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
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
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).
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 ::
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.