Nutrition and children's skin: Dr. Pavka explains the food-eczema connection to a concerned mom and offers up options for other new parents.

AuthorPavka, Elizabeth

Q: Over the past three weeks, my 10-month-old little girl Ruby Jo has broken out in an eczema rash. Here's a little history: Ruby Jo was delivered via C-section, she gets the majority of her nutrition from my breast milk but eats some finger foods, and I have a history of Candida, but I no longer have any symptoms. (I tried eliminating sugar, gluten and dairy from my diet a week ago and haven't seen any improvements in Ruby Jo.) What more can I do to clear up this eczema? Should I give Ruby Jo probiotics, and which brand would be useful? What should I be feeding her right now? Is it safe to feed her cultured vegetables to help repopulate her body with beneficial bacteria?

--Anita D., Asheville, NC

A: Thanks for your questions, Anita. Certainly other new parents are struggling with these same issues. First, some background. Both the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the skin are channels of elimination. If the GI tract is not functioning properly, backed-up toxins will be more apt to be eliminated through the skin, thereby contributing to rashes. Thus the skin actually reflects imbalances in the GI tract. While there are certainly more, here are three pieces to the puzzle of Ruby Jo's skin problems: 1) unhealthy balance of probiotics in the GI tract due to probable overgrowth of Candida (yeast) 2) foods to eat more of and 3) foods to eat less of.


Infants are born with a sterile GI tract. A normal vaginal birth exposes a child to a world of bacteria found in the vagina, as do breast milk, formula, nipples, fingers and toes. Every breath and touch brings more bacteria to colonize the skin, the mucous membranes and the gut. Babies born by C-section are often unable to colonize enough friendly, health-promoting bacteria. Yeast can form gases that cause GI pain as well as generate mycotoxins. This plus the resulting decrease of normal bowel flora and altered GI function eventually undermine immune function and contribute to the development of allergic and immune diseases such as eczema, allergy and asthma

To answer one question about Ruby Jo, I suspect she probably does have Candida overgrowth. Research is finding that mothers who have an overgrowth of Candida/fungal infections give birth to babies who are also afflicted by Candida. Even though you state that you no longer have symptoms, you may have what is called systemic Candida, where your body has adapted to the Candida and shows few overt symptoms.

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