Eczema News #Christmas Special – Top 10 Allergy Suspects

It’s end of the year, it’s Christmas time and there are actually quite a few things about Christmas that can really spoil the season fun. Apart from visiting others’ homes (pet, mold, dust mites), eating foods that you don’t normally eat (or never eaten before), there’s the Christmas tree that can cause quite a few allergic symptoms.

This Christmas special looks at some of these ‘Christmas Allergy Suspects‘:

10 Top Christmas Allergy Suspects

Don’t let these 10 Top Christmas Allergy Suspects spoil your season fun!

Christmas allergy suspect #1: Christmas tree

Allergic contact dermatitis – reaction to colophony, also known as rosin, is the sap or sticky substance that comes from pine and spruce trees.

Allergic rhinitis – reaction to alternaria mould

Main trees are scotch pine (allergic conditions likely due to mold Penicillium spinulosum), followed by spruce tree (due to mold Epicoccum and Alternaria). Hose down the tree outdoors and handle with gloves to reduce the mold spores.

Even artificial christmas trees can cause a reaction as they have been stored and accumulated dust mites and molds in the basement.

Christmas allergy suspect #2: Poinsettia

Cross-reactivity with latex allergy observed in a case study

Christmas allergy suspect #3: Christmas cactus

Contact urticaria and rhinoconjunctivitis (of workers at a cactus nursery)

Christmas allergy suspect #4: Christmas candy

Asthma (of a candy maker) after exposure to pectin, a compound in Christmas candy

Christmas allergy suspect #5: Food, Cocktails

Common allergens are milk, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. Ask before you eat or inform the host. If you’re hosting, take care to avoid these allergens or avoid them in some of the dishes and not re-use the utensils without washing.

Allergens in cocktails include sulfites in wine, maraschino cherries, and tree nuts in beer.

Christmas allergy suspect #6: Pets

If you’re allergic to pet dander, it’d be best to check out if the home you’re visiting has pets. The concentration of pet dander allergens are usually higher during Christmas, due to more time spent indoors.

Christmas allergy suspect #7: Dust mite

Though dust mites are present all year round, it is worse during the holidays as we spent more time in our bed with the cold weather.

Christmas suspect #8: Artifical snow or Frosting

Asthma can be triggered when spraying artificial snow or any chemical spray (say on frosted window) can irritate the eyes, nose, lungs and skin.

Christmas suspect #9: Stress

Stress is a known trigger for eczema and asthma – go easy on shopping and visiting schedules.

Christmas suspect #10: Candles, air fresheners, potpourri

It may add an extra touch to your home for the holiday season but these give off compounds that irritate the nose and throat.

Enjoy Christmas, and remember it is the time for celebrating Christ’s birth and his love for us.

 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11


  1. The sweet christmas rash
  2. No poinsettia this christmas
  3. Immediate allergic and nonallergic reactions to Christmas and Easter cacti.
  4. Christmas Tree Allergy: Mould and Pollen Studies

Eczema News – Food Sensitization from Eczema?

Eczema Allergic Sensitization

This is a very interesting topic because it represents a major paradigm shift to how we view allergy – it’s not just what we eat (oral path) but also what’s on our skin. It is now accepted  that what is on our skin can lead to sensitization and allergy. For instance, dermatologist Cheryl Lee MD said in this post:

When allergens come in contact with the skin, then the allergic type of inflammation is turned on.  On the other hand, it has been shown that if you can avoid letting allergens (including foods!) from coming in contact with the skin long enough, then your child’s immune system will build up tolerance to the food when it is presented to the immune system of the gut. What this tells us is that, in susceptible populations, the skin barrier needs a little help as it is maturing.

Let’s take a closer look at this article published in Aug 2014 in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology by Japanese researchers.

Article title: Eczematous sensitization, a novel pathway for allergic sensitization, can occur in an early stage of eczema

This is an article that looks at the studies being conducted, and it’s not exactly recent but I like it because it reinforces the understanding of outside-in hypothesis.

