Admiting Defeat, When Natural Doesn’t Work

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You know after reading this blog, that we try to do things in a pretty natural way around here. We are by no far saints in the living natural world, but we give it an honest effort. For instance with our body care things. I’ve been making lotions, soap, deodorant, and avoiding shampoo for two and a half years now. We eat as organic and close to the source we can, if we can’t grow it ourselves. But sometimes natural doesn’t work. Our almost 8 month old daughter has been struggling with eczema almost her whole life. Unlike with our youngest son, my handmade lotion wasn’t working for her. So I upped the ante and found a thicker shea butter lotion to make. It helped, but it didn’t get rid of it. I tried this herbal infused coconut oil recipe that my herbalist friend told me about. That didn’t work. I even used Aquafore and Eucerin that every other mom told me about. Those didn’t work either.
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Meanwhile both her legs, arms, chest and cheeks felt like rough leather, no matter how much homemade lotion I slathered on her. The poor dear would scratch herself until she bleed. When we went to the Naturopath, he gave her a probiotic to see if that would help and urged me to cut some of the popular allergens out of my diet to see if that would help her. Since we already had to switch to an egg free diet, I chose eggs to eliminate first. After two weeks of that, still no improvement. Then a mom friend emailed me with some suggestions that her pediatric dermatologist recommended. I ran to the drug store last week, when she had completely scratched up her cheek and bought them. CeraVe as a lotion and Cetaphil Restoraderm body wash. As soon as I got home I brought her in the shower and used the body wash on her and then put the lotion on her afterwards. Would you know, in 24 hours her skin was as smooth as silk and the redness has close to vanished! Amazing! I really can’t tell you how elated I am that I found something that worked, even if not natural.

Now that her skin has been clear for almost a week, I am noticing that certain clothes I put on her make her skin flare up. I have been juggling between my homemade detergent and some lavender scented detergent that I bought at Whole Foods a while back. I have yet to find the culprit, but I’m so glad to have found that clue too.

Tell me, when does natural not work for you?

35 Comments

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35 responses to “Admiting Defeat, When Natural Doesn’t Work

  1. I have rosacea which is similar to eczema and I struggle with trying anything strong with chemicals. I currently use all natural products for Rosacea but vacillate between wanting to try the harder stuff. It’s so annoying!! I do use CeraVe face wash and lotion sometimes. Of all the washes and lotions it is the mildest and does the least amount of damage to my flare ups. Glad to see I’m not the only one frustrated by not being able to cure something organically. 🙂 Good luck I hope it continues!

    • Jennifer

      Gluten free. It is very likely your baby is allergic to wheat. If not, try not eating any meat unless it is free range (chicken) or grass fed( beef and lamb).

      • Jennifer

        I say this because allergies manifest in different ways. With my grandson his allergy to wheat manifested as asthma. I told my daughter to stop feeding him wheat cereal and it went away.

      • asonomagarden

        Hi Jennifer, We did eventually try all of us on a gluten free diet and it didn’t help her, nor my son with asthma, unfortunately.

  2. katherine Couture

    Just a thought..I wondered if you have placed inside of the showerhead a filter to filter out chorine? You can check out http://www.drweil.com and go to his bulletins and look into it further. I’m glad at least something has soothed her skin and symptoms. Maybe in the wash you could use white vinegar to clean out any residue. Love your blog.
    Happy Gardening!
    Kat

  3. Michele S

    I have to ask – do you struggle at all with what the longer term effects of using non-natural chemicals on your daughters skin will be? I ask this out of a position of having lost my mom to cancer a few years ago, so I’m super paranoid about all of the chemicals we use. And there have been times that I know that I can find relief/better results with a chemical-laden product but struggle with wondering if I can deal with the short term effects to maybe stave off a longer term problem. Just wondering thoughts on this since it’s something I battle with.

    • asonomagarden

      Michele, I hear you, that why we try and keep it as natural as possible most of the time. I really don’t know what the right answer is. For now it seems right to me to me to use these lotions because she is noticeably happier with less itchy skin. If she is like our sons and she grows out of this around age 2, then I can switch back to natural lotions on her. I guess all we can do is try our best, right?

