Jack and I didn’t have any food allergies growing up, so I just assumed that one day I’d be sitting next to my kids, eating peanut butter out of a jar. Not only is peanut butter off the table (quite literally), but there is an overwhelming list of allergies stuck to my refrigerator. I felt enormous guilt for their food allergies (was it because I drank milk when I was pregnant? ate peanut butter? wolfed down chili dogs? The answer is no, by the way), but their allergist told me that when two people have childhood asthma and childhood eczema, it is very likely that their kids can develop allergies.
Say what now? No one told us that in premarital counseling… Jack had terrible childhood asthma and I had terrible childhood eczema.
I really believe that asthma, eczema, and allergies are all intertwined. If I was a betting girl, I’d say that had our parents been advised to change our diets when we were children, our asthma and eczema would have significantly improved. I’d like to do a three part series on Tips for Raising Kids with Allergies, Asthma, and Eczema. If this doesn’t apply to you, maybe it applies to one of your friends. But if you’re truly bored, maybe you want to surf around this page.
Three parts, because I’m guilty of being verbose, and I don’t want to put anyone to sleep with a 4,000 word blog post.
A quick rundown: Remmy + Sophie have a long list of food allergies, although Remmy has outgrown a couple (more on that another time), and we’re praying Sophie does, too. Minnie is allergic to nothing. Nothiiiing! Sophie has asthma, Remmy + Sophie deal with eczema, and both girls are allergic to dogs and cats. Remmy needs to get further testing from other environmental allergies, but she and Sophie are allergic to pollen and Sophie is very allergic to dust mites.
As far as food allergies go, I wrote about that here.
Also, a caveat. Companies have caught wind of the fact that my girls deal with allergies, asthma, and eczema, and I frequently get requests to review products. I am forthcoming with them, and I let them know that if I have a bad experience, then I’m sorry, but I have to write a bad review. I promise to be completely honest, because I SO rely on reviews on the internet before purchasing a product. I have not been paid by anyone for inclusion in any of these posts. Boom. Caveat done.
Down to the tips. These have been discovered through trial + error and/or they’ve been given to me by their doctors.
1) If your child suffers from asthma or eczema, get him/her tested for allergies. Sophie’s asthma improved greatly once we discovered she was allergic to eggs, wheat, and soy and eliminated those foods from her diet.
2) Get rid of the carpet in your home. Our home had wall-to-wall carpeting. Our doctor suggested removing it immediately, and we sort of inwardly groaned, because the cost of getting hardwood flooring installed isn’t exactly pocket change. I ended up scoring a bunch of Pergo flooring for extremely cheap during a Black Friday sale. I whisked the girls away for a weekend, and Jack paid a friend with Pergo know-how to show him the ropes. The two of them and a few friends installed it.
We do have a couple of area rugs, but they’re the kind that you can take outside, beat with a stick, and then vacuum both sides. The beating-with-a-stick part can be surprisingly therapeutic. Wear a mask, if you’re prone to allergies, too. Preferably a ski mask so you keep your neighbors on their toes.
3) Invest in a quality air purifier. I was sent an Airocide Air Purifier to try out, and I was incredibly skeptical. We had purchased air purifiers in the $200 range, and they were wildly ineffective. It comes with a guarantee – run it for six weeks, and if you don’t feel better, they’ll refund your money. The first couple of days I ran it, I would walk into the room and it would smell and feel different. We went through the changing of the seasons (which is allergy hell), but it’s been running in their bedroom for two months.
Their eczema is just about gone. I cannot in good faith say that the Airocide is a miracle worker, but I CAN say that I’m barely putting any hydrocortisone cream on them, their skin looks amazing, and no one is waking up in the middle of the night complaining of being itchy. Eczema has been a year round issue for us, and now it’s not. The Airocide is expensive ($800), but it’s effective and comes with a great warranty. I hopped on the phone with them to ask a few questions, and the owner said, “This is science, so the Airocide won’t work for 100% of people. That’s what the warranty is for.” I keep it in the girls’ room, and keep their door closed throughout the day. The girls are in that room from 7pm to 7am, and I love that they’re breathing in purified air while they snooze.
4) Bathe them daily or don’t bathe them daily. I know, this one makes no sense. If your child suffers from allergies and asthma, but not eczema, bathe him/her daily to wash off the pollen and any other environmental allergens. If your child suffers from eczema, but not allergies and asthma, don’t bathe him/her daily because it can get harsh on the skin. If your child suffers from all three (like mine), then you’ll have to experiement. I don’t bathe them daily, but they always change into pajamas (instead of falling asleep in whatever they wore during the day) and get a good hand, face, and foot washing. Like the disciples. Holla at me, Simon Peter!
5) Try not to let it overwhelm you. I think I’ve left most of their appointments in tears. February of 2012 was the worst. I was hoping to find out they had outgrown their food allergies, only to discover that we had to add four more to the list. I give myself a solid few hours to be upset about test results that weren’t what I wanted to hear, and then I remind myself that as far as illnesses go, this is easy. It could be so much worse. I can change their diet. I can amend our lifestyle. I can sacrifice some fun stuff out of our budget to make room for things that will make their standard of living better. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not the worst either. And wooooo it’s 2013, which means we have tons of resources at our fingertips.
I hope this helped someone!