Life of Eczema Girl – Rest after Creation

Sleep Rest Eczema Creation cartoon

The right answer should be God set a pattern for us to work and rest, only God need not sleep!

This month I’m plagued by a curiosity of the child’s mind (esp. an eczema child!) when learning about creation. And the more I think about it, the more questions I have, guess it’s time to polish up on my bible knowledge! If you have a funny Sunday school experience, drop me an email or a comment and I may just turn it into a cartoon! This is the 61st of my 2nd cartoon series, ‘LIFE OF AN ECZEMA GIRL’. For more cartoon in this series, check out here.

Mom E-votional : Food for Thought

Eczema devotional Food for Thought SkinKnow the phrase ‘Food for Thought’? It means something worth thinking about seriously. But to many parents, it might really be worth thinking food for ‘brain’ as it seems to be a faster-than-rat race to be smarter younger. For myself, I do think about anti-inflammatory foods (see Julie Daniluk’s recipes here and Jennifer Iserloh’s recipes here) and here are 3 foods I’d go for:

1. Oily fish for Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Omega 3 is not only a brain food (see Dr Sears’ talk here), but also one of the very few foods that have been studied to improve eczema. Don’t like that fishy smell? Go for a good quality fish oil supplement or flax seed oil.

2. Yoghurt/ Probiotics – Probiotics is the other ‘food’ that is studied to improve eczema (read here). As to how probiotics/yoghurt works for the skin, the mechanism is not entirely clear but may got to do with improving the gut flora also improves the skin flora. Since ‘bad’ bacteria can tip the scales and leads to skin inflammation and reduced efficacy of eczema treatment, adding good bacteria regularly makes sense. However, the dosage studied to be effective is fairly high, in 10billion CFU – so I’m not sure if regular yoghurt has that.

3. Broccoli/Cauliflower – I’m fortunate that my daughter loves this superfood vegetable! It is a brain food because it has choline and vitamin B, both good for brain development. Also, it is an anti-inflammatory food with beta carotene, vitamin A and C. It reduces allergic reaction and also help skin repair. See chef Jennifer’s Broccoli with Garlic Sauce recipe and nutritionist Julie’s recipe for Broccoli Seaweed Salad.

Jesus is also big on food. Jesus feeds 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish in Matthew 14:13-21. God feeds the Israelites for 40 years with a bread from heaven, known as manna. Manna is like coriander seed, baked wafer with honey. Whatever manna is, I’m sure it has all the nutrition needed since it is the only food source in the dessert! I love it when there’s so much healthy food we have access to and for parents with eczema kids, make sure your child is really tested allergic to a certain food before removing the suspected food from child’s diet. Read this eczema research focus news on link between eczema and allergy.

Bible verse:

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Trust God to be your food and for your food

Elderly Skin Conditions series – Elderly Skin, How does Skin Age?

Elderly Skin Conditions Eczema and Age This is another 4-part series, focusing on elderly. For those of you who have been following this blog, you know I’ve been passionately persevering in bringing you information for eczema children. This month, however, I’m inspired to focus on elderly because (i) I see a desire among elderly ladies in the eczema support group meeting to care for their skin and (ii) I am ashamed that I can’t convince my own elderly parents of the right skincare. Hopefully, with this series, elderly who surf the internet and found this blog will find the series useful and adult kids (yes, you and me included!) will be empowered to help their aged parents with the correct skincare. So here we go!

How does Skin Age?
It is obvious that our skin ages as we age – even if we don’t look into the mirror or care to look at our own skin, the number of anti-ageing, whitening and anti-wrinkle products remind us that our skin grow old. Aging can be intrinsic (i.e. genetics) and extrinsic, with the main factor being sun exposure, although lifestyle (smoking, alcohol, obesity, diet, exercise) and pollution also play a role.

We have covered skin functions in this blog, so below explains how our skin age and loses its ability to perform its functions.

