Friday, January 8, 2010

The Skin They're In: Healing African American Babies' Skin Naturally



by TERESHA FRECKLETON-PETITE
of Marlie and Me

When it comes to our brown babies, we take pride in keeping their skin healthy and blemish-free. So it can be distressing when you wake up one morning and see a patch of red, itchy bumps where there used to be smooth skin. Don't panic. It is common for babies and children to develop rashes because their still-developing immune systems are more prone to the bacteria/fungi that cause skin problems. The important thing is to identify a solution that clears up the infection without risking side effects. I learned that this is easier said than done.

My newborn has cradle cap and atopic eczema. Like all good parents we took her to the doctor. Thankfully, both rashes are mild, but her pediatrician still recommended treatment to prevent them from spreading (did you know that cradle cap can migrate to the face and as far as the tops of your child's feet? yikes!). My daughter's pediatrician advised me to wash the affected areas with a medicated dandruff shampoo, apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream and a commercial analgesic lotion. Have you read the labels on these products? They are full of harmful chemicals and alcohols and sulfates, which can further irritate the skin. Uh, no thanks! I wasn't willing to expose my baby to these toxins or compromise her health.

I set out to find a natural alternative, but my initial search left me frustrated and a bit discouraged. There are tons of web sites shilling their "miracle" salves, lotions, powders, and shampoos. Never trust a source trying to sell you something, right? I found the holistic sites somewhat helpful. They provide a lot of information on prevention, but offered little practical advice about homeopathic treatments. I almost gave up until I realized that the most trusted resource was right at my finger tips. I emailed other natural mamas, and they sent these recipes* to help my baby girl's skin heal:


CRADLE CAP RECIPE
Mix together:
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
5 drops tea tree oil

Use a soft-bristle brush to massage mixture into scalp loosening the flakes/scales. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Wash out with an organic shampoo like Dr. Bronner's Mild Baby Soap to remove oil. Gently detangle any remaining flakes from the hair with a comb. Moisturize scalp with a dab of a light oil like sweet almond oil with vitamin E. Repeat until scalp is clear.


ECZEMA HEALING RECIPE
Mix together:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 drops grapefruit seed extract

Rub mixture on affected areas twice a day until rash disappears completely (typically 10-14 days).


ANTI-ITCH RECIPE
Mix together:
2 tablespoons pure aloe vera gel
2 drops tea tree oil
1 cup distilled water

Use a cotton ball to apply to affected areas for instant relief. It's also a great cleanser for the diaper area.


DAILY SCALP SPRITZ RECIPE
(for older kids and adults)
1 teaspoon of Neem oil
1 teaspoon Tea Tree oil
1 teaspoon of Rosemary oil
1 teaspoon of Lavender oil

Add the oils together to one cup of distilled water in a spray bottle. Shake vigorously then spray onto your roots.


Note: Children can be sensitive to some essential oils. Before using any of these recipes do an allergy check by applying a small amount to the inner arm, what a few hours, and check for any reaction. Report any irritation to ask your child's pediatrician.




You've heard the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Natural remedies are not cures. In order to prevent a recurrence of the rash you'll need to examine your child's diet and daily skin care regimen. What goes into their little bodies affects the condition of their skin more than what goes on it. My breastfed baby is allergic to dairy so I have to stop eating foods made from cow's milk to avoid another eczema flare-up. Other common food allergies include eggs, nuts, soy, wheat, and seafood. When your child develops a rash, take note of what (s)he child ate the day before. If you suspect a food allergy is the culprit, discuss it with the pediatrician. Other prevention tips I recommend are:

• Avoid detergents and beauty products that contain perfumes/fragrance, dyes, and drying chemicals. Don't be fooled by terms such as "hypoallergenic" or "doctor-approved." Read the label.

• Keep skin hydrated, especially in the winter. Use organic creams with thick emollients as the base (coconut butter, shea butter) and contain healing elements (calendula, vitamin E, aloe vera, lavender). I use Episencials Better Body Butter on Marlie several times a day.

• Consider vitamin supplements. Omega 3s promote healthy skin development from within and probiotics will boost your child's immune system so that it can keep the bad bacteria in check.

• Here's to healthy skin for all our beautiful brown babies!

:: Sources ::
OriginalSprout.com
SproutBaby.com
DryItchyScalpRemedies.com

About our contributor:
New mommy TERESHA FRECKLETON-PETITE lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and 5-month-old daughter, whom she's raising the conscious way—natural childbirth, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, whole food nutrition, organic products. For Teresha, everything is trial and error—then she blogs all about it at Marlie and Me.



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10 comments:

  1. What is Neem oil? That's good to know that there are other alternatives to treating a rash or other skin issues.

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  2. Nice post Teresha! I love all these recipes and I am going to be trying a few. My little girl is very prone to eczema flare ups in this dry weather. Thanks

    My best, Lynn

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  3. Great information! I really enjoyed this article and will try the last recipe for older kids. Interesting that those natural oils, tea tree and rosemary in particular keep lice away.

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  4. oh my word...thank you thank you thank you!!!! we have some major eczema in this house! yeah!

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  5. great post thanks! our little guy has eczema issues that flare up in the winter and lately he's been really itchy too. I will definitely be trying a few of these remedies :)

    Hoping to Adopt Again
    ClaytonandAngie.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wonderful post, Teresha! It's so very important that we share our experiences so that our Sister-moms can learn from what we've been through. Motherhood comes with so many "what-ifs" and "how-do-I's", and it always feels so good to hear (or read) another mommy say, "Girl, sit down, lemme tell you what I know."

    Thanks for telling us what you know!

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  7. Hi Denene,

    Work has had me too busy to comment like I used to. I love your blog and the content.

    spelhouseLove

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  8. Teresha, thanks for sharing this information. I agree with Execumama, that it is very important for moms (dads too) to share their progressive parenting techniques. I am always interested in natural ways to care for ourselves and our children. Great read! Thanks again!

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  9. Wow! I need to try this once Spawnie gets here! how cool is that?! great post!

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  10. My baby had cradle cap and I HATED it. It didn't bother her at all and wasn't as bad as some of the pics I've seen online, but it still just grossed me out. I took her to the doc and he gave me a script for some chemical-laden mess. I didn't bother with it. I'm not down with dowsing my kid with chemicals, even if a doctor suggested it. I just rubbed olive oil in her hair and had to be patient. It went away. She also has a little facial rash that comes and goes, but I notice it responds to almond oil. Natural remedies may not work as quickly, but if you keep at it, they do work!

    ReplyDelete

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