When my daughter, Avya, was two weeks old she developed eczema on her face and the creases of her elbows and knees. She would often scratch until her arms bled, and then wake in the morning with blood on her sheets. As a parent it’s heartbreaking to see your child suffer and you feel helpless.
When Ayva was ten months old, a nurse from the local Early Childhood Centre, who had seen Ayva a few months earlier, loudly exclaimed, ‘Has your child STILL got eczema?’ I thought what a rude comment, eczema is a genetic condition and what could I do about it?
PHOTO: Ayva with her Grandma (Ayva has mittens on her hands to reduce the damage caused by scratching)
I was a nutritionist and had not considered looking beyond the prescribed treatments, which included topical steroids and thick ointments. The nurse advised me to avoid salicylate-rich foods and teething gel as it’s rich in salicylates. After that advice I began researching the effects that foods had on eczema.
PHOTO: Back's of Ayva's legs >
Skin prick allergy testing revealed Ayva had several food allergies, however, avoiding her allergy foods did not fix her eczema. She also had a dust mite allergy so we packed away all her fluffy toys as they harbour dust mites. Playing on the grass, swimming in a pool and patting the family cat inflamed Ayva’s skin from head to toe, so our cat was sent to grandma’s house and swimming lessons were cancelled.
By the time Ayva was two she was growing resentful about being different from her friends. Watching her suffer was painful so I promised to help her.
With my love of nutritional biochemistry and after months of research, I devised an eczema diet and supplement for her. Within two months, to my surprise and excitement, her eczema gradually disappeared.
PHOTO: Ayva's eczema begins to improve with the Skin Friend supplement and eczema diet >
Friends and family were skeptical and said “Ayva’s grown out of her eczema”. I thought they might be right so I stopped giving her the supplement and her eczema soon returned. When she resumed the vitamins and minerals, her eczema gradually went away.
PHOTO: Ayva's legs, before and after
I wasn’t convinced it would work for everyone and I didn’t consider making the product for my eczema patients until one of my patients insisted. The woman had suffered with severe eczema from head to toe for about 50 years. She had been following The Eczema Diet for months, with some success on a few areas of her body. Then during a follow-up consultation she said “Can you make me the supplement you gave to your daughter”. So I ordered one for her and the rest of her eczema cleared up. I admit I was surprised and she was thrilled.
Since then I have prescribed it to my patients at the Eczema Life Clinic in Sydney, and for the past four years the formula has evolved to suit a wide range of people and skin problems.
This year my daughter Ayva turns sixteen and she has beautiful skin. However, last year when we moved to a new house with old carpets, the eczema returned on her arms. Ayva was also eating many foods naturally rich in salicylates, including avocado, coconut, spinach, strawberries, corn, mushrooms and tomato. She cried “Mum you don’t know how painful it is!” (I do, as I used to suffer with severe hand dermatitis in my teens and twenties.)
So Ayva resumed taking the supplement, which is now called Skin Friend, and her eczema cleared up once again.
It’s been a fifteen-year journey. And while the eczema was painful for my daughter and for the family (seeing her suffer), it taught us a lot about being healthy, the eczema way.