By Bettie Bullet
Eczema has been a problem for me since childhood. It usually sprang up in the winter when the air got dry. I would do my best to combat it with thick greasy lotion, moisturizing body washes, and hydrocortisone cream. It helped keep the eczema from spreading, but it didn't go away fully till summer. Late in my teens my eczema got worse and became a year-long problem. Rather than a few annoying itchy spots, I now had large and painful splotches all over my body. It was all over knees, elbows, and wrists even in the most humid months of summer. It was really embarrassing.
I eventually sought out a dermatologist for the problem. I was very disappointed in the treatment I got. Before even seeing me, the doctor prescribed the most potent steroid cream on the market. (What if I didn't want steroids?!) When he finally did sit down with me, I asked him if there was anything I could do with my diet to help ease the eczema, perhaps some specific vitamin supplements? He merely shrugged me off and said the cream would fix everything.
The cream did work. I applied it twice a day and within a few days my eczema had almost cleared up completely. I was amazed. The downside was that the cream could only be used for two week and then I had to stop or it might eat through my skin completely. Oh. Great. After the two weeks were up I had extreme burning sensations where my eczema had been for a few days. The majority of it was gone, but the steroid cream was a great solution only in the short term. The red splotches started to come back a few months later. I certainly couldn't keep using the toxic stuff over and over. I started to seek out more long term fixes.
In my quest for relief I tried bleach baths, coconut oil, shea butter, and several different brands of lotions, but nothing worked. I'd been following the paleo diet (mostly) for a year or so and I had read the diet helped eliminate a lot of skin issues, mostly by cutting out grains. I rarely ate any wheat or other grains and yet my eczema was worse than before I started eating paleo. I'd almost written paleo off as a solution when a friend suggested that it might be dairy causing the problem. After trying countless topical methods, I was willing to try a solution that started inside my body. I cut out all milk, butter, cream, cheese, and ice cream. It was extremely hard given that my family uses copious amounts of butter in their cooking and I was chauffeur to a sister who liked to hit up Baskin Robbins for $1 scoop Tuesday. I made it two weeks before caving and bingeing out on pizza and ice cream. Despite my crap self-control, I made it long enough to see a noticeable difference in my eczema. It had definitely shrunk during my dairy-free experiment. I decided I would continue to eat dairy, but cut out milk, which I had read caused the worst skin reactions.
Within a month my eczema was completely gone. I decided to keep with my no-milk diet through winter, my most vulnerable time to break out, to see if it truly cured my eczema. Now at the beginning of spring I can safely say that my eczema has not come back at all! I still eat lots of cheese, sour cream, butter, and half & half. I moisturize with Eucerin's daily lotion after showering. I no longer have itchy and embarrassing red spots all over. I don't have to slather myself in greasy oils/lotions. I'm so excited to have finally found a solution to a lifelong problem.
What are your experiences with diet and eczema? Have you tried cutting some or all dairy?