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Is my breast milk making my DD's eczema worse?

(45 Posts)
mummamoo Mon 24-Jul-06 19:33:42

My DD's eczema is getting worse... my poor angel's face and head is covered and she scratches and rubs and she's making it raw... At least it's kind of cleared up on her body and arms and only bad on her legs and face/head now. I feel so sorry for her. I keep moisturising her in aqueous and have some steroid cream the doctor gave me to use sparingly but I don't really like using the steroid cream (even sparingly) as I know it thins the skin. I bathe her in oilatum and use aqueous to wash her too.
I'm breast feeding her and her face is often worse after a feed. Am I making her eczema bad? I don't know whether to start her on formula.... anyone got any advice? Breast feeding is easy this time round (thank the lord, it hurt like hell with my DS) but I would be looking to go towards some formula feeds shortly as she is now 19 weeks and I'm planning on weaning her soon too. Just a bit nervous about whether to try her on formula/some food... really want to make her feel better and not worse.... has anyone else been in the same boat?

bluejelly Mon 24-Jul-06 19:44:57

My dd's excema got worse before it got better but I kept on breastfeeding and it eventually cleared up when she was 1. I would keep going with the breastfeeding if you can I am sure that my continuing with breastfeeding helped my dd shake it off.
I really can't see how breastmilk would aggravate it-- am sure quite the opposite (though am not a dr...)

CADS Mon 24-Jul-06 19:49:37

Hi Mummamoo

I'm not an expert on eczema but I don't think moving your dd onto formula or weaning her early is going to improve her eczema. She might be reacting to some you're eating which is coming through in your milk, in which case simply removing it for your diet and waiting a few weeks but work. Dairy products are usually the main culprit but each child is different.

If you still want to go down the formula, you should speak to your GP (maybe even be referred to a paed) to put her a hypoallergenic formula. I definitely won't use one that was hypoallergenic.

Have a read through this link and hopefully someone more experience will be along soon.

BF and eczema


CADS Mon 24-Jul-06 19:51:03


'I definitely won't use one that WASN'T hypoallergenic.'

NotQuiteCockney Mon 24-Jul-06 19:51:51

From what I know, exclusive bf for as long as possible is the best for a child with eczema.

spidermama Mon 24-Jul-06 20:05:07

I wouldn't trust the steroid cream either. You poor thing and your poor dd.

Can you cut dairy out of your diet? My mum and I are now sure it was the cow milk which upset me when I was a tiny baby and continued to cause exzema and other problems well into adult life.

If I were you I'd cut our dairy (which is often the most likely suspect) for six weeks and watch for an improvement. If that didn't work I'd go and see a homeopath.

Doctors are no use at this sort of issue. They treat the symptoms, not the cause.

bluejelly Mon 24-Jul-06 20:08:47

I found doctors quite helpful actually --and very circumspect about homeopathy! Sorry to be so disagreeable SM!

spidermama Mon 24-Jul-06 20:26:55

That's quite alright bluejelly. We can only go by our own experiences after all.

However, when it comes to allergies, and exzema is usually as a result of allergy or intolerance, doctors, in this country at least, are hopelessly ill informed by their own admission.

We have laughably few allergists per 1000 of the population compared with other European countries and som many thousands of people are suffering needlessly as a result.

After years of inhaling steroids, rubbing on steriods and inhaling bronchio-dilators, I cured lifelong asthma and eczema simply by cutting out dairy. If only the doctors had advised this approach my quality of life would have been so much better and the NHS would have been saved a fortune.

I'm sure I'm not the only one.

mower Mon 24-Jul-06 20:47:48

I used to worry about making ds eczema worse when I was bf and went on a dairy free diet to see if it helped, but it didn't.

My life saver was avenno cream from boots, worked liked magic on ds and I also think that he grew out of it as well.

The way I understand it is that you are giving your antibodies to protect against eczema in later life for dd I was so against giving ds formula incase it made eczema even worse. Did choose to give formula in the end as I fell pregnant again and it didn't flare up the eczema.

Chandra Mon 24-Jul-06 20:54:22

No you are not Spidermama, but the problem as you well say it is that there are not enough allergist/dermatologists to see the child soon enough, so the intolerance may well be gone by the time they manage to give you an appointment for testing (and after a miserable first year for the baby). DS is allergic to milk, eczema started when I was breastfeeding and any formula we could have tried would have given the same result as he is also allergic to soya, goats and sheep milk. it was not until we removed the milk when he was about 20m old that things changed so much for the better but not even in my worst nightmares I imagined he was going to have so many allergies. Truth is it could have been so many other things (he is also allergic to mites, cats, dogs, dust, on).

