Seeing eczema for the first time, 3 times

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of interviewing Althea, a wife and a mom to three fabulous children: Elgrie IV (Age 4), Klarc (Age 2), and Esau (Age 3 mos.). I thought it would be great speak to a mom who is figuring out the world of eczema, one day at a time as we are! When we began our interview, Althea had never heard of ScratchMeNots, but has been an avid user since she’s found out about them. Take a moment to read how eczema introduced itself to Althea’s family during our chat.

A dermatologist told me that eczema is passed down from the parents. I disagree with his theory, as neither myself nor my husband have eczema, but our daughter does. Can you give us some background about you and your husband? Is there anything itchy about you both?

Althea:

Neither my husband nor I have eczema currently, but his sister had a severe case of it, and my brother had a moderate case himself.

Before we get too deep into the interview, what advice would you give parents who are experiencing eczema for the first time with their children?

Althea:

I would tell parents to relax. It is easy to get overwhelmed, because no parent wants their child to experience anything that makes them to suffer. (Well, I say relax to a lot of things!) Most importantly, listen to your doctor, because more than likely they have seen/treated many cases of eczema before. Also, if you feel you need a more specific consultation, then seek out a dermatologist for more information. And moisturizer creams, these help keep their skin from becoming too dry and itchy.

Althea, you have three children and each has had eczema from birth, correct?

Yes, each one just came out that way. (Laughing) The boys seem to have it the worse as Klarc, my daughter, only had small patches (i.e. on one of her arm creases).

We’re going to take a glance at each of Althea’s children’s individual cases of eczema!

Elgrie’s eczema

How did you figure out that Elgrie had eczema?

Althea:

With my first child, Elgrie, I didn’t know what it was. He didn’t look dry and ashy, but flaky and dusty… I had never dealt with eczema and had no idea that’s what it was. I didn’t find out his condition was eczema until his 2 month pediatric check up. I thought it was cradle cap. It started just above his eyebrows, but instead of going up to his scalp, it spread down his face. When I went for my OB/GYN check up, even then my OB thought it was cradle cap. To this day, I’m not sure if he ever had cradle cap.

Was constant scratching ever an issue with Elgrie?

 Althea:

Yes, he scratched his face mostly, not his entire body. And he would only scratch to go to sleep, but no other time of the day. I would say he was a mild scratcher.

 

What did you do to treat Elgrie’s eczema?

Althea:

At first we used Elidel, a non-steroidal cream, but had questions about it. I didn’t do much research on it at the time, but kept hearing people say not to use it. Maybe it was because Elidel hadn’t been tested long enough to know how safe it was for babies. I’m not sure. We stopped using it although it worked. Then we switched to Desonide and that worked very well. We continued to use it along with Aquaphor. No lotions of any kind. Around 1 year of age, we started to use Lever 2000 (the white bar). Only Cetaphil for his face. I didn’t try too many experimental treatments. He was my first child and I was meticulous about doing what the doctor said.

None of my children had flare ups, it was just a constant skin issue. The boys had it all over, but once it cleared up for Elgrie, it didn’t come back until this year (Elgrie is now 4 years old). Currently, he has a rash around his neck due to allergies. We are still trying to figure out if it’s the new dogs one of our family members has or hay fever. It seems once Elgrie spent time with the dogs, it flared up very badly, but it could be other allergies and just coincidental.

[A Note from Short Stacks: Understanding what triggers eczema is a trial and error process that many parents go though. Allergens like pet dander, mold, pollen, and dust often trigger it. Interestingly, animal fur can collect all of the above allergens making it even more difficult to narrow down the specific allergen causing the eczema flare.

Depending on how severe the pet allergy is, there are ways to reduce its effects, such as weekly pet shampooing and using a HEPA filtered air purifier throughout the home.]

Klarc’s eczema

And for Klarc’s eczema?

Althea:

Sometimes I forget Klarc even has eczema, because she just has a little patch to this day. We just use Aquaphor to treat her dry patches.

Esau’s Eczema

 And for Esau?

Althea:

What worked for Elgrie didn’t work as well for Esau. He seems to have an even worse case of eczema. When our first child was born, we lived in Northern California, and have since then moved to Texas where our last two children were born. Very different climates, seasons, etc. We weren’t given many suggestions from our Texas pediatrician until Esau went in for his 3 month check up. The doctor said we really should try some new things to get his skin under control (as he has eczema all over his body). He suggested we bath him every other day, apply Aquaphor twice a day, and try something new called wet dressing. He mentioned that this is done frequently in hospitals. [For more information about wet dressings, see our Facebook posts.] Based on the article, it seems like wet dressings are good for flare ups, or on an as needed basis. This has worked wonders for Esau’s skin. I can really tell a difference. His skin doesn’t look as dry and flaky.

[A note from Short Stacks: Did you know one of the best places to live with Atopic Eczema is in Grand Rapids, MI and Cape Coral, FL according to the Sperling study and Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) respectively?

The Sterling study is based on mean pollen and mold spore levels during various years, while the AAFA is based on city climates and allergens.]

Tell us more about the appearance of their skin; did any of your children experience skin discoloration?

Althea:

Yes, Elgrie’s skin became lighter and Esau’s skin is starting to become darker. Once Elgrie’s eczema cleared up, so did the discoloration. To this day you cannot tell where eczema affected his skin. I expect the same will happen for Esau.