Differences in Elderly Skin

  1. Thinner skin that appears more transparent, due to loss of epidermis (surface layer of skin)
  2. Decreasing and increasingly fragmented collagen, thus less supple skin
  3. Wrinkles, from sagging of elastic fibres and more reasons here
  4. More fragile skin due to flattening of skin cells, prone to blisters, burns and tears
  5. Loss of elasticity (from less fibroblasts), thus ‘loose’ skin
  6. Fewer Langerhans cells, which are immune cells of skin
  7. Reduced lipids within skin
  8. Reduced sebum (oil) production, leading to dry/itchy skin
  9. Reduced cutaneous blood flow
  10. Reduced sweat glands, from shrinkage of eccrine glands
  11. Reduced pigment cells
  12. Photaging, due to sun exposure
  13. Lower cell replacement
  14. Less acidic pH of epidermis
  15. Thinner blood vessel walls at the dermis, thus easier to bruise

Skin Function Loss for Elderly

With the above skin changes, there is associated loss of skin function:

  • Weakening of the skin barrier function, more permeable to irritants
  • Less able to regulate temperature, due to loss in fats and sweat glands
  • Less able to protect against sun
  • Less able to retain water in skin (stratum corneum)
  • Less able to repair the skin and heal wound, aggravated by health conditions that reduce healing such as diabetes
  • More susceptible to infection (from fewer AND less responsive Langerhans cells)
  • More susceptible to injury due to reduced ability to sense pressure and temperature, and thinner blood vessel walls

With the skin changes in elderly, there are numerous skin conditions that affect them. Most of the skin disorders have signs of skin inflammation and itch (pruritus). General itch without an underlying skin disorder is very common and mainly due to the breakdown of skin barrier, thus normally tolerated soaps and detergents start to trigger rash and itch (i.e. increasing risk of contact dermatitis). Atopic dermatitis is also common because of increased penetration of allergens via the defective skin barrier. As eczema, contact dermatitis and itch has been discussed in this blog (type into search box for all related posts), this series won’t cover these skin conditions despite being very common in elderly (as well as kids!).

For this series, I’m covering 3 skin disorders which are common and that I see in elderly around me (aka Singapore). These are Statis Dermatitis (affecting varicose vein area), Incontinence Associated Dermatitis (from exposure to urine or stools) and Asteatotic eczema (cracked skin). Older people may also have health conditions where either the condition itself predisposes them to skin disorders (atherosclerosis, diabetes, HIV, congestive heart failure) or the medication might. For instance, non-enzymatic metabolites, diuretics and calcium blockers affect the skin. So take time to Google, research and ask the doctor for elderly in your family about potential side effects of the medication they are taking. Elderly who are immobile (i.e. always on the chair or bed) or live in homes are also at higher risk of skin disorders.

Catch up next week on Statis Dermatitis and meanwhile, drop me a comment if you have a condition for elderly skin that you’d like me to look into!

My Book Giveaway at #Dadchat on #Eczema and #Allergies

Come join me at #Dadchat - the most authentic, parenting chat with international dads and moms, hosted by Bruce Sallan

Come join me at #Dadchat – the most authentic, parenting chat with international dads and moms, hosted by Bruce Sallan

This Thursday evening for those in US timezone, 6-7pm PT or 9-10pm ET, or for those in Singapore 9-10am GMT+8, come to twitter and join #Dadchat. This is a weekly chat, hosted by Bruce Sallan, who is a TV producer turned dad, writer (with his column A Dad’s Point of View published in over 100 newspapers), radio host and THE DAD behind #Dadchat – to have a sense of how popular #Dadchat is, even Guy Kawasaki is a guest on the chat and on a personal level, it is a chat that I’ve been attending for years because it is real, non-advertisey with parents all over the world who truly care about their families and kids and openly discuss them!

Bruce is also no stranger to this blog, he had shared his views on How to be a Better Dad here.

So come and there’d be my book Living with Eczema: Mom Asks, Doc Answers as giveaway, along with my co-author Professor Hugo van Bever’s other book on allergies, both published and giveaway sponsored by World Scientific. For more on the chat, see Bruce’s post and see you!

Life of Eczema Girl – Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarian Eczema Creation Cartoon

Don’t take my biblical knowledge for real, I’m quite confused on this too!

This month I’m plagued by a curiosity of the child’s mind (esp. an eczema child!) when learning about creation. If you have a funny Sunday school experience, drop me an email or a comment and I may just turn it into a cartoon! This is the 60th of my 2nd cartoon series, ‘LIFE OF AN ECZEMA GIRL’. For more cartoon in this series, check out here.

Mom E-votional : Realistic Parenting

Errrr... is this image realistic? Yes for me, but not on all nights!

Errrr… is this image realistic? Yes for me, but not on all nights!

