Gluten. First off, what is it?
“The mixture of proteins, including gliadins and glutelins, found in wheat grains, which are not soluble in water and which give wheat dough its elastic texture.” 
“Any of the prolamins found in cereal grains, especially the prolamins in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats, that cause digestive disorders such as celiac disease.” 
Never in my life did I think that something as simple as gluten would be the cause of the problems my daughter had been suffering through and enduring for the past year. What started with a red, raised oval-shaped circular itchy patch on her skin ended up leading me down a road of total diet transformation, and overall better health. Let me start from the beginning and fill you in on our journey– it was full of trials and tribulations, but I will say I am thankful in a way. I am not thankful that my child had to suffer through this while I figured it out. But I am thankful that we both made it to the end of this tunnel, and I can now pass along this information to other parents who have heard the diagnosis of eczema or atopic dermatitis, and thought their child would have to live with this, only covering their symptoms for life.
“Dermatitis, an itchy, stinging, blistering skin rash, occurs when your skin reacts to gluten antibodies circulating in your system.” 
The photos above are an example of what will happen to her skin when she has gluten in her system. These red welts started out on the insides of her arms and behind her legs during the beginning stages of the intolerance, and then progressed to her trunk and thighs as well. They itch her, and she will scratch them until she bleeds. If she has been gluten-free and ingests gluten, these will cover her body within hours, and they will remain for 2-4 days while the gluten works out of her system.
In the beginning I really thought she had Ring Worm. The patch was in one isolated area, and I tried to cure it naturally. It did go away, but kept coming back with more spots. Finally I felt it was a losing battle, and I hauled her into a dermatologist who gave us an immediate diagnosis of advanced eczema/atopic dermatitis. Also quickly followed by, “There is no cure; we can only alleviate symptoms with creams and steroids.” This, from the start, was not a significant answer for me.
I tried a wide variety of treatments, like oatmeal baths, coconut oil rub downs 3 times a day, colloidal silver, adding some extra biotin into the diet, but it was a just a temporary fix for a underlying problem that I could not figure out. Finally I started looking online for natural cures for atopic dermatitis, and came across a celiac webpage where some of them were describing a rash very similar to what I was seeing. So I poured hours and hours into researching this, and something just clicked, finally!
I learned that gut health was the key to this issue, and I also thought food allergies might be a concern, but I did not know where to start– Eggs? Gluten? Dairy? I was overwhelmed at first, but everything I was researching pointed to healing the gut as the first step.
First, I started adding TONS of fermented foods.
“Fermented foods contain the beneficial flora Lactobacillus acidophilus. The bacteria use the starches and sugars in foods as its ferments. In the process of metabolizing the sugars, the bacteria produce several byproducts. The main byproduct, lactic acid, actually preserves food because it inhibits other bacteria that cause foods to rot and putrefy. Recent research validates that fermented foods aid in digestion, support immune function, and increase overall nutritional status by adding B vitamins and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming foods to contain live lacto-bacteria has protective benefits against harmful, pathogenic microorganisms.” 
Second, I added in a high quality probiotic.
“Lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic – a good bug that should be living in the bowel in high numbers. It has been shown that children developing eczema have relatively low levels of acidophilus. By supplementing these children with acidophilus on a daily basis: their gut health improves; their immune health improves; and the inflammatory activity in the skin is reduced.” 
That helped a lot, but I could tell we were still dealing with a food issue. First I cut out dairy. We do not eat much animal products (farm fresh eggs, and some raw cheeses), so I thought this would be a quick, and easy thing to try first. I did that for about a month with no results. Then I cut out gluten. Within five days the spots were drying up, and my daughter even commented that she was not itchy anymore. I was amazed! Within two weeks the spots were totally gone, and her skin was just about back to normal. I felt like so much weight had been lifted, and the sparkle in my daughter’s eyes has totally returned. It is such a relief when she is not itching. It is still a learning process, but we are working on it as a family. Gluten can hide in many foods. There were obvious foods to cut out, like pre-packaged food (we didn’t eat that to begin with), breads, and pasta. Now if we want pasta or a sandwich, we just opt for gluten-free bread and rice/corn pasta. Other than that we stick with whole, real foods.
Sometimes gluten will slip in where you’d least expect it– tomato paste for example– and she will have a flare up, but now we know how to fix it fast, and we are all so grateful. I did take her back to that dermatologist, and he said that it was “just a fluke” and you cannot “cure” eczema, or atopic dermatitis. I will let him believe what he wants, but we have witnessed with our own eyes how healing the gut can show improvements in the skin.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and when it is unhealthy you can only imagine what must be going on inside. Inflammation of the skin is directly linked to inflammation of the gut, and with the proper tools and resources, parents can help ease their children’s suffering. I now urge all parents to dig a little deeper, and consider a food allergy. It never hurts to try, and the benefits of seeing your child’s skin transform before your eyes is an amazing reward!