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Dealing with a Dairy Allergy

When my daughter continually had eczema breakouts I felt bad for her because she would scratch until she had claw marks in her neck and stomach. Dealing with eczema was a challenge, but it wasn’t our only challenge.

I have to back up a little bit here and give you a little background as to why it took us so long to discover her allergy.

After I gave up breastfeeding, we had some issues with formula which resulted in us using soy formula. I never thought anything about it because babies switch to whole milk at a year old, so that is what we did.

Now, my daughter was very strange and wouldn’t drink anything with her food, so we would give her a bottle in between her meals. Once we got rid of the bottle, we would give her 8 ounces of milk in the morning, and 8 ounces in the evening. She drank water during the day.

This worked for us for a while, but she continued to have random breakouts of eczema. Once I would get to a point where I thought she was going to clear up, she would break out again. I was giving her Zyrtec every night to try to help with these flare ups.

Not to mention she was pooping four to five times per day. She never had “normal” solid poops, they were always lose to liquid in consistency.

Then, the beginning of October she decided that she wanted a drink with her meals. This was fine, so we started giving her 4 ounces of milk with every meal.

This is where I noticed her symptoms get worse. She had worse breakouts that never got better. She was also pooping 6 to 8 times per day and it was mostly liquid. These stools were so frequent and so acidic it would burn her bottom. I thought it was the diapers because it was very similar to what happened when we used other diapers that she was allergic to, this prompted me to switch to cloth diapers.

When switching to cloth diapers didn’t help, and her bottom was so sore she couldn’t even sit in her high chair to eat, I knew I had to do something. I was talking to one of the nurses I work with and she suggested I eliminate dairy to see what happened.

Dealing with a dairy allergy

What did I have to lose?

I decided to try it and if it worked then great, if it didn’t then I would figure something out. It was time for a trip to the store to get soy milk. Sadly, it isn’t as simple as that. A lot of things have dairy in them, especially processed and boxed meals. This meant not only changing up my daughter’s diet but changing how I cooked.

No more spontaneously going out to eat without first checking the menu to see if they offered dairy free items. If we were having pizza, I had to make something else for her. Suddenly, I became that mom who always needed to know how food was cooked.

It was O.K. though because after just 5 days I started to notice a huge difference. Her poop was becoming less frequent and more formed, and her eczema was getting almost clear.

Then, I had to work a 12 hour shift at the hospital, meaning that hubby was home with her alone. At first he had trouble with not giving her dairy; he didn’t really think she could be allergic. He tried to comply though, but by mistake he gave her a fruit bar that had milk in it. That night when I got home I instantly noticed her belly was broke out again. I asked what he gave her, showed him her stomach and once we discovered there was milk in the fruit bar, this is when we both agreed we were dealing with a dairy allergy.

We haven’t had any more slip ups since then, which also means we haven’t had an eczema breakout or diarrhea for a couple of weeks. I have even been able to get her completely off her allergy medicine!

We also struggled with gaining weight for a while, and now that we have eliminated dairy, she is back to gaining weight like she should.

Dealing with any allergy can be difficult, but it can be done. Dealing with a dairy allergy has it’s own set of difficulties.

My best advice to you is don’t be afraid to ask how things are cooked. My daughter’s allergy is not life-or-death, but it is still uncomfortable and miserable for her and a rough few days for us after she has dairy. She may outgrow it, and I hope she does, but we may not be so lucky. There are other kids who have life-or-death reactions, so make sure you know how food is cooked.

Don’t be afraid to look at ingredients either. This can be your number one tool, most items will have an allergy warning in big bold words right after the ingredient list.

You may also have to start making your meals. Like I said, a lot of pre-made, processed, boxed, and frozen meals have dairy in them. You will be surprised what does and doesn’t have dairy. For example, there are certain hot dogs that have milk in them, but I have found that a lot of bread is dairy free.

Lastly, kids often outgrow dairy allergies between 3 and 5 years of age, so this may not be forever. Unfortunately though, not every child will outgrow it, so you have to be prepared for that as well.

Are you or your child dealing with a dairy allergy, or any other allergy? How do you deal with it?

Thanks for reading, Cassie

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