050: How To Help Kids With Eczema w/ Dr. Sheila Kilbane

Skin conditions in children can be very tricky to treat. Kids are different to adults and what works on an adult may not work on a child. My guest is here to help all you caregivers with questions about eczema in children.

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My guest today is Dr. Sheila Kilbane. She is a board-certified pediatrician who trained with Andrew Weil, MD in integrative medicine.

She works with families to find the root cause of illness and uses natural and nutritional therapies whenever possible. Her mission is to transform pediatric healthcare globally in order to get 1 million kids off of meds they may not need.

Dr. Kilbane sees patients at her clinic in Charlotte, NC and helps people all over the world through her online education courses. She is the author of Amazon bestseller Healthy Kids, Happy Moms: A Step-by-Step Guide to Improving Many Common Childhood Illnesses*.

Join us as we talk about eczema in children, and different ways to safely treat and manage the condition.

Have you dealt with eczema in children before? Tell me about it in the comments!


In this episode:

  • First things to consider that may not be considered in a conventional dermatology office
  • How addressing a child's gut issues differs from dealing with an adult's
  • Considerations before giving children supplements
  • Dr. Kilbane's approach to eczema relief in kids
  • Thoughts on using essential oils on kids



“Anywhere from a third to two thirds of eczema can be triggered by a food sensitivity or a food allergy. The two big culprits are dairy and eggs.” [2:43]

“Once we have a healthy cell wall, whether it's our GI tract or our skin, that's what's going to return that function and that's what's going to return that elasticity.” [11:15]

“The backbone of our hormones is cholesterol and we need that digestion in order to absorb our fat so that our body can utilize them, which is going to play a big role in healing our skin. .” [14:54]



Find Dr. Kilbane online

Dr. Kilbane's online course

FREE download: 10 Tips to Use Food as Your Pharmacy

Follow Dr. Kilbane on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Healthy Skin Show episode 4 with Dr. Richard Aron about his groundbreaking approach to treating atopic eczema

Transformation Enzymes Probiotics

*Dr. Kilbane's book is currently undergoing edits. Please stay tuned for the kindle and print edition! 


050: How To Help Kids With Eczema w/ Dr. Sheila Kilbane FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi everyone. Welcome back to the healthy skin show. Today's guest, I'm excited we're going to be talking about kids and babies. So many of you have asked me for someone to come on and speak directly to this and I found what I, whom I feel is the right person to talk to. Her name is Dr. Sheila Kilbane. She is a board certified pediatrician who trained with Dr. Andrew Weil, the famous Dr. Andrew Weil in integrative medicine. She works with families to find the root cause of illness and uses natural and nutritional therapies whenever possible. Her mission is to transform pediatric healthcare globally in order to get 1 million kids off of meds that they may not need. That is a very, very powerful goal that I hope to support and I'm glad to have her here. Doctor Kilbane sees patients in our clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina, and helps people all over the world through her online education courses. She's also the author of the Amazon Bestseller, Healthy Kids Happy Moms, a step by step guide to improving many common childhood illnesses. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Kilbane: Oh my gosh, it's a pleasure to be here and I'm super excited to share today.

Jennifer: Well, you know, like I was saying, I get a lot of questions about kids and funny enough as I was sharing with you before the interview started, Dr. Aron, who is, I think episode number four is who connected us, which I'm so grateful for him. And for those of you who are listening, if you have, if you're not familiar with Doctor Aron, you missed that episode. Head back over and we'll put it in the show notes. But let's talk about kids and babies today. I feel like a lot of times we make the assumption that what works in adults is going to work in children and babies. And so when you first see a child in your practice, for example, and they're struggling with Eczema and these awful skin issues, what do you think are the first things that we should consider that might not be considered in a conventional dermatology office?

Dr. Kilbane: Yeah. So I always talk about illnesses, whether it's Eczema, asthma, no matter what it is, is that we have to look at the triggers of inflammation. And so there are a few things that really we missed in our conventional medical training, when it comes to Eczema. So the first thing is food. So we know, and this is well researched, that anywhere from a third to two thirds of Eczema can be triggered by a food sensitivity or a food allergy. The two big culprits are dairy and eggs. And so that's one area. And again, it doesn't always mean that Eczema is triggered by those. It just means that we need to look at that. And it can be other foods as well. And in my experience, it's often more than one food, but we always start with dairy because that is just the predominant one.

