The Good News and the Bad

The good news, actually GREAT news is that ever since I wrote about Jasper waking up in the middle of the night crying for food, his eating habits have taken a dramatic turn for the better. My little picky eater that previously subsisted solely on  yogurt, hotdogs and egg (and small portions at that) has now turned positively ravenous.   Not only did the quantity of his food intake dramatically increase – at least ten fold – but he has expanded his food repertoire to include dozens of new foods. He now regularly eats chicken nuggets, brocolli, smoked salmon with cream cheese on toast (!) , quesadillas, pizza, hummos, carrot zuchinni muffins, and his absolute favorite: guacamole.

He’s actually downright obsessed with guacamole.. there have been several times when I’ve gone to get him in the morning or picked him up from daycare and his first words to me were “guacamole!”

It’s like the hunger switch finally flipped on in his little body and I’d guess he’s gained a good two pounds over the last few weeks.  It’s wonderful and a little strange to watch him go from food averse to ravenous  – I’m not used to having to plan tons of snacks and meals for him! It’s really a huge relief.

But the most shocking development of all, was that yesterday at daycare he actually drank milk for the first time! I had all but given up on him with the milk.. but they mixed half water half milk in a cup for him and he actually drank the whole thing and then asked for more.  They were as stunned as I was and even took a picture as proof.

Now the bad news: he’s developed ezcema :(

It started with some redness on his cheeks, and then progressed to an agressive and constant scratching of the back of his neck. Inspection of the back of his neck showed patchy redness, which has since developed into raised red bumps covering the whole back of his neck and traveling down between his shoulders. He also scratches his whole head, though I’ve looked at his scalp and don’t see the bumps, but I know it’s still bothering him – I see him scratching at night on the video monitor.

I’ve been wracking my brains trying to determine what food could be causing this, or even if it’s food at all (could it be detergent?) but the timing of it, coinciding with him eating so much more makes me think that possibly he has a sensitivity to something he’s eating and now that his food intake has gone up, so has his exposure to the allergen.  The one that makes the most sense is wheat because there was a while where he was eating tons of muffins and crackers with his guacamole, but I’m just not sure.  There is soy in the crackers that he eats, so I’m wondering if that could be it. But again, I just don’t know.. and I’m reluctant to put him on some sort of gluten free diet when he’s JUST finally eating so well!

He has his 18 month well visit on Friday, so hopefully the pediatrician will have some ideas, but I’m not too optimistic.. allergies are just so mysterious. In the meantime, I haven’t even been sure what to put on the rash. On his face I use Weleda Calendula face Lotion which seems to actually be helping. It didn’t help on the back of his neck though.  I recently tried Weleda diaper care too but the rash is still there.

If anyone has any eczema experiences or treatments to share please do!

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Susan says:

I didn’t have time to read all the comments, so I apologize if I’m repeating someone. My 16-month old has terribel excema…but only in the winter (we’re in New England). Last winter we went crazy (not sure I mean that figuratively, lol) trying to figure out what was causing it. Rice? Milk? As soon as it warmed up, the excema disappeared. We use Eucerin cream twice a day all over. Seems to make a big difference. Good luck.

jenn says:

we are batteling excema also – it is aweful. our culprit is milk and tomatoes. i try to avoid citris fruits as well. Luca loves theses things so i usually just treat the rash, as with-holding food from him is not an option! :) good luck!

Joelle says:

washing clothes in dye free soap, liquid is best. Then a double rinse. baby oil in the bath water and Lots and Lots of cetaphil lotion right after bath and then every diaper change each spot gets an extra dose of lotion.

there is also a minor steroid the dr. can proscribe

ariana says:

@Julie – tomatoes sounds like a common culprit.. I just don’t think he’s had any since last friday. If his rash got worse yesterday and he hasn’t had any tomato in 3 days could that still be it?

The funny thing is that jasper won’t eat avacado (he used to a while back) just guacamole!

ariana says:

@Judy, ugh, how even more confusing!

