Mei, aka Marcie Mom, is writing to us from Singapore where she created a blog for parents with children diagnosed with eczema called Eczema Blues. She has published a children’s book this year (2011) titled “A to Z Animals are not scratching!” In this book children will “learn what the animals do instead of scratching”. She enjoys designing and cartooning, as well as, weekend outings with the family.
What do parents do when we find out that our child has eczema? Take a moment to read how Mei and her family are answering this very question.
Q: At what point did you see signs that your child might have a skin problem outside of the seemingly normal “dry skin” that children face?
Actually, my baby Marcie didn’t have dry skin when she was born. She had beautiful skin and looked lovely. At about two weeks old, red rashes started appearing on her face followed by thick cradle cap. Even then, we didn’t know that it was a problem since rashes was listed on the hospital’s guide to parents as normal. At her one month old check-up, the paediatrician diagnosed her with eczema.
Q: How did you first handle your concerns?
I did what was told by the paediatrician, applying topical steroid cream and changing to hypoallergenic milk formula. It didn’t help much though, and when I started her on solids at about six month old, I got really paranoid second-guessing what food triggered her eczema. Finally, I brought her to the children clinic in hospital, where she got her skin prick test – the result was that my baby Marcie was not allergic to anything. That really reduced a lot of stress as we needn’t worry about what to feed her.
Q: What were some of the things you felt as a parent? Was there anxiety?
Lots of feelings – from confusion to blaming my spouse (and learning not to) for the ‘eczema gene’. Anxiety definitely, anxious about her scratching, about her diet, about her getting enough sleep. Anger as well, angry with God for letting this happen to Marcie.
Q: How did you cope with your feelings and emotions?
I was stay-at-home mom, alone most of the time, with Marcie. Obviously, I wouldn’t take it out on her, but to some extent, did take it out on my husband when he got back from work. Most of the time though, ensuring that my baby didn’t scratch already took all my energy.
Q: Did your spouse cope in a different way? If so, how did that effect the way you dealt with it?
I think my spouse put up a strong front as on so many days, he came back home seeing me holding my baby’s hands (to not let her scratch) and already tired out with taking care of her the whole day and cooking a warm dinner for him. It was a difficult period, particularly, as we relocated back to Singapore, moved homes a few times within the year and my husband started a new challenging job. Sometimes, he’d lose it too, but fortunately, we had our bible study group to offer support and prayed for us.
Q: What success or milestones have you experienced with baby Marcie?
Taking the one-time oral steroid course really helped to manage her eczema. Before that, it would be whole body red within a few minutes for no reason. After the course, we are able to treat specific areas of her skin and keep Marcie’s eczema manageable.
Q: What’s one piece of advice can you give to our readers regarding raising a child with eczema?
I think it is taking a skin prick test, finding out what’s triggering the child’s eczema and what is not. It reduces a lot of stress when a parent knows what to look out for, rather than being worried about every possible trigger out there.
I am sure many of us can relate to these same feelings of helplessness, exhaustion and googling non-stop in the wee hours. Yet, it’s so encouraging to read Mei’s and her spouse were able to be encouraged and confide in people that love them.
A big thank you to Marcie Mom for being on our blog and for being so transparent with our readers. I want to also refer anyone who might be looking for a support group to check out Eczema Blues. Marcie’s mom has created an environment where we can talk candidly about what we have learned or might be going through.
She loves to provide helpful information and suggestions on how to handle this eczema journey. Her cartoons even give us, stressed parents, some comic relief! Reminiscing about a day she gave a parent advise about baby eczema Mei writes: “…it really brought back memories of those nights that I googled incessantly and freaked myself out with all the info out there. That’s why I started my blog, to provide a light-hearted information source to stressed out parents. My friends have been asking me what’s the point of spending so much time to put blog posts out, but when I know my blog has brought some comfort to parents, it feels worthwhile.”
She’s very passionate about low-income families with eczema children, and setting up a fund to be administered by a non-profit to help these families.