Welcome to AlertWear.com! It is my mission to make living with food allergies a little bit easier for my kiddos. Along the way, I hope to be able to create some products that would help others as well. As I am creating, I’ll be blogging about my creations, living with life-threatening food allergies, asthma, our amazing allergy alert service dog and so much more. I know there are many kids and adults out there with other disabilities. If you have an idea for something that would make your life easier, please let me know. Maybe I can help create the perfect thing for you too. Thanks! Ann
I think I have shared how to do these hundreds of times since we started back in 2007. I had a note with instructions on facebook but, it disappeared. So, her are my simple instructions that have really helped us. I know there are other ways to do eczema wraps but, this is using things that you probably already have in your home.
Our daughter has such bad eczema with all of her allergies. We simply can’t keep her in a bubble. We have been doing eczema wraps for a several years now and swear by them! No chemicals – very safe and our daughter loves them and begs for them. Here is what we do:
I have her take a warm clear bath for 20 minutes. Get her out, without drying her off a little, then lather her up with layers of olive or coconut oil (can use any natural lotion) and put cotton pajamas on her that fit somewhat snug. I then put her back in the bathtub and pour warm water over her jammies till she is soaked. Next, I put her in fleece footed jammies and wrap her in a fleece blanket and hold her or let her sit in a plastic chair and watch a movie. She usually sits in the wrap for 20 minutes to an hour or more. She loves them and really they heal her skin. No need for steroids although lately, her hands are so bad from probably being at school and exposed to more stuff and anti-bacterial soaps there so, I have cut strips of flannel receiving blankets and soak them, apply layers of hydrocortisone cream and wrap her hands good with the flannel and them put thick fleece mittens over. It has helped a bit but, her hands are all sores. At home, we use a free and clear baby wash for hands and body. For a time we also had her bath in clear water for a while and then drain the tub and have her stand up and soap her down and wash hair and then use a hand held shower head to rinse her off. Now she is old enough to take showers instead.
She is a super sensitive kid. There are a whole host of things I have noticed cause her eczema to flare up. To help her, we really try to keep our home free of chemicals. We mostly use baking soda and vinegar for general cleaning and All Free and Clear or Nellie’s laundry soda for laundry. I think she is an extreme example but, she tolerates all of those things well.
1. Do not feed them anything for a good hour before doing an eczema wrap and 2. Test the lotion first a few times because the moisture and heat will intensify any reaction. The above picture was taken after an eczema wrap. I had given her Soy Dream Ice Cream just before the wrap. I believe she had a reaction to possible dairy cross contamination that we were unaware of. Her reaction got progressively worse and she ended up in the ER when we couldn’t get her breathing under control.
I made this list for my daughter’s classmates who would like to eat with her outside of the cafeteria. I thought it might help others as well. Keep in mind that manufacturers use regional bakers. So what might be safe in my area might not be safe elsewhere. Always read the labels! ; ) If you have anything to add to the list, please comment below! Thanks!
1. Raisins / Craisins
2. Apple Sauce
3. Rice Cakes (Plain)
4. Hummus (Roasted Red Pepper from Tribe – there may be others just check the labels)
5. Guacamole and Tortilla chips (or Salsa) (Homemade with plain salsa; Plain Tostidos)
6. Celery and Soy Butter (Wow Butter or IM Healthy brands – found at Butera or online)
7. Ham, Bologna, Turkey or Soy Butter Sandwiches or roll-ups (no butter or mayo – Smart Balance Light is ok)
8. Diced Chicken
9. Cheese-less Pizza Mama ?? single pizza crusts from Walmart, Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce, Hormel Pepperoni, black olives, pineapple, bell peppers or other veggies.