@Esther, there’s a lot of calories in 16-20oz of whole milk at least :) Jasper wasn’t allergic (that I know of) he just never would drink anything but water in his sippy and has been refusing to drink even breastmilk in bottles for at least 8 months now (except at daycare). So if it didn’t come from me he wasn’t getting it! I finally just gave up and figured that now that our nursing is down to about 1x a day he just would go without milk.. (my pedi said they don’t HAVE to have milk, it’s just an easy way to get calories and calcium into them.)

Esther says:

So sorry to hear about the excema. My Eric is prone to small spots of excema on his back and legs and our ped recommended putting Eucerin cream on him head-to-toe twice a day. It’s good stuff for sure. Calms the skin down, I find. If you get it, make sure that it’s the CREAM, not lotion, and it comes in a short, round tub. It’s super thick. Also, if a spot does not go away, the ped said to use hydrocortise 1% cream…which does take care of business, I find. Not recommended for the face at this age, but I did have to use it once (pssssttt..)
My twins are still barely eating anything- well, they eat a good variety but the quantities are pathetic. I have no idea how they survive being so active! They eat about 200-400 calories max, I bet ya. They drink about 16-20oz of whole milk…

I must have missed the previous posts on this: is Jasper allergic to milk or did he simply not like it before..since you mentioned him finally drinking it? :)

Julie says:

My son is 22 months and anything with tomatoes does that to him. Sad part, he absolutely loves tomatoes and will beg for them if he sees them anywhere. We’ve learned he can have one tomato item a week and be okay. For the rash we use Aquapor and it usually clears it up pretty quick.
Oh, and Will LOVES plain avocado too. Thankfully that doesn’t bother him.
Good luck!

Katie says:

Lilly had a patch of dry skin on her belly that her doctor called eczema. He said to use 1% Hydrocortizone cream on it. I used the generic CVS brand and while it didn’t clear it up completely, within 2-3 days it was MUCH better. The doctor said to let him know if it wasn’t gone within a couple days, which I never did, so I would imagine there is something more that can be done. Definitely something to bring up at his 18 month appt:)

Judy N says:

FYI: You CAN develop an allergy to something that you have been exposed to for a long time. Allergies are usually not something that you are born with. You develop them. Just like seasonal allergy to ragweed…you could live your whole childhood and be fine and then in your adulthood start having issues.

So, the truth is…allergies really are mysterious! I wouldn’t try anything drastic like taking away wheat (that limits so many foods)…if there’s anything easy to try, like shellfish or egg whites…you can try that. Otherwise, you can just try to treat it if it isn’t a huge problem. Many times young kids will grow out of it anyways.

If it’s really itchy…you are probably best trying an over-the-counter steroid cream…I know it sounds terrible, but it’s the best way to nip the inflammation (red, itchy, bumpy) in the bud. Then, lotions to keep the skin hydrated to prevent new outbreaks.

Aimee says:

Oh and my daughter had an unexplained heat tilt for 4 months. Physical therapy did nothing for it. MRI of her brain and neck showed normal results. We discover the soy allergy, remove all soy from her diet and guess who no longer has the head tilt????? The pediatrician isn’t willing to entertain the idea of it being related but I know it is. She didn’t have a head tilt before going to half nursing and half formula.

really try the elimination diet. You maybe very surprised with the results. I bet your doc tells you it isn’t food related.

Aimee says:

My daughter has a soy allergy. I removed all soy and dairy from her diet and her blistering rashes on her butt went away along with her gas. It’s been 6 weeks since she has had any soy and dairy and we just now introduced yogurt in to her diet yesterday – 24 hours later no rash or gas problems so it is looking like soy is the culprit.

If you really want to find out what is causing the skin issues you have to remove soy, wheat, acidic foods, and dairy from his diet for 2 weeks and then introduce 1 thing at a time and wait at least 2 weeks in between each new food. 4-5 days doesn’t cut it.

