|you can see his puffy eyes here|
|you can kind of see the redness/puffiness in his eyes here, plus the pink, runny nose|
We started the elimination diet on October 1 and it generally takes about a month to really see results if there are going to be any. Dairy and soy proteins take about two weeks to be completely eliminated from an adult's body, and then it's another two weeks for them to be eliminated from the baby's body after the Mama's body is "clean". So that makes us on Day 24 of a dairy/soy-free diet and, overall, it's not that bad. (Don't get me wrong, I am really missin' me some CHEESE, but in the grand scheme of things- I can deal)
That whole story is going to come a little later, with things like resources and tips. For now, I'm going to talk about how we got to this point (mostly because it will be helpful for us in the future if we do end up being "allergy parents" to have this all written down, but maybe it will help someone else who may be wondering about these things in their own baby).
We planned for the sensitive skin- I have temperamental skin as well so we stocked up on Aveeno products before Alden was born (Aveeno has always worked well for me and it's dermatologist-recommended) and we also changed laundry detergents to a no frills, nothing added, just plain soap brand (that I LOVE!) called Charlie's Soap. Since I wanted to get something new to use on our cloth diapers anyway, we figured it couldn't hurt to cut down on the additives for the rest of our clothing/towels/linens in case Alden's skin turned out to be sensitive to things like fragrance, etc. This ended up being a great decision!
What we didn't plan for was the chronic rash, eczema, etc. and we have been on a months-long journey to conquer all of the little issues that Alden has, one thing at a time. In a stroke of good luck, he has never seemed bothered by any of his symptoms but it still breaks my heart to hear him stuffy every day and see his soft, perfect baby skin turn scaly and dry.
The first "allergy" symptom was probably the runny nose but since babies, especially babies in daycare, get runny noses like it's their job, it didn't set off any red flags with us or his pediatrician. He was always otherwise healthy, growing well, alert, and happy so allergies didn't even hit our radar for a while. The chronic "diaper rash" has been around for at least 4 months and I put it in quotes because it's not really a true diaper rash. It's usually flat (not raised bumps), not present in the skin folds (which can point to yeast) and has a diffuse, slightly red presentation. We began treatment for a yeast rash when it first showed up and, lo and behold, Alden reacted to the medication and ended up with a horrific allergic reaction on his skin that took forever to completely heal. We're still not really sure if it was ever a yeast infection or not because once his skin began reacting to the medication, we couldn't really see what was going on with the original rash. We added fleece liners to his diapers on the suggestion of a fellow parent who sees similar skin reactions in her son and saw some mild, occasional improvement. We now know that it is exacerbated, if not completely caused, by heat and wetness so he gets a fleece liner in every diaper and we try to change him as often as possible so his skin can stay dry. sidenote: back when we first started seeing this diaper-area rash, I wondered about dairy since I had read that one of the first signs in a dairy-allergic baby could be a "milk rash" in their diaper and around their mouths. now, I'm even more curious if my gut was right...
Trouble sleeping has always been present, too, but since Alden is such an alert baby who wants to be in on all the action, we attributed most of his reluctance to sleep to him just wanting to be awake. Now that he's older and is at the age where we would expect to see him sleeping for much longer stretches of time, we're seeing that he is probably not sleeping as well as he could be. I have heard that this can be a sign of allergies as well...then, the eczema started. I have psoriatic arthritis (which comes with psoriasis of the skin) and I worked as a medical assistant for a dermatologist so I am familiar with what psoriasis and eczema look like. I knew what it was from the very beginning (when it was just a couple small patches on Alden's back) but also knew that infant eczema is very common so we just started with some home remedies to try and keep his skin moisturized and get rid of the eczema patches. We tried Aveeno lotion, coconut oil, my nipple balm, putting nothing on it for a while, etc. Turns out, the coconut oil recently seems to work well on the rash in his diaper area (as does Boudreaux's when it gets really bad), but nothing would touch the eczema. Lotion would help to keep it from being scaly and dry but it didn't make it go away and nothing we tried kept it from spreading. It took a while but after a few weeks the eczema patches began to spread pretty quickly and that was when we took all the information back to the pediatrician. She said, "elimination diet". We chose to also eliminate all traces of oat in his diet and his products since I had thought we saw an exacerbation of the eczema after introducing oatmeal. That meant we put all of the Aveeno products on the shelf and have been using an all natural Johnson's baby wash this month instead. We also cut out his oatmeal cereal and will reintroduce oat after we get the eczema under control and can really monitor his reaction.
|this is when the eczema really started to spread. you can see it on his shoulder & back|
|here you can see the patches on his back, side and legs. my poor baby :(|
Cheers to the science experiment that is baby allergies! :/
much love, L&N