Treat Hives in Children Quickly and Naturally

I think all parents can agree with me when I say that I hate it when my kids get sick.  Thankfully my oldest son, who normally would have caught a few colds, coughs and stomach bugs by this time of the year, has been pretty healthy.  (I’m actually thrilled about this and know it is because we eliminated soy and gluten from his diet after doing an allergy blood test.)  My little, however, has had one bug after another.

It started with a cold sometime in the beginning of October.  After a few days he was better, and then had a stomach bug one morning.  (He threw up on a Monday morning and was fine by the afternoon – he’s a tough little guy!)  Next came… a giant, freakish rash!

How it started.

Friday. It started coming in on a Friday with just a few little red dots here and there.  It didn’t look like a rash.

Saturday.  In the evening, I noticed his back had some red spots clustered.  It was beginning to look rashy.  We still hoped it was nothing but were beginning to get concerned.    I thought about trying some essential oils but  decided to leave it alone.  I was not sure if the rash was a virus or just hives and wanted to see if his body could handle it.  He also started getting really acidic bowel movements on Saturday, which was causing him painful diaper rash.

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Sunday.  On Sunday, things only got worse.  It became a full-blown rash on his trunk with big blotches of red all over and he was starting to itch.  I was using this Florasone cream on it as needed when I saw him itching.  He also was still getting really painful diaper rash due to acidic poops.  He was a mess!  We gave him an oatmeal bath before bed and I tried a little test spot on his shoulder blades of coconut oil mixed with Lavender Essential Oil.  I just swiped my hand inside his shirt so it was nothing regimented.  We were still unsure if this rash was hives from an allergy or if it was caused by a virus.  We decided to give his body one more night to try to kick it with no intervention.

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Monday.  On Monday morning the rash had spread all over his legs and arms and was starting to get on his face.   He had no fever and was his normal happy self, with the exception of terrible diaper rash caused by his burny poops.  I called his pediatrician and they confirmed it was hives, stating there is no way to tell what causes them.  She instructed me to give him Benadryl until they were clear.  She also recommended we take him for allergy testing.  While I really don’t like giving my kids over-the-counters, in this case his rash was so bad we gave him a dose.  I felt it was too serious to experiment with a natural antihistamine.  I also slathered him in the Lavender and coconut oil mixture, applying it twice a day and more where he was itching.

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How to know if you are dealing with hives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics explains:

Hives are welts on the skin that often itch. These welts can appear on any part of the skin. Hives vary in size from as small as a pen tip to as large as a dinner plate. They may connect to form even larger welts.  A hive often goes away in 24 hours or less. New hives may appear as old ones fade, so hives may last for a few days or longer. A bout of hives usually lasts less than 6 weeks. These hives are called acute hives…   Acute hives often result from an allergy, but they can have many other causes.

Please be sure there is no fever present and the person affected is otherwise feeling normal.  If there is a fever you could be dealing with something more severe.  A call or visit to your doctor is a good idea just to make sure it is hives and not something else.

Finding what caused the hives.

As the pediatrician explained, there are so many causes of hives that it is impossible to determine exactly what caused them.  Being an over-analytic mother, however, I am pretty sure I can figure at least most of the reasons why.

According to the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch,

Most cases of hives are brought on as allergic reactions and coincide with the release of histamine in the body.  The release of histamine into the skin produces an inflammatory reaction, with itching, swelling and redness.  Hives can cause significant discomfort, but it does not cause injury or damage to any vital organs.

The skin is the largest organ of the body.  It is an important part of the excretory system.  The skin acts in conjunction with other systems in the body to remove toxins and waste.  Hives can be a natural reaction to the presence of a foreign substance in the body.  However, an offending substance need not enter the body to trigger an outbreak of hives.  Merely coming into contact with various substances… can unleash a maddening attack of hives.”

In addition to allergic reactions to food, pesticides, chemicals in personal care products, laundry products and cleaning products can all cause hives.  Viruses and antibiotics are also listed as possible causes of hives.

Once I was sure we were dealing with hives, I began reviewing everything I was feeding my son and trying to figure out what could be causing his rash.  I hadn’t changed anything in my laundry or cleaning routines and so I assumed the cause was something he was ingesting.  I had already been noticing he was eating too much baked treats, bread, and pasteurized dairy such as cheese and organic yogurt.  These are acidic foods.  Normally we don’t eat any dairy except for our non-homogenized milk or a tiny bit of sour cream.  Unfortunately I was in a cooking rut and I was giving my kids one or two servings of  dairy a day because they weren’t eating the things I normally make.  This meant my son was eating less veggies because he was filling up on the other foods.  Veggies are very alkalizing and can balance out an acidic diet.  I personally can feel when I eat too much acidic foods that I need some greens to balance me out… so when my kids are only eating grains and dairy it makes me a little wary.  The fact he had acidic poops and really bad diaper rash was verifying my suspicion that he was eating too many acidic foods.