  4. I’m sorry to hear of your troubles. I am new to your blog and LOVE it. Recently, we had a great client who is an award-winning pharmacist and nutritionist and she has really been a great source of health information for me. She says she has mothers who come in all the time with skin issues their children have. Sometimes it’s due to chemicals we apply and others it’s a food allergy. I wanted to provide their website information, if you are interested in asking a health question you can click on “Ask the Experts” for free advice…her name is Sunday and she follows the same lifestyle choices that any of us who enjoy your blog aspire to (or already do). http://www.NutritionalDesigns.com
    Good luck with your daughter, and thank you for telling your stories!

  5. Janet Teltschik

    Hi, I have been following your blog for awhile now and can really feel for your problems with eczema. I have a form of it myself and tried to deal with it naturally. It didn’t work either. I will try the stuff you used on your daughter. I have been dabbing Selsen Blue on my affected areas while in the shower to take care of mine. It works. I have found that mine gets bad or flares up when I get nervous or stressed over anything. Detergant could be irritateing your daughter causing a stress reaction versus an allergic one. I’d try decreasing the amount of soap used in her clothes and wash hers seperately until you see a difference. It could be something transfered in the wash from someone else’s clothes. Good luck. She is precious.

  6. I love your blog and I’m sorry, I don’t have any suggestions. Thanks for the info on CeraVe and Cetaphil Restoraderm. I’ve been searching for something that would work for me. None of the natural products worked for me either. Good luck with your daughter’s condition.

  7. I just finished up a pot of CeraVe for my hands. It helps a little, but I find the best thing for my skin, what really cleared it up in no time, was showering at my friend’s house when I stayed with her out in the country. Her well water worked miracles on my skin. If you haven’t already, you may want to try a filter on your shower head or bath facet if you have hard water. I see someone else commented on this. And while our shower filter is nothing close to my friend’s water, it does help a bit. I detest using steroid creams but sometimes my flares are so bad (stress and I get this from my dad, he has it too), I use that. Sigh. Cannot wait to move out to the country someday and have nice, itch free skin! Maybe.

  8. Also, I am trying out nettle tea. I am not sure if it is helping, but my eczema cleared up after a week of drinking it, and came back when I stopped drinking it. But who knows, could have been because of stress, chemicals, water…but it may be worth a shot to add this to her diet when it is safe to do so.

  9. Lauren

    I’m not a super super natural girl but when I’ve got the chance and it’s easy I usually choose that route. I’ve been trying the no-poo thing for a couple of months and I was hoping that it would help with my scalp eczema or seborrheic dermatitis (never had it diagnosed). Well, it definitely did NOT help so when it flares up I do have to use the scalp treatment that I got from my stylist. But for the rest the no-poo isn’t so bad. My hair hardly ever gets greasy, but it does get awfully stringy. I wouldn’t really worry too much about the chemicals however. If those are the only chemicals she’s exposed to then she’s doing a whole lot better than most babies of the modern age. Plus humans are built to be resilient creatures. The human body can take a whole lot of abuse before it gives out. I doubt that such a small amount of exposure will have any long-term effects. In fact it’s better to deal with some “unnatural” things then to give her a complex trying to avoid them at all costs. I have a cousin who was OCD and agoraphobic. I say was because she choose to end her own life because she could no longer take the stress. Don’t mean to be a downer, but it’s just to remind ourselves to keep things in perspective. Everything (including good things) in moderation.

  10. Kelly

    We also deal with itchy skin in our family. Two things that have worked for us are: applying an oil (baby oil or other natural oil) after bathing while still wet, then drying off and applying a thick lotion or cream, and second, is to use a humidifier at night especially during the dry months of the year. I have two little ones and it is so hard to see them uncomfortable… so glad to hear that you’ve found something to ease her discomfort.

  11. Cerave is also one of the very few non-natural products I use! I think you’ve made all the best choices to do right by both your principles and your daughter. And now it seems it’s helped you troubleshoot the real cause even better.

    Good luck!