Anyways. In the eczema front... DS had it quite severe during the first year (weeping eczema from head to toe, he had such a delicate skin that 15 min under the sun were enough for the skin to be so dry it cracked and bleed). However, there were something I learned through that:

1. The damage to the skin when eczema is left untreated is worse than the damage the Hidrocortisone can cause. If you got 0.5 HC the dose is already quite mild. HC developed a very bad reputation in the past decades but lot of research has been done since and doctors now know how to handle it better. It really suprises me the number of people who advise not to use it when they have never had contact with it or know how to or for to use it.

2. It is better to apply the correct dose of steroids rahter than use less than that, if you use half the dose you will need to apply it for more than twice longer so in the long run your child qill get more steroids if you are trying to avoid them.

3. Most children with eczema end up reacting to Aqueous cream. For some this cream was sent from heaven but many people complains that kids can develop a sensitivity to it, so... my advice would be to try some serious emollient such as Aveeno, Eucerin 10% Urea, Epaderm, etc. You can get them from boots, if they work you can convince your doctor to prescribe them to you (it will cost you less than £10 and a week to find out if they work while convincing the doctor to prescribe them when you are not sure if they are going to work may take weeks on end). Bare in mind that emollients are essential to maintain the skin in good condition and to avoid flares but once flares have set in you need HC, the emollient cream on its own might not be enough to make them go. Bare in mind too that if one application of emollient a day is not enough you have to apply it more than once, at the worst of DS eczema we applied the emollient 8 times a day and just missing one would definitively show.

4. If the skin is infected, no amount of HC or emollients it's going to save the problem, you have to clear the infection first.

5. If you suspect something may be causing it remove the ingredient from your diet, if after 2 weeks you see a real change, wonderful, if not keep trying with other things you suspect (keep a diary of what you eat and how baby reacts). But avoid formula, cows/goat milk in it or soya are more likely to cause a reaction than breastfeeding. Now, there are no guarantees that BF will solve baby eczema, there are many mums here who BF for as long as they could and the babies ended up equally allergic.

Best of luck, and if you need more help, we are here

Chandra Mon 24-Jul-06 20:55:26

HAve I written an essay or what? and obviously crossposted with Mower.

Chandra Mon 24-Jul-06 20:57:49


brimfull Mon 24-Jul-06 21:00:51

My ds had awful excema as a baby and toddler ,he has a few niggling bits now but it is now controllable.Do you think the face being worse after feeding may be because of heat?
I found steroid cream the only thing that helped my ds.Hate to disagree but it hasn't thinned my ds's skin .He was regularly in the dermatology ward and I was always reassured by the staff that the creamwas very safe to use.I hated using in the beginning but in the end it was better than my poor ds's face sticking to the sheets in the morning and having to peel him off the bed.
If I were you I would use the steroid and get it under control.
Only my opinion though.

mummamoo Mon 24-Jul-06 21:14:26

Thank you all so much. I will definitely persevere with breastfeeding and will be buying some aveeno cream tomorrow morning. I'll also use the steroid cream on the worse bits and will moisturise continuously. It's my DD's baptism in 3 weeks and I'd love her beautiful face to be less red and blotchy by then
I'll also keep a diary of what I eat and her reaction and will reduce and try to remove dairy from my diet to see if that helps.
It's so nice to not feel 'alone' with this Thx!

Chandra Mon 24-Jul-06 21:45:54

There are different presentations for Aveeno and Eucerin, the ones I recommend are the following

Eucerin 10% Urea The others are not that effective.

Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion

There is also a similar Aveeno bottle with a blue band (with mentol to help reduce the itching), it is equally good although DS complained it was "too cold".

mrsnoah Mon 24-Jul-06 21:46:07

+just a quick mention mummamoo. I am bf my 20 week old DS and I have been on completely dairy free diet due to DD2 's dairy allergy.