I came across a parenting article on ivillage ‘The Most Practical (and Realistic) Parenting Advice you will Ever Read‘, it’s kind of funny, offering tips such as:

  • It’s ok if you miss a day of bathing your kids
  • You aren’t the first to give in to tantrum
  • You don’t have to do homework
  • Sometimes feeling hurried and harassed is part of being a parent

To me, I try my best – go home early, spend time with kid on activity and reading with them. We discover authors that are funny with bright illustration, such as Mo Williems, Jan Thomas and Allen Plenderleith. Do I laugh with my daughter when reading? Yes. But hey, some nights I can’t wait to get it over and grab some zzz myself! Esp. given how late her bedtime is, how much scratching and crazy ‘eczema’ habits she picked up over the short (or excruciating long!) 5 years of her life, I really just want to sleep and not parent!

God is also a parent, father to Jesus and christians. I don’t think God does ‘realistic parenting’ as in he doesn’t have enough energy to parent us. But I think he’s realistic in another sense, that he knows us so well and understands when we fall short.

Bible verse:

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Father in heaven, you know us and how we parent. Yet being so aware of our shortfall, you love us. Help us to parent our children with the same love and give us wisdom to juggle so many aspects of life – work, children, chores, aged parents and eczema too!

We are the best parents for our children, that’s real!

Rise and Shine Expo – Dr Peter Sears on Raising Smart, Well-Behaved Child – Parenting Balance

Parenting Rise and Shine Dr Sears

This is a 2-part series on a workshop that I’ve attended at Singapore Rise and Shine Expo, by Dr Peter Sears. Last year, I attended his father, Dr Bill Sears, at the same expo onraising healthy child and attachment parenting. This year, Dr Peter Sears’ talk focuses on raising smart and well-behaved child, two aspects that most parents are concerned with.

More on Rise and Shine Expo:

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore from 22-24 Aug 2014. Workshops were conducted by health and parenting experts and the one I attended was by Dr Peter Sears, ‘Raising smart and ALSO well-behaved child – Is it true that we shouldn’t spare the rod and spoil the child?’

More on Dr Peter Sears:

Dr. Peter Sears is board-certified by The American Academy of Family Practitioners. His primary passion in medicine is to promote well-being and health through the practice of preventive medicine at all ages along with using traditional and complementary treatments for curing of disease. He is also the co-author of two books, with his Dr Sears family on LEAN (see more here on previous interview with Dr Sears LEAN team).

Balance in Parenting

Dr Peter Sears shared that balance is a key aspect in parenting and a few areas which tend to be off-balance are:

Father/Child relationship – For some families, the father may not be as involved as the mother, particularly in the early years. Dr Sears encouraged dad’s early involvement, instead of waiting till the child is preschooler age. This is especially so as trust between parent and child is built from young.

Mom Helicopter Parenting – This refers to the mother monitoring the relationship and ‘hovering’ the interaction between the father and child. Doing so risk the child growing up thinking that dad is ‘secondary’ to mom and mom is the real authority figure in the family.

Mother Burnout – Many scenarios exist that increase the likelihood of mother burnout and the two common ones are dads’ inadequate involvement and moms controlling every situation (even when the dad wants to be involved!). If there is conflict in parenting styles between mom and dad, Dr Peter Sears cautioned that disagreement should not be in front of the child as that would confuse the child.

Emotional Balance – As a baby can pick up facial cues and mirror feelings, parents should adopt a calm and firm presence/face when disciplining. The baby’s brain has ‘mirror neurons’ and thus anxiety can be picked up.

Conveying Limits - Parents often say ‘No’ or ‘Stop’ to the child, but negative language does not help the child to focus on what should be done (instead, what should not be done). Dr Peter Sears shared a parenting moment from his dad (Dr Bill Sears) who instead of saying ‘No’ to his daughter for speaking rudely to his wife, told her that ’I will not tolerate such behavior to the woman who I love’. This enables the child to connect the impact of her action. In general, instead of saying no, direct the child on what should be done.

The Science of Attachment Parenting

Dr Sears believed in attachment parenting, where its 7Bs also include balance. The science behind attachment parenting is that being close and responsive to the baby benefits both mother and child.

(i)            Mother’s Brain

The mother’s brain changes to cater to nurturing babies, and attachment parenting and breastfeeding help boost hormones that facilitate caregiving – amygdala, cingulate, prolactin and oxytocin. Mothers who practice attachment parenting are better to trusting themselves on the needs of the child.

