Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eczema, Topical Steroids, and Allergies: Oh My!

Keegan had eczema. It started showing up around 10 months old, shortly after we had started him on solid foods.  Breastfeeding protects a child, and it is recommended by the World Health Organization to keep breastfeeding up to age 2. Am I going to "wean" my daughter? Hell no. I'm scared to death!

So... eczema. You go to the doctor. How do we fix this, doc? Well... this is what I was told: Many kids just happen to have "atopic dermatitis". It can be caused by a number of things, but there is no cure. You can only treat it, then maintain it. Treat it by clearing it up with topical steroids (Hydrocortisone, Triamcinolone, Desonide, etc). Maintain it by doing daily baths and slathering with an emollient moisturizer every single day. Even twice a day if time allows. If it comes back, do another round of topical steroids. If the topical steroids seem to not help anymore, up the dosage and try different kinds. This is what we did. For 3 years.

I was convinced from early on that eczema is cause by an allergy to something. So.... we've been to the allergist. National Jewish is one of the top allergists in the country, so we took him there. Tests were run and it came back that he was allergic to soy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dogs, cats, mold. So, I avoided all these foods, and this STILL did not clear his eczema. Back to topical steroids when it got really bad, and his skin kept getting worse once we stopped the steroids. It was a vicious cycle...

April 2009: Keegan born

Feb 2010 - 10 months old: Small patches of eczema showing up
Also, anaphylactic response to formula around Feb 2010 (hives all around mouth, swelling up, raspy shortness of breath). Switched formula - still milk based - and he seemed fine.
I'm not sure when exactly we started steroid cream, but some time between 1 year and 2 years old.

Feb 2011 - 22 months old: We brought him for allergy testing through a scratch test. Cats, dogs, peanuts, eggs, soy, hazelnuts. We avoided all these foods.

Sept 2011 - 2 years, 5 months old: Scratch test again. Egg, Peanut, Soy, Almond, Hazelnut, Cashew, Coconut

Winter 2012: boils, which look like huge infected looking pimples, started forming on random parts of his body. They got very big and painful, so we had the pediatrician drain them several times. They'd appear on his feet, legs, butt, arm, and eventually one on his face. I kept asking the doc if these could be forming because of the triamcimalone (a steroid cream) because they started forming after we started using this kind of stronger steroid. He said nope, that Keegan's skin is just compromised and more prone to infections, etc.

Feb 2012 - Almost 3 years old: Scratch test yet again. Kidney bean, Soy, negative to all grains and meats. Tore out carpet and replaced with hardwood floors. Got an air purifier for his bedroom.

March 2012 - Almost 3 years old: A facebook friend messaged me to ask if Keegan had eczema (she could tell from my posted pictures). She recommended I take dairy completely out of Keegan's diet, and she told me that dairy and gluten are the 2 main causes of eczema. She works for an "alternative" doctor practice. So.... why oh why haven't my doctor or allergist recommended this to me?? Even though it didn't show up on any allergy tests, I thought it was worth a shot. She told me to give it 2 months to get out of his system.
Within 6 weeks, his skin was CLEAR. That only lasted for about another 6 weeks, then BAM, back came the eczema in full swing.

December 2012 - 3 years, 8 months old: I decided to reach out to "alternative" doctors, and I met Dr. Caitlin O'Connor, a naturopath. I was hoping for some miracle supplements to cure Keegan of his eczema, since avoidance of his allergens was not working. She ordered an allergy test that tests the IgG antibodies' response to foods (rather than the scratch tests we had done which test the IgE antibodies' response). She also prescribed a high dose of zinc supplement, vitamin C, Fish Oil and probiotics.

Jan 2013: IgG test results came back. All forms of gluten and wheat were on there, plus rye, spelt, garlic and oats. I was told to have him avoid all those foods, in addition to what we were already avoiding. Add Vitamin D, and another supplement to support his GI tract health. These results also tell us that Keegan has a leaky gut, and will keep reacting to foods if we don't fix it.
We also found temporary homes for the dogs and a permanent home for the cat, and deep cleaned the house.