Link between Food Allergy and Eczema – From the Skin

Researchers started to look at the link between our skin and food sensitization because studies (quoting this article) demonstrated that exposure to environmental peanut protein–containing household dust and use of hydrolyzed wheat protein–containing soap significantly increased the risk of allergic sensitization to peanut and wheat, respectively. In addition, filaggrin loss-of-function mutations were a significant risk factor for peanut allergy. Those findings strongly suggest that epicutaneous exposure to proteins induces allergic sensitization…

presence of eczema is a robust risk factor for allergic sensitization to food antigens and development of food allergy

It is compiled in the article that increase in skin pH, scratching and impaired filaggrin are factors that lead to food sensitization. We have talked about the importance of skin pH for the whole of December last year and in summary, skin that is too alkaline is linked to reduced ceramides, skin lipids (good for our skin) and increase in staph bacteria (bad for our skin). Foods that come into contact on our skin can certainly trigger eczema flare-ups too!

My take: Strengthen the skin barrier – moisturize, use right products of optimal skin pH and without common irritants, treat skin promptly to reduce scratching. Keeping eczema under control or moisturizing to prevent eczema onset can have a real chance of preventing allergy.

What’s your take? Do share your take in the comment so we all can hear from each other!

Eczema News – Abdominal Pain and Allergy, Sensitization in Kids?

We’ve been looking at eczema research news for the past 2 weeks and this week, I came across an interesting study looking into the correlation between abdominal pain and allergy-related disease. My child sometimes complain of tummy ache and now I’m wondering if it got anything to do with her eczema. Let’s check out this study!

Study title: Allergy-related diseases and recurrent abdominal pain during childhood – a birth cohort study

Study objective: Examine the association between allergy-related diseases or sensitisation during childhood and abdominal pain at age 12 years.

Study method:  2610 children in Sweden, using questionnaires. Parents answered questions regarding asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema and food hypersensitivity and children answered questions on abdominal pain at 12 year old. IgE blood tests were taken at ages 4 and 8. Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease excluded.

Why focus on Abdominal Pain?

Recurrent abdominal pain affects 8% of children in western countries and often leads to school absence and lower quality of life. Multiple factors contribute to it, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s also related to low-grade gut inflammation and the link to asthma, eczema and rhinitis had also been studied (with no conclusive result).

Abdominal Pain Allergy Disease

What’s the Possible Link between Abdominal Pain and Allergy?

As written in the study,

Children with multiple allergy-related diseases may have a low-grade inflammation in the gut, resulting in barrier defects in the gastrointestinal tract, thus increasing the risk for disturbed motility and pain sensitivity. IBS patients with an allergic background have demonstrated increased IBS symptom scores, colonic permeability, mast cell counts and tryptase release or increased gut permeability compared to IBS patients without an allergic background.

Conclusion: Among 2610 children with complete follow-up, 9% reported abdominal pain at 12 years. All allergy-related diseases were associated with concurrent abdominal pain at 12 years and the risk increased with increasing number of allergy-related diseases. Asthma at 1 and 2 years and food hypersensitivity at 8 years were significantly associated with abdominal pain at 12 years. There was an increased risk of abdominal pain at 12 years in children sensitized to food allergens at 4 or 8 years, but in stratified analyses, this was confined to children whose parents had not reported food hypersensitivity at time of sensitisation.

My take: It’s not causal and admittedly, associations are not accurate. As pointed out in the study, it could be allergy kids already go to clinics more often or have increased anxiety and stress that lead to the recurrent tummy aches. But I do believe in benefits of a healthy gut – an area where increasingly gut influences more than just gut! Eat a low oxidation diet, fruits, vegetables and probiotics.

What’s your healthy gut diet? Do you monitor the foods for your child with allergy, asthma, eczema or rhinitis? Do share in the comment so that everyone can hear from each other!

Children Food Sensitivities – Confusing Gluten

There’s so much about gluten-free these days – it’s an industry in itself and marketing ‘Gluten-Free’ is seen in menus and food packaging. We hear of sports celebrities performing better after cutting gluten and we hear of celebrity moms choosing gluten-free diets for their children. But what is gluten and what happens when you eat it? As the 4th part of this series, today’s post explores the different types of gluten sensitivities.

TOP 5 Facts You Need to Know to Differentiate Your “Gluten Sensitivity Type”!

Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Gluten gives elasticity/stickiness to the dough.



CD Fact #1: Involves immune system, BUT not IgE-mediated reaction to the gluten.