On Monday I also checked my Reference Guide for Essential Oils to make sure I was using the right oil for hives.  Lo and behold, it states, “Hives may be the result of too much acid in the blood…”  It also recommends diluting tea tree, peppermint or lavender essential oils topically.  Lavender is considered the most gentle oil which is why I chose it to use on my toddler.  I would not use tea tree or peppermint on a child under six.

To adjust his diet, I cut out dairy right away.   I also checked the label on the bread we buy and of course, the third ingredient was egg whites.  I purposely never feed him egg whites because it causes his eczema to flare on his face, but I had been giving him this bread daily not thinking that it had egg whites in it.  (His eczema never showed up, so I didn’t even think about it.)  I had even given him a small sandwich before bed on Sunday night, when the hives were in full swing!  Doh!  I cut all sources of egg whites from his diet, including any baked goods.   The book Prescription for Nutritional Healing recommends alcohol, all processed foods, sugary foods, dairy, eggs, chicken and nuts be avoided.

Treating the hives to promote fast healing.

As I mentioned above, I decided to try using a 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil mixed with two drops of Lavender Essential Oil on Sunday night.  My son is a 30 lb. 2-year-old, so adjust accordingly.  The next morning the test spots were clear!  Check out this picture:

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Because he reacted well to the Lavender oil, on Monday I applied this three times all over his body, morning, noon and night.  The reason I first tried a test spot on him is because the brand I used recommends to be careful on sensitive/ irritated skin.  I am really happy the way the Lavender application went.  I recommend doing a test spot to make sure you have the proper dilution and no reaction will develop.

We gave our son two doses of Benadryl on Monday, just to be sure we were stopping the progression of the rash.  We did 1/2 a teaspoon in the morning and 1/2 a teaspoon at night.  The pediatrician told me to give him a full teaspoon because he is almost 30 lbs., but the 1/2 teaspoon did just fine.  The less we use over-the-counters, the better!!

Thankfully by Tuesday morning, this is what he looked like:

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In short, this is what worked:

  • First and most importantly, review the diet and immediately stop consuming processed foods, dairy, eggs, nuts and any other potential allergens.  If you have no idea what the person affected may be allergic or sensitive to, getting some allergy testing done is a good idea.  An elimination diet is also really beneficial for determining food sensitivities.
  • Apply a natural anti-itch cream like Florasone as needed to stop discomfort and scratching.
  • A colloidal oatmeal bath such as this one by Aveeno can also help relieve itching.
  • Apply Lavender Essential Oil plus coconut oil three times a day.  Do a test spot first.  Continue until the rash is completely gone.
  • Oral antihistamine such as Benadryl if the hives really bad and still spreading.  I only needed two doses, once I saw the rash beginning to fade I stopped this right away.  (I realize this is not a natural treatment, but in some cases it may be necessary to stop the spread of the hives.)

Next time I see a rash coming on I am going to immediately look at his diet and eliminate any possible irritants.  If I would have done this right away this time, there would have been no need to use Benadryl.  Live and learn, right?

Do you have any natural treatment for hives?  Please share in the comments below!

**I am not a doctor and am not giving medical advice.  Human bodies are not “one size fits all” and the causes and effective treatments vary from person to person.  Always check with your doctor for any medical problem.

Surprise Digestive Healer – Throat Coat Tea

Throat coat tea is full of herbs used for healing leaky gut!Having a child with food allergies and related conditions is a never-ending process of effort.  It’s a little frustrating because he can eat something his body doesn’t like and he will have delayed symptoms, hours or even a day later.  It is difficult to peg exactly what caused the upset each time, especially if I have been careful with what I make him to eat.  You can read more about his condition here:

Beginning the Gut Healing Journey,

Beginning an Elimination Diet for Gut Healing,

and most recently Healing the Gut Part 3.

Exciting article titles, I know.  The fact that it’s a trilogy should tell you its good.

As you may know, allergies are often tied to the health of the digestive system, mainly the gut.  My son has gut damage due to overuse of prescription drugs and antibiotics his first two years of life, which is one of the reasons he has fairly severe food and environmental allergies.