10. Mandarin Oranges
12. Green Beans
13. Noodles (non-egg noodles) – (Barilla, Prince – you won’t find any that are not made in a facility with but, these are fine)
14. Rold Gold Pretzels
15. Honeywell Graham Crackers
16. Saltines (Premium)
18. Teddy Grahams (Chocolate and Chocolate Chip .. maybe others)
22. Thomas Bagels (Plain, Blueberry, Cinnamon and Raisin)
23. Plain Sun Chips
25. Black Olives
26. Cherry Tomatoes
27. Mashed Potatoes in Thermos (made with Smart Balance Light or Earth Balance Light margarines)
29. Spaghetti in Thermos
30. Fresh or steamed Broccoli
31. Bell Peppers
34. OJ cartons
35. Enjoy Life Chocolate Bar (for special treats), cookies
36. Enjoy Life Cookies (in the allergy/ gluten free section at WalMart)
37. To go boxes of rice milk or soy milk
38. Apple Juice
39. Bottled Water
42. Plain Ritz Crackers
43. Country Hearth Breads
45. Orville Redenbacher’s Natural Simply Salted Popcorn – I think Skinny Pop is safe too.
46. Cereal (Plain Cheerios, Frosted Mini Wheats, Chex, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms)
47. Soy Yogurt
48. Vegan Cheese Slices from Tofutti
49. Hunt’s Lemon or Lemon Meringue Pudding Cups
50. Fruit Snacks
51. Tofutti Cream Cheese
52. Dried fruit
53. Florida natural fruit nuggets
54. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (no egg)
55. Oreos (original, mint, chocolate – not peanut butter or Oreo Cakes)
56. Sensible Foods – Fruit Chips & Veggie Chips
58. Jello Cups
60. Hillshire Farms plain sausage
61. Hormel Pepperoni
62. Duncan Hines Yellow cake mix made with a can of soda or a cup of apple sauce instead of other ingredients
63. Mission Tortilla Wraps 64. Refried Beans
65. Plain Lays Potato Chips
66. Plain Fritos 67. Cherry Tomatoes
69. Watermelon 70. Cantaloupe
71. “trail mix” I make ours with mini marshmallows, Enjoy Life chocolate chunks from Woodmans, Corn or Rice Chex, Gimbals Jelly Beans and Rold Gold Pretzels
72. Most plain pitas
74. Enjoy Life snack bars
75. Jello or Hunt’s jello packs
76. Banquet orTysons Chicken Nuggets
77. Rosen Hot Dog & Hamburger Buns
78. Premium Brand Oyster Crackers 79. Plain Wheat Thins 80. Plain Triscuits
81. Smiley Face French Fried 82. Sunflower Seeds 83. Condiments: Hershey’s syrup, most jellies, mustard, ketchup, salsa, blue bonnet light margarine sticks, relish, plain French salad dressing
85. Tator Tots 86. Hot Dogs (Plain Oscar Mayer, Ball Park or Apple Gate Farms) 87. Green Beans
88. Kiwi 89. Hormel Pre-Made Roast Beef or pork roast
90. Quaker Oatmeal (not the weight loss or nut varieties)
91. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
93. Dairy-Free Mac N Cheese (found at the back of Wal-Mart near the cooler section on the shelves near crackers) *It does not taste like Mac n Cheese to me!
96. Teddy Graham’s Soft Paws
97. Prunes or plums
99. Fruit Juice or Koolaid
100. Sunny D
I have had a lot of fun over the past few months working with kids and parents to design the perfect case for medicines. If you would like to order a case, they are $30 for one case or for the new case with changeable designs, $45 with two designs. You can find us on Etsy or us the contact us feature here to place an order.