Soy is in EVERYTHING. There are lots of sites out there telling you what it is in, the biggest being vegetable oil, MSG, natural flavors, etc…. All Burts Bees products have soy in them. California Baby products are totally allergen free.

Godo Luck!

Fiona says:

Have you tried St Johns Wart Red Oil? Just an idea. Very, very mild. I used this on my nipples during early days of breastfeeding and it is so mild that I didn’t need to wash it off before feeding again. Might or might not work. Worth a try I guess!

Good luck.


Sarah says:

Crazy how the timing is the same with him and Alex! We just went to the doctor today who confirmed Alex has pretty bad eczema. He gets SUPER red as soon a we put him into the bath, even before putting soap on him (aveeno only) and no, its not that the water is too hot. Today the doctor gave us a cortisteroid for a really awful patch today.
I posted on the bump today asking for any advice from moms with babies with eczema, so you can check that post out, it was within the last 2 hours.
Anyway, good luck with all that! We’re totally in the same boat! Its so hard to watch them itch! I hate it.
Hang in there!

nanette says:

Coincidentally, my gal just started appearing with scratches on the back of her neck, even though we never see her scratch. We talked to our pedi about it today, and she said it’s probably eczema, which many of the experts just believe to be dry skin. She said keeping the area moisturized as much as possible (e.g., slathering that area up after every diaper change) should help. She said it if continues to be bothersome and red/scratched, we could use a gentle hydrocortisone cream, like others mentioned above.

But yay for Jasper’s giant appetite! Our gal has always been a big eater, so I can only imagine what you’ve gone through.

kari says:

no advice, just saying good luck. eczema is no fun.
but HOORAY on the party in jaspers tummy!

liam has a similar reaction to tropical fruits… pineapple/mango etc.
dr. said that he thought it was an “intolerance” rather than an “allergy” and that it is often something they grow out of.

Christina says:

oh and I should add that their current pedi said that sometimes aquaphor will work, but often times actually makes it worse, which in Emma’s case that is exactly what was happening.

Christina says:

One of my girls has eczema and it is not food related. She has always had sensitive skin so I use all “free” products, no dyes no perfumes and do not use dryer papers. She was fine for a while though and around 7 months developed a horrible rash…I battled with their former pedi about it who just suggested I use vaseline or aquaphor…neither of which were working…it just kept getting worse. I switched pedis and she took one look and said eczema…her son has it and she has developed a little “plan” that works wonders. Emma was in a full blown outbreak all over neck back and tummy and within 3 days she had her baby soft skin back. She prescribed derma smooth which i applied several times a day until things cleared up (now I only use it when she gets a spot) and told me to use Cera Ve (its a lotion) as often as needed. She told me daily baths but only use soap on the infected area once a week, and apply lotion immediately. that combo worked wonders for Emma and she has been pretty much clear since. Hers is very weather related, when its cold and dry she has little outbreaks.

ariana says:

Catharine, which cream, the calendula baby face cream? I actually don’t think it’s tomatoes because months ago he went through a huge cherry tomato stage and had no reaction!

Tamara says:

My two cents as a nutritionist: While it certainly does sound suspiciously food related given the timing, I’d be careful about restricting entire food groups before you have him evaluated by a pediatric allergist (especially in a kid with such a history of picky eating!). A pediatric allergist (in collaboration with a dietitian) can help you pinpoint exactly what–if anything–you should be avoiding so that you don’t unneccesarily restrict anything and are sure to continue to meet his needs. Let me know if you need a referral.

Catharine says:

The wedela cream has worked the best for us. Also milk and tomato can be large contributers.

ariana says:

Jennilynn, very interesting about the tumeric.. wonder what food Jasper would eat that I could add it to. I’ve heard of Emu oil too. There are so many great recommendations in the comments that my head is spinning a bit!

MB, ‘if it’s not one thing it’s another’ could be the motto of my motherhood experience so far :)

I’m not going to guess at the cause :) My 6-month old who exclusively eats formula just developed eczema in the last month. I’ve had it since I was young.

