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Food allergies can suck it.

When our daughter was 3 months old, small patches of little red bumps started showing up on her body. They started on her back, stomach, face and head. We started to bathe her with as sensitive of a soap as we could find thinking maybe her skin was just more sensitive than most. By 5 months, she had to constantly have socks on her hands because she would itch her head until it bled. We had to take her in to urgent care because the scrapes on her head were so deep. The nurse at urgent care was no help. Our pediatrician advised that we do a blood test to check for allergies. Everything came back negative. The test showed no allergy to eggs, peanuts, dairy, wheat or gluten. We were at a loss. And since she didn’t have any allergies that showed on the blood test, we gave her scrambled eggs for the first time.

Then came the worst day of my entire life thus far. About 10 seconds afterwards, she started to itch her head. I looked at my husband, feeling in my gut that something was wrong. Then I saw her hands. They were spotted red and white and swollen. And then her face started to turn red. Her lips began to swell and she started to cry. Soon, hives were covering her entire body. I started to panic. I’d never seen someone have an allergic reaction before. Snot was running down her face and tears pooling in her eyes. I felt helpless. Was she going to start to have trouble breathing? We didn’t even have any Benadryl at the time. What do we do? I started to sob and my husband made the decision to take her to urgent care since it’s only a couple of minutes away from our house and she was breathing okay. So we bundled her up and took her to urgent care. Naturally, they were closed. They didn’t open for another hour. We talked for what felt like 5 hours about what to do next. I’m sure the conversation was less than 30 seconds. We decided to call 911 and have an ambulance take her to the hospital.

When she got to the hospital, the staff there administered a dose of epinephrin. I’ll never forget that. The nurse swinging back the pen and hammering it into her thigh. She immediately vomited. A couple of hours later, she was okay and we were given a prescription of epinephrin pens. That’s where our food allergy journey began. And let me tell you, it sucks.

Her eczema only got worse from that point on. We saw a dermatologist who sat with her for maybe 3 minutes and then prescribed a steroid cream. We saw multiple allergists and finally landed on one that we felt comfortable with and like he knew what he was doing. Her pediatrician has been amazing throughout everything. I seriously don’t know what we’d do without him. We even saw a chiropractor to have her blood tested for sensitivities. In the end, I think it’s just taken time and patience. There are different foods that make her eczema flair up and we’ve cut those out. To any parent who has a child dealing with food allergies, eczema or both: take your time and find out what’s causing the flair ups. The chiropractor that we saw told us that eczema in an infant is generally caused by something that they’re ingesting that their system is having a hard time processing and shows that through the skin. Apart from eliminating the foods that she’s had an allergic reaction to (eggs, peanuts and peas), we’ve also eliminated foods that seem to make her eczema worse. One of those foods, for example, is bananas. She loves them but they make her eczema so much worse. It’s interesting because I can’t stomach a banana. They make me sick. Like mother, like daughter I guess.

She’s now a little over a year and a half old. She just passed her baked egg challenge which means she can now eat foods with baked egg in it. I’m so excited to be able to give her muffins now or pancakes! It’s the little things that you take for granted. In 6 months, she’ll do a challenge for scrambled eggs to see if she can tolerate those. I have a feeling that she’ll be just fine, but baby steps…

The biggest struggle for us is peanuts right now. With peanuts comes a worry about tree nuts as well. Her allergist is really hopeful that by two and a half, she’ll outgrow her peanut allergy. Just to be able to take her to McDonald’s someday and not have to worry about cross-contamination will be wonderful.

I find myself getting really frustrated when she has flair ups. What caused it?! I pray every day that she’ll outgrow this because I know that she itches and is uncomfortable at times. Over the past 6 months, it’s gotten immensely better and I’m taking that as a sign that it’ll keep getting better.

When I was pregnant with her, the thought of food allergies never even crossed my mind. I never thought it’d be a thing we’d have to worry about. I never had food allergies and neither did my husband. I had a load of other allergies but never anything food related. My brother has a celiac allergy but that’s all that runs in our family. I keep looking back and wonder if I had done something differently, would she not have allergies? I’m pregnant again and have done SO MUCH research this time around on what could cause allergies. I’ve taken a probiotic this entire pregnancy and half way through started taking a vitamin D supplement hoping that may help. But there is no cure. There is no complete understanding of what causes eczema and allergies.

In the grand scheme of things, food allergies and eczema are really no big deal. She’s already outgrowing so much of it. Her eczema is better now than it ever has been. Most children do outgrow it. But for those that don’t, I can only imagine the worry the parents go through. Cross-contamination or accidental ingestion is a huge concern.

I felt so alone in our quest to find out anything we could about food allergies and eczema. I implore anyone who is also on this quest to reach out to others whether it’s doctors, food allergy groups on social media or anyone else you know who’s gone through the experience!

 

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