Oh . . . The Torment!
Anyone who has suffered from eczema knows the torment. Itching that drives you wild. Skin that forms watery blisters that break open—and then morph into rough, scaly patches that become red and raw.
For years I suffered from eczema and tried everything I could think of to get rid of it. When I was a young child, it started with itchy areas on my arms and behind my knees. It always seemed to appear on the most tender areas of my body.
I was told the condition was caused by stress, but even as a young child and then later as a teen, I was skeptical about this. In those early years, I wasn't sure what stress was, and even as a teen, I didn't have a full handle on how stress affected the body, but I somehow knew that this mysterious stress thingy was not what was causing my eczema. My skin condition would come and go mysteriously—in both good times and in bad.
For years, too, I woke up with raspy breathing, a congested chest, and I suffered with phlegm. I coughed and generally felt miserable.
Oddly enough, I also had terrible bouts of ear infections and would be laid out, two weeks at a time, with my ears aching.
As I grew older and found it hard to breathe, I wondered if I had asthma. My lungs felt that congested.
One absolute: my eczema made an appearance off and on for years. As I grew older, it somehow gravitated to my fingers and hands, between my toes, and behind my ears—again, the most tender areas. It even appeared under my fingernails. Talk about torment. I knew somehow that something had to be triggering it.
Cream Only a Temporary Solution
I went to the doctor and was given a cream, which worked to suppress my eczema, but as soon as I stopped using the cream, almost as quickly, the bubbles, itching, and rash reappeared. I knew this was no real solution, that a cream that acted to contain it inside my body was a Band-aid measure, merely masking the problem but never getting to the root of it, never mind the chemicals in the cream.
I felt disgusted. What good was something that didn't actually cure my eczema? The thought of smearing on cream for the rest of my life did not sit well with me at all.
When I saw that traditional medicine did not hold a real cure, I decided to turn to alternative therapies.
How I Cured My Eczema
I can't remember how I came into possession of a book by Dr. Paavo Airola, but it contained a wealth of information and got me thinking about food and health in a whole new light.
And interestingly, as I read through the book, I came across a section that discussed cow's milk and how this could cause eczema. No way! I thought. But as Dr. Airola mentioned, cow's milk was designed for cows, not humans. That made sense to me.
However, I really did not believe that simply cutting out milk would do the trick. This somehow seemed too easy. When you have suffered from a persistent condition for so long, you almost accept that matters are inevitable, and it is hard to get your head around a solution that might be as simple as changing what you drink each day.
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Desperate for a cure for my eczema, though, I decided I would take Dr. Airola's advice and would quit drinking milk and see if my skin cleared up. At that time, I was experiencing another bad flare-up of eczema, and it covered my hands. Anything was preferable to that damned itching!
The book mentioned allowing enough time, and as I read, it dawned on me that the skin is an organ of elimination, and eczema manifested because the body was excreting something that did not agree with it. It made sense that it might take a while for this process.
I was willing to stop drinking milk. The first week, there was no real change. My hands were as itchy and red as ever. I stuck to my guns, though, and, in my second week, one morning, I discovered as if by magic, my inflamed skin had calmed down, and my eczema had started to disappear. The itching was gone!
I was dumbstruck! I stared at my hands in disbelief. Something so simple had been there under my nose all along for all those years. I continued with my no milk regime, and my skin became completely clear. To say I could have jumped for joy would be an understatement.
Here's where it gets even more interesting. As I mentioned above, some mornings, I had woken to lungs that were so congested that I'd found it hard to breathe, but now, surprisingly, my lungs were clear as well. No awful phlegm, no wheezing, no coughing. Could all of this have been interconnected? Did all of these symptoms have to do with a milk allergy? It appeared that Dr. Airola knew a thing or two.
Cautionary note: This is not an absolute endorsement of any specific dietary model. What works for one person may not work for another. It is important to seek out effective treatments and ensure adequate calcium intake.
Just How Bad is it?
It still amazes me that even one glass of cow's milk can cause an almost instant reaction—my fingers will start itching and bubbles will appear.
Almond Milk and Cream: Healthful and Tasty Alternative to Cow's Milk
I still enjoy milk-based products. Sour cream, whipped cream, and butter do not bother me. Another natural health practitioner told me that these are somewhat different in makeup than cow's milk. But for a milk-like liquid, I make my own almond milk or almond cream when I want a topping for cereal. The video above talks about making nut milk from almonds. This is surprisingly good, and thickness is determined by how much water you add.
There's an even easier way to make almond milk and cream that differs from the method demonstrated in the video above. If you buy your almonds already blanched, you do not have to strain them. Some people buy ground almonds and make their milk or cream from that. That, by far, is the easiest method.
