The Curse of the Haole Rot

Hard to see but she has white spots on her shoulders and back.

Hard to see but she has white spots on her shoulders and back.

One thing I love about my daughter’s pediatrician, Dr. Kozak in Tustin, CA, is she always proposes natural remedies before prescribing medicine. For example, the first time I asked what I should give Cooper for a cold, she suggested I give her a fruit smoothie with a whole orange in it for the vitamin C to boost her immune system. That recommendation started my absolute trust in her advice. So, I guess I wasn’t surprised with her suggestion to use coconut oil last week during Cooper’s 18-month appointment when I pointed out that she takes after her mom and is getting those summertime dry skin white blotches on her tanned little body.

My husband, when we first started dating, called the white patches on my arms, Haole Rot. He said, “You know how you get those right? Damp towels.” What in the world?!? I replied. He laughed, explaining that in Maui everyone gets haole rot by using wet towels that never dry because of the humidity. Despite the comical name and our ongoing laughable debate, the locals from Hawaii are not loonie. According to Medicine Mama, Haole Rot is “clinically known as Tinea Versicolor, and it is actually a fungal growth of yeast that occurs naturally on the skin.” This type of yeast can cause discoloration of the skin that looks like white, pink, red or brown spotty patches. They do not tan and can increase in warm weather. Has my husband been right all these years? Are we cursed with Haole Rot?

I’m not quite certain I can answer that question without a professional dermatologist diagnosis, but our symptoms definitely seem more fungal like Tinea Versicolor than itchy or irritated eczema.

So last week in preparation for this week’s challenge and to manage our growing skin issues, I started putting coconut oil on Cooper’s back. The problem is coconut oil is oil. So I would take her chubby naked body and rub her down with moderate amounts of the oil. I found myself nervous with what to do next. Do I put on her pj’s?  Was the oil residue going to get on my clothes while we snuggled and read bedtime stories? On her crib sheets at night? That is when I realized I wanted something coconut oil based but with the consistency of a cream. This is the moment I decided to be like my close friend Nicole Carnese and her company Cocos Organics.

I remember when Nicole started her company to create homemade remedies in her kitchen. Now she owes a company committed to organic, plant-based skincare. When I say committed, I mean it. She has no chemicals in her products, only ingredients you can pronounce. She doesn’t use plastic, only glass jars. I love her Instagram post from last week: “I’ve got 99 problems and coconut oil solves like 86 of them.” So without her knowing, I went out and bought all the ingredients I thought necessary for our anti-haole rot/eczema cream.  Buying the ingredients highlighted how truly clueless I was to the items on the list.

The recipe suggestion is from Dr. Axes, titled “Eczema Cream.”


-1/2 cup of raw shea butter

-1/2 cup of coconut oil (optional: ¼ cup olive oil or almond oil)

-1 tablespoon of local honey

- 30 drops of lavender essential oil

- 8 drops of tea tree essential oil

- optional additions: 5 drops of geranium essential oil and/or 5 drops of myrrh essential oil

Raw Shea Butter:

I paid $9.99 at Sprouts for 7 oz. of raw shea butter. There were a couple of options, but I chose  Now Solutions Shea Butter. I was confused about measuring the quantity of raw shea butter into a measuring cup. I thought because 4 oz. equaled half a cup, I would use only ½ the container. I was wrong and am probably the only one in the world who didn’t know that fluid ounces are totally different than weight ounces. I used the whole container.

Coconut Oil:

I used refined Organic Refined Coconut Oil.

Local Honey:

Sometimes local honey can be a little bit more expensive, but it is important because it contains immune-stimulating properties that help the body adapt to its local environment.

Lavender Essential Oil:

Luckily, my mother-in-law Sue Hunkins is a distributor for DoTerra essential oils. I was able to go into her stash and handpick every oil I needed. The best part is she has a book that outlines all the benefits of the oils, including which oils are safe for pregnancy. All oils used have been given the thumbs up when diluted with coconut oil.

Tea Tree essential Oil (or what DoTerra calls Melaleuca Oil)

And Geranium Essential Oil

The experience of combining all these ingredients was relatively easy but surprisingly messy, considering I have never melted shea butter and coconut oil together. Yes, the kitchen looked similar to the way it does when I cook--dishes, spatulas and pots everywhere. Now that I have made it, I realize it doesn’t need to be as messy.

My Be Better ladies holding their little ziplock bags of haole rot cream.

My Be Better ladies holding their little ziplock bags of haole rot cream.

I placed the shea butter and coconut oil into a jar. Next, I placed the jar in a saucepan of hot water, turned on the burner until the water boiled, and melted the butter and oil. This step took about 5 minutes. I then added the honey and essential oils.

The original directions said to put the jar in a refrigerator to harden the mixture a little bit before mixing to lotion consistency. For some reason this step made me a little nervous. My liquid shea butter and coconut oil were not solidifying even in the refrigerator, so into the freezer the mixture went, maybe a little too long. But just in time I took it out, mixed it in a mixer for 5 minutes and lo and behold, success. I had made homemade eczema cream.

To be completely honest, the recipe made way more than I expected. I filled up a small glass jar (just so Nicole Carnese would be proud) and then a huge glass water bottle. I put the extra in zip-lock bags for my be better workout ladies. I love the smell, I love the way it feels on our skin, and I love that it is made from natural ingredients. Most of all, I am surprised at how satisfying it is to made something from scratch.