Every morning I make my son warm tea with honey to help get his digestion warmed up while I make him breakfast.  I have always thought of tea as supportive of the immune system but never bought any particular tea to help with healing his digestive tract.

The other day, we were in the local grocery store and while I was walking down the tea aisle an old lady was stopped in the middle of the isle, blocking my passage.  She was reading the label on a powdered coffee creamer:  “Lactose free?  If I wanted to be healthy I wouldn’t be buying this crap!”  Because this delightful old lady was blocking my way, I remembered my son was almost out of tea and began looking over the organic options displayed in front of me.  (Why buy organic tea?  Read this article from the Food Babe!)  We frequently buy Traditional Medicinals and so I grabbed a box of the Dandelion Tea and picked up Throat Coat, thinking of my son’s Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) and wondering if it would help.

After reading the label, I was really excited!  The top three herbs included are Licorice Root, Slippery Elm Bark and Marshmallow Root.  These are all used as treatments for leaky gut!  Is anyone else excited?  No?  You see, with myself I have no problem buying the herbs and taking them orally.  For a child, however, I think it is too risky to medicate without a doctor’s guidance, or at least someone who is very familiar with the herbs and the outcomes.  Several times I have almost bought these herbs, but last second decided not to because I am not sure how his little body will handle them.

So yes, I was very excited to find these three herbs in one tea, which I am totally comfortable with giving to my son.

Throat Coat Tea herbal goodies:

Licorice Root – the flavonoids contained in licorice root help decrease inflammation in the digestive system.  It also supports the body’s natural ability to maintain the mucosal lining of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine.  Every time we eat, the mucosal lining is damaged by the passage of food and the body should be able to repair this on its own.  When it cannot, large protein molecules can escape into the bloodstream, causing an autoimmune response.  Maintaining the mucosal lining is crucial for preventing leaky gut.

Slippery Elm Bark – Slipper Elm Bark has been used as an herbal remedy for a very long time and happens to be great for the esophagus and digestive system.  Why?  Well, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It also contains antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory bowel conditions. Slippery elm also causes reflux stimulation of nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract leading to increased mucus secretion. The increased mucus production may protect the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity.

Marshmallow Root – This is another herb which produces mucilage, explained above.  It is great for helping line the digestive tract to prevent proteins from escaping into the bloodstream, for preventing toxins from being absorbed via the digestive system which normally would be excreted, and from preventing further damage to the walls of the digestive system due to inflammation or normal digestive processes.

Because we were already in the habit of having tea every morning, this was a really easy way to get extra TLC (tender lovin’ care) for his esophagus and digestive tract.  I am really excited!

Want an extra plus for digestive health?

I have been adding a small amount of gelatin to my son’s hot tea each morning, about 1 teaspoon.  Gelatin is known for coating the digestive tract, which will prevent damage and allow healing.  It is also a great source of protein for picky eaters!  Try it in your morning coffee or tea.  We use this brand!

This tea is full of herbs used to heal leaky gut!

Sources not linked:

http://www.naturalalternativeremedy.com/nine-health-benefits-of-licorice-root/

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/4-steps-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease?page=2

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-marshmallow.html

This post was shared on Natural Family Friday!

Healing the Gut Part 3 – Allergy Tests and My Weakness Exposed

What to do when doing an elimination diet for allergies with a child.

A lot has happened this month on the allergy front!  We finally decided to take our six year old for the blood work his allergy doctor ordered a few months ago.  I was holding off because I was afraid.  There was a time in the past where a tech could not find his vein and was jabbing a needle inside his arm trying to catch one… I guess they call this fishing.  Anyone who’s job it is to poke a needle into a vein should at least be good enough to actually find the vein.  It’s their job, after all.

So anyway, the day before the 4th of July we went for the blood draw.  It actually went really well and he barely cried, RELIEF!  We were still following the elimination diet, removing the top allergenic foods such as egg whites, gluten, soy, dairy and nuts.  The doctor called about a week later letting me know that in addition to testing allergic to dogs, cashews and mold, he is also allergic to gluten and soy.  We should make sure to always have an EpiPen on hand.

Do you know what happens when you send an EpiPen to Day Camp with your son who thinks he knows better than you when you say not to play with it?

EpiPen safety is taught to our kids, I just wish mine would LISTEN!

The answer is he stabs himself in the hand with it.  Thank god he wasn’t applying much pressure when the needle popped out.  He was barely poked, but definitely scared.  One day, I tell myself…  One day he will listen to me when I talk.

Sometimes I think my sarcasm is the only thing that keeps me sane.