CD Fact #2: Immune system attacks the villi in the esophagus when exposed to gluten protein gliadin, found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. This lead to intestinal inflammation, flattening of the villi and long-term damage to the small intestine. Associated with high intestinal permeability whereby bacteria, antigens and undigested food ‘leaked’ through the gastrointestinal barrier.

CD Fact #3: Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal bloating/pain/cramps, bone/joint pain, bruises, constipation, depression, failure to thrive for children, mouth sores, infertility/miscarriage, malnutrition, weight loss, chronic fatigue, anemia, blood or fats in stool, nausea, joint pain, tingling on hands/feet, Dermatitis Herpetiformis or no symptom. Related to malabsorption of nutrients due to the intestinal villi being compromised.

CD Fact #4: Diagnosis is straightforward with tests to detect AGA (Antigliadin) and EmA (Andomysium Antibodies). Cutting gluten before testing will affect results. Small intestinal biopsy is an accurate test for celiac disease.

CD Fact #5: Treatment is strict avoidance of gluten in order for the villi to heal. Note that oats can be tainted with gluten and some common medications, vitamin supplements and cosmetic products also contain gluten. Untreated gluten has been linked to intestinal cancer, liver disease, small bowel ulcers and other inflammation-related diseases of the digestive tract, heart, joint and even brain.


NCGS Fact #1: Does not involve immune system and is not celiac disease. However, patients clearly experience discomfort and symptoms after ingesting gluten.

NCGS Fact #2: No intestinal inflammation and not associated with high intestinal permeability, unlike celiac disease.

NCGS Fact #3: Symptoms are gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal bloating, diarrhea, gas, cramps, headaches and fatigue.

NCGS Fact #4: Diagnosis is not straightforward with no proven medical test. It is typically diagnosed after elimination of other similar conditions (for instance, wheat allergy, Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and after observation and further consultations.

NCGS Fact #5: Treatment is avoidance of gluten ONLY after confirmation of this course of action by doctors. Doctors will eliminate the possibility of celiac disease, wheat allergy or other diseases before advising on treatment for NCGS.


WA Fact #1 : Involves an immune Ig-E mediated reaction to the wheat protein

WA Fact #2: The increase in IgE antibodies trigger chemical release that lead to allergic reactions, that can either be manifested via the skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal systems and other behavioral issues.

WA Fact #3: Wheat is one of the common food allergens in children and symptoms include eczema, rhinitis, asthma, urticaria, conjunctivitis, abdominal pain, diarrhea and angiodema. These symptoms could be immediate (swelling or hives) or be delayed, including low weight gain in children. There’s also exercise-induced anaphylaxis to wheat.

WA Fact #4 Diagnosis is via allergy testing.

WA Fact #5: Treatment is avoidance of wheat. There is no need to avoid barley and rye which contains gluten but not wheat.

There is recently studied that people with non-celia gluten sensitivity may actually not be sensitive to gluten, but instead to FODMAPs. FODMAPs stand for fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols, which are sugars, carbohydrates that tend to be poorly digested, e.g. frutose. It could be that gluten-containing grains are high in FODMAPs and thus avoiding gluten makes one who is sensitive to FODMAPs feel better. (see this study conducted as double-blind cross-over trial).

Update on 17 October 2016 – A new study showed the possible group of proteins found in wheat – amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) – to trigger an immune response in the gut that can spread to other tissues in the body. From MedicalNewsToday

ATIs only make up a small amount of wheat proteins – around 4 percent – yet the immune response they induce significantly affects the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, and brain in some people, causing inflammation. ATIs have also been suggested to exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), asthma, lupus, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as inflammatory bowel disease.

Hope this 4-part series clarify! it did for me and I have a clearer picture and better appreciation of the complexities involved in understanding and diagnosing one’s gluten-related (or suspected!) condition.

For other posts in this series, do check out

Allergic, Intolerant or Hyper?

Top 10 Kids’ Food Sensitivities Myths

Outgrowing Food Allergy


MedicineNetFODMAP studyMayo ClinicWebMd

Children Food Sensitivities – Outgrowing Food Allergy

This blog has always been focused on eczema, rather than allergy. However, I came across a very good book by Dr Wayne Shreffler and Dr Qian Yuan on ‘Understanding your food allergies and intolerances‘ and found that it clarified many food allergy concepts. Thus, this 4-part series is to share that knowledge with you!

