Battle Royale: Me vs. Eczema

I have written, re-written, and edited this post about 10 times since I started it in late November. I keep holding off on posting it because I keep hoping that I’ll have something new and hopeful to add: a magic lotion that FINALLY gave my daughter relief from her horrific eczema.

OK, I take it back. It’s not “horrific”. I essentially got a gold star from our pediatrician for keeping it in check as well as I have this winter. But that doesn’t help my daughter, whose skin is so dry that her index fingers crack and bleed almost daily, and who scratched herself so much the other day (through 2 layers of long sleeves), that she made both of her arms bleed. It doesn’t help her at day care, when she runs to her teacher to tell her “I itchy. Help pwease?”

My daughter has eczema. For the most part, it results in dry, scaly skin. But sometimes — oftentimes — it turns into raised red welts. Her skin cracks and bleeds. She constantly itches. I can’t put her in a wool sweater. Cotton is king in our house. We use free & clear laundry detergent and dryer sheets. We forgo fabric softener. Aside from a small amount of cheese, she is dairy free — drinking rice milk and eating coconut milk yogurt and ice cream. I have an ultrasonic humidifier running constantly in her room.

You don’t want to know how much I’ve spent on lotion, Aquaphor, or hydrocortizone cream last year.

The doctors call a worsening of the condition a “flare up”. What happened this year when the weather turned cold felt — and looked — more like a fireworks show. The swath of skin on her outer wrist turned bright red, puffed up to 4x its normal size, cracked, and started bleeding. Her knuckles looked as through she had been boxing. The skin along her fingers — especially her index fingers — was cracked from tip to tail.

All within an afternoon.

We have tried nearly every lotion on the market, with varying success. Or disaster. Your choice.

Anything soy-based is out. She breaks out in a rash. Oatmeal baths help to a small degree. And in December, I spent $66 on a single tube of what is essentially prescription-strength Neosporin for the cracked and bleeding areas. One doctor visit, two prescriptions, and 3 packages of rolled gauze later, we had a routine: Slathering the bad areas with her prescriptions and Aquaphor, then wrapping them in rolled gauze and securing it with medical tape.

It looks like she tried to end it all with a razor blade.

Eczema: Greek for skin so ripped up it requires mummification on a nightly basis.

Eczema: Greek for skin so ripped up it requires mummification on a nightly basis.

We see a pediatric allergist on Monday. I can’t wait. I was in our pediatrician’s office yesterday because her entire body essentially blew up over the weekend — she has splotches all over both arms, legs, her torso, back, and forehead. We walked out with more steroid cream, another prescription cream, and instructions for a milk and mineral oil bath.

Some of the treatments/lotions/ointments we’ve tried so far:

  • Aveeno baby eczema treatment
  • Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion
  • Curel Ultra Healing Lotion
  • CeraVe moisturizing cream (blue tub)
  • Dove Sensitive cream body wash
  • My True Nature’s Cushy By Nature Lotion
  • Vaseline
  • 0.5% hydrocortizone cream
  • 1% hydrocortizone cream
  • 1.5% hydrocotizone cream
  • 2.5% hydrocortizone cream (by prescription only)
  • Bactroban (by prescription only — essentially high-dose Neosporin)
  • Cortaid (pretty much all of them)
  • Sulphur tablets (from Whole Foods)
  • Manuka honey (also from Whole Foods — You spread it on the skin, don’t ingest it)
  • Fish Oil supplement (again, Whole Foods — couldn’t get her to touch the stuff, the smell was overpowering)
  • Aveeno oatmeal bath (2-4 packets per bath)
  • Adding 4 cups of olive oil to the bath water (this one should come with a warning label. Kids come out of the bath slipperier than eels and I had a hell of a time cleaning the tub afterward.)

Currently using:

  • Curel Itch Defense (endorsed by the National Eczema Association, for what it’s worth)
  • My True Nature’s Stinky By Nature shampoo/body wash
  • My True Nature’s Super Sudsy Hand Wash
  • My True Nature’s Cushy By Nature Lotion
  • For bath: 3 cups milk + 1/2 cup mineral oil. (Don’t add the mineral oil until AFTER washing their hair!)
  • Aquaphor
  • prescription steroid cream
  • prescription non-steroid cream
  • 100% cotton mittens over her hand treatments every night.

The mittens are a relatively new development. Our pediatrician suggested we try cotton gloves on her “If you can find some small enough.” I couldn’t. Not in the store. Not online. Nowhere. Regular winter mittens, no problem. But what I needed didn’t exist.

So I did what everyone does (should do) when they don’t know where else to turn: I called my mom.

She rode in on her white horse with fabric and my great-grandmother’s sewing machine, taught me how to use it, and made the first pair of gloves for me. Since then, I’ve been a cutting/sewing fiend, making enough gloves for naps and nightime at both home and day care.

I also opened an Etsy shop, so if you need gloves, let me know. So far I only have kid sizes, but I can also do adults. Just send a request. I’m trying to keep the prices down, and am working on some bells and whistles to keep the gloves on at night without having to tape them to clothes.

So there you have it. If any of you have eczema I’d love some tips — and to hear if any of mine help your skin.

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Sayonara 2012!

So … the world didn’t end. But Kim Kardashian is apparently pregnant. And Kanye West is the baby daddy. So, well played universe, well played. Now I’ll have to bypass headlines and teaser photos of her at the grocery store for most of the year.  I can’t wait for that. (*cough/hack*)

For 2013, I’m hoping for health. Good health to be precise. The year of plague is over and I’m hoping it doesn’t follow us into the new year. I’m also hoping for wealth, because (honestly) who doesn’t, and peace on earth and good will. And what the hey, how about no more school, shopping mall, or other mass shootings? For a whole year? Or for a sinkhole to swallow the Westboro Baptist Church to prove that some higher power does not appreciate its craziness?

Is that so much to ask? Yes?

OK. Health then. I’ll take health.

Happy 2013 people. May it become what you make it.