One of the absolute worst things a parent can experience is a sick child, especially a baby or toddler. Watching them suffer brings on a visceral feeling only another parent can understand. 

I’ve been there and know that feeling.  

Whether it is a skin issue like toddler or baby eczema, tummy troubles, or the latest cold, flu, or other easily transmitted infection, there is no worse feeling as a parent.

Watching your little one scratch and squirm because their skin itches or cry out and curl into a ball because their tummy hurts or their body aches is just horrible.  

Then comes the dreaded second-guessing.  

What could I have done to prevent this? A better diet? Less sugar or treats? More sleep? Vitamins or supplements? More time in the sun? 

The list is endless and it’s not worth your energy to beat yourself up, because the truth is that eczema in kids, rashes, and childhood illnesses are unfortunately becoming more frequent and harder to treat in many cases. 

But why? 

After almost two decades in functional medicine I’ve watched many things evolve and change. 

Ten to fifteen years ago when a child came into my practice, I could resolve skin or gut issues in one to three months fairly easily. Gut issues themselves were not as complex and multi-layered.

Now they are. 

And, we have to dig much deeper.

In this article, I’ll take a look at why childhood eczema and skin rashes are becoming more severe. I’ll also dive into what you can do to get rid of kids’ skin conditions.   


The Gut-Skin Connection

What’s happening in your child’s gut is a reflection of what’s happening in his or her skin. Scientists call this the gut-skin axis. When there’s an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut—what’s known as dysbiosis—the skin may suffer. 

Getting rid of a seemingly simple dysbiosis of the gut and skin is not as easy anymore as changing the diet, balancing and rebuilding the gut, and supporting the immune system. 

Sometimes it’s still a relatively simple case if we are lucky, but more commonly now I’m seeing resistant bacteria and yeast like Candida, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Clostridium, and other hard-to-treat organisms like mold living in the gut because our environment is changing rapidly—and not for the better. 


Why Is Eczema in Kids So Hard to Resolve?

In the last seven to eight years, these are some of the primary factors contributing to the increased severity of eczema, childhood skin rashes, and gut issues I’m seeing in children. 

Environmental Toxins

Toxins of all kinds are ubiquitous in the environment now—they’re in our water, air, and soil from industrial processes, agriculture, wildfires and other natural disasters, as well as plastics and other materials we use that degrade into fine particulates or nanoparticles. Our bodies have to work overtime daily to transform and eliminate them. Unfortunately, we can’t get rid of them all and they get stored in our body tissues. Babies are exposed to these toxins as many can cross the placenta and can also be transmitted via breastmilk.

The most common ones I see in practice that affect the integrity of mom and baby’s gut and immune systems are:

  • Bisphenol-A (BPA), BPS, and other plasticizers
  • Glyphosate, Pesticides and Herbicides
  • Heavy Metals and 
  • Mold
  • Environmental Pollutants (chemicals in the air, water and soil)

Glyphosate, a common herbicide used on many vegetables, may kill off the good bacteria in the gut. Exposure to BPA while in the womb is linked to asthma and respiratory infections in kids. Asthma is part of what is known as the “allergic triad” of asthma, allergies and eczema. People that have one are vulnerable to all 3  at any point in their lives, but childhood is most common. 

Environmental pollutants are increasingly abundant contributors to eczema. Some common outdoor contributors include toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, and diesel exhaust. Indoor air quality and environment is often worse and the culprits are furniture, tobacco smoke, air conditioners, stoves, wall paints, construction materials, cloths, carpets, personal care products, cleaners, and food additives and preservatives. These can contribute to leaky gut, alter the microbiome, and affect gene expression in susceptible individuals promoting eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis). 


Poor Nutrition

I’ve seen many patients who have a seemingly perfect diet on paper, but when tested they still suffer from malnutrition. This is happening for many reasons. Most notably:

  • Toxins can modify the microbiome, cause leaky gut, and alter the immune function. Mast cell activation can be a byproduct of this as well. 
  • Inadequate digestive enzymes and digestive secretions such as stomach acid and bile acids result in poor breakdown and absorption of nutrients. 
  • The soil and water that our food is grown in is often nutrient-depleted.
  • Multiple pregnancies and breastfeeding can cause mamas to become depleted even if they are supplementing with vitamins and nutrients.
  • Certain gene variants  or polymorphisms called SNPs (pronounced snips) can make it more difficult to absorb nutrients. In practice, I frequently see issues with vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folate), B12 (cobalamin), C, D, and E; minerals zinc and magnesium; and nutrients such as choline and omega-3 fatty acids.  Most of these nutrients are integral to skin, gut, and immune health.  

All of these factors can affect mama and her children.  


Mama’s Stress

Stress and trauma may be the most critical factors of all since they contribute to causing and also perpetuating GI issues such as leaky gut and dysbiosis, inflammation, nutrient depletions, and hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances. Having one child is hard enough, let alone multiple. The stress of taking care of a household, having a job, possibly caring for another adult, and trying to fit in time for self-care and relationships can compound the situation. Sadly, this is a reality for many women today which contributes to eczema, skin, and GI issues in their kids through epigenetic changes, meaning that Mom’s stress can turn on genes that promote inflammatory conditions even in their children. 

Since I’m also a nerdy microbiologist, I periodically look at statistics in my practice. I have observed these trends over the years in the mamas of my pediatric patients with skin and gut issues: 

  • Over 85% have multiple children
  • Only one out of five children I see is a first born child
  • Roughly 97% report feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed (almost all have GI symptoms as well)
  • About 75% report some kind of trauma


How To Get Rid of Eczema in Kids

The great news is that we can fix eczema in babies, toddlers, and kids!!!

Many mamas come to me saying they have tried many dietary changes and supplements to fix their child’s eczema or kids’ skin condition with little to no success. This is because, as described above, the issue is more complicated, but getting rid of skin problems in kids can be successful if you take the proper steps. 

So how do we fix it? 

  1. Complete a detailed history of the child and mama. This way we can identify all of the possible contributing factors and test accordingly. 
  2. Conduct initial testing assessing gut, inflammation, and immune function. This is generally accomplished through stool and urine testing. 
  3. Order special testing as indicated by the patient’s history, which might include looking at mold/mycotoxins, environmental toxins, nutrient levels, genetics, or food sensitivities or allergies. Most of these tests can be completed with a urine or fingerstick blood spot sample. 

Once we have all of the results in place, we put together a very specific plan to heal the gut and immune systems, balance inflammation, support detoxification if necessary, replete nutrients, and adjust the diet to support healing and fend off common childhood illnesses including eczema. 


I Can Help Heal Skin Rashes and Eczema in Kids

It’s frustrating to see your little one suffer, but I can help soothe the suffering. I’ll work with you and your child to get at the root cause of your child’s skin condition and help them have healthy, comfortable skin again.  

The beauty of working with children is that their bodies still have so much resilience and capacity to heal. All you need to do is remove some of the interference and point them in the right direction. If you want to get rid of your child’s eczema and help him enjoy life without itchy discomfort, set up a 15-minute complimentary call with me. We will figure out what is holding back your little one from healing so you, your child, and your family can spend more time on what really matters- giggling, tickling, and having fun!