Then and Now
Since my eczema cure all those years ago, I never did go back to drinking milk. The odd time—maybe three times in the last 20 years—I've had a glass of milk, I've had an almost instant reaction. My fingers will start itching and bubbles will appear. I've been eczema-free for so many years, that at times I've honestly forgotten. However, my body certainly hasn't, and it goes to work, excreting through my skin the cow's milk that is an obvious irritant.
Help and Healing
If you've suffered with eczema or know of someone who does, it is my hope that sharing how I cured my eczema will prove helpful to you. Not once did any doctor I visited ever suggest that my eczema might be caused by cow's milk.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a rash on my neck that comes and goes, what could be causing it?
Answer: If it itches or you see small bubbles, it might be eczema. It's always a good step to see a doctor to find out what is causing a rash. The body will try to expel different types of irritants. With eczema, when this happens, it comes out through the skin. The itching can be particularly hard to deal with as it can be quite intense and uncomfortable.
© 2012 Athlyn Green
Laura on February 16, 2019:
Cow’s milk is a common cause of eczema, but drink almond milk with extreme caution: almond is a very common allergen that may cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis in those with nut allergies. If you have eczema, you may have allergies: they are related in a complex way. Seek medical advice AND use extreme caution if you decide to replace cow’s milk with almond milk for eczema or allergy control.
Kafy on January 15, 2019:
My arms n legs r itchy i scratch they bleed i feel like bugs r on me..i look and nothing...i have asthma what do i have???
Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on February 05, 2018:
Each person is different, so cow's milk may be the culprit for some but not for everyone.
Deb on February 03, 2018:
If it's caused from cow's milk then I am curious why I have had it since birth? My mom breastfed me.
Curious on July 09, 2017:
Two years ago, at age 43, I developed dishydrotic eczema for the very first time. Never had it before that, and the outbreaks on hands are nonstop. Is it possible to develop and milk/food allergy that late in life, and can allergy scratch tests detect what might be causing the eczema?
Carol Barton on June 30, 2017:
It is wonderful that you have found such a simple solution. Unfortunately, I have horrendous eczema and I don't drink milk, so no solution here for me. I mention this only because while this worked for you, people shouldn't read your story and think it will work for them. Congratulations to you on your triumph. Even if it doesn't help me or perhaps some others, it may help some.
Jim Gallagher on June 27, 2017:
I have suffered from Eczema for over 50 years... 50 itchy painful bloody years ( literally). Going to try cutting milk from my diet to see what happens. Currently using steroid creams and various emollients and moisturisers with not very much impact. have asked for a referral to a dermatologist to see if they can help more than my GP. Was hospitalised in 1993 for a week when intensive steroid treatment, uv lamps and sedatives were very effective but it slowly returned.Will keep you posted of results in a fortnight
Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on January 17, 2017:
Hi Lav, probably the best course is to try it and then see if you have a reaction. This usually happens soon after ingestion. If you start itching either within hours or the next day, then for you it would be a no-no. I know for myself, I can get away with cream and have no problems, so I figure it is a different composition, but man, if I drink one glass of milk, within a couple of hours, my hands are itching and blisters start forming.
Lav on January 16, 2017:
Hi Athlyn! Does half & half count as a cow's milk trigger? Does it have a different make up like sour cream, whipped cream, butter, etc? I've always been lactose intolerant but never give up my cream in my coffee. Maybe I should?
I just want to mention salicylates as another eczema trigger (google it).
A few years back I noticed artificial colors (especially orange and yellow), flavors, and preservatives caused itchiness.
This whole eczema thing is new to me though. All seemed to appear right after all the holiday eating. I've also been getting more headaches (migraines). I'm sure it's all related.
Wondering if a liver/kidney detox is necessary or if I should just let things clear out naturally once I omit the trigger foods.
Best of health! Let's beat this!
Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on January 04, 2017:
Theo, cow's milk is worse than sour cream, whipped cream, and butter. They all differ in composition and our body differs in how it reacts to them. I asked a naturopath about that because I noticed they didn't bother me as much as cow's milk did.
Cheddar cheese is another culprit and I was told, not only is it the cow's milk but it's also the mould.
Theo on January 04, 2017:
Surely if cow's milk is the trigger then sour cream, whipped cream, and butter would also act as triggers as they are all made from cow's milk. I'll give it a try but I am skeptical.
Valdis Leung on October 31, 2016:
Foderma serum works very well on my daughter eczema. It absorbs easily and helped the itchy rash to disappear. Of course, once you stop use the rash comes right back.
Norma on September 20, 2016:
I am a suffer for many years and I will try thanks for sharing. What can I use in coffee other then milk?
Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on September 16, 2016:
Hi Constant Sufferer,
Your description of where your eczema appears, brought back memories. I used to get it in many of the same spots! I can't wait to hear if your skin clears up after a week or two of abstaining from cow's milk. That awful itching is enough to drive anyone around the bend!
The Constant sufferer on September 16, 2016:
The other day I was looking at my eczema(it was the worst I had ever seen it) and I was wondering how long I've had it. It turns out, I know for sure, that I've had it for over SIX YEARS! And, in that time, it has never fully disappeared! I've had it behind my knees, in the crooks of my elbows, on my wrists, and the worst is on my right hand. My left hand however seems to be immune. I've gotten to the point with my eczema where I have no faith in my doctors(they know about as much about it as I do!) I am definitely going to give it a try cutting out milk! I'll comment again in a few weeks to say if it works!
Rhiahn on August 14, 2016:
I got so excited reading this, thinking that I could fix my terrible eczema, but I havnt drunken cows milk for years and don't go near dairy products
Keshia on April 25, 2016:
I actually figured out it was milk on my own. it would come and go, and it finally clicked (after 5 years of serious problems) that it was dairy products. My irritants are slightly different, cheese is the worst for me. Butter makes spots on my arms and legs; cream cheese makes my scalp flakey.
But i also discovered soy milk is just as bad a cow milk. And I found a study that says eggs are also a high likely hood to be an irritant. But the study also mentioned that if dairy was cut out completely, some people become anaphylactic to it. Yikes. No best solution.
Rosa Lea Acerimo from Marikina City on April 27, 2013:
thanks for sharing. my nephew is currently suffering from the same problem.
Frangipanni on February 06, 2013:
Oh this is such a problem for sufferers. Thanks for sharing. It may just help many other too.
Karen Ellis from Central Oregon on January 16, 2013:
I've had this problem since my children were little. I thought also that it was due to stress. These days it is minimal, but it deffinitaly could be because I eat few dairy products (some cheese and butter). I learned something important today - thanks.
Laura Schneider from Minnesota, USA on August 04, 2012:
Soy milk is another option, zionsphere. That's what they had to put my sister on and it worked for her. (I couldn't stand it, but that's all she knew since she was a baby.) We're lucky to have many non-dairy creamers and substitutes available nowadays. When I was little, I was just hungry all the time but couldn't eat much of anything without setting off the eczema, allergies, or even asthma. Good luck! Just be sure your "dietician" isn't trying to practice mumbo-jumbo. I saw a dietician, and he refused to talk about food until I went through a series of reflexology exercizes. I tried to be open-minded, and I did 3 of the exercizes that confirmed in my mind that he was a complete sham, and left his office under his protest. Lucky thing it was a "free initial consultation" and I only lost 1/2 day of work. Good luck!!! But be careful out there, too. Listen to your own advice and what your body is telling you. Wishing you well, --Laura
Barbara Badder from USA on August 03, 2012:
I've been having problems with it. I did as a child and suddenly about 5 years ago, it has reappeared. I'm allergic to milk, but still can use cheese etc. Maybe I should try cutting that out of my diet and see what happens. Thanks for the information.
Laura Schneider from Minnesota, USA on July 22, 2012:
I've "outgrown" (learned to avoid the triggers) of most of my allergies, and only bear the scars from scratching the eczema). I still occasionally get exercize-induced asthma attacks and for a few years I've had a patch of eczema on the bridge of my nose (right between the eyes) and a corresponding patch above it just inside my hairline (making it look like I've got the WORST untreated case of dandruff. Unfortunately, eliminating milk didn't eliminate the eczema, but I keep searching for the culprit.
Soy milk is another one to try... Good luck!
Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on June 09, 2012:
Goat's milk cheese is incredible. I still eat regular cheese but I watch the amounts. The milk is the worst: 1 glass and my hands start to itch and I start wheezing.
zionsphere from Oregon on June 09, 2012:
Wow. It's amazing how much of an effect the traditonal diet can have on our bodies. I've been thinking about cutting milk out of my diet too, because apparently in some women it causes us to produce yest? I really love cheese though, so it will be a little difficult to give it up. The more I read though...the more I come across stories like these. Maybe I'll go on a hunt for a good place to buy goat's milk..I've heard it's a lot better for us.
Muhammad on June 08, 2012:
my mum had the same problem with me when i was a baby.i saw a diietcian and i was put onto a diary free diet.it has worked wonders ever since and i am now 21.you have to be very careful though, cows milk is in many things.i use (and have since i was a baby) goats milk, goats cheese, dairy free chocolate is a must when she gets older!get an appointment with a diietcian through your doctor, my mum found seeing one such a relief, because they are obviously trained in nutrition and set out a diet according to your child's needs.my mum was given a specific diet plan for my eczema and what i should and shouldn't be eating.i have it to this day and still use it!