My daughter has itchy skin. As it turns out, food allergies and food sensitivities can trigger this. Over the years we have found that the food we eat has a big effect on her, her skin in particular. We manage this through identifying and eliminating certain foods that don’t suit her system.  It’s a lot of trial and error but we have found a food elimination diet for kids can work. Food Allergies and Kids: Why your child may be cranky| Itchy Skin Treatment for Kids | elimination diet for kids| Maple and Marigold

My daughter has itchy skin. Did I say that already? We have been to dermatologists, allergists, doctors, and pediatricians. She’s been on umpteen medicines and hydrocortisone creams. She’s beenwrapped in washcloths soaked in glycerin and vaseline. I have tried most, if not all, of the creams available in Canada and India. I’ve even bought a couple off the world wide web.

Food Allergies and Kids: Why your child may be cranky| elimination diet for kids| Itchy Skin Treatment for Kids | Maple and Marigold

Potential allergens. Top left going clockwise: Soy sauce, Mixed masala, Boiled Chickpea, Tomatoes, Ginger and Garlic, Coconut Milk

The diagnosis from the doctors – she has sensitive skin.  It is up to us, my husband and I, to “manage” it.

Think of that, and also consider this.

Our daughter has been pricked and prodded on her back and her arms hundreds of times. We have carried baggies of food items to the allergist and held her hand through the discomfort and pain, only to be told that it is up to us to manage it. Allergy testing sucks! Even more so when there is no substantial diagnosis.

The end result: My husband and I need to “manage: it. There’s that word again.

Though vague, this diagnosis was the starting point to helping us actually manage our daughter’s itchy skin.

Food Allergies and Kids: Why your child may be cranky| Itchy Skin Treatment for Kids | Maple and Marigold

Keeping a Food Diary When You Have Food Allergies

A while back on the advice of a dear friend, I started keeping a food diary. Making a note of what my daughter ate through the day helped me find a pattern in her diet and connect it with her itchy skin at night. This pattern brought me to the next step in our journey – food elimination diet for kids that works.

Caveat: the advice in this article is based purely on my personal experience. I am not a doctor, just a mom on a mission trying to help my family, my youngest, in particular, be more comfortable in her skin. My choices are based on my research and experience. What I am sharing with you today is what has worked for us. 

Food Elimination Diet for Kids

A true food elimination diet means that one has to eliminate all possible allergy-causing foods from the diet for 2-3 weeks, and then re-introduce them one at a time. This is to help isolate the food that is causing the reaction in the body. I tried to do that for my youngest but kept faltering – imagine an already picky kindergartener who eats a limited variety of foods, on an elimination diet. That’s where my food diary helped.

I started eliminating the foods that she eats the most – first tomatoes and then dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt etc.). Just taking those two off her plate was a monumental task since they were a part of her every meal. Tomatoes have always been her favourite fruit.

“Tomato is a fruit, Mom, I can eat it for breakfast.”

Food Allergies and Kids: Why your child may be cranky| elimination diet for kids| Itchy Skin Treatment for Kids | Maple and Marigold

A real meal – everything tastes better with tomatoes on the side.

As it turns out kids with food allergies are quite tough to diagnose especially if the allergic reaction isn’t respiratory in nature (my doctor’s words – not mine). Our little one isn’t anaphylactic and so we don’t live with the fear of a life-threatening attack. That also means that we are relying on a whole lot of trial and error to diagnose the cause of the itchy skin. I have to trust my little one to tell us when she’s itchy, or if something is bothering her.

Managing Itchy Skin Through an Elimination Diet

1. Start with a food diary. Seek out a pattern in your child’s symptoms. Is she more itchy at a certain time of day? It may be possible to connect the cause and the effect, the food and the resulting itchiness.

2. Seek out the most likely culprits and eliminate them first. These are likely the ones that she craves already, or form a big part of her diet. We started with tomatoes (her favourite) and saw improvement. But the improvement wasn’t consistent. Next on the list was dairy. Not lactose but dairy. I had already suspected this for other reasons so I should have perhaps started with this one. If you have allergies in your family consider those first. Also consider the Top 8 – eight common allergens: wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, dairy, eggs, soy, fish and shellfish.

Stick with this routine for a month.

3. Replace the nutrition. If you’re giving up dairy, look for other calcium-rich foods to add to daily meals. Broccoli, almonds and bok choy have become a regular feature in our home.
4. Re-introduce foods one at a time. 
Once you have reached being symptom-free (itch-free in our case) wait a few days and then reintroduce foods, one at a time. Start with the least-likely culprit, wait for 3 days and see. My daughter’s homeopath tells us that there is a chance that she may be able to eat the itch-causing foods again once her system has calmed down. I’ll keep you posted on that.
5. Continue the food diary. Keep it updated as well as your child’s reaction.
6. Don’t forget to Involve your doctor. They can manage your family’s diet from a medical standpoint.  Food Allergies and Kids: Why your child may be cranky| Itchy Skin Treatment for Kids | Maple and Marigold

The Silver Lining

Managing food allergies is a tough job but there is an upside. You, your child and your family will end up eating healthier, and cooking at home with better and more wholesome ingredients. It happened with us. We have also started eating food whose ingredients and preparation, are both transparent, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Is there someone in your family who suffers from itchy skin? He/she could potentially be sensitive or allergic to certain foods. Try the elimination diet and see what happens. If you have other tips to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Food Allergies and Kids: Why your child may be cranky| Itchy Skin Treatment for Kids | Maple and Marigold