My husband and I have been together since our early 20’s (umm almost 11 years). We spent the first year living the dream – being bums – travelling around Oz. I tell you this because looking back I didn’t even know Mr G had eczema. Despite having had severe eczema his whole life, there was nothing, no dry skin, no scratching, I don’t even remember moisturiser!! So was it the sun? The salt water? The basic diet we were eating (out campervan had no fridge hence not much dairy!)? When we got back the eczema came back and I don’t remember a time when it has completely cleared ever since.
Since those early days Mr G has tried everything from steroids, emollients, UV therapy and even immunosuppressant drugs. There have been home remedies that my mum and I would read about (don’t mention the cider vinegar that my mum told him to drink?!!). Nothing worked and if anything his skin was getting worse.
Then in 2008 we were blessed with a beautiful little girl – Ayla. I had already started my homework and I breastfed her exclusively for 6 month then started weaning with all the usual food groups. I continued breastfeeding until she was 18-20 months. I can not remember exactly when it was, but before her first birthday I noticed that Ayla was developing dry skin – eczema. It got worse and worse and before long we were using centraben three times daily and hydrocortisone twice a day. But I never really felt like we had it under control.
I remember going on holiday to Majorca when Ayla was 18 months (2009), her eczema was really bad and on top of that she had developed prickly heat. Her poor skin looked so sore. All I wanted to do was cover her up and hide – but I also knew the sun helped. They almost didn’t let us on the flight home as they thought she was contagious!!
From this point on Ayla eczema was starting to affect our lives. She wouldn’t sleep through the night as would wake up hot and upset, crying out ‘little bit itchy’. I felt like I was constantly trying to distract her from scratching. Central heating in the winter just dries her out. Clothes would irritate her. The list is endless and all of you who are reading and are living with eczema will know this only too well.
I hate to say it but GPs were not much help, just prescribing more and more cream and saying hopefully she will grow out of it. Well as I was still scratching a 30 year old husband I was not feeling optimistic!
So in 2010 I started researching – everything!!! We changed the washing powder, we changed her pyjamas, and she was only wearing cotton. Despite these changes by the time Ayla was 2 and a half we were at our wits end. She was due to start playschool which was the first time I had left her (besides family) and my main concern was her eczema!! I remember a weekend away with family and Ayla’s skin was so sore, she wasn’t sleeping and I just broke down. I didn’t know what else to do I felt helpless. I was exhausted by constantly trying to ease the itching!! We had an appointment booked at the doctors and by luck saw a locum who immediately referred us to the dermatology clinic at our local hospital. At the same time I starting thinking back to when Ayla’s eczema developed, she wasn’t like some children – she wasn’t teeny tiny. It was after I had weaned her!!
It was time for drastic action…..I eliminated wheat, dairy and eggs from her diet. It was tough and it took a while but after 2 to 3 months I was seeing improvements. After 6 months, there was no way I was imagining it Ayla’s skin was visible clearer. She just had a few patches on her ankles and behind knees – totally controllable. After 6 months she didn’t even need hydrocortisone every day. As her skin was so much clearer it was easy to see when she reacted to any food that slipped into her diet. She had a doughnut and came out in hives on her belly within 12 hours; ice-cream was the same. The hives would lead to dry patches and then she would be ‘a little bit itchy’.
Fast forward and Ayla is now 4. She now follows an ‘Ayla Friendly’ diet and this is what led to this blog. I search high and low for ‘Ayla Friendly’ food and recipes or tweak and adapt everyday recipes. It has been a case of trial and error but I think we are doing pretty well!!
Ayla’s eczema has improved beyond belief, she will always have sensitive skin and I still sometimes just wish I could swap skin with her but we are on top of it and Ayla is thriving!! Being ‘Ayla Friendly’ aint half bad.
I am lucky…I don’t have eczema. We also have a 7 month old baby boy who so far seems clear. He is enrolled on the Eat Study in London (more on that later!). But in our house you’re only special if you have eczema – I am not even allowed in the milky baths!!
So this blog is sharing everything we do to keep Ayla happy and healthy from creams, to washing, to bath time, days out, coping with school, clothing and the ‘Ayla Friendly’ diet.
I hope it helps x x x