For the past 2 weeks, we’ve covered

This week, I’m doing something totally unscientific – I’m compiling all statistics I find online on outgrowing allergies to lay out in a graphical representation of  WHAT AGE will a CHILD (likely!) OUTGROW FOOD ALLERGY! It’s definitely not scientific because each study/report has a different focus but just to save time for you (paranoid moms and dads who would try to do the same), I figure I might as well make an attempt!

Age your Child will Outgrow Food Allergies

While reading up on outgrowing food allergies, I’ve found some interesting food allergy facts!

Fact #1 Shellfish allergy onset later in life (6 years and older) and usually lifelong. Same for fish allergy.

Fact #2 Shellfish allergy IS NOT THE SAME as fish allergy.

Fact #3: Shrimp, lobsters and crabs are more allergic than mollusks such as scallops, oysters, clams and mussels.

Fact #4: Allergy to one type of (fin)fish does not mean allergic to another BUT study in 2004’s Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that 30% of children and approximately 66% of adults reacted to multiple types of fin fish.

Fact #5: More women than men are allergic to fish (0.6% vs. 0.2%).

Fact #6: Egg allergy is most closely associated with eczema, among the other food allergens. (Does not mean that egg allergy is most likely the trigger for your child’s eczema, as house dust mite is the more likely suspect for older children)

Fact #7: You can be allergic to either egg white or yolk or both but avoid the whole egg as it’s not possible to ensure clean separation.

Fact #8: Eggs and Milk cooked under intense heat (say baking cakes) seem to be more well-tolerated but don’t experiment without doctor’s advice (study here).

Fact #9: Soy allergy tend to be mild

Fact #10: Highly refined soybean oil (not cold pressed, expeller pressed, or extruded oil) and soy lecithin is usually tolerated by people with soy allergy.

Fact #11: Food allergies developed from young (except peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and fish) are more likely to be outgrown versus food allergies developed as a teenager or adult, which tend to be lifelong.

Fact #12: 26.6% of children outgrew their allergies by age 5.4.

Fact #13: The more severe the allergic reaction, the less likely to be outgrown.

Fact #14: Mean age of tolerance for egg allergy was age of 7.2; Milk 6 years; Tree Nut 9.6; Shellfish 11.6; Soy 7; Fin fish 9.3; Peanuts 8.4

Fact #15: Boys are more likely to outgrow allergies than girls.

When researching for this post, I actually found quite a number of websites carrying misinformation or unclear information where it’s either proven wrong in later studies (for instance, to delay introduction of foods) or information relating to intolerance being grouped as food allergy information (such as only larger amounts of food trigger a reaction).

Another ‘sad’ news is that there is a study that children can develop a second (different) reaction to foods that they have outgrown. This is a study on Eosinophilic Esophagitis or EoE where it was found that 17 out of 1,025 patients in the study had initially outgrown IgE-mediated reaction to the foods but now suffer from EoE reaction (see for their interview with the researchers of the study). EoE is an inflammation at the esophagus due to increase of eosinophil cells, leading to narrowing of the esophagus.

Hope whatever age your child is, your family is managing the food allergies well. Share your outgrowing age below!


  1. ACAAI
  2. RaiseHealthyEaters (post by Dr Joneja)
  3. FARE
  4. Mayo Clinic
  5. Medscape
  6. Studies (egg) here and here

Children Food Sensitivities – Top 10 Kid’s Food Sensitivity Myths

Top 10 ids food sensitivity mythsThis blog has always been focused on eczema, rather than allergy. However, I came across a very good book by Dr Wayne Shreffler and Dr Qian Yuan on ‘Understanding your food allergies and intolerances‘ and found that it clarified many food allergy concepts. Thus, this 4-part series is to share that knowledge with you!

Last week, we clarified Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance which gave an overview of the differences between the two. Today we can put this to test by tackling these Kids’ Food Sensitivity Myths!

Myth #1: This Food Doesn’t Agree with Me, I’m Allergic to It!

