Ending the eczema and allergy epidemic, without drugs or expensive interventions

Ending the eczema and allergy epidemic, without drugs or expensive interventions

Moffett Field, United States
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

SolveEczema.org is about helping families problem solve and eliminate their children's eczema, without drugs or treatment of any kind.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Pediatric eczema and allergies are a rising global epidemic. Many researchers acknowledge the problem is primarily environmental, yet research efforts focus on treatment. For over seven years, SolveEczema.org has been helping parents from all over the world to end their children's eczema and allergies, without medications or treatment at all; if parents are given the information to understand the environmental cause, they can give their children normal lives simply by eliminating the cause from their home environment. The greatest barrier is funding to demonstrate this through medical research and publication, in order to change the paradigm of thinking about allergies and eczema. Parents in rural and third-world countries can protect their families without dependence on interventions.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The SolveEczema.org solution gets to the cause of skin barrier disruption at the root of eczema, shows parents how to identify and understand it to give their children normal skin and lives without treatment. The problem comes down to how modern detergents - ubiquitous in homes across the world today in cleaning and personal care - impact the skin barrier and increase membrane permeability and allergic sensitization. The SolveEczema solutions gives families the information to identify how they may be affected, and how they can use simple, readily available alternatives. A medical study is needed to put the information in the hands of medical practitioners.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

I receive email from families all over the world whose children suffer immensely. Many of these children haven't slept a single night through in their lives from the itching, or have been in the hospital because of infections, or ostracized because of their broken, oozing skin. I met a little boy recently whose mom used the site to solve his eczema when he was about 18 months old. He's now 7. Eczema doesn't usually scar, but this boy's eczema had been so bad, he has a scarred area along the side of his face and neck. I realized, if his mom hadn't stumbled across my website one late night, this child would have at the very least been disfigured for the rest of his life. Instead, he's a beautiful, bright, sweet child with normal skin. His mom thanked me back then for allowing them to parent normally. Their whole world had been about his misery, bleeding skin, and infections. Everyone thinks this is something wrong about the children. Imagine what that does to a child in the developing world, for the family to believe the child is weak or "defective". This problem has a genetic component, so not every child expresses the eczema. But it is fundamentally an environmental one, and unnecessary for most of these children to ever suffer. Enlightening and demonstrating this would have a profound global impact. Demonstrating this solution with eczema would also highlight the benefits of the problem-solving approach used to come to this solution, potentially leading to further simple solutions for other diseases currently deemed intractable.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

I only wish there were competitors. I read the medical literature and see a lot of sincere effort and billions spent on research. I see study after study of eczema quality of life, quality of life in infants, adults, families, proposed measurement instruments for measuring quality of life, comparing measurement instruments, measurement instruments for eczema severity and prevalence, comparing and reviewing measurement instruments for severity and prevalence, etc. But I don't see empirical problem-solving. The biggest challenge is old myths and beliefs about what causes eczema and allergy. It's difficult for anyone to accept that the answer is simple (although not obvious). I'm not associated with an academic institution, so I do have to publish to be taken as a peer.
Team

Founding Story

When my baby developed severe eczema, I did everything I was supposed to, and it only got worse. I'd been through my own chronic health problems, and I couldn't bear for my child to go through something like that. So my husband and I systematically went about solving it. The Aha! moment came at the end, when we had cleared up the eczema entirely and realized the common thread. When other moms began asking for help, I published a few articles, then after hundreds of emails from people asking for more information, put up the web site. I've spoken with surfactant chemists, microbiologists, doctors, naturopaths, allergists, and hundreds of parents over the years, and read extensively about eczema in medical literature. Other people are not only able to end the eczema, but they're able to in the way the underlying basis would predict. I've even heard from my share of doctors who have used the site professionally or for their own children.
About You
Organization:
SolveEczema.org
About You
First Name

A.J.

