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Childhood Eczema



Eczema is one of the top concerns that brings children into my office.  About 20% of

children are given this diagnosis by their medical doctor (and some by Dr. Google:)). 


The medical term for eczema is Atopic Dermatitis and it is defined as a chronic

inflammatory skin condition that involves itching, dryness, and potentially white flakes,

scales, and / or redness.  It commonly affects specific areas of the body called the ‘flexor

surfaces’, like the cheeks, the inside of the elbow crease, and behind the knees, neck,

and ears.  Of course, it can affect other parts of the body as well.  Eczema appears from

infancy all the way up to school age, but is most often seen in kids from just after birth to

5 yrs of age. It varies greatly in severity and appearance making it sometimes hard to

diagnose. 


Atopic Dermatitis is also part of an ‘allergic triad’ alongside asthma and

hayfever.  About 30% of children with eczema develop asthma later in life.  

I think of eczema as a vague diagnosis.  Unfortunately it doesn’t actually tell us about

the root cause, something I, as a naturopathic doctor, care deeply about.  From a

naturopathic standpoint, root causes of eczema include diminished skin integrity, allergy

(food / environmental), a deficiency of omega 3 oils, a disrupted microbiome (balance of

healthy and harmful microbes on and inside the body), genetic predisposition, and

more.  A detailed history including information about the family’s medical history, the

pregnancy, delivery, and first 6 months of life are needed to understand the individual

picture, and sometimes lab testing is also indicated.


When it comes to treatment, there are various approaches (and they depend on the

individual).  It goes without saying, but I always recommend consulting with a

professional licensed to practice naturopathic medicine instead of treating it yourself. 

 

Firstly, I often recommend liberal use of a topical moisturizer.  This is because some

eczema is simply a lack of skin hydration.  Studies show that frequent use of creams,

lotions, ointments, and salves of various kinds treat, and prevent mild / moderate

eczema in some kids.  I recommend choosing products that are free of harsh chemicals

and fragrances.  You get bonus points if they include healing botanical herbs like

calendula, manukah honey, chickweed, slippery elm, red clover as examples.  This is a

low invasive, safe option, so a good place to start.  


Next I look at the diet (either the mom’s in a breastfed child, or the child’s otherwise). 

There are various laundry lists of foods to avoid for eczema sufferers floating around the

internet.  I find those often conflict and stress out parents.  If I had to start with just one

food that has the most impact for most of my patients, it is the removal of cow’s dairy.  If

that doesn’t help, we need to get more specific.


Third, I often recommend oral remedies in many of my eczema cases.  Some of the top

ones include omega 3 oils, probiotics, zinc, antimicrobial herbs, and more.  Once I have

understood more about that root cause I discussed above, then I know what route to

take.  Of course I am always sensitive to the flavour and the form of the remedy as most

kids in my practice don’t do well with pills. 


Conventional medicine often uses topical steroids to control eczema symptoms.  These

often provide relief of severe symptoms (which is sometimes absolutely needed), and

are not inherently wrong or bad, they just don’t address the root cause.  As my mentor used to say, eczema is not a deficiency of steroid cream!  This means the eczema might

just continue to flare up again and again, which is not ideal.  


So, if your child has a diagnosis of eczema, don’t fret, I have lots of ideas and strategies

waiting for you.  Reach out for a complementary 15 minute meet and greet to learn more

about my approach and let’s get your child on the road to recovery today!


In health!

Dr. Stephanie Peltz, ND



Dr. Stephanie Peltz has been practicing naturopathic medicine since 2008. Her area of expertise is in women's and childhood health including preconception care, fertility concerns, pregnancy, and postpartum care. You can find her at Dupont Naturopathic Family Centre on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Saturday. Click here to make an appointment


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