I created a great print out with Halloween graphics and basic allergy info for non-allergy families to give to schools but, I can’t create a PDF with it for some reason. If you would like me to email you a copy, just add a comment below with your contact info. Comments have to be approved by me so, they won’t go public. It just sends me an email. These treats are free of the Top 8 Allergens:
Applesauce / Fruit Cups**
Most Fruit Snacks **
Fritos Original Corn Chips
Fruit Gushers **
Fruit Roll Ups**
Lay’s Plain Potato Chips
Ruffles Plain Potato Chips
Tostidos Tortilla Chips
Candy Buttons by Necco
Smarties Candy Necklace and Bracelets +
Smarties (US Version) +
Haribo Gold Bear Gummies
Gimbal’s Jelly Beans
Big League Chew*
Fun Dip +
Dots by Tootsie Rolls
Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy by Tootsie Roll
Dum Dums *
Spangler Chewy Pops *
Spangler Candy Canes *
Hot Tamales by Just Born+
Mike and Ikes by Just Born+
Double Lolli’s by Smarties +(UPC begins with 011206)
Sour Patch Kids (except xplodez)
St Claire’s Candies
Sensible Foods fruit chips and snacks
FruitaBu Organic Flat Fruit
CherryBerry Crunch Dried Snacks
AllerEnergy Chocolate Chips Bars
Sharkies Organic Fruit Snacks
Let’s Go Organic Gummi Candies
Entire line from Enjoy Life Foods
YummyEarth Organic Lollipops
Dakota Gourmet Salted Sunflower Seeds
Pure Fun Candy
Home Free Treats
+Packaged alone—not in a variety pack
*May contain Soy Lecithin (safe for most with a soy allergy)
** Please double check labels—as
manufacturer’s often change ingredients and manufacturing procedures. As a
general rule, many allergy parents will not purchase items made outside of the US and Canada due to differences in manufacturing requirements.
My “day job” requires that I do a lot of researching and writing for our clients. I recently had the opportunity to share my experience with asthma and ways we have helped our daughter breath a little easier. I know many people in our food allergy community also deal with asthma and may find some of this information useful.
We have gone through many air filtration products. We would love to install a whole house air purifier and humidifier but, have not been able to do that just yet. Our allergist advised us not to use portable humidifiers in the winter because of the bacteria that can grow in the units. He recommended a whole house humidifier since it uses fresh water. During the winter months, we have been boiling water in an open pot on the stove and running the shower in the evenings on the hottest setting for 20 – 30 minutes. Currently we are using Fresh Air by Eco Quest. It is a very compact, yet a powerful air purifier that uses an electrostatic precipitator to purify the air. This unit was actually given to us, however, I believe they cost between $700 – $800. Be aware that some of these types of units can actually create an ozone layer in your home. Ozone gasses in your home can actually be irritating to the lungs and hinder the body from healing from respiratory infections.
According to Consumer Reports, the best models for room air purifiers are the Whirlpool AP51030K (costs about $300) and Hunter 30547 (costs about $260). Things to look for with room purifiers are noise levels, HEPA filters, filter replacement indicators and and obviously performance. For whole house air purification, Consumer Reports recommended the Lennox Healthy climate HC16 which must be professionally installed. It costs about $350 plus the cost of installation. They also recommend the
3M Filtrete Elite Allergen 2200 MPR filter which costs about $25 and does not require professional installation. I believe this is the filter that we use as well.
Indoor Air Quality
We have banned cigarette smoking, candles, chemical cleaners, most paints and solvents, pesticides, air fresheners and for our little canary, many foods from our home. You might consider testing your home for radon (a cancer causing natural gas), mold and carbon monoxide. To prevent the growth of mold, we use fans and dehumidifiers year round in the basement and bathrooms. It would definitely be a good idea to have the air ducts cleaned as well.
We use a bag-less vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. My husband actually dislikes the bag-less part of the vacuum because he has difficulty with emptying the container of dust. He wears a filtered mask when he does clean it out. When I clean it out, I use a plastic grocery bag and hold it tight around the top of the container and flip it over then tie it off quickly to minimize the amount of airborne dust.
Consumer Reports recommend the Kenmore Intuition 28014 canister, HEPA filtered bagged vacuum (approximate retail $569) and the Kenmore Intuition 31100 upright, HEPA filtered bag vacuum (approximate retail $249). If you would prefer a bag-less vacuum cleaner, Consumer Reports recommends Eureka AirSpeed AS1000A upright vacuum (approximate retail $100) which has HEPA filtration as well.
