates are a pesticide that some plants naturally produce to protect themselves, and they’re found in perfumes, cleaning products, teas, and foods such as citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, grapes and plums. After that advice I began researching the effect that foods and additives had on eczema. I devised an eczema diet and a supplement for Ayva and within two months, to my surprise and excitement, her eczema had completely gone. The temporary dietary changes were strict, but soon Ayva could enjoy normal activities that she previously had to avoid, including playing with fluffy toys, swimming in chlorinated pools and occasionally she could eat party food without her eczema returning. She no longer needed topical steroids and her diet was gradually expanded as her allergies improved.
Nutritionist and mother to Avya Karen Fischer
Since then we have opened the Eczema Life Clinic and as a nutritionist I have worked with hundreds of patients with eczema, dermatitis and topical steroid withdrawal syndrome. Ayva’s eczema supplement, Skin Friend, is now available without prescription and was recently granted an Innovation Patent after years of research and testing. Ayva is now fifteen. And while the eczema was painful for her and for the family (seeing her suffer), it was a great teacher and I continue to learn about eczema from my patients.”
The 5 worst foods for eczema
- Tomatoes (rich in salicylates, amines and natural MSG)
- Grapes (rich in salicylates, amines and natural MSG)
- Dairy products (pro-inflammatory)
- Junk food with artificial additives
- Dried fruits (rich in salicylates)
Top 5 natural itch-busters for eczema
- Favour low salicylate vegetables such as peeled potatoes, iceberg lettuce, cabbage, celery and green beans – these are alkalising and help to reduce the itch.
- Take a calcium carbonate supplement, as it’s highly alkalising and it helps to reduce salicylate sensitivity and restore the skin barrier. For children, Calcium Matrix PM is a fine, non-gritty powder that easily mixes into foods and drinks.
- Fill a plastic bag with ice cubes and hold it next to the skin.
- Have a brief warm bath and add some bicarb soda to the water (afterwards, moisturise your skin).
- To improve your body’s acid-alkaline balance and help the liver detoxify salicylates, take salicylate-free/herb-free alkaline supplement such as Skin Friend.
To book an appointment with Karen or to buy her range of products, visit www.eczemalife.com