Interview with Pediatrician, Dr. Michael Shannon
This is the second post in our series on eczema. If you missed the first post, you can read it here. I am thrilled to share with you my recent interview with Dr. Michael Shannon, MD from Sea View Pediatrics. Dr. Shannon was my boys’ first pediatrician, and provided outstanding care to our boys during the time we lived in Orange County, California. (Dr. Shannon retired in 2017 after 45 years of practicing. You can read about his retirement here.)
I have always appreciated Dr. Shannon’s balanced approach to healthcare. With nearly 40 years of pediatric medicine under his belt, his wisdom and expertise are based upon tremendous experience, research and a passion for the families he serves. His huge heart and calm demeanor put his patients (and parents) at ease. If there is an effective homeopathic treatment for an issue, he will try it first.
I have to give you a little background on how Dr. Shannon played a role in my journey to creating organic skincare. During my first child’s newborn baby visit (nearly 5 years ago), I was a bit shocked when Dr. Shannon suggested that I go purchase a can of Crisco to use as a diaper ointment and moisturizer for my baby. He would later recommend it to help clear up cradle cap and a myriad of other dry and chapped skin issues. He had been recommending the use of Crisco for years as a more natural, vegetable based alternative to mainstream products on the market. Well, we tried the Crisco, and besides the obvious hangups, I was happy with the results, particularly the texture and simple ingredients. Although, more in-depth research of the ingredients, and my increased commitment to organic and environmental issues led me to forfeit the Crisco for healthier more environmentally sound options – his recommendation of this popular cooking product for skincare sparked my curiosity enough to delve deeper into my journey to produce plant-based, organic skincare products. Fun fact: Zoe Organics Diaper Balm was the first Crisco “replacement product” that I formulated.
You will hear Dr. Shannon refer to Crisco as recommended natural treatment for eczema, but I’ll tell you, during our recent conversations I think he may be edging closer to believing that our products are superior to his beloved Crisco! He is trying our Extreme Cream himself and has passed out some samples to his patients with eczema.
Now, thankfully, my children have not suffered from eczema, but when I started delving into this common issue, I knew that I needed to talk with Dr. Shannon. I knew his perspective would be based upon years of experience and that he may even have some alternative, and somewhat quirky (Crisco) solutions. ;P
Here are some of the questions I asked Dr. Shannon, and his answers:
Q: In your opinion, what are the biggest factors contributing to eczema?
A: The biggest factor in eczema is that our skin does not hold moisture well. This can be exaggerated by living in a dry climate or by a cold time of year which involves using heating for the home, which dries the air. People who live in dry climates also tend to drink too little and are chronically mildly to moderately dehydrated, leaving skin cells more dry as well.
Q: How does diet affect eczema?
A: Most dermatologists believe that diet has nothing to do with eczema. That has not been my experience. In studies of eczema patients, milk has been the most common food that exaggerates eczema. It may not be the cause, but it makes the eczema worse. I have seen breastfed babies’ skin blister when the mother ate sesame or other nuts. I think foods always have to be considered as a factor.
Q: Do you believe that skin and body care products have an effect (positive or negative) on eczema?
A: Cleansers for eczema skin need to be products that are not drying. For example, J&J baby products are too drying for the southern California climate. Dove and Cetaphil are lotion cleansers and do not dry the skin (removing more hard to retain moisture). Products which are oily hold or seal moisture into the skin. I use Crisco and olive oil the most.
Q: What are some of the steps you take to treat eczema before prescribing steroids or other prescription meds?
A: I use steroids and prescription medications as a last resort. I only use them if applying Crisco several times per day (sometimes 6-8 times) and a nightly olive oil rub down after a bath, have failed.
Thanks Dr. Shannon!
What questions do you have regarding eczema? We want to hear from you! To participate in this blog post, submit a question below for Dr. Shannon! Your entry will not only make you eligible for the grand prize (a full set of Zoe Organics Baby products, $100 value), but your question may get chosen for an in-depth discussion and answer from Dr. Shannon!
Stay tuned for our next post – we will share the feedback and results from our own Extreme Cream product testers!
Dr. Shannon began practicing in the Saddleback Valley in l973, originally in Mission Viejo, and since 1996, in Laguna Hills. Dr. Shannon has a special interest in infant and toddler growth and development and in the parenting of first children. “My basic philosophy about children is that we must listen to what they tell us from their first sound and facilitate their development of self, beginning at birth!” Dr. Shannon has been married to his wife, Vera, since 1968 and has two children, Michael (a pediatric dentist in Mission Viejo and San Clemente) and Vanessa (a PhD. in sports psychology specializing in college athletes), and his two grandsons, Spencer and Owen.
Comments on this post (15)
Can someone post a picture of the Crisco used to make sure I purchased the right item? My son is 4 going on 5 and he has his first outbreak. We’re willing to try anything that will give him some relief.
My son was diagnosed with postulated excema twenty years ago. Our pediatric dermatologist tried loss of creams. The doctor only wanted him to be fully bathed a few times per week. My sons skin was blistered and flaky. CRISCO and Jesus have been his saving grace. My grandson Jay is 16 months old and scratching his neck until he bleeds. My daughter is a new mom. Sometimes simple and natural ingredients are the right answer. Thank you for caring. My grandson usually has a runny nose when his excema is at its worst. Is this common?