For the baby, the pedi recommended ONLY using Aveeno oatmeal bath wash for bathing, Aquaphor (or generic) all over, and 1% hydrocortisone for the reddest spots. It has helped so far.

For me, I can say that using OTC hydrocortizone only makes my eczema spread and get much, much worse. I use prescription triamcinolone, but I’m not sure if it’s safe for little ones, and I would hesitate to use any topical steriod on a baby or toddler. I am a HUGE fan of Lush products, so I just might try the Dream Cream on both of us!

My good friend also get’s eczema in the sensitive eye area and she has good luck using Curel healing lotion to clear it up. It’s a good, non-prescription/non-medicated option to try.

*sigh* If it’s not one thing, it’s another, right? There’s always something to keep you on your toes when you’re a mom!

Jennilynn says:

Oh! And my MIL found this stuff called “Emu Oil” that is supposed to work wonders. I’ve only used it a couple times, but I feel like I need that plus lotion because it doesn’t keep me moisturized enough.

And I’ve read in numerous places recently that adding tumeric to your diet helps.

Jennilynn says:

Rowan and I both have eczema. In MOST cases (from what dr.s tell me) its not food allergy related. There are tons of foods that irritate my skin if I don’t wash right away, but I can eat them just fine. I think dr.s consider food allergy rashes to be different- eczema stems from when your body doesn’t produce enough natural oils to keep your skin moisturized. So winter is usually rough. BUT, Rowan does get rash-y with squash.

With that said… we have found this AMAZING lotion called Dream Cream at Lush. Its sorta expensive but lasts a while… and it works GREAT without being sticky. It has lipids in it- which help your body produce more of its own good stuff too :o) Another thing that worked well for me was Burt’s Bees Farmers Hand Salve, but its really gooey and a PITA. Hydrocortisone still works for Ro, after years of using it my body stopped responding to it and I eventually had to move to steroids.

We also don’t do baths every day, slather with lotion as soon as he’s out of the bath, and use “soap free” body washes. And “free” detergents. Hope you figure it all out soon!

chantal says:

I agree with Trina – don’t do baths every day. And eczema can start or flare up at any time, so I’d suggest not using the wool blends or sweaters for about a week to ten days and see if that makes an improvement. Even though he’s been fine up til now, he may suddenly be reacting to it.

trina says:

alex has a dairy protein allergy- so me drinking milk = her having ezcema
what helps: no dairy for me (mainly milk) ::sigh::
also- baths only every 3 days- Aveeno Creamy unscented baby wash/and lotion
prescription steroid cream from the pedi

good luck!

ariana says:

A few things.. about his bath soap, we’ve been using weleda shampoo and body wash since he was a baby, so I don’t think it’s that. It’s possible that the detergent we’ve been using in the washing machine is causing it, it’s different than what we used before, but I’ve used all kinds in the past and he’s never had an issue.

As far as wool, I did think about that because the back of the neck is where the collar of his sweaters rub, but then again he’s been wearing those sweaters all winter, plus he’s been wearing wool blend onesies his whole life (well, in the winter anyway) without a problem so it also seems unlikely.

I guess because the drastic change in eating habits coincided with the eczema it seemed the more likely culprit than something environmental.. but who knows? :(

ariana says:

Amyw, I totally agree.. thing is, he’s had the eczema for at least 10 days and yesterday was the first time he had milk. .. and he has been eating yogurt and cheese for more than 6 months without a problem!

amyw says:

Dairy is absolutely a cause of eczema. I would cut out the milk and see if it improves. Best wishes!

jbhat says:

Hooray for the good eating! But eczema? Hmm. Could he be stressed out about anything? I have heard that that can be a factor in eczema.

chantal says:

Oh – I have to use detergents without dyes or perfumes and I don’t use dryer sheets. I also can’t have wool touch my skin because it flares up my eczema. So if Jasper has wool sweaters (sheep’s wool, lamb’s wool seems to be less irritating) then make sure his skin doesn’t come into contact with it. Put on a thick cotton shirt so the wool doesn’t touch his skin. Something to consider – hydrocortizone cream actually slowly thins your skin, so when using it just put it on in thin layers and don’t do it more than twice a day.

chantal says:

I had horrible eczema as a baby and small child. It turns out I’m allergic to wheat and milk – so just keep that in the back of your head. I wouldn’t switch anything in his diet just yet, though. His eczema may not be related to allergies at all… sometimes I’ll get a bout of it for no reason, nothing in my diet has changed but my skin just decides to freak out over nothing.