Only in the past few weeks i have started to reintroduce dairy into my diet and bingo.. he is starting with eczema. Coincidence ?

mummamoo Mon 24-Jul-06 22:04:09

Many thanks Chandra. Have written those down and will get them tomorrow.
Oh crikey MrsNoah... I will def try my hardest to go dairy free.... what do you eat for breakfast... sounds trivial I know but I need something quick (as do all mums!)... maybe I should get some dairy free butter so I can still have my toast

hester Mon 24-Jul-06 22:14:23

Oh, your poor dd My dd's excema has been miles better since I cut down on dairy in my own diet. It's worth a try. We tried diprobase and various aqueous creams which didn't realloy work, but strangely enough Avent Magic Cream seems to help a lot.

mrsnoah Mon 24-Jul-06 22:39:41

fear not mumma, you can have loads of stuff. Rice milk is the loveliest tasting milk I have it on my cereal/ muesli etc. And in my tes, altghough soya is better in coffee. (many experiments to perfect this!!)
PURE marg is in every supermarket. Sainsburys do a lovely olive spread that is more buttery for your toast.
Dont suppose you have to be completely dairy free, I dont plan to go back there.. will just find a balance I think.
Tesco cheap bourbon biscuits by the truck load too !

mrsnoah Mon 24-Jul-06 22:40:21

tes =tea of course

QueenMab Mon 24-Jul-06 22:51:37

Re the HC and other steroids - my understanding was that they have a reputation for thinning the skin because when they first came into common usage in the 60's and 70's they were so effective that people were using them as a preventative measure on non-inflamed skin. Like a moisturiser, to stop the eczema coming back. But if you ONLY use them when the skin is inflamed they will not thin the skin. As Chandra says, the damage untreated eczema can do is far worse, and it WILL get infected if left.

Wicker Tue 25-Jul-06 13:01:37


I breast fed my DS (now 1 yrs) until he was 7 months old. His eczema was also particularly bad on his face and I thought made worse by my BF. I tried cutting things out of my diet but by the end I had removed so many things (dairy, eggs, wheat, soya etc) that I started to feel really ill myself!!! So I was advised by the dietican & paed to stop BF and put LO on Neocate. This worked wonders - his eczema really calmed down and he started to put some weight on. At birth he was on 95% for weight and by 6 months on 9% and classified as failing to thrive.

I agree with everyone here that BF is meant to be the best for allergic babies but obviously this is not always the case. I was really gutted when I had to give up but realised it was for the best.

Also in my little boy's case I think his system just went into overdrive and started rejecting everything. We have just had him allergy tested and confirmed he is allergic to dairy, eggs and sesame. Initially his skin went much worse after eating all sorts, eg banana, melon etc but as he gets older he is now able to eat these without it affecting him.

HTH and hope your DD's eczema starts to get better soon.xx

Catilla Tue 25-Jul-06 13:29:57

Just wanted to agree with Chandra and others on here from my experience. My DS (now 2)has a severe allergy to milk & eggs. He had eczema which flared on and off when he was small. We gave him a few ml of formula at 5 months as the preparation for me going back to work... and he had an anaphylactic reaction. Consultant advised that with that strength of reaction it was likely the dairy in my breastmilk was affecting his skin, but not concentrated enough for a more severe reaction. I went dairy-free for 3 months while transitioning him onto Neocate (hypoallergenic formula) and his skin improved within the first two weeks.

One warning - if you have success with removing dairy or some other food from your diet - please make sure to see a dietician to ensure you are not missing vital nutrients. While dairy-free I had to take a high dose of calcium supplement - enough for me and DS.

On creams, agree with the others that many babies seem to react to acqueous cream (I have felt it sting me, same with Oilatum Junior). We have had good success with Diprobase cream, Diprobase ointment and Diprobath. We also use low level hydrocortisone on any areas which flare up - and have found it useful as an ointment rather than cream - then it spreads out well and moisturises too, rather than having to moisturise on top.

HTH and good luck!

laundrylover Tue 25-Jul-06 14:30:17

Agree withy others and do try to get Aveno and Epaderm on prescription. My docs give me 5 tubes of Aveeno at a time and we have one in the change bag, one in the kitchen etc so that we can out it on when DD1 asks. Epaderm is great at nights and for the scratching you could give some antihistamine at night for a while to give it a break. Have you seen the sleep wear at excema clothing (sorry can't find website) it is very good for stopping scratching. Tubigrip have also started to produce tights and vests which I think come with built in mittens which you can get on prescription.
FWIW I think DD1 started when I introduced formula but that's just my theory. DD1 100% bf and fine so far...
Good luck.

BernieBear Fri 28-Jul-06 10:47:50

Really just repeating what the others said, I too thought me breastfeeding was causing my ds ezcema (now 2.4 and 98% ezcema free), I managed to get my ds allergy tested at 9 months and he was allergic to dairy and egg which I then cut out of my diet and hey presto (it took about 6 weeks) his skin did improve and I continued to b/f til 18 months. I also started using Aveeno about this time too. He now tolerates Goats milk but had a recent allergy test and is still massively allergic to egg and now peanuts. Do use the steriod cream - I used it for the first year of his life, and there have been no affects from it. Good Luck - oh and welcome to the club!!!!

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