— Angel Murray
My son was diagnosed with postulated excema twenty years ago. Our pediatric dermatologist tried loss of creams. The doctor only wanted him to be fully bathed a few times per week. My sons skin was blistered and flaky. CRISCO and Jesus have been his saving grace. My grandson Jay is 16 months old and scratching his neck until he bleeds. My daughter is a new mom. Sometimes simple and natural ingredients are the right answer. Thank you for caring.
— Angel Murray
I never had any problems with eczema until I was about 16… suddenly I had one finger that was chapped, blistery and firey red! Once that went away, I had the same little bumps as Amanda. They’re bumps that itch like crazy and when you itch them they hurt and if you open them up there’s clearish liquid that seeps out… Yuck! That’s been my experience. Since then I’ve only really noticed my eczema flare up in summertime. My question would be, can heat and humitity (or moisture) have an effect on eczema or be the cause of it? I usually notice a flare up after wearing my gardening gloves! This is also a similar question as Amanda had, but are there different kinds of eczema?
Thought of another question (feel free to not count this for the giveaway since it is a 2nd post). When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with eczema. I don’t get the usual patches of dry skin (like my dad and son) but rather little bumps that itch like crazy and pop up with either overly dry skin or overly hot skin (kind of like a heat rash). What I am wondering is is this indeed a type of eczema? And if so does it have a certain name or just eczema?
— Amanda Alvarado
In my quest for trying to clear up my 4 month old son’s eczema, I feel I have been able to rule out many of the potential triggers suggested by some – detergent, soap, food allergy, fabrics. It seems that moisturizers and a mild steriod cream have only “masked” the problem for a time. Recently, someone suggested a weak/not fully functioning liver as the root cause (he also did have mild jaundice as an infant), and therfore having continuous eczema flareups. Could this be a possibility, and if so can you explain it more fully, and how would you treat it? Thanks!
— Pamela Koop
i would like to know… can eczema be hereditary?
— Tara E
Off topic, what time zone is this blog written in? It was around 8:30 p.m. in Mountain Tie on 4/26 when I made the above post.
— Trisha W.
My son was prescribed some steroid cream for occasional use. What are the negatives to using that? Also, how do you figure out if a food allergy is causing the eczema? Thank you.
— Trisha W.
Can you “grow out of it”? Or into it, so to speak? The eczema flare ups seem to decrease as my daughter gets older, but I have had some eczema patches on my arms for the first time in my life recently!
I recently had to take my son to the doctor (though we weren’t able to see our regular pediatrician) because he had out-of-control diaper rash. He also happened to have a flare up of eczema on his legs at the same time, which I was in the process of “treating” with Zoe Organics Extreme Cream. I told this doctor that eczema is an ongoing problem for my son and that the Extreme Cream always clears it up in time. However, the pediatrician told me that lavender and other “herbal remedies” aggravate eczema. She told me to stop using natural products and instead use Cetaphil and Aquafor. She gave me some anti-yeast cream for my son’s diaper area and cortisone cream for his eczema. The anti-yeast cream did work on the diaper area, but I didn’t use the other products–instead sticking to my usual organic routine, which cleared up the eczema in time.
My question is this: do natural and organic ingredients aggravate eczema? And, specifically, does lavender aggravate it? I had never heard that before, but when a doctor tells you something like that, it makes you stop and wonder.
A brief Google search regarding eczema is sure to confuse even the most seasoned researcher due to the many classifications or “types” that arose from the haphazard and unsystematic way in which it has been categorized in the past.
Dr. Shannon, can you shed some light on the various types/classifications of eczema, including its relationship to dermatitis, and briefly describe any resulting variations in treatment?
— Lisa Marshall
I have an 15 month old with pretty sever eczema. She also has sever food allergies that cause her skin to flair. She is on a very strike diet and I use a combination of things on her skin including Olive Oil. I have been against using steroid creams because I don’t want to expose her to all the chemicals at such a young age an prefer the natural route. I am starting to feel more guilty every time I go the the ped. or allergist though because they tell me how uncomfortable my daughter is and that I could make her so much more comfortable and the creams and antihistamines are perfectly safe.
In your opinion would the steroid creams make a night and day difference and am I torturing my daughter?
I have 2 questions.
1 why do you think most doctors have little to no understanding of how diet and product ingredients affect our children? (My doctors recommended J & J products for my nephews excema and told my sister that what she ate had nothing to do with his issues, even though when she stopped eating all dairy and nuts he healed almost completely) Do they not know or do they just prefer prescriptions?
2 What is the difference bewteen Psoriasis and Excema?
theclothspring at hotmail
— Fluff’s Enough
Do you feel that eczema and allergies go hand in hand? My son has really bad outbreaks of eczema and it usually goes hand in hand with his allergies acting up. They act up majorly with weather changes – hot/cold, rainy/dry. He has had eczema since he was around 1-2 years old. He is now 17 and it seems as if it has gotten worse as he’s gotten older!
— Amanda Alvarado