  12. Deanna

    Hey girl, thought I’d leave you my two cents worth as well. My middle child struggled with eczema and skin problems as a baby and I found that polyester really irritated his skin, and I mean even a small amount of polyester, we had to switch him to completely to 100% cotton and that helped tremendously. He, like your sons, outgrew it.

  13. 150 grams of (marseille) soap
    a handful of (i think in english it is called) borax, aka cristaux de soude in french
    2Tbsp (*baking* thanks gwen !) soda
    stir in a bucket with 3 liters of boiling water
    & add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice

    This is what she wrote next:

    i’ve been using it since june. it takes me minutes only every two months to grate soap, to add baking soda, borax, a few drops of essential oil, and some boiling water. the texture will look like wallpaper glue, keep it in a plastic bucket & give it a swirl from time to time, as simple as this ! as for the soap i’ve found the perfect one, all natural. if you are animal-friendly like me, in favor of 100% vegetal ingredients for laundry, you might want to avoid sodium tallowate, which is pretty common in soaps but contains some beef fat !
    i haven’t had any bad surprise for these 4 past months with this new laundry detergent : laundry is clean & smells good. it costs us approx. 4 euros/$5 for one bucket (3 liters).
    a little “green” step only, but i guess it first takes some individual awareness & involvement to make big changes.

    This recipe came from a good friend/blogger and she has horrible allergies. She had made her own laundry detergent with this combination for almost a year now and says it works and is gentle on her skin.

  14. Mégan

    I’ve had eczema most of my life – one of the reasons I’ve switched to natural products. I use only borax and Castile soap in my laundry, and Kiss My Face patchouli lotion helps my skin. When I’m dealing with a breakout, I purchase a body cream with emu oil. I get mine from a company called laughing rabbit soaps.
    Hope your little one finds long-term relief eczema is no fun!

  15. kgg

    i remember reading adele davis “lets eat right to keep fit” in the early days of health food, and she gave an example of a baby who had eczema that cleared up when the baby was fed vegetable oil (don’t remember which one) but the point was that the baby was deficient in essential fatty acids and actually lapped up the oil — not something one would think that children would like to eat straight, but this was a sign that her body knew what she needed. might want to check the book out of the library and see if this sounds right to you.

  16. mysteryautumn

    Hi. I’ve been reading your website for several months now, and I love it. This post about the natural products not working for your daughter is coming to me at just the right time. I have been dabbling in the natural way for a while now and my latest quest has been in making a really good moisturizing lotion. I have tried so many different recipes and formulas and nothing, I mean nothing [homemade], is taking care of my dry, itchy skin. I moved to the desert a little over two years ago from a very humid location and I’ve been struggling with dry skin since. Never had an issue with it before. I also have extremely hard water here, so I plan on using the advice previously posted in some of the other comments. Even still, I want so badly to conquer this with a much more natural homemade lotion (my absolute stubborness coming out)! I, too, am coming to that point of admitting defeat. Thanks for your posts – I love ’em!

  17. sharlene

    For my youngest son any detergent has bothered his skin. We tried over a dozen kinds. I switched to a Wash Ball with baking soda in the wash cycle, and vinegar in the rinse cycle. Just don’t put vinegar in the bleach dispenser… believe me.
    For him this works great. The only time he got the rash back was after we washed one load of his clothes with detergent. Instant rash.

    Good luck tracking down the cause. It’s great that you found something that helps.

  18. You have to do what feels right for you and your family. I’m so glad you found something that will give your daughter needed relief.

  19. Sandra Morris

    Castor Oil. I read about castor when my rosacea completely over powered my face and in search for a moisturizer due to my thyroid issues. I used castor oil and it helped a with the redness but not the bumps. My son and daughter have eczema and I figured what the heck… my girl has it on her cheeks and upper back arms. Castor Oil is thick so I’ve played with a mixture of mostly castor and a little coconut or olive oil. My girl calls it her lotion and when I regularly put on her it does help.

    My son uses it when he has flare-ups (which are typically bad in the winter) along with using it on his wart and some pimples.

    I haven’t read through your entire site yet so this may be moot; for my son, cutting out/limiting red meats and dairy has helped too.