This actually reminds me of my hubby (lol), most times we don’t agree (that is when we actually talk!) but no, I’m not allergic to him (hopefully he thinks the same!). As explained in last week’s post, food sensitivity can be either in the form of allergy or intolerance. Some doctors also allow for a 3rd category of food sensitivity, when they can’t classify it as either an allergic reaction or find the chemical the body is intolerant to.

However, these days, there’s almost a ‘cool’ factor to say you’re allergic to something. So while it is possible that more people think or say they have an allergy than they really have, food intolerance/sensitivity may also be underestimated as they are hard to diagnose. Do note too that adults can also have an onset of allergy at an older age, esp for certain allergy like shellfish.

Myth #2: Food intolerances can be tested using IgG antibodies test

There are many IgG tests available online and generally the medical community is against this test for identifying food sensitivity. The main reason is that elevated IgE implies an exposure to the food rather than an allergy to the food. Also while 80% of the foods are the common suspects in allergy, IgG test may test hundreds of foods and with false positives, lead to harmful elimination diet.

Myth #3: You are either Allergic or Intolerant

For some individuals the same foods can trigger both food allergy and intolerance. For instance, there can be an allergy to the milk protein while also lacking lactase digestive enzyme to break down lactose. This is why it is important to consult a specialist as it is not easy to figure it out on your own.

Myth #4: You can eat JUST A LITTLE of the sensitive food

This falls back to last week’s explanation of food allergy and intolerance. For severe food allergy, smelling the food can trigger a reaction, and it can be fatal one like anaphylactic reaction (that’s why there is so much debate about peanuts on plane!). However, for food intolerance, some people can eat certain amounts or in certain forms, e.g. food cooked with milk (I tried this fish recipe before, tasted horrible!) may give a different reaction to drinking milk.

Myth #5: I feel Bloated, I’m Allergic!

Bloating is more closely related to food intolerance but eating gassy foods cause bloating too. Pregnant women suffer more from bloating and constipation due to pregnancy hormones leading to relaxation of gastrointestinal wall muscles, thus foods stay in the tract longer.

Myth #6: I didn’t eat the food, how can I be allergic to it?

Food sensitization is when the body first comes into contact with the food protein and the body then ‘tag’ it as an enemy. The next time even small amounts of the food (in some cases, touched or smelled) can trigger an allergic reaction. So smelling peanuts on plane, touching or shaking hands with another child with peanut butter trace on hands can lead to an allergic reaction.

Myth #7: Delaying food introduction to a child can prevent the food allergy

Based on updated studies, the recommendation to delay introduction of common food allergens (usually peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish) is now revoked. The studies were contradictory – some showed late introduction helped as the child’s immune system is stronger while others showed early introduction helped as the child builds an immunity to it earlier. Thus the current recommendation is Just Eat (Whatever) a Balanced Diet. An update on a study on early introduction of eggs done in August 2015 showed that the elevated immune responses to egg were established prior to egg ingestion at 4 months and were not affected by whether eggs were introduced early.

Myth #8: Allergy testing is 100% accurate

Allergy testing (skin prick and IgE) is fairly accurate but not 100%. The only gold standard in food allergy testing is the oral food challenge. However due to the difficulty of conducting the oral food challenge (involves hospital stay), doctors form a diagnosis based on corroborated ‘evidence’, for instance the test results, parents’ observations and doctor’s knowledge of food allergens, family history.

Myth #9: Organic Foods are Safer

Organic foods (only the properly certified ones) may be safer in terms of free from pesticides but not safer in terms of allergic reaction to the food protein. Organic or not, the food protein is still present. For some people, peeling the fruit’s skin or cooking in a different way may help.

Myth #10: Allergy test can tell how Allergic you are

Allergy testing only tells you if you have an allergy, but it cannot predict the severity of the reaction. For instance, (see this previous post), the size of the wheal from skin prick test does not correlate with the reaction you will have.                                                                                                   

Children Food Sensitivities – Allergic, Intolerant or Hyper?

This blog has always been focused on eczema, rather than allergy. However, I came across a very good book by Dr Wayne Shreffler and Dr Qian Yuan on ‘Understanding your food allergies and intolerances‘ and found that it clarified many food allergy concepts. Thus, this 4-part series is to share that knowledge with you!

Each week is a different concept de-mystified, so let’s get started!

Kids Food Sensitivities – What is Sensitivity?