Althea:

On the side of Elgrie’s face he ended up with a staph infection when he was about 3 months old. As a mom trying to figure out what to do and what it was, I probably helped aid it by picking at it, rubbing it for him and trying to clean it. His entire cheek area started to become oozy. It started off as a small red area then spread and oozed. It never scabbed; but looked more like a burn that wasn’t healing. We took him to the dermatologist and they took a cure and it came out as staph. We used a prescription antibiotic cream a few times a day and his skin healed with no scars.

[A note from Short Stacks: Due to the scratch-itch cycle, it is easier for children with eczema to become infected with chronic skin infections such as Staphylococcus.

ScratchMeNots are a wonderful stress reliever for parents! Not only reducing scratching damage, but they can significantly reduce opportunities for skin infections to settle in. By using ScratchMeNots tocover their active fingers, children are able rub their itchy area without hurting themselves. Parents everywhere are smiling from ear to ear! ]

As a parent, what were your internal stress levels like?

Althea:

As a mom, I was very stressed, Elgrie was my first child and I had never dealt with eczema before. I followed the doctors instructions and followed them meticulously. After quick baths, I didn’t dry his body but applied Aquaphor and I saw his skin look and feel better because of it. Again, his eczema was not as bad as Esau’s.

Now that I know what eczema is and how to maintain it, I’m not as worried about it because we’ve gone through it twice before.

[A note from Short Stacks: According to the Department of Allergy, Immunology and Infection Diseases at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in New South Wales, a study conducted concludes the stress levels in mothers caring for young children with eczema are equivalent to those mothers of children with severe disabilities. I’m sure fathers also experience these levels of stress.]

Thanks Althea for taking the time to discuss your children’s eczema!

The time I spent with Althea, I could sense that she truly understands how to handle each child’s specific needs. Although, she told me which side of little Elgrie’s face had a terrible bout with a staph infection, I couldn’t see any traces of scarring, or the patches that eczema sometimes leaves behind.

Little Klarc was prancing around without the slightest care in the world and I saw no signs of eczema on her. Esau, on the other hand, is still rather young at 3 months of age. As Althea described him, his eczema covers 85% of his body, if not more. I would say it’s rather severe eczema. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. He is just now starting to feel the itching sensation. Besides the occasional scratch here and there, he’s a content, happy baby! I’ve been around many cases of eczema and it still intrigues me how it takes on a different look and feel depending on the child.

Our pediatrician said around 6 months, a baby’s body begins to respond to the itching sensation. (Sometimes a lot earlier). As of today, Esau’s eczema doesn’t seem to be terribly itchy. And Althea is working hard to get his eczema under control to reduce the effects of eczema until he will hopefully grow of it. Around age 2, her first two children outgrew it, she is hoping for the same will occur with him. Until then, she is listening to the doctor’s suggestions and implementing some experimental ideas of her own.

Thanks Althea for taking the time to discuss your children’s eczema!

The time I spent with Althea, I could sense that she truly understands how to handle each child’s specific needs. Although, she told me which side of little Elgrie’s face had a terrible bout with a staph infection, I couldn’t see any traces of scarring, or the patches that eczema sometimes leaves behind.

Little Klarc was prancing around without the slightest care in the world and I saw no signs of eczema on her. Esau, on the other hand, is still rather young at 3 months of age. As Althea described him, his eczema covers 85% of his body, if not more. I would say it’s rather severe eczema. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. He is just now starting to feel the itching sensation. Besides the occasional scratch here and there, he’s a content, happy baby! I’ve been around many cases of eczema and it still intrigues me how it takes on a different look and feel depending on the child.

Our pediatrician said around 6 months, a baby’s body begins to respond to the itching sensation. (Sometimes a lot earlier). As of today, Esau’s eczema doesn’t seem to be terribly itchy. And Althea is working hard to get his eczema under control to reduce the effects of eczema until he will hopefully grow of it. Around age 2, her first two children outgrew it, she is hoping for the same will occur with him. Until then, she is listening to the doctor’s suggestions and implementing some experimental ideas of her own.

Thanks Althea for taking the time to discuss your children’s eczema!

The time I spent with Althea, I could sense that she truly understands how to handle each child’s specific needs. Although, she told me which side of little Elgrie’s face had a terrible bout with a staph infection, I couldn’t see any traces of scarring, or the patches that eczema sometimes leaves behind.

Little Klarc was prancing around without the slightest care in the world and I saw no signs of eczema on her. Esau, on the other hand, is still rather young at 3 months of age. As Althea described him, his eczema covers 85% of his body, if not more. I would say it’s rather severe eczema. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. He is just now starting to feel the itching sensation. Besides the occasional scratch here and there, he’s a content, happy baby! I’ve been around many cases of eczema and it still intrigues me how it takes on a different look and feel depending on the child.

Our pediatrician said around 6 months, a baby’s body begins to respond to the itching sensation. (Sometimes a lot earlier). As of today, Esau’s eczema doesn’t seem to be terribly itchy. And Althea is working hard to get his eczema under control to reduce the effects of eczema until he will hopefully grow of it. Around age 2, her first two children outgrew it, she is hoping for the same will occur with him. Until then, she is listening to the doctor’s suggestions and implementing some experimental ideas of her own.

We wish her and her children the best, as they journey through eczema.

 

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