(ii)           Child’s Brain

Attachment parented infants have higher growth hormones and brain enzymes, and more likely for the neurons to make the right brain connections. The child grows up with an inner control mechanism, knowing what should be done and able to think through consequences. Conversely, for a baby who is left to cry it out, their cortisol is off balance (too high and too low) with prolonged high stress hormones that slow growth and depress immunity.

On the other hand, detached parenting set up ‘undiscipline’, leading to a fearful, fussy and clingy baby who may be shy or exhibit stranger anxiety. Other characteristics of a child with detached parents are not able to share or play with peers, blank unhappy stares and possibly become a bully due to lacking an inner control mechanism.

Dr Sears also shared briefly on the importance of nutrition, more from last year Dr Bill Sears’ talk here.

I also asked Dr Peter Sears on some questions relevant to raising eczema babies.

On Diet – What foods would you recommend for a baby with eczema, and would it be different for a toddler or a preteen?

Dr Peter Sears: Eczema often has an association with underlying food or environmental allergies. For children with moderate to severe eczema, we usually recommend having allergy testing done by a licensed allergist (if this is financially feasible). Identifying underlying allergies can help control eczema.

In addition, I often recommend that my patients with eczema take a daily Omega-3 DHA/EPA fish oil supplement as well as daily Probiotic supplement. Omega-3 fish oil has been shown to be beneficial for skin health and various types of eczema/ dermatitis due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Probiotics have been suggested to be beneficial as well.

On Colic – Is reflux something more commonly seen in children with eczema? If so, why? What formula would you recommend for eczema babies?

Dr Peter Sears: There has been an association between eczema and acid reflux. Theories on this suggest that this may be related to milk or dairy sensitivity or dairy allergy. Children with milk sensitivity/allergy may be more likely to exhibit symptoms of acid reflux and skin manifestations of eczema.

Parents should always consult with their doctor before switching formulas. Of course, we always recommend breastfeeding whenever possible. Hypoallergenic formulas may be beneficial for infants with dairy sensitivity and/or eczema.

On Parenting – Eczema families are more stressed, more chores to do (if there’s house dust mite allergy) and may even be more stretched financially as emollients, doctor consultations or having to have one parent stay home results in a loss of income. What do parents have to watch out for in their parenting to ensure that eczema doesn’t come in the way of them raising a happy and successful child?

Dr Peter Sears: This is a difficult question because every household and family dynamic will be different. To generalize, we would say that it is very important that there is a strong family support system and that both mother and father (as well as other capable family members) be as involved as possible in day to day care of this condition. This goes back to my talk about balance in the home with childcare.

Thank you to Dr Peter Sears for going through what he had shared in the Rise and Shine Expo workshop and also giving useful tips for eczema families. For those unsure about parenting styles, check out last week Dr Sears’ talk here.

Life of Eczema Girl – Only Vegetables?

Food Creation Eczema Cartoon

I’m not sure still on whether we are meant to just eat vege!

This month I’m plagued by a curiosity of the child’s mind (esp. an eczema child!) when learning about creation. If you have a funny Sunday school experience, drop me an email or a comment and I may just turn it into a cartoon! This is the 59th of my 2nd cartoon series, ‘LIFE OF AN ECZEMA GIRL’. For more cartoon in this series, check out here.

Mom E-votional : Breathe Life

Eczema Devotional on the Air we Breathe

Image taken from Jurlique.com – No permission obtained for use but I’m a fan of their citrus hand cream!

Some days I feel suffocated – yes, like there’s no air to breathe. In a crowded train, there’s lack of fresh air coupled with many people coughing at close distance. Outside if there’s haze or pollutants, I wonder if I’m doing more harm to my body jogging (and breathing the exhaust fumes). Yet, breathing is essential and like this advertisement that I saw on Jurlique’s Rosewater Balancing Mist, breathing can be hydrating, refreshing, restoring and soothing!

In fact, how we breathe can affect our health too. Slow, rhythmic and deep breathing (involving the diaphragm) is best for adequate oxygen and maintaining the right level of carbon dioxide. Apparently, we have gotten too stressed to breathe properly, resulting in much shorter breaths! For those with allergic rhinitis, air pollutants, house dust mites, pollen and pet dander in the air can also cause a flare-up. In short, how we breathe and the air we breathe do matter.

God is no stranger to air and breath. He created the atmosphere. He breathed life into Adam, the first man (Genesis 2:7). Jesus, after his resurrection, breathed the Holy Spirit on his disciples (John 20:21). I pray that we parents can breathe deep, relaxing breaths when caring for our eczema children, and with each breath, it’s literally life!