For the most part, we only use a mix of 50/50 vinegar and water or Shaklee Get Clean products. For the toilet bowl, we use Stanley Home Products Silent Maid dispenser (http://www.stanley-home-products.com/item/Bowl-Refresher-Dispenser-8) filled with straight white vinegar. It drips a small amount of vinegar in the water with each flush and in our home needs to be refilled every three months or so. No bowl scrubbing is required! For grime around the sink faucets, white vinegar left to sit for an hour or so will loosen the grime so that it can be wiped away easily. Shaklee’s Heavy Duty Scour Off (http://www.shaklee.com/products.php?sku=00430) is a great product for tough clean ups with not only pots and pans but, even crayon on a wall. Basic H cleaner is super all purpose cleaner (http://www.shaklee.com/products.php?sku=00015) that lasts a long time! We are still using our original bottle from November 2008 because it only requires 2 drops to make a 16 oz bottle of window cleaner and a 1/4th teaspoon for an all purpose cleaner!
Ideally, we try to bath our dog once a week and brush him down before coming back in from outside during peak pollen months. Sometimes, I also use unscented, natural baby wet wipes to remove pollen and dust from outside. We have found that the Wal-Mart generic unscented wipes to be the least irritating and the strongest material.
We use “free and clear” detergents, avoid perfumes and scented body products. You can add vinegar to the rinse water for softness and to remove excess soap. It is a natural fabric softner and helps to prevent static. We also buy gently used clothing to avoid off gassing from new clothing or we wash new clothing several times through before using. We also air dry clothes that we can’t dry in the dryer inside instead of outside to prevent pollen from collecting in our clothing.
Our allergist recommends using as few cloth products in the home as possible (curtains, fabric furniture, throw pillows, throw rugs, carpeting, etc…). Leather and solid wood (not pressed wood) furniture is ideal. Blinds are better than curtains to help contain dust. Before bringing new furniture in your home, let it air out in the garage for a few days.
When possible, paint or refinish items outside with low-VOC or no-VOC products. A baby’s room tends to be the most toxic room in the house because new parents fill the room with new furnishings, paint, carpet and toys that are all off-gassing. This article gives some great suggestions for paints to use: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/green-your-nursery-paint.html Here is another article: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1594/is_n6_v8/ai_20099787/
Hard wood or tile floors are much better than carpeting and vinyl flooring due to off-gassing, dust collecting and toxic sealants. I love my Shark Steam mop for cleaning our floors. I only use water, no cleaners are needed! http://www.sharkclean.com/Shark-Steam-Products/
We avoid pesticides and herbicides as much as possible. I have found there are many natural, non-toxic home-made remedies that are just as effective as toxic chemicals. Visit http://www.allpestco.com/ to get some ideas of how to use Borax, baking soda, white vinegar, baby powder and more to take care of many of those needs.
To minimize pollen irritation from cutting grass, where a face mask while mowing, leave your mowing shoes outside, wash clothes and shower as soon as possible after mowing as well.
For us to travel, I literally have to use spreadsheets to plan ahead. I typically chose a hotel with a kitchenette so that we can prepare our own foods and pet-free, smoke-free hotels. I also call ahead and request that sheets are rinsed twice and that the room is cleaned with vinegar before we arrive. We bring our own hand soap and bath products as well. For rental cars, I request cars with low mileage and smoke-free. I also request that they clean the car with vinegar or baby wipes if possible.
Bath and Body Products
We try to chose products with ingredients that we can read and that are unscented. We use unscented Seventh Generation hand wash and several of Shaklee’s products. At one point, I used a deodorant crystal (http://www.naturallyfreshdeodorantcrystal.com/) but, I did not personally care for it since it does not act as an antiperspirant. I have found the Environmental Working Group a great resource for finding quality, non-toxic products. The Skin-Deep database that they have created has made shopping for bath and body products much easier: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.
If you have tips to add to this, please post a comment!
In this down economy, many food allergy families especially are really having a tough go at it. Whoever said food allergies are a rich man’s disease has not walked a second in my shoes! The high costs of alternative “safe” foods, medical expenses (ER trips don’t come cheap!) and in many cases, the loss of income are taking their toll.
Tonight as I was taking my pre-overnight shift nap, I woke up in a cold sweat from a crazy dream. I dreamed our family was on the TV show Wife Swap and the poor woman who was assigned to our home was handed two dozen coupons, a grocery list for five different stores, $50 and a lengthy list of food allergies to avoid (including eggs and dairy). She was given 2 ½ hours to complete the task which included buying ingredients and making “safe” cupcakes for a birthday party. I woke up as she was sinking in tears in the bakery isle.