What does it mean to be sensitive to a food? In layman’s term, it could mean a range of symptoms from headaches to tummy upset, but medically, it covers two main terms:

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance – both have similar symptoms but the cause and treatment is different, which is why it is important to differentiate the two.

Food Allergy Food Intolerance
Direct immune system’s response to food protein Not a direct immune response but different causes (not all known), e.g. lack of specific enzymes to digest the food (not necessarily a protein)
Cause is the reaction to food protein, can be tested with fair accuracy with allergy tests Cause is not always known and not easy to test a food intolerance
Symptoms can be immediate (few hours) or delayed, and include

Itch, hives, breathing difficulty (including anaphylaxis), eczema, runny nose, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, swallowing difficulty, chronic chest pain, heart burn, constipation, weight loss, swelling of facial features

Symptoms can affect the skin, intestines, respiratory tract and cause behavior change

Symptoms may take place gradually – nausea, stomach pain, gas (bloating)/cramps/bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, headache or migraine


Symptoms typically affect intestines.

Happens every time May not happen for the tolerated amount or in certain forms; the more you take, the more severe the symptoms and symptoms may differ in each incident
Small amount triggers Certain amounts may be tolerated (trial and error process to figure out)
Common food allergens: Milk, soy, egg, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish Common food intolerances: Frutose, Sucrose, Lactose, MSG (monosodium glutamate), sulfite, tyramine, histamine
Except for peanuts, tree nuts, fish/shellfish that are harder to outgrow, other food allergens tend to be outgrown at older age May actually onset at older age
Genetics play a role Genetics play a role

As seen above, there are distinct differences between food allergy and food intolerance although the symptoms of both are similar. However, to be concerned that there is indeed a food sensitivity issue, there has to be a reproducible reaction with the food – i.e. not referring to a one-time stomach upset after eating prawns in the past year (that might be food poisoning!).

The diagnosis of food intolerance is generally difficult, except for lack of digestive enzymes lactase, frutase and sucrase. The lack of the digestive enzymes result in lactose, fructose and sucrose not being broken down and result in pain, bloating, spasm and diarrhea.  Even stress or anxiety associated with a certain food can cause an intolerance.On the other hand, symptoms such as swelling are closely associated with allergic reaction.

The diagnosis of immediate food allergy is more straight forward than delayed food allergy, with allergy testing and blood test to detect elevated levels if immunoglobulin E (IgE). The common food allergens differ in different country (taken from

  • Worldwide – milk, egg
  • USA, UK, Australia – peanut and tree nuts
  • France – mustard seed
  • Italy, Spain – peach, apple, shellfish
  • Israel – sesame
  • Spain, Japan – fish
  • Japan – buckwheat
  • Singapore – birds’ nest, shellfish

For those in Singapore, it is interesting that fish isn’t on our list of common food allergens possibly due to it being so much part of our diet. Birds’ nest on the other hand is given as ‘tonic’ to children early and may actually trigger an allergy!

Treatment wise – for both food allergy and food intolerance, avoidance is key. For food allergy, children can undergo another allergy test to see if they have ‘outgrown’ it. For food intolerance which usually does not result in fatal reaction, small amounts of food can be re-introduced in different forms to see which form/amount can be tolerated. There is no cure for allergy or intolerance; however, for certain food intolerance, enzyme supplements can be taken beforehand to digest the food to be ingested e.g. lactose.

Here’s a graphic for recap!

Is it Food Allergy or Food Intolerance? Graphical representation

Is it Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?

(ScratchMeNot) Mom E-votional : No longer Allergic!

Andrea on Childcare Eczema ScratchMeNot When we realized she was no longer allergic, I realized the extent of our journey.

Summer of 2014 marks a new adventure for us! My daughter is no longer allergic to dairy, tomatoes, or corn!

Ever since she was 2 months old, we as a family, have been battling her eczema. There were long days & long nights of scratching, searching and wanting to understand why eczema was making our world crazy! We wanted her to be comfortable and NOT SCRATCH! I didn’t take a lot of pictures of her during her flare-ups, because it hurt to see her in such pain. Remembering those times is still challenging. Through testing, we learned that she was sensitive to many foods, while only being allergic (anaphylactic) to nuts. As a nursing mom, both of us had to stop eating her list of “no foods”. I had come to the resolve that I wanted her to understand that we are grateful for what we can have, even though we want some thing we can’t have. We must remember, everyone’s load is different; we must persevere with joy.

