As part of the food allergy thing, our oldest daughter also deals with eczema and mild, intermittent asthma. As many of you probably know, food allergies, eczema, and asthma often go hand-in-hand. Each condition seems to egg the other on, in a vicious cycle.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is basically just really dry, flaky, irritated skin. Izzy gets hers mostly on her hands and maybe inside her knees, thighs, and around her ankles. Her hands are the worst; sometimes they just crack and bleed and it seems impossible to stop her from scratching and picking at them. My youngest is now about 17 months old and is starting to exhibit more eczema symptoms, as well.
Besides treating the eczema with lotions, petroleum jelly, coconut oil, and prescribed steroid creams, we’ve also learned a lot of triggers to avoid. Actually, we’ve stumbled on a lot of this by accident from attending family, church, and preschool activities. 🙂 Here are a few unexpected everyday items you might want to steer clear from (and how we learned the hard way):
- hand sanitizer – Putting almost pure alcohol gel on dry, cracked hands = not a good idea. 🙂 One Sunday morning, after church service, we went to pick up our oldest from her Sunday school class and the teacher began apologizing profusely about using hand sanitizer before snack time. She wanted us to let us know they managed to calm Izzy down by washing it off. Oops! We had never used hand sanitizer on Izzy because at home we always used soap & water. I’ve never been much of a germaphobe, so I was not one to carry hand sanitizer with me everywhere. Who knew? After that, we learned to warn schoolteachers, her friend’s parents, etc. to skip the sanitizer and save their sanity.
- straight up liquid hand soap – Speaking of soap & water, Izzy used to pitch a fit about washing her hands, which is typical for kids anyway. It wasn’t until I picked up a cute bottle of foaming hand soap that I realized our daughter wasn’t reluctant to wash up. After talking to her, we figured out that the diluted foaming soap didn’t irritate her skin as much! Foaming soap rules at our house, plus it’s cheaper to just put a bit of liquid soap into a foaming dispenser and add water. Thankfully, most public places use this type of soap, too. Win-win!
- face paint – I’m sure not all face paint is bothersome to kids with sensitive skin, but after attending a preschool carnival and getting her face painted, Izzy proceeded to cry and scream about her nose. She had been painted up like a cat, but the red color on the end of her nose irritated her horribly. After we rushed to the restroom and washed it off, her skin was noticeably agitated. Looking back, I should have thought that the ingredients could be a problem, but to be honest, it just didn’t even cross my mind. We skip the face-painting now.
- play dough – Play-Doh (the most popular commercial play dough made by Hasbro) and most play doughs are made from a few simple items, with wheat flour being the main ingredient. To be on the safe side, we started making our own. We keep it in a ziploc bag in the fridge, and dye it with food coloring. The wheat-free version definitely gets a bit gummy and sticky after it warms up from lots of little hands, but by then the kids are usually ready to move on to another activity, anyway. 🙂 Bonus: it dissolves and washes off hands, tables, and toys quite well. We’ve tried a couple recipes, and they’ve all been decent. Here is one basic wheat-free recipe we’ve worked with:
Gluten-Free Play Dough (you can find this recipe or similar ones from any web-search; it is a pretty popular one!)
- ½ cup white rice flour (I’ve seen variations with up to 1 cup of flour)
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup salt
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (I’ve seen up to 1 Tbsp of cream of tartar if you are using more flour)
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil (any kind of oil seems to work, add an extra 1/2 tsp if necessary)
- Food coloring, if desired
Mix ingredients. Cook and stir on low heat for 3 minutes or until it forms a ball. Cool completely before storing in a zip-top plastic storage bag. You can knead in the food coloring a bit at a time after it cools. I’ve tried stirring it in while cooking but that that is not so easy to do when it is thickening up.
I’ve seen varying reports about how long this play dough lasts, but we keep it in the back of the fridge for months… (uh…make that years)! My oldest is 5 and we’ve only made this twice. 🙂
What unexpected items have caused skin reactions or sensitivities at your house?
*** DISCLAIMER: While I strive to find solid information in my research and I share my family’s stories with you to build a community of support & encouragement, I am NOT a medical doctor or professional dietician! Nothing here is meant to diagnose, treat, or prevent a medical illness. If you suspect you or your children have food allergies or have food allergy related medical questions, you should consult your physician. Food allergies, eczema, & asthma are nothing to mess around with! ***