We seem to be developing a pattern of losing baseline at this time every year. 'Lou is 3 1/2 now and I finally got smart and am keeping a running log with photos of all of 'lou's outbreaks and the products we discover along the way to manage them - in an album on FaceBook. I am hoping it will help me pick up on patterns more easily, be something I can email to new specialists we consult that will provide a brief and visual compilation of his allergy history and help other parents of food allergy children that I work with!
It finally got to the point of no return last Friday (6/10/11). He was reacting as if he'd been eating one of his top allergenic foods and I'd already ruled out all the usual suspects. His skin was developing tiny open sores and at risk of becoming infected and I couldn't clear it up with my usual natural remedies, so in we went.
At the end of the appointment, I mentioned that our previous Pediatrician had told me about a study in a medical journal citing Cocoa Butter as a wonderful reparative for allergy-damaged skin. Our Allergist got that 'light bulb' expression and told me that he'd recently read an article in one of his medical journals describing the benefits of Green Tea applied topically to skin ravaged by atopic allergies.
At this point, 'Lou needs oral steroids and a good antihistamine - but, due to his extreme corn allergy, we have to order them from overseas via a compounding pharmacy. It can take a couple to a few days to get them shipped to me. In the meantime, he's not sleeping more than 3-4 hours a night (which means I'm not, either), is scratching himself to bloody ribbons and is a walking, talking, rashy, exhausted, constantly nursing, itchy, hyperactive, aggressive, angry, miserable, weepy, whiny mess. Wait, I lost track - was I describing him or me by the end of 3 days without sleep?
So his Allergist could have mentioned rubbing Iguana feces on this rash being helpful and I might have tried it...but Green Tea - who could mind trying that? I ran straight to the health food store and got the powdered version of a full-bodied Green Tea. I boiled water, mixed it up, whisked it together and let it cool. Then I put it in a spray bottle and stood him naked in the shower. I sprayed him from head to toe, until little rivulets of grass blood were running down his body in streamlets. He was scratching all over when I started and when I was done, he was just standing there, standing still for the first time since 3 days ago, when it got really bad really fast.
I let him stand there until it dried a bit, then put a long loose cotton t-shirt on him from his big brother's drawer. He asked to nurse and then went and laid in his favorite little armchair to watch a 'Diego' episode before bed. I was on the computer and kept wheeling my chair over every few minutes, to make sure he wasn't dead or something (you know- rare, one in a million contact anaphylactic Green Tea allergy, because if there was one child in this country that would have it, it would be mine).
I couldn't hear the grunting and dry rubbing sound of his scratching constantly! I've even looked out there when the tone of the scratching changed and caught him sitting down, next to our giant Great Danes slumbering on the floor. He was propped up, half reclining, rubbing his legs furiously against their short bristly fur, crosswise to the stubby ends!
After the Green Tea, he was just laying there, *relaxing* and watching his show. He fell asleep and slept ALL NIGHT. He didn't wake up even once - not to scratch, not even to nurse. Any other atopic food allergic sufferer or parent of one will know how miraculous this is when you are right at that beefy, inflamed, angry, bumpy red stage of the rash.
He woke up this morning and I sprayed him down again. This tea is very strong - his skin is acting like I've applied a steroid or antihistamine directly to it, except I can't even do that at this point, because his skin is so fragile and inflamed that the topical steroid creams and ointments burn him. As does even the raw Shea Butter we love. The Green Tea is drying up the inflammation and taking the redness away completely without hurting him at all. In fact, he says it feels great. I have given him 2 full body spray downs - one late last night and one this morning. His skin is now dry and rough and flaky looking. He is at that healing, chalky state we usually get to after a few days on steroids and antihistamines. It hasn't renewed and repaired his skin. He still has cracks at all his creases and knuckles. The little sores are still there. It's still rough and bumpy. But the redness, inflammation and itch are gone - and as any food allergy mom knows - that's worth its weight in gold. He is sleeping, eating and playing - all without scratching.
I thought I'd be spraying a gallon of the stuff on him all day, but it really seems like a little goes a long way. It's so dark and concentrated, you can't see through it. It looks like blended grass. I bought the powdered tea and added boiling water. 1 teaspoon of tea: 1 cup of water. I whisked, allowed to cool and then put in a spray bottle. I sprayed it all over him, even directly in his face. The itching ceased instantly, as soon as all of his skin was wet. As the day has progressed, I've noticed his skin looks red and inflamed again upon showering, or excessive exposure to the sun. If he says it is starting to itch, I give him a little spot spray around clothing - only had to do this twice all day. (for mornings, I plan to let him shower with his allergy-friendly soap being used only on the most vital of areas, then pat him dry and spray him entirely again - I will give him the 2nd spray down before bed at night).
He says it makes him very cold, so I lay the bottle in a sink of hot water for a few minutes before applying. It goes on warm, but something about whatever it does seems to make his skin cool off quickly. Or maybe it's just that his skin is so damaged right now, liquid feels too cold, like when you have a sunburn. At any rate, I spray it on warm, then aim the hot blow dryer at him from about 3' away while he stands in the shower to help create warmth around him.
I don't know if this can take the place of steroids and/or antihistamines, but it sure is a lifesaver while we're waiting for them to get here! On a scale of 1-10 for reaction severity, this one was a 6-7. I might try to keep using it and see if a combination of the Green Tea plus the raw Cocoa Butter can heal his skin enough that he doesn't need the meds, but keep them on hand in case this takes too long. I am also thinking about trying Bentonite clay for him tonight, but want to hold off to see what the Green Tea can really do alone first.
I was so excited about this discovery (and it came from my child's mainstream Allergist, which is almost just as exciting!!) that I just had to post. I hope it can help anyone else in a similar boat. I would love to hear about anyone else's experiences with it, if you try (or have tried) it. I am sitting here wondering about the potential for mosquito bites and bee stings, chicken pox, poison ivy, etc..., too!
I have created that online album on FaceBook, detailing 'Lou's allergic reactions, tests and treatments with chronologically progressive pics of the reactions (including this current one, which by the way the Allergist thinks may be the epic onset of seasonal allergies!) - if anyone with a similar child would like to see it, please feel free to email me at Mumma2wldthings@mac.com.