So the second thing is we have to look at environmental allergies. We need to, dust mites can be a big trigger for Eczema. You know, we just need, and I do that through blood work. You can do it through skin prick testing or in a couple of different ways you can do it. So we want to look at environmental allergies than we want to look at other environmental issues that we can have. Things like mold exposure and that's typically the kind of toxic mold that will grow in water damaged buildings. So that's going to be lower. But if you've done everything that you can think of from the conventional and integrative world, then that's when my mind always goes to, we need to check them for toxic mold exposure.

And then the last component is the content of the skins for the bacterial content of the skin. We know that kids and adults with Eczema have a higher bacterial count on their skin and they'll have a staph in particular staff. And this staph produces a delta toxin. And this is where Dr Aron's regimen comes into play. And I actually learned about Dr Aron from one of the mothers in my practice and her little boy, just terrible case of Eczema. They were doing a perfect diet. We had really gone through all of the triggers and she found doctor Aron online and started using his topical. And then her little boy was also getting recurrent MRSA boils. So the methicillin resistant staph aureus and the doctor Aron cream really helped in addition to the food and the other things were in the supplement. That topical allowed us to bring the staph count on his skin. And that really helped him turn the corner. And it also, you know, it can take about 90 days for the full thickness of the skin to heal. And so we want to address each area. So we want to look at the gut, but then we also want to make sure that we're treating the skin and we want to do it for a period of time so that we're really getting that full healing.

Jennifer: And that's an important thing too, in managing someone's expectations. Because I found that people sometimes think that it's gonna take a week or two weeks or a month. And I even shared, I mean granted I was not a child when I had Eczema, but even my own journey, it really took six months for my skin to calm itself down and stopped flaring up. So it's important to have that type of mentality like, okay, I've got to go into this knowing that there's going to be at least a three month period where we're doing a lot of work here.

Dr. Kilbane: Absolutely. In the integrative world I'm looking at all of those aspects and the gut health and so it can take, I always describe gut healing the same way as we heal a sprained ankle. So a sprained ankle or jam finger, it can take a good three to six months until that joint feels like your own joint again. And so we're doing with the gut exactly what we're doing is we rehab an ankle and it just over time that inflammation is going to go down, but it's also, we usually find that the course goes three steps forward, one or two steps backward. Three steps forward, one or two steps backward until we get to that, you know, ideally that full resolution, but we can have triggers along the way and there are so many different things that can trigger, but it's typically once we get the really the skin intact and the gut healed, that's when those small triggers don't throw us off and we don't end up all night scratching or getting a big flare up or maybe you know, maybe when you get exposed to something that's your trigger, you just get a little bit of a flare up.

Jennifer: You actually made an interesting point about saying, you know, we've got to really work on the gut, which is something that I absolutely 100% believe in and also do in my practice with adults. So here's the thing with kids though, kids are different. Babies are different than adults. It's not my wheelhouse, but it is yours. So can you share with us a little bit for the moms that are listening to this, are the grandmas and the aunts or uncles, whomever is listening to this, like knowing that they have a child or a baby in the family that's really struggling with this, but maybe the parent is very interested in going a more natural route and they're doing a lot of research online. This is always what I see. They're doing a lot of research and they're like, well, I found this online that this helped this. Yeah. You know this person, but the person happens to be an adult. Yeah. And they'll say, do you think I should try this? And I'm like, you really need to work with a practitioner because babies and children are different. So can you speak to that? What do you have to keep in mind when you are working on a child's gut? How would it differ from adults in areas that maybe parents don't realize?

Dr. Kilbane: I can walk you through exactly what I do and it's my online course does this in more detail, but I really, I talk a lot about doing one thing at a time so that we know what's helping and what's not. I treat supplements just like I treat a medication, we do it, we do them one at a time for five days at a time before adding another one. And when it comes to the foods, we always remove one thing at a time. And in the adult world, often people will, you know, have an adult take the full limit, not, you know, do everything go off of all the top allergens at one time. But with kids it's just, it's so hard to do that. And then we're, we're not getting the nutrients sometimes that we need if we're going on a really strict elimination diet.