March 2013 - almost 4 year old: No improvement in skin, so Dr. Caitlin advised us to go on the GAPS diet, which eliminates a LOT of foods, focusing on probiotics and bone broth to "heal the gut".
I found a nutritionist who specializes in the GAPS diet, Robin Hutchinson, so we met with her to get on track with our new diet. We decided to quit putting any sort of steroid cream on him, because we wanted to see what part of his regime would be helping him.
All grains were removed from his diet. In the beginning, he drank bone broth and pureed soups from broth and veggies. We slowly added in boiled veggies and meats, then some fruits.
The first month or so of GAPS was not pretty. He was lethargic, emotional, constipated. He also had joint pain in his foot/leg/hip. His gut became distended. His eczema got WORSE! At first Robin and I contributed his worsening eczema to die-off. Toxins escaping through his largest organ-the skin. But... we ruled this out because it wasn't letting up.
Oh! And we got our doggie back - getting rid of the dogs didn't do one thing. Our other dog still lives with my in-laws because she loves it there. :)

April 2013 - 4 years old: I found Loren and Kline. Loren is a mom to 4 year old Kline, who is going through topical steroid withdrawal. Forever changed my life as I finally understand what is happening to my son. I joined a support group on Facebook, and talk to sufferers daily. It helps, but this still SUCKS!

May 2013: Keegan tummy is still distended, and though he poops everyday, it seems little and that there's still stuff that's not fully coming out. We had a stool test done and it showed candida yeast overgrowth, an over abundance of bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria, and an inflamed colon. We were prescribed a series of herbs to fight the candida, and told to eat a maximum of 2 servings of fruit a day.

June 2013: Keegan had a colonic hydrotherapy treatment done to clear out his colon. We saw some candida come out, meaning our cleansing is working.

Today and onward: We are managing the pain and itch that Keegan is going through the best we can. We only really moisturize with vaseline. Everything else burns him. I'm continuing giving him a high dose of probiotics, fish oil, candida fighting herbs, and I'm going to start a daily multivitamin (JuicePlus).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

We are in the 4th month of TSW

I guess it's time to update!
We started this whole nasty journey not knowing what to expect. It's hell, basically, and I pray doctors stop prescribing steroids foolishly... It's diminished my son's health, and now we have a long road ahead of us because of it.

Let me start from the beginning, the very beginning. I got pregnant. My whole pregnancy I craved ice cream, sweets, etc, and didn't take care in what I ate for the most part. I knew nothing about "gut health", good/bad bacterias, genetically modified foods, etc. I ate what I want because I thought I could (good metabolism!). I took the test to test for group B strep. I was positive, which meant I "needed" to get antibiotics while in labor to prevent the infection from spreading to Keegan during delivery. No one told me to take probiotics during pregnancy to build up the "good" bacteria to overpower the "bad". I was giving the antibiotics while in labor, and Keegan was also given antibiotic eye drops directly after birth because that's just "what you do". These antibiotics prevent an eye infection that could be passed to baby from mom if she has any STD's. Really??? Well, "just in case". Yeah, thanks people.

So, why am I going on about probiotics and antibiotics?
Eczema is caused partly because of disrupted gut flora in children. Our gut flora plays a huge role in our immune system. We want our gut to be populated mainly by good bacterias, not bad bacterias. The population can be disrupted by poor diet and large antibiotic use (both of which I didn't take care about while pregnant with Keegan). He also had random doses of antibiotics here and there in his first couple of years, for things that "may have developed into an infection" or "just in case it's an infection". Each dose of antibiotics was compromising the balance of bacterias in his gut, compromising his immune system.

I know for a fact that the bacterias are out of balance in his gut, we had a stool test performed on him at the beginning of May. It showed that the bad bacterias are a bigger population than the good bacterias, which it should be the opposite. It also showed a candida (yeast) overgrowth in his colon. It showed his colon is inflamed. Do you know what helps cause all these things to happen? Excessive use of topical steroids, excessive rounds of antibiotics, not replenishing the body with good bacteria (by using probiotics), etc.

I'll continue more on my next post.

Oozing started today, June 13, 2013.

These pictures were taken on June 11. Very very itchy, and knees and feet are the worst spots.