Our family did our best to show her foods she could eat, instead of focusing on what she couldn’t eat. I knew she was curious, yet she ate her food with pride. Sure there were moments, she wanted to be like other kids and eat ice cream & spaghetti and be ok. Those moments challenged me and made us stronger. I had to answer some hard questions, like “Why can’t I eat it, but she can?” On the flip side, I’m also VERY positive that she snuck a few cheese crackers on a few occasions and giggled about it afterwards. Then IT happened. After eating some cheese crackers at church (a story for another day), she told me about it and was not scratching. No redness, no eczema.

I gave her a few cheese crackers after this, with success. As a family, we decided to do a test of our own. Knowing she wasn’t anaphylactic to dairy, we took her out for her first taste of ice cream. I could feel the excitement as we raced to a local creamery. Between birthday parties and fun days at school, ice cream is THE thing to eat for a kid her age.

As we drove to the land of dairy, I thought of the countless times we enjoyed sorbet as an alternative. Now it was her chance to have her own ice cream. As she began to eat it, I was holding my breath, praying she didn’t break out or flare up. And she didn’t!! Although her face began to frown because she didn’t like it at all! Thankfully, not one reaction was seen that day or even days later.

I was curious if she’d outgrown other foods. Weeks later, we slowly incorporated other foods back into her diet, tomatoes, and citrus, there were NO REACTIONS! Relief, excitement, joy and a different peace settled in.

Our journey continues, as she’s still very allergic to nuts and sensitive to a few other foods. We’re hopeful that she’ll outgrow them all, but if not, we’re blessed.
Our journey continues, as she’s still very allergic to nuts and sensitive to a few other foods. No matter the outcome, I know we were blessed whether her condition got better or worse. Blessings are peace, hope & joy. Even during our hardest bouts with allergies & eczema, we’ve had to focus on what true blessings are.

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Andrea, founder of ScratchMeNot, had shared about how she managed childcare in 2013 Someone Managed Eczema series here.

Toddler Nutrition series with Natalia Stasenko – What NOT to Eat

Toddler Nutrition on Eczema Blues with nutritonist Natalia Stasensko

Don’t forget to get 30% off Natalia’s toddler nutrition class with code EcBlues30

This is a 3-topic series focused on nutrition for toddlers, in particular dealing with picky eaters or children who cannot eat certain foods. I’m glad to know a friend, Natalia Stasenko, a registered dietitian, whose passion is pediatric nutrition and shares nutrition tips on her website, online classes and of course, with all of us here in this series!

More on Natalia, RD – Natalia has a Master of Science in Nutrition Education from Columbia University. She founded her private practice Tribeca Nutrition and online nutrition class for parents of babies and young children at Feeding Bytes.
For further information on her latest online course on feeding toddlers, do check out this link. Natalia is also offering 30% to readers of Eczema Blues with the code EcBlues30.

My Child Can’t Eat That!
This final part of the Toddler Nutrition series with Natalia is going to be fun. If you missed the first two parts on How Much to Eat and What to Eat, do click on the links and catch up!

Today we will explore two scenarios:
i. What a Child Cannot Eat due to Allergy, Food Sensitivity or Intolerance, and
ii. What a Child Cannot Eat because he/she just shouldn’t!

MarcieMom: Hi Natalia, so good to have you back! Let’s go straight into the situation when a child cannot eat certain foods. Instead of focusing on each condition, could you offer quick insights into
i. When a parent should suspect there’s a problem with the child after eating the food?
ii. When should a parent bring a child in for test/ examination?

Natalia:In case with allergic reactions, the typical symptoms to look out for are hives, swelling of the face and mucous membranes found in the nose, ears, lungs and throat, nasal congestion and sneezing, intestinal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. With smaller kids who cannot talk yet, general discomfort and crying after eating a specific food may also indicate an allergic reaction to food. If your child has any of these symptoms after trying a certain food for the first time, food allergy may be suspected. It is a good idea to call your doctor who will probably refer you to an allergist for a testing.