How the elimination diet is going…

We were doing pretty good at avoiding the allergenic foods and cooking at home.  I noticed that eating out in restaurants would impact him negatively – his immediate symptoms are grogginess, inability to listen and communicate, tired and glassy eyes, throat swelling and asthma.  The more we eat out, the more I see these symptoms.

To any person who cooks at home every day, I salute you.  We do not have a dishwasher and cooking and cleaning up three meals a day (sometimes six meals because everyone eats something different)  is so time consuming and exhausting.  If I wasn’t a stay-at-home mom I would have to hire a chef or a maid.  Or Mary Poppins.

For lunches, I have been sending him the same foods I discussed here.  We are sticking to gluten free treats, which cost an arm and a leg but are worth it when my son is bright eyed and communicating throughout the day.  He attends summer camp through the City Park District, which offers a “healthy” lunch three times a week.  Here is what this lunch consists of:  GMO white bread sandwiches with non-organic lunch meat and cheese, a piece of non-organic fruit which few of the kids actually eat and sometimes a salad.  (Because kids eat salad.)  My son eats the lunch I pack before lunchtime and then eats the GMO white bread sandwich, throwing away the free fruit and salad.  Elimination diet fail.  The good part, however, is that even though there are some slip-ups, we are seeing improvements in behavior and overall appearance which suggest his body is doing better than he was before.  In pictures from the recent past, his eyes were droopy, dull and sunken in, but now they are clearer and he looks happy and healthy.  Again, RELIEF.

It is my plan to go strict elimination diet in August when I have full control over his diet.  The important thing in healing the gut is to completely avoid foods which irritate the body, otherwise healing will not take place.  Every time my son eats something he is not supposed to, we are back at square one.  While I am seeing minor improvements which I am super thankful for, true healing of his gut will not take place unless we can completely stick to his diet.

Why am I so terrible at sticking to an elimination diet?

That is the question I keep asking myself.  I talk about what we need to do, I write about what we need to do.  I even start to do what we need to do.  Then the resistance starts.  My son complains.  He won’t feed himself.  I have to hand feed two kids while cooking and cleaning up and doing dishes non-stop.  My son wants a treat.  We are out of gluten free snacks.  There is pizza day at camp.  Wait, it’s ice cream AND pizza day.  I just cooked lunch and cleaned everything up, now its already time to start dinner!?  What the heck an I going to make tonight?!?  AHHH.  Ok, so I think its pretty obvious why sometimes I just say whatever, just this time we will steer off the path.  The problem is those times add up!

On Saturday it was my son’s trophy picnic for completing the t-ball season.  On the way there, my husband needed to stop for a coffee.  (The fireman schedule is not conducive to early mornings.)  Of course, son wants a doughnut, so Dad gives him a little doughnut hole; like the little part stamped out from the center of the big doughnut.  No big deal, I guess.  Then we get to the park.  He gets a free lunch of a crappy hot dog on a crappy bun with some chips.  I’m not liking this, but how can I rip the hot dog out of his hand without being evil?  I ripped off most of the bread but he still got a big dose of preservatives, gluten and who-knows-what else.

Later, we stop by family to hang out for a little.  He eats fancy crackers that look like they are whole grain and I hoped not too bad (from an allergy perspective).  On the way home he starts coughing and trying to clear his throat, so I know his throat is swelling and he is having a reaction.  I felt so guilty for not protecting him because I was too tired to fight him, and now he was suffering and it really was my fault.

I am so terrible at sticking to his diet because I get weak.  I get tired from all the battle and I just give in.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how tired I am.  My son’s health and well being is my responsibility, whether he likes it or not!

Thankfully I put my own whining behind me and decided to work out a solution.  If I can be prepared at all times, then my son will still feel included and I won’t have to be the “bad guy.”  We ordered some coconut flour to make some treats at home, and I found some “healthy” (only meaning not full of corn syrup) fruit snacks at Target, check them out here.  We are still buying these gluten free cookies made by Annie’s which my kids love.  I am going to use his old kindergarten lunch box as a carrying case and take it with us when we go to visit friends or out to events.  The preparation will take a lot of time and most likely border exhausting, but nothing is more exhausting than the whining and fighting if I don’t prepare.

The bottom line is that we are taking on this battle to improve my son’s quality of life.  He has been sick pretty much his whole life and I want to give him a chance at feeling better, while I still have a little control over what he is eating.  With preparation, I can avoid a lot of the resistance and keep us all on track.  A happy healthy boy is my reward and that is the best gift any mother could hope for!

Is your child on an elimination diet?  Please share your tips or tricks in the comments below.  I need them!  😉