Interview with Jennifer Roberge of Eczema Company and Itchy Little World
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your website/company.
I am the mother of two children – my daughter has mild eczema and my son, Tristan, has battled severe eczema in addition to allergies and asthma. I found it incredibly difficult to manage my son’s skin – to prevent his scratching, to identify and eliminate his triggers, and to find the right skin care products that offered him relief. So, I created my blog, It’s an Itchy Little World , to vent my frustrations and share my successes all while reaching out to other parents going through the exact same thing. And I created my online store, The Eczema Company, to share the natural eczema treatments that worked for us for with anyone suffering with eczema. It’s been four years now and the support and outreach has been unbelievable.
2. From the information on your website, both of your children have Eczema. Your daughter has minor Eczema, where as your son has it more severe along with Allergies and Asthma. At what age did you first discover that your son had eczema and what steps did you take in terms of treatment? Any major obstacles?
My son was diagnosed with eczema at around 3 months of age, but he really had it from birth on. He never had that soft, creamy baby skin we had expected. His skin was manageable with cream alone at first, but eventually it worsened and worsened. We tried steroid creams in the beginning, but they only temporarily solved the problem, but ultimately would only worsen his skin when he came off of them. So, we realized they were not the answer. Wet wrapping helped a lot during this time, as did keeping his fingers covered with mittens to prevent him from scratching his itchy skin. Around three years old, he was covered head to toe in red, angry, dry eczema. Although my son tested negative for food allergies at that time, we went ahead and eliminated the top most common food allergens from his diet and his skin immediately began to clear up. We added some homeopathy and supplements to his diet and we moved to a more natural laundry routine and his skin was nearly 95% improved. The difference was incredible. We still have to watch his diet as food definitely is one of his primary triggers and we do know seasonal allergens are a problem for him as well, but knowing this helps us manage his skin and prevent more severe flare ups.
3. What were some treatments or products that surprise you the most in terms of effectiveness against Eczema?
The first one is the Manuka Honey Skin Cream. My entire family uses it and it works really well for both my kids – my son’s more allergic flare ups and my daughter’s very mild eczema. It’s been a life saver for us. Love this stuff! ScratchMeNots mittens were really helpful for us to prevent scratching, which prevented infection and helped my son’s skin start to heal. Wet wrapping was so helpful for us as well. This is the soak-and-seal method. Essentially you soak in the bath, then apply cream, dress in a damp layer of form fitting clothing and cover with a dry layer of clothing. It wasn’t always a breeze wet wrapping a toddler, but the results were always quite miraculous – although temporary. But sometimes the skin just needs a break. You can read more about wet wrapping here.
4. Any treatment or products that you do not recommend or you found not to be so effective against Eczema?
We tried to use simple things on my son’s skin like coconut oil alone or olive oil or shea butter, but none of these provided any relief for my son. We found the blended balms, like the Manuka one above, really had more of a positive effect for him. But honestly, it’s different for everyone. No one’s skin is the same, therefore no one’s eczema is the same. There is no one skin care product that is beneficial for everyone, there are no triggers that are the same for everyone, and there are no dietary changes that will be right for everyone. With eczema, it’s all about trial and error. It takes time, but eventually you can find the right combination of things that will greatly improve your eczema.
5. What are some triggers that you discovered that had a major impact on increasing the severity of their Eczema or Allergies?
For my son we found that gluten, soy, corn, and tomatoes were big food triggers for him. He eventually developed a true allergy to dairy and some tree nuts, so we avoid these too of course. We also see that he flares up in the spring with birch pollen and in the fall with ragweed, but he tests negative for both of these allergens. Our pediatric allergist says that this does happen because allergy tests are not 100% accurate. Going on a history of reactions is really the best way to determine if anyone has an allergy. When my son’s skin was really severe, the laundry detergent we had been using further aggravated his skin. We experimented with free & clear varieties, as well as natural brands, and found they were all still too harsh. We moved to soap nuts and now use the SmartKlean Laundry Ball and found they are much less irritating and don’t leave behind any residue.
6. Tell us about the Eczema Song for Eczema Awareness Month and what was the inspiration for this wonderful project?
My goal with The Eczema Song was to bring some fun relief to the daily stress of eczema. It’s a heavy burden for little ones to bear; the stares from other kids or parents, the relentless itch and the struggle with mittens, wraps, and creams. I hope the song will make cream time more playful, thus making it much less of a struggle for parents while also giving children a sense of control over their eczema. The Eczema Song is dedicated to all the strong, amazing children who have eczema but won’t be defined by it. Here is the song below.
Thank you Jennifer for giving the time to do this interview. Such great information!