Resolving Skin Conditions in Children
Tara Levy, ND
Skin problems are among the most common pediatric complaints seen in a naturopathic office. Many parents are reluctant to use harsh medicines on their children, so they often seek an ND to find gentler alternatives. Discovering the etiology of skin conditions can be challenging, but by working to learn the cause while simultaneously treating the symptoms, I have successfully helped several patients to improve their skin conditions. Consider the following case studies.
Case Study 1
Childhood eczema can be one of the more stubborn skin conditions to work with. Itchy and irritable, secondary infections can be common as well. I first saw Elliot when he was three years old. His mother brought him in with the chief complaint of an irritated rash around his lips that had been present for about two months. Upon examination, the rash around the mouth was erythematous, dry and scaly with a patch that had a honey-colored crust. Upon further questioning, I learned that Elliot suffered from chronic ear infections (for which he’d been prescribed multiple courses of antibiotics), had one to two loose stools daily and was flatulent. He was a very social child who loved people. He had been breastfed for four months, but then began daycare and was weaned to formula. He enjoyed a wide variety of foods, but his daily diet consisted largely of pasta, bread, cheese, yogurt, eggs and peanut butter.
After determining that he had an impetigo infection on part of the rash around his mouth, I gave his mother a goldenseal-propolis cream to apply to the skin two to three times daily. I also prescribed a single dose of homeopathic Phosphorous 200C, a probiotic powder (equal amounts of bifidus and acidophilus) at ¼tsp twice daily, and cod liver oil at ½tsp daily. In addition, I asked his mother to eliminate dairy for three weeks. I also performed two 15-minute sessions of craniosacral therapy.
Six weeks after the initial visit, the rash around Elliot’s mouth had completely cleared. He had formed stools for the first time in his life, and was much less gassy. His mother reported that his mood was much more stable and that he seemed happier overall. Over the years since his initial treatment, there has been no recurrence of the rash, and he has had no ear infections. After six months off of dairy, he re-incorporated it into his diet two to three times a week without any adverse consequences. He continues to take the fish oil daily.
Case Study 2
Teenage acne is another common complaint in a naturopathic office, and one for which we have very good, non-toxic therapies. While it can be hard to get teenagers to commit to a regular supplement regimen, I find that the prospect of clearing acne is a real motivator!
Jerry came to see me when he was 15. He had suffered from acne since age 9, and it had become more pronounced in the past two years, with cysts developing over the previous four months. He was currently on his sixth month of antibiotic treatment, and was suffering some digestive distress and constipation. He washed his face twice a day with medicated washes. He ate a varied, whole-foods diet that contained several daily servings of wheat and dairy, and he craved sugar. He had suffered from environmental allergies his entire life and was currently receiving allergy shots.
Initial treatment began with a three-week dairy elimination, increased vegetables in the diet, and avoidance of hydrogenated and trans fats. He began taking one capsule of Lactobacillus gg daily, 1tsp of cod liver oil daily, 3mg of zinc picolinate twice daily, and psyllium at bedtime. In addition, I gave him an herbal tincture for skin and liver support, 60 drops twice daily for one month.
One month after his initial visit, the cysts and blackheads on Jerry’s face were significantly reduced. He had decreased his washing with the medications by 50%, as he was feeling less of a need for them. He also reported an improvement in his digestive function. At this point I prescribed 50,000IU of vitamin A daily and instructed him to challenge dairy and use a bentonite clay mask twice weekly. The dairy challenge showed an increase in his allergy sensitivities, and he continued to keep dairy out of his diet. After two more months, Jerry’s skin continued to improve, and he continued the regimen of zinc, vitamin A, psyllium, cod liver oil and probiotics.
Tara Levy, ND received her BA from Vassar College and her doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University. She currently is medical director of Tara Natural Medicine, a family practice with offices in Concord and Berkeley, Calif. Dr. Levy is past president of the California Naturopathic Doctors Association.