Eczema tends to get worse in the winter because of a lack of exposure to the sun. So on sunny days, try taking off his shirt (with the heat on in the house, of course!) and stick him by a window to try to get some sunshine on his back. That might help. I have prescription hydrocortizone for Annora, and that’s what I had as a baby, but I’ve heard great things about Aveeno’s hydrocortizone cream as well which you can get over the counter.

I just read the other comments and was reminded about soap… I’m allergic to normal soap, I can’t use it at all because my skin will split open and get very gross. So I wouldn’t use bar soap on Jasper at all. Try using Aveeno baby products, and if that doesn’t help speak to a pharmacist and see what they recommend. Annora actually can’t use Aveeno products because it gives her a rash. Stay away from lanolin, as that can really irritate eczema as well (I had to search high and low for a nipple cream that didn’t have lanolin since it makes my skin raw). Make sure that after Jasper has a bath his skin is very dry, and pat him dry, don’t rub.

shannon says: they have an eczema oil along with tons of other awesome baby products. highly recommended.

Ashley says:

I’ve had ezcema on and off for years. My dermatologist recently told me to switch out all of my skincare products to “free” products meaning get rid of anything perfumey. There again, this sorta thing is different per person and per child. Lotions help, but if it gets really bad, your pediatrician may prescribe something with a mild steroid in it. I don’t envy Jasper though – I once had it around my eye and it hurt sooo bad.

Grace says:

When my son showed signs of eczema, my pediatrician told us to get him 1% hydrocortisone gel (the cream just kind of sits on the skin and can rub away, but the gel really gets absorbed in there). It worked for us!

Regan says:

Hi Ariana. I am a frequent reader of your blog and enjoy hearing about Jasper. I have a 13 month old daughter and often look to this blog for advice or just to see what is in store for me next! My nephew has ezcema and food allergies. He is allergic to eggs, peanuts, sesame seeds and shellfish (so far). His ezcema seems to get very angry if he happens to eat something that contains eggs. As far as soap and lotions, try Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. It’s pretty mild and all natural. Good luck!

heartartz says:

Allergies can be VERY mysterious.
My older son was (still is) allergic to soaps.
The only thing that worked for him was old fashioned Ivory. Bar for bath and detergent for clothes, bedding and towels. His skin cleared up. I also had to take a pillow cover, sheet and blankie to preschool because they used something to wash their stuff that gave his cheeks a rash. Oh yes,don’t forget the cloth you use to wipe up the face of the ravenous eater.
Now that my son is older I can use ALL Free-Clear and he does not have to be sooo careful.
As for lotion,I have to admit I used … diaper cream. Worked like a charm!

Alicia says:

I’d bet my right eye he is allergic to tomato products.
I’d take him off the pizza and all tomato products for that matter and see if rash goes away!

Glad he’s eating though! :-)

Heather says:

Sometimes switching soaps helps. My current darling had terrible peeling skin on her back from one of the highest rated products, Mustela. We switched to Burts Bees and the apricot oil – instead of lotion, immediately after every bath – and she has the softest, smoothest most perfect skin imaginable.

A lot of pediatricians recommend Aquafor but I’ve seen it irritate as well as hydrate. Using it right after the bath can work but continuously putting it on seems to annoy the skin. Another option is Hydrolatum, some use it instead of Aquafor or the next step after. It was also pediatrician recommended and you can buy it at the pharmacy in Target. It is more of a cream and less of a clear solution. It can be used all over the body.

Good Luck!