Saturday, January 8, 2011

Detective work, Mama style.

I feel like a genius!

I may have just figured out Max's mysterious rash. I hope.

Max has had this rash for a month and a half. In the last week of November he had a small rash on his back quickly cover his whole little body, like a switch had been flicked. After a week of it getting progressively worse and him getting progressively grumpier, and I'm assuming itchier, the poor little guy, I finally went to the doctor with him.

I have eczema, and the prompt diagnosis was that it must be eczema. I've gone through the last month racking my brain for what it could be, refusing to believe Max has a lifelong eczema we have to treat with frequent coatings of hydrocortisone cream.

Through my experience with eczema, I've learned it's essentially an allergy related rash. In that way, as allergies are, it's also partly hereditary. External factors like fragrances can irritate it, but it really comes down to diet CAUSING it. For me anyway.

When I was little I had a food allergy list soooo long, I remember it embarrassed me when babysitters came over. Most of those I have grown out of, but if I now have a lot of one of those things, like milk, my skin will let me know. As an adult I've often thought of attempting to eradicate dairy and/or wheat completely from my diet, two of the most common allergens, to see if I could 'cure' the eczema altogther, but apparently it doesn't bother me enough to push me to that dedication. I have attempted to move loosely towards a Paleo diet though, a diet composed of meat and veggies and a bit of fruit. Troy likes Paleo from a fitness standpoint, what Paleo is well-known for, where the allergy factor interests me. The Paleo diet is based on the theory that our bodies have not evolved to where our methods of food 'gathering' have. Our bodies do not know what to do with post-agricultural foods like grains and processed food like milk from other animals. Paleo theory actually points to grains as carriers of lectins, poisonous cancer causing agents. This is why these foods need to be cooked before eaten, but even cooking leaves trace amounts that build up in our systems. Paleo of course also eliminates the junk pretend food, the processed chemical concoctions we try to pass off as food.

So in that vein in my search for what was suddenly bothering my poor little man, I came across this article on La Leche discussing food allergies and breastfed babes. It's a really good article, you should read it. It's hard to summarize, but here are a few sections that stood out to me:
"The earlier and more often a food is ingested, the greater likelihood it has of becoming an allergen. Babies tend to be most allergic to the foods they have been offered first. While a baby is exclusively breastfed, he is only exposed to the foods his mother eats and secretes in her milk, so his exposure to potential allergens is minimized.
Protection from allergies is one of the most important benefits of breastfeeding. The incidence of cow's milk allergies is up to seven times greater in babies who are fed artificial baby milk instead of human milk.
Breastfeeding protects against allergies in two ways. The first and most obvious reason breastfed babies have fewer allergies is that they are exposed to fewer allergens in the first months of life. They aren't given formula based cow's milk or soy products. Less exposure to these foods means less chance of allergy later on.
..sensitive babies may react to cow's milk in their mothers' diet. Small amounts of cow's milk protein may appear in a mother's milk and provoke a response in her baby, even if the mother herself is not allergic to cow's milk. If there is a family history of milk allergies, a mother may prefer to avoid dairy products in her diet as well as not offering them directly to her baby."
So to defend against the food allergies Max seemed to be exhibiting (or so I thought), it encouraged me to continue to exclusively breastfeed and delay solids for Max until even 9-12 months to expose him to as few allergens as possible, and eliminate dairy, the food that tops all food as an allergen, from my own diet. After all, what you won't do for yourself, you will do for your kids!

But wait. While I think all of this is very interesting and wanted to pass along, tonight I realized it might not be pertinent to Max at all!

Tonight, I was lathering Max with the hydrocortisone I detest so much (I have a long history of being bitter that despite my healthy choices my skin remains dependant on the stuff, let alone using it on my perfect little babe). And I realized, he had NO RASH AT ALL where his diaper goes. His little bum was as soft and clear as only a baby bum can be, and there was a distinct line on his back where the rash stopped. I turned him over and of course there on his thighs were two more lines where the rash stopped. So that meant... that the rash was caused by his clothes! And his bedding!

Really? I didn't notice this before?

About a month and a half ago I had bought a big bottle of this natural (truely, not green-washed) anti-bacterial soap called Thieves. Which I love. It's made of ingredients like cloves, rosemary, lemon, and cinnamon that disinfect without alcohol and harsh chemical antibacterials, and protect against germs as well. I use a capful as soap in the water when I mop the floor, I have a handwash with it, and a waterless hand sanitizer of it. I used to just have a small bottle of it and add it occasionally to the laundry on particularily gross loads like the boys socks. It smells good though and I figured we could use the anti-bacterial nature in more of our things, so since it's fragrance doesn't bother my sensitive skin I didn't think twice about adding it to all of our laundry loads once I got the large bottle.

I guess there can be too much of a good thing.

I must be the most stunned person in the world. But if this is it, and it really is just the soap that's too harsh for his delicate little skin, I am going to be sooo relieved. Deliriously happy.

Tomorrow, I'm going to rewash all of his bedding and clothes and see how we make out. Here's crossing my fingers!


  1. I have super-sensitive skin, too, and have only been using Nature Clean unscented liquid laundry detergent for the past 4 years. You can get it at the Superstore & health food stores & it's quite affordable. I started using their unscented shampoo & conditioner too and have had less itchy skin and my nose isn't constantly tickly and bordering on that sneezing feeling!
    Maybe it would work for you & Max?
    P.S. Avoiding Bounce sheets & fabric softener makes a BIG difference, too.

  2. We don't use fabric softeners or bounce sheets at all here either, anything scented doesn't fly very well here. We actually use that NatureClean soap as well! (I also like that it comes in a big box that lasts forever, way less packaging.) I didn't realize they had shampoo as well though. Actually, I should do a whole post on my obsessive search for non-chemical cosmetics and cleaners. A lot of natural products break my 'must be unscented' rule, so there's been a lot of trial and error.

  3. Good work, super mom sleuth. Sometimes I feel like detective work is 50 percent of motherhood. I have asthma, and also feel bitter about the fact that I am dependent on corticosteroids to breath. Even after 24 years of inhaling the stuff, I hate it, hate it, hate it. I hope you get to the bottom of this soon. Thanks for coming over to visit my blog.

  4. Thank you for visiting my blog! Your blog on parentcenter was one of the first I ever loved and followed closely. As I described this to my husband, he said "So, she's like a superstar blogger?" Yes. She's a superstar blogger. And I've rewashed the majority of his laundry today and cut out the offending cleaner, so here's hoping it works!


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