some of that tea

My five year old daughter Kate has eczema, and when it’s flaring up, it’s pretty severe. It covers her back, stomach and shoulders and hides behind her knees and under her arm pits. We’ve tried everything to get rid of it, including elimination diets and allergy testing. We’ve followed her pediatrician’s suggestions of short baths, using very little soap and covering her in petroleum jelly afterwards. We’ve used prescription steroidal creams and ointments, and in fact, when the eczema flares up, we can’t use any type of cream on her at all–it stings and she screams in pain. She seems to tolerate ointments much better. At first I balked at the idea of putting petroleum jelly on her skin but unlike the most natural, even organic, eczema creams I’ve bought OTC, it doesn’t sting when we put it on.

Treating the eczema wasn’t ideal. I wanted to prevent it from happening at all. But how? Much of what I’d read was related to food allergies and I hoped the answer was as simple as eliminating eggs, dairy or gluten and voila! Clear, soft baby skin that didn’t want to make my baby scratch til she bled. Despite my best efforts and both skin tests and blood work to check for allergies, as well as elimination diets, nothing seemed to indicate a cause and effect relationship between anything she ate and the appearance of the itchy menace. My best guess is that it’s your garden-variety eczema that’s common in people with Irish, English or Scottish heritage and very fair skin. Check, check and check!

My mother, who has sensitive skin herself, sent me a link to an article about how many people find their eczema either disappears or improves greatly while drinking at least one cup or more of Chinese Oolong Tea a day, probably due to the polyphenols in the tea and it’s anti-inflammatory properties. When I first began blogging for Thirsties over two years ago, I became more and more interested in more natural and environmentally friendly options for everything from cleaning products to personal health–I was amazed at the multitude of uses for things such as colloidal silver  and Tea Tree Oil and how they seemed to work better for clearing up infected cuts (and even my cat’s pink eye) more quickly than anything I had ever been prescribed by a doctor. My mind was already open and so I thought, what the heck, let’s give it a try.

I started brewing large batches of tea, mixing in honey and lemon for taste, and storing them in the fridge. Instead of sending Kate to school with a bottle of water, I’d send her with her “tea.” Sure enough, after a week, her eczema was improving and soon her skin was looking better than it had in months. I was amazed. I also read that you can add the tea to bath water and that the anti-inflammatory properties may work topically on the skin. The tea does contain caffeine so this may be a good way to try it for young children and babies first, until you talk to your doctor. The amount of caffeine the tea contains doesn’t seem to affect Kate at all so I feel comfortable that it’s safe for her and in fact, I much prefer her drinking Oolong tea than being covered in steroidal ointment.

Do you or your children suffer from eczema? What do you use to treat it?