Many food allergy families do not anticipate the need to have a parent with their children at all times when they have children, including us. As much as I did not want to return to work after having my children, I did not have the choice to when our daughter was born. Most daycare facilities are equipped to handle a peanut or tree nut allergy but, when you talk to them about multiple food allergies, they flat out tell you that they cannot accommodate your child. I even had one facility tell me: “You would be a fool to leave that child with anyone!” While I agree with that, what are you supposed to do when you financially need to work? This is one of those blessings in disguise but, it does create a huge financial burden in this world of two income families.
We have gotten very creative with ways to bring in income and save money while still having one parent with the kids at all times. Here’s a great list of links for legitimate stay at home jobs: http://workathomedesk.com/directory/at-home-customer-care-agents.htm I am forever grateful for the amazing work at home job that I have! Nothing quite like working in your Pjs even if it means working overnight.
Now that our kids are school age, we have been able to send them somewhat safely to school although it has been a lot of work. Had I kept dreaming about the woman who would take my place on Wife Swap, I wonder how she would have responded when she read that she would not be standing at the bus stop waiting for the kids to be whisked away but rather, she would taking the youngest to school early so that she could “sweep” the building with an allergy alert service dog for 20 – 60 minutes so that this child could be there for three hours in relative safety?
I also wonder how she would respond when she read how to act in the kitchen? No finger licking, no wiping hands on pants or a dish rag, must repeatedly wash hands after handling any allergens and drying with a fresh towel, cannot use the same utensil for anything else, no heating of dairy and every allergen must be consumed in the kitchen with a thorough cleaning of that area and hands and face to follow. That would be the short list!
Another blessing in disguise over the past few years has been learning how to save money by “super couponing”. Basically, once every twelve weeks an item will hit its lowest sale price and when it does, you buy in bulk to last for twelve weeks. In addition to the sale price, you add whatever manufacturer coupons you can find for that item and if the store has coupons too, you stack those on top. Sure there are many, many items that we have coupons for that we will never use. A lot of times, we trade those for coupons we will use. I just received over 50 coupons in the mail from other compassionate “super couponers” for Rice Dream (a major staple in our house). It typically retails for $3-$5 a box but, I typically pay under $1 a box. Here are the sites that I use to find the deals: www.hip2save.com and www.jillcataldo.com. In addition to groceries, we rarely pay anything for sundries (shampoo, conditioner, soaps, lotions, deodorants, etc…) and very little for household items such as laundry detergents, green cleaners, etc…
I wish our extreme living or living on the edge was more about hiking mountains and back packing across Europe but, for this season of life, we will take what we have and treasure the blessings in disguise.
I have wanted to share this funny picture that I have been so tempted to send into Jay Leno for years but, I think it might better be used to draw attention to a program that MedicAlert has available for children. Kid Smart is a discounted program for children under the age of 18.
The above picture is our first ever MedicAlert card for our son. The rep that took the order simply put some info in the wrong field which resulted in a funny error. It’s a good reason why you should always double check info! At any rate, they corrected the error and were very apologetic.
We have been members of MedicAlert for years and I can’t say enough good things about them! Membership for children is only $20 per year through Kid Smart after the first year. If you are a member of a school PTA, you can use this discount to save 20% off the initial sign-up of $29.95 by using this link: http://www.medicalert.org/pta or for members of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) save $4.95 off the member fee: http://www.medicalert.org/landing/faan.htm. And for families that are enduring hardships and life-threatening food allergies, adults and children can receive a free membership sponsored by the Food Allergy Initiative by following this link: http://www.medicalert.org/healthinfo/fai.htm.
Life threatening illnesses are no laughing matter! In our countless trips to the ER, I can personally say that it is much easier to hand over MedicAlert information than it is to recall every medical issue, every Dr’s phone number, insurance information, etc… It is so much better to spend that time comforting your child. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to call MedicAlert to get one of our kid’s insurance numbers since they carry their cards in their med packs at school. And, when I am not present physically or mentally to advocate for my children, I know I can count on MedicAlert to provide the necessary information to help them.