Bible verse:

Genesis 2:7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature

God, we want to breathe each breath right. Breathing happiness, joy, love and not anxiety, stress and frustration. Help us and our children in each breath we take.

God knows all about each breathe we take

Rise and Shine Expo – Dr Peter Sears on Raising Smart, Well-Behaved Child – Parenting Style

Rise and Shine Dr Sears Raising Smart and Well Behaved Child - parenting styleThis is a 2-part series on a workshop that I’ve attended at Singapore Rise and Shine Expo, by Dr Peter Sears. Last year, I attended his father, Dr Bill Sears, at the same expo on raising healthy child and attachment parenting. This year, Dr Peter Sears’ talk focuses on raising smart and well-behaved child, two aspects that most parents are concerned with.

More on Rise and Shine Expo:

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore from 22-24 Aug 2014. Workshops were conducted by health and parenting experts and the one I attended was by Dr Peter Sears, ‘Raising smart and ALSO well-behaved child – Is it true that we shouldn’t spare the rod and spoil the child?’

More on Dr Peter Sears:

Dr. Peter Sears is board-certified by The American Academy of Family Practitioners. His primary passion in medicine is to promote well-being and health through the practice of preventive medicine at all ages along with using traditional and complementary treatments for curing of disease. He is also the co-author of two books, with his Dr Sears family on LEAN (see more here on previous interview with Dr Sears LEAN team).

Which Parenting Style works Best?

Dr Peter Sears started the talk reminding parents that no one technique will work for every child, but instead he believes that forming a trusting bond with the child is the foundation for parenting. Dr Sears (family) believe in attachment parenting, which is being responsive and close to the baby especially in the first six months of birth. It is the natural way to parent because it is nurturing the baby according to the mother’s instinct.

More on attachment parenting, the 7 Bs in Dr Bill Sears’ talk last year

  • Birth bonding
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby wearing
  • Bed Sharing
  • Believe Baby’s Cries
  • Beware of Baby Trainers
  • Balance

With attachment parenting as the foundation to build trust between parent and child, Dr Sears observed in their family practice that it will lead to the following desirable C Outcomes in kids:

  • Caring kids
  • Compassionate
  • Communicative
  • Connected
  • Comfortable with intimacy
  • Confident kids
  • Confident parents

Pros and Cons in Parenting Styles

Dr Peter Sears shared about differences in two main parenting styles below:

Authoritarian Style – This parenting style tends towards a command and control approach with a focus on wrong-doing and punishment. Spanking is often part of this parenting style. The positives of this style is that it is very clear to the child that the parent is in-charge and the child needs to obey. The parent being in-charge is important as a growing child needs guidance, direction and security.

The negative of this style is the potential pitfall of taking love from the parent-child relationship and inadequate positive reinforcements for the child. There is also a danger of the child engaging in the desired behavior out of fear, instead of out of respect. Moreover, the desired behavior does not come from self (child) who is able to think through the consequences and exercise inner control.

Permissive Style – This parenting style is characterized with warmth and affection, but with few or unclear limits. While it is good that there is much positive reinforcement given to the child, the negative is that the child takes control.

Authoritative Style – A more balanced parenting approach is to combine the positives of the above two styles, which gives the child love and warmth with structure. While this parenting style allows the child to thrive the best, it also requires more dedication, responsibility and creativity from parents. (It takes MORE work!) An authoritative parenting style fosters competence and mature moral judgment in the child, lowering the risk for problem behavior.

Is Spanking OK?

Dr Peter Sears explained that cultural and society settings affect whether spanking is involved in parenting. For instance, many European countries, Canada and New Zealand have legislation prohibiting spanking. This comes from studies that spanking has adverse effects that are associated with anti-social behavior, decreased rate of school performance and more behavioral and mental issues (for instance, depression and bi-polar).

Spanking may also send the wrong message that physical force is the way to resolve conflicts or issues. It is also very easy for parents to cross the line as physical force may be used when parents are stressed or a stronger force may hurt the child.

Dr Peter Sears provided alternatives to spanking, such as time-outs and explaining the consequences of misbehavior. Parents can engage in re-wind/ replay scenarios with the child to guide the child towards right behavior.

There is much balance required in parenting and next week, we will be sharing various aspects from Dr Peter Sears. Gratitude to Dr Peter Sears for taking time to review this blog post.

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