I get a lot search queries relating to this post I wrote when Arlo was a baby and suffered from awful eczema. Arlo’s eczema was full-on, a constant battle. Now that I have a second child, who suffers the occasional bit of eczema, I can see even more that Arlo’s infant eczema was on another level.

Arlo’s persistent eczema and red eyes as a result of CMPI

Rory’s eczema is different. He was born with the same super-peely skin that Arlo had, so I was wary straight away. As a young baby, he developed a pretty nasty dribble rash on his chest, and when it persisted, I thought “Oh no, here we go again”. But three months later it had completely cleared up. He gets eczema on the backs of his elbows and knees, his feet, and the occasional patches on his face. He’s never had any angry or infected rashes like Arlo.

Rory’s eczema appears in typical places, Arlo’s was all over his body, and his cheeks were always raw and bleeding – I could never get it under control. Rory’s eczema responds really well to the usual creams, unlike Arlo’s. (At the moment, we are using Reczema, which was sent to us – a few days of applying the cream and we notice a real difference for Rory’s skin). Rory’s eczema has a chance to heal, unlike Arlo’s. Rory’s eczema is altogether much milder.

It has also been an eye-opener to have a baby who isn’t on a restricted diet. There are no intolerances, nothing affects his skin, he can eat whatever he wants, and whatever I am eating – its been so easy compared to weaning Arlo.

One of my worst worries when pregnant was that Arlo’s little sibling would suffer the same awful skin rashes and intolerances. I worried that he or she would also have CMPI, and I’d once again feel out of control, unable to make it better.

Severe eczema, especially when related to food intolerances, can be so debilitating. With Arlo, at the time it was just our normality – he was our first child and we had no comparison. But looking back I can see how it ruled so many aspects of his life and completely shaped my parenting decisions, always helping him to sleep and to resettle throughout the night (because he’d scratch his face until it bled if I didn’t hold him), to the action to continue to breastfeed him past the point I imagined I would (because he couldn’t tolerate formula or cow’s milk and it wasn’t until he was 11 months old that we FINALLY got refered to an infant dermatologist, who was the first and only person to agree to prescribe him hydrolised formula).

I know it’s probably a bit odd that one of my first thoughts when I look at photos like the ones below is, “Look how beautifully clear his skin is!”, but it’s still a bit of a novelty to me. We have been so very very lucky with Rory.

baby eczema CMPI


  1. One of the things I don’t understand is why hydrolysed formula is so restricted in the UK. It’s not like it can be harmful in any way, or even has the potential issues associated with Soy. Why can’t parents be free to choose to buy it? It’s a subject I researched extensively whilst I was still pregnant as I was adamant that my child would not receive cow’s milk protein before 6 months due to a potential increase in the risk of autoimmune triggering (and so an increase in the risk of my potentially genetically at-risk child developing diabetes). It’s why breast feeding was so important to me as I knew no doctor would agree to prescribe hydrolysed formula for that reason, but it meant I ended up feeling enormous pressure to make breast feeding work. Sorry, I’ve gone off topic, but the whole thing still makes me a bit cross! It’s really not like it’s a harmful substance which needs to be tightly regulated.

    I’m glad that Rory hasn’t suffered in the same way as Arlo. I can imagine it must have been so tough, and I totally understand the fear you must have felt about going through it again.

    1. Yes, similarly for me, part of the reason the GPs always refused was because I was ‘still’ breastfeeding and he was getting on fine with that, so what was the point in costing the NHS more money by prescribing special formula? Never mind that it made me feel incredibly restricted and pressured to keep breastfeeding, or that it meant a huge amount of worry about what we would do when I went back to work and would need to supplement with something.

      I do understand why it’s not freely available OTC. There’s so much confusion with dairy intolerances, so many people getting it confused with lactose intolerance, for one example. Self-medicating without any guidance from health professionals might not always be the best thing. But, as I’ve been saying for YEARS, more support is needed, more info widely available to help tackle what can be a confusing issue. GPs should be up to date with CMPI and eczema issues (as it’s such a common problem), and they shouldn’t be so reluctant to grant a dermatologist or allergist referral – it really was like getting blood out of a stone, even though it’s clear just from those photos that Arlo had a persistent issue.

  2. Ouch poor Arlo – I’m glad Rory hasn’t had the same problems. I’ve now had two babies with issues with dairy, but only Elma gets the bad eczema, poor darling. Now that she’s weaned I’ve let a little dairy creep back into my diet but I really miss cheese! One of these days I’m going to have a giant baked Camembert all to myself!

    1. Ah yes, I eliminated dairy from my diet when Arlo was younger – I think I was probably a lot better off for it, but I did miss the odd baked goods now and then!

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