Again, sometimes that is, sometimes we do that, but we do it for limited periods of time. But we start off removing dairy and we do it a week. So we do it from breakfast for a week, then keep it out of breakfast and remove it from lunch. Then the third week we move, remove it from dinner and snacks because you with kids, if you stopped dairy cold turkey, sometimes they can get worse before they get better because they almost have a withdrawal type effect and they will get irritable. They might have trouble sleeping, you'll see mood swings up and down. And that's just, you know, that's a whole another three hours. We could talk about the opiate like effect and things like that. So I do that gradually. But while we're doing that, then we begin to get supplements added. And so the, I'm always thinking and talking to parents about gut function.

So it's not necessarily about adding a whole bunch of supplements, but we need the GI tract to move because the bile from the gallbladder is going to do more to balance out the bacteria in our small intestine, in our colon than any supplement we could ever do. And the thing that gets the bile moving are bitter foods. And we just don't eat bitter things in this country. You know, a lot of other countries, they have Kimchi, they have fermented foods, they eat bitter foods. So we just little bits at a time, even squeezing a little lemon in water. You can do that. But what I do then is I start a probiotic. We do that for five days and I usually will start with a really mild single strain, low dose probiotic. And then we move on to digestive enzymes. And then after that we talk about Omega three fats and phosphatidylcholine which you know, Omega three fats are what you get in cold water, fish like salmon, chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed. And then phosphatidylcholine is something that you get in the yolk of eggs. And all of these things make up cell walls. So what we really focus on is we need to make healthy cell walls because once we have a healthy cell wall, whether it's our GI tract or our skin, that's what's going to return that function and that's what's going to return that elasticity and really get that integrity of the skin to where it's that smooth. You know, it's a nice barrier skin is a big barrier. And so we want to restore cellular function and the health of the cell wall. So that's, so we walked through that way and then, you know, after the three weeks of being off dairy, we see where we are. Then we decide, okay, do we still do we need to take eggs out? Okay, maybe, maybe not. Then we go through that process and we gradually, with the other foods, with eggs and some of the other foods, you don't have to go as slowly. But with gluten and dairy, I always at least take three weeks to wean the kids off of it so that we don't have the sort of those downturns and those, the moodiness and irritability

Jennifer: And with supplements just in case, I know people go online and they're wanting to do their own thing and I can completely appreciate that. But I just want to remind everyone, if you're using or seeing people recommend supplements, if it's not meant for kids, you don't ever give a young child the full dose of supplements. Correct?

Dr. Kilbane: Correct. And I really, I'd prefer if you don't know exactly what you're doing with supplements, I actually prefer that you don't do them because you could add a little bit of fermented food, Organic Sauerkraut for example, and you could give a child a fourth of a teaspoon or half of a teaspoon of the liquid from a fermented sauerkraut. But you also want to know the difference between fermenting and pickling. So fermented food isn't going to have vinegar in it. So we just want to be careful there. But with supplements, I rarely actually use the pediatric based supplements because most of them have so many additives to make them taste good. So I'm happy to share brands and things. I'm not sure how you prefer on your show. The probiotic that I use the species is a lactobacillus plantarum. It's a soil based, it's a very robust species and it's very pure. It doesn't actually have any of the fructo-oligosaccharide or the Emulin in it because for a lot of the patients I see their guts are so sensitive that that can cause bloating and gassiness. But the species is robust enough that it survives the packaging and sitting on a shelf and things like that. So we just open up the capsule and give it, you know, we give it to babies, we give it for any age, but we're using a really good pure product. And then same thing with our digestive enzymes. Again, I am happy to share the company that we use.

Jennifer: Yeah, sure. Absolutely.

Dr. Kilbane: Okay. So it's a, it's a company called Transformation Enzymes and the probiotic is called Plantadophilus. And then the digestive enzymes are there. There's a capsule, there's a chewable, and there's a powder. So it comes in every different form, you know, for babies versus, you know, older kids onto adults. Some adults will take the chewables and again, it goes back to restoring gut function. Because the other thing that is so important to skin health through our, you know, brain function is we want to make sure that we're absorbing our fats. And we have gotten so far into these that we shouldn't eat fat, we don't need fat, but we really need fat in our cell walls, need fat for our hormones, we need that. Or you know, the, the backbone of our hormones is cholesterol and we need that digestion in order to absorb our fat so that our body can utilize them, which is going to play a big role in healing our skin.

