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Will natural skin lotion help childhood eczema?
Q: My 3-year-old daughter has a milk allergy and eczema. Some of my friends have recommended natural skin lotions for the skin rashes. Is this a good idea? Is there a chance it could make her eczema worse?
Carol Austin
A: Carol, children with allergies and eczema can be very sensitive to things they eat, inhale and touch. Even though “natural” skin lotions may seem healthy, they could make your daughter’s eczema worse.

There was a recent report of young children with milk allergies who developed severe rashes after using a “buttermilk” lotion and bathing in a “calming milk” bath liquid. Many lotions, cosmetics and bath products contain milk products and other food ingredients, such as nuts, that can cause allergies.

Living with your daughter’s milk allergies, you’ve probably become an expert at reading food labels to avoid giving her food that might contain milk products. But you also have to read the labels of skin products, since they may also contain milk products. Don’t use any skin product with ingredients such as milk, milk fat, butter, buttermilk, cream, casein, whey or lactalbumin. For a more complete list of food ingredients to avoid, visit the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis website at www.foodallergy.org. considering skin lotions for your daughter, follow your doctor’s recommendations for lotions that are “hypoallergenic” (less likely to cause allergy) and will help, rather than exacerbate, your daughter’s skin rashes.

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician