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Date of last update: 10/18/2017.

Forum Name: Dermatology Topics

Question: Cause of Toddler Eczema?

 Anneliese - Fri Feb 24, 2006 4:21 am

My daughter is 2. Over the summer, at approx. 18 mos., she developed eczema (this was diagnosed by her doctor a couple of months after onset). The rashes started in the creases of her elbows, knees, and in one armpit. The areas covered by the rashes gradually spread to spots on the front and back of her trunk, then the other armpit, and currently around her mouth. The areas have also increased in size on her knees/elbows/armpits. The itching seems to occur mostly at night (sometimes worse than others) and we've noticed that the rashes often seem to redden at bedtime. Her skins gets better and worse but we haven't been able to make many correlations to these periods. She doesn't seem to have any other health concerns and before this, her major health issue was a bout of impetigo at around 8 mos. She nursed exclusively for almost a year - didn't show interest in solid foods until after her first birthday. She is still nursing. The only changes I could remember occuring possibly around the time the eczema appeared was the introduction of egg white and a change of laundry detergent. We went back to the previous detergent and eliminated egg whites from her diet, but the eczema continued. However, reintroduction of egg white seemed to possibly exacerbate the rashes, so we have removed eggs completely from her diet for the time. We wondered about corn, since we had quite a bit of it over the summer. We also suspect tomatoes. Her paternal grandmother had childhood eczema and asthma and claims she was sensitive to tomatoes (still is), sweet potatoes, and green peas. Her maternal great-grandmother is allergic to bananas and sometimes develops hives after eating berries. I (her mother) had cradle cap as an infant and as an older child and teenager had brief periods of extremely dry/sensitive skin on my hands and legs (from what I remember). Otherwise, we know of no other family history of eczema. We've had an indoor cat since before her birth. We've noticed a possible correlation to visiting her paternal grandmother, who has an indoor dog. Once, before the eczema, she developed a temporary red prickly/bumpy rash on her hands after crawling around on the floor there. Grandmother has said she uses products on the carpet for pet odor control. We have been using primarily vinegar and baking soda for housecleaning since before her birth and have been using minimal natural bath products for her. Oh - one more thing - she doesn't seem to have problems with constipation or diarrhea (sometimes has soft, formless stools), but there is often undigested food in her stools.

Does it sound like food sensitivities are a likely culprit? I am seeking advice on how to go about an elimination diet (my husband and I are lacto-ovo vegetarians who occasionally consume fish). What other possible causes/irritants might we look at and how? If there are not other symptoms besides the eczema, could it be a pet allergy? Is it even possible to find the "cause" and eliminate it? We do not have health insurance that would cover costly allergy tests and I am not wanting to subject my 2-yo to traumatic tests involving needles anyway.

Thanks in advance for anything you can offer!!
 Theresa Jones, RN - Wed Sep 13, 2006 5:21 am

User avatar Hi Anneliese,
There seems to be a correlation between Eczema, allergies, and conditions including Asthma. Eczema is more often prevalent when other family members have the aforementioned conditions. There may be multiple triggers causing exacerbation of symptoms from foods, ie., nuts soy, wheat, eggs, etc. to animal dander, (cat, dog) detergents, soaps, certain material (wool, carpet). Another thing you may want to keep in mind, in consideration of breast feeding, is the foods that you consume, nuts, eggs, etc. may also trigger the exacerbations. If you choose not to have allergy testing done at this point, eliminating trigger foods and substances should improve symptoms as well as keeping the skin well moisturized. Evaluation by a Dermatologist is essential for appropriate treatment.
Theresa Jones, RN

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