  20. jengod

    Love your blog. I’ve had eczema for my entire life and I found that mine was almost entirely due to food allergies and a lack of essential fatty acids. If possible, eliminate cow’s milk products from your daughter’s diet (and/or yours, if you are breastfeeding), and consider an 0mega-3 supplement like cod liver oil. A couple of doctors recommend Nordic Naturals as being the safest brand. As for chemical sensitivities, my mom always washed our clothes in Ivory Snow. Good luck to you and your little girl. Eczema is no fun at all!

  21. Roger Beaudoin

    Hi,

    Love your blog. My oldest son had bad eczema and he turned out to be allergic to milk and soy milk, so we went to goat milk and it cleared right up! Also test your water for hardness, anything over 8 with give the kids a rash.

    Good luck.

  22. We had a battle with this very issue all winter–and we ended up using the CeraVe as well. The root cause of our son’s problems was actually allergies (as it was for some of the others I just read). He had been put on Miralax for a GI issue and has a rare allergy to it (yes, I know, not an ideal thing for him regardless, from a natural product standpoint, but at the time we didn’t feel like we had a lot of options). Unfortunately, since it’s a very uncommon allergy, it took a long time for us to put that together. In the meantime, we think in part as a result to the raised histamine levels, he developed a severe allergy to dust mites. It was so hard to watch our formerly perfectly healthy child go through so much in the last year. He’s still on Zyrtec every day, but at least his eyes aren’t puffy and ringed in red now. And his skin is back to normal, not leathery or broken-sored or hived or bumpy. We’re hoping after a summer spent outdoors as much as possible that his histamine levels will calm (now that he’s off the Miralax). All this to say, I know the relief of seeing your daughter’s skin back to normal. If she is like our son, she may be able to go back to the shea butter after you finish the bottle of CeraVe .

  23. Tanya

    Ugh! Eczema!

    We go more natural a couple of years back. Not to the extent I would consider ideal, but a hefty improvement, for sure. My daughter now reacts to things she didn’t used to…chemical things. We get hand-me-downs from my sister washed in phosphate ridden laundry soap. If I forget to run it through the wash, you can bet my daughter will develop a rash. But this is that same soap she was always exposed to way back when. And back then: no rash, nothing. I have many examples the like.

    But eczema, and psoriasis: we do Melaleuca. Renew creams, oils, body washes…all do the trick around here. Rumor is a few years back, a pharmaceutical company wanted to buy the rights for the Renew cream off of Melaleuca and sell the currently $12 a bottle cream for over 80 bucks. *rolls eyes* Melaleuca is currently working on removing parabens from its
    EXTREMELY (results in 24 hours) effective cream. Plus I can get behind the vision of the company. After all, if I’m gonna spend money on it, I don’t want to contribute to the “we don’t care about keeping things eco-friendly” masses out there.

    Also, not sure if your homemade laundry soap contains Borax as mine did. It’s been banned in infant cosmetics due to carcinogenic concerns. Check out this one: http://www.ehow.com/way_5418282_homemade-laundry-soap-borax.html

  24. Margaret

    Am new to your wonderful website so this may be way after the fact. I noticed one of your detergents contained lavender. I have found that I, as well as my 17 year old son have allergic reactions to lavender oil. I had tried using lavender oil in my homemade detergent and found I broke out in a rash on my chest. My son sneezed a lot, so I ended up giving it away.

  25. my daughter and husband have AMAZINGLY sensitive skin. We can only use baking soda (2TBS perload) for laundry. Works very well…laundry always smells fresh.

  26. Noelle

    i used shi kai’s borage lotion for kids for my son’s eczema….bonus is that it’s locally made in santa rosa

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  28. Jen mitchell

    Homemade dishwasher detergent doesn’t work for us. My dishes got so dirty from using it and I got so fed up that I bought cascade and rinse aid and now my dishes are sparkly. Sigh…I’ve been using Kirkland brand detergent which seems better than cascade and still works on my dishes.

  29. Chunkyboy

    I am sure theoretically there are natural lotions which would work just as well as the cerave…but problably no-one in the world would know how to make it (:

  30. Pingback: flowers & going wheat free | A Sonoma Garden

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