Food allergy is often diagnosed by one of the widely available tests: skin prick test and blood test for antibodies, neither of which gives a 100% guarantee of true clinical reactivity. These tests may be helpful to assist in diagnosing food allergy when the patient history indicates that a specific food may be a problem. A double blind placebo controlled food challenge is considered by this and other reports as a diagnostic “gold standard”. This basically means that a person is given the suspected food once and a placebo another time, without knowing what is what.
The challenges are provided in gradually increasing doses and neither the patient nor the practitioner knows in which order they follow, thus patient and clinician biases are removed.

Once the offering food is identified, the doctor will likely recommend to remove it from a diet.Children with food allergies may be at a high risk for nutritional deficiencies if important foods like dairy, eggs, or wheat are not replaced by nutritionally optimal alternatives. For example: calorie, protein and fat contents of cow’s milk are much higher than those in most milk substitutes, including almond and rice milk. A child who drinks rice milk instead of cow’s milk may not be growing properly because he or she will not be getting enough nutrients in the diet. Soy milk, on the other hand, is closer in calories, fat and protein to cow’s milk and could be considered a good alternative. The US Food Allergy guidelines recommend nutrition counseling and close growth monitoring for all children with food allergies in order to ensure proper growth and development.

MarcieMom: We know that there are certain foods that are the more common food allergens of children, while others are likely to cause intolerance. Given that a food (say fish) has more than one nutrients, how should a parent know what is a suitable replacement food i.e. as long as replacing the main nutrition, say is a protein or replacing the more beneficial nutrients, the omega-3 or finding a food that is as close to fish as possible (but that may trigger the same allergy?).

Natalia: It is a great question and I would like to provide some background information. Food allergy is an adverse reaction to protein in food. So every time the allergen is eaten, the immune system starts fighting it using the whole arsenal of chemicals causing the potentially life-threatening symptoms. Food allergy is often confused with food intolerance, which is caused by lack of digestive enzymes, such as lactase in case with milk intolerance. However, food intolerance does not involve immune system.

Food allergy can be IgE-mediated and/or non-IgE mediated. IgE-mediated basically means that when the allergen is ingested, the body produces Immunoglobulin E antibodies, which attack the allergen causing the release of histamine and other potent mediators that cause the symptoms of a food allergic reaction. Non-IgE mediated reactions primarily affects the gastrointestinal tract lining and causes allergic disorders such as protocolitis and
entrocolitis. To complicate matters further, a bunch of adverse food reactions can be both IgE and non-IgE mediated.

As you see, there are many different ways we can react to certain foods. To answer your questions, in the case with fish allergy it is more likely to the protein the child is reacting to so the health care provider will probably recommend stay away from all fish and seafood and take a DHA supplement instead.

In case of milk intolerance, switching to lactose-free milk will help to avoid the symptoms but if your child. has food allergy to milk i.e. reacting to milk protein, all dairy products lactose free or not, should be avoided. In my private practice I worked with many kids with food allergies who needed a safe and balanced diet to meet their nutrient needs after removing the allergens. In most cases I needed to collaborate with their allergists and pediatricians to create a plan that works for a specific family.

Thanks so much Natalia, we are taking a pause till next week where I’d publish Natalia’s reply to part (ii) of this post on what foods kids simply should not be eating. This is to give some time for parents to digest the tips from Natalia – as you can see, she is thorough in her explanation, so imagine how much more you’d learn from her online class. Do sign up and don’t forget to use EcBlues30 for that 30% off.

(Video) Parenting tips for Christmas

Hanging out with OzSuperNanny for Christmas tips for parents!

Hanging out with OzSuperNanny for Christmas tips for parents!

Angela Jacobsen, aka OzSupernanny’s google hangout on Christmas tips, and there’s Marcie in the participants’ window – she’s grown, I know! Click on the picture or here to watch the full hangout, and my questions on allergy for Christmas:

Angela suggested to bring your child’s food to be safe and also, if you’re bringing food to a potluck for Christmas, bring a yummy treat for everyone and one that you know will be safe for your child.

You can read of other moms’ food allergies’ stories and precautions here:

Gail – On managing eczema baby and nut allergic child

Janice – On managing children with eczema and allergy

Louise – On managing child with severe peanut allergy

Kristin – On allergy testing for child

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