Last Name

Lumsdaine

About Your Organization
Organization Name

SolveEczema.org

Organization Country

, CA, Moffett Field, Santa Clara County

Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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Innovation
How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Cost, Quality.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

I'd like no less than to shed light on the cause of the rise in eczema, allergies, and asthma in the latter half of the 20th century, and demonstrate how to end it for millions of families across the globe. The goal is to publish the ideas, fund and complete a medical study, and disseminate the results in the medical community and to the public. At the same time, the goal is also to improve the website/develop better educational tools so that families don't have to wait for the results of a medical study to see the problem, understand, and get results for their children, as the website has been doing on a smaller basis for seven years.

Obviously, I can't conduct a medical study for $10,000. But a grant from RWJ would allow me to take giant steps forward.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

SolveEczema provides web-based information, with over 2,000 unique users per month. I can only judge the impact by the many letters I regularly receive from families, describing their journeys and their gratitude to have answers and relief for their children. I've witnessed it first-hand in helping families in my own community. Families who endured all the problems of pediatric eczema - lack of sleep, intense itching, broken, bleeding, or even oozing skin, infections, stress from all of the above - go on, relatively quickly, to lead normal lives.

I also often hear that families are able to mitigate or eliminate asthma and allergies of other family members when they implement the strategies for a child with eczema, consistent with the underlying basis. I've heard from families whose children were in the hospital regularly for asthma, who no longer needed intervention. (Atopic children are most likely helped by this solution.)

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Families frequently use the word "shocked" for how quickly and profoundly their child's skin changes when they find and implement the answer. Publication, dissemination in medical journals and popular press, and significant reductions in worldwide eczema and asthma rates within a short period of time thereafter are projected impact. Once demonstrated for infants with eczema, strategies for preventing eczema even more simply by educating pregnant women could be established and disseminated.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The barriers to success are (in this order):
1) Tightly held beliefs that eczema has many causes and is too difficult to solve simply. (Eczema has many triggers; in my experience helping people eliminate it, it has only a few seemingly disparate causes that can be tied together with an underlying biological basis. If the cause is removed, children can be around the triggers and not get eczema.)
2) My own lack of medical credentials
3) Funding

The proof is in the putting. I feel I can already publish short of a medical study and am working on a paper now. I'm working on a book as well, to be finished this spring, for which I have crowdfunding support. Publishing will get the ideas in the medical arena The ideas are consistent with the literature, it's just a different perspective.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Scientific publication in a respected medical journal; science reporting in major outlets; ten-fold website traffic increase

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Convince RWJF to consider my proposal as it appears I will be an hour late submitting it (~4:20pm PST, not EST)!

Task 2

Finish writing and submitting a scientific paper on the solution and novel theory on the rise of eczema and allergies worldwide.

Task 3

Revamp the website to support community, so families can interact and help each other. Translate site to French and Mandarin.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

This solution - change of paradigm - in the hands of every pediatric practitioner and public health official of affected nations

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

After publishing, reach out to science reporters and media.

Task 2

Find a medical partner and funding for a small prospective study or survey that can be done in a relatively short time frame.

Task 3

Reach out to the most affected, environmentally aware nations, such as Sweden, to help them make dramatic changes quickly.

Sustainability
Tell us about your partnerships

I have no existing partnerships. If I decide to go social business, I have a commitment from a successful area businessman (whose family benefitted from the solution) that he will put together a group of investors if I give him a business plan. I have been getting small business counseling through SCORE.

I am highly connected in a very educated community; developing appropriate partnerships when the time comes isn't a barrier.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?

It depends on what this means. The ideas from this solution have broad implications to environmental science, to skin, lung, and gut cancers, to pollution in aquatic environments and as an unrecognized factor in the decline of frog and bat populations worldwide. Proving it first with pediatric eczema would allow further dissemination of the ideas.

I hope to demonstrate the value of the problem-solving approach used to find this solution, to benefit other medical problem solving.

Products developed for the eczema solution could be marketed to green consumers, not just those with eczema.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

It's been successful so far because the website brings a solution directly to families who need it. I've been operating just as a volunteer with a passion to help people until recently. There have been no organizational barriers because there has been no organization!

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Since I am not a medical professional, publishing must be my entree. A mentor and a relationship with a local medical center, not predicated on my first providing them financial support, would be tremendously helpful. (But not essential.)