Jennifer: Absolutely. And so one other point and I'd mentioned this before we started was just about your thoughts on essential oils. I've had a lot of moms who love essential oils. They use them in their home and they're wonderful for many different things. But then there's this thought of applying the essential oils directly to the skin of their children and their babies because they have rashes and things. Do you have any thoughts that you'd like to share to moms who have are considering doing this or are doing this right now?

Dr. Kilbane: Yes, so I don't use essential oils at the beginning. Essential oils are something that you really need to know what you're doing before applying them. Especially with kids because you can have some have side effects and your kids can react to the essential oils. So my preference is to get this skin is clear as we can get it. And then if we want to use a couple of things, if we want to use a little bit of lavender diffused at nighttime for calming, but I don't utilize essential oils for healing in terms of Eczema.

Jennifer: You just have to also have to be careful about what you apply in general. Because I know with babies and young children, things like the menthol-based essential oils like peppermint and such, those can actually have a toxicity.

Dr. Kilbane: Peppermint, Oregano, tea tree oil, you can have some side effects also. So we really want to be careful and also if you're applying an oil directly to the skin and you have a lot of staph bacteria, that actually creates a little layer and that staph can proliferate. So it can make things worse. And that's where, again, I always go back to let's get the skin healed and then if we want to use some essential oils for other things, we can do that.

Jennifer: That's great. And then do you ever recommend like oatmeal baths or any type of soaks that maybe parents should look into or try if they've got a child that's really uncomfortable?

Dr. Kilbane: We talk about baths in the way of, it doesn't have to be super fancy. We can do some Epsom salt baths, you know, you can put a little baking soda in the bath, and we just use soap on the critical areas. You don't necessarily have to get a lot of soap but you want to use something mild. Dove soap can be one of the mildest things that we can use. I'd rather an organic soap if families, you know, have access to getting a nice organic soap, but if you need something just inexpensive, I would just use that, you know, the sensitive one. And again, just soap up the critical areas and you don't have to do a lot of washing of the other parts of the body.

Jennifer: That's what I always say. It's so true because in general you lose the sense of moisture throughout the skin. You're also your skin areas. There are dry parts of the skin that are naturally drier than other areas. So you're just further drying them out and it can cause increased irritation. And that's in my adult skin. But I would imagine in young children and babies it would still apply. This has been really enlightening and I hope that maybe sometime we can drill down more. I'm sure parents are going to have more questions after this, so perhaps if you have the time you'll be able to come back and join us again for another interview with that. Would you be open to that?

Dr. Kilbane: Yes, absolutely. I love what you're doing and Eczema is just so near and dear to my heart and there's so much that we can do about it. I think you and I agree on this. I don't like kids to suffer from this.

Jennifer: Yeah. The pictures on the Facebook groups I'm in, they like make me want to cry. I mean, no one should have to suffer, but a child: like that is horrible the first years of your life and that's what you're experiencing. I just can't even imagine and I wish there was some way we could just erase that suffering out of the world. And so I'm so glad that we get the opportunity to do this and help all the moms out there and grandmoms and everybody else that's rallying for these little children. And so I just want to share too, you've got on your website and I'm going to put links to all of this stuff in the show notes for today's episode. You've got this great free download, a 10 tips to use food as your pharmacy, which is a really great freebie for everybody to go grab. And then don't forget we've got this great book over on Amazon, Healthy Kids, Happy Moms a step by step guide to improving many common childhood illnesses. Anything else you'd like to share? As a final thought?

Dr. Kilbane: I'll also give you a link to my online course that people can join in that I go through everything step by step, exactly how I do it in my practice. And I think that's everything, but just know that you can just stick with it. It takes a little bit of time, but we just see incredible results when we couple some of the conventional treatments along with the integrated, then we can have an incredible results.

Jennifer: Yes, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us and everyone, please go check out Dr. Kilbane at sheilakilbane.com She's got a Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel that you can go connect with her and I will make sure to put everything in the show notes so that it's easy for you to find.

"Anywhere from a third to two thirds of eczema can be triggered by a food sensitivity or a food allergy. The two big culprits are dairy and eggs."