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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10 comments on “Battle Royale: Me vs. Eczema

  1. Erin says:

    Poor kid … Wish I had a solution for you! I’ve heard cutting out gluten may help, too, but not sure if that’s malarkey. Good luck! Looking forward to hearing what the allergist says.

  2. laurapayette says:

    Oh, you poor thing. Natasha (my 8-month-old) has eczema, too, but not nearly this badly. Part of the cause of hers is allergies (food and environmental). Perhaps allergies are playing a role in your daughter’s eczema, too?

    For what it’s worth, one of our babysitters (also a Montessori teacher) had terrible eczema as a kid, similar to your daughter’s. She still has some now that she’s an adult, and she said the Arbonne products have helped her. Might be worth looking at? I know you’ve already tried 10 million topical options.

    Here’s the post I wrote about Natasha’s allergy diagnosis:
    http://payettestork.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/finally-a-diagnosis/

    And here’s the original post I wrote when we first suspected something:
    http://payettestork.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/allergies/

  3. Chris says:

    What a trooper your little one is !Thats tough stuff. Very impressed by u!

  4. CoffeeAddict says:

    Oh my gosh! I came across your blog when I was searching comments about Britax vs. Recaro carseat. I find your post very helpful. What a poor little girl (I have a 9 month old baby girl)… Please try the Stelatopia and see if it’s helpful. The entire line is supposedly safer for your daughter than some of the brand that you mentioned here.

    For reference:
    http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

    You can also see comments about Stelatopia in Amazon, Babies r us webpage, etc..

    Good luck! I really hope your beautiful daughter feel better soon,

    • We actually started out with the Stelatopia when we first figured out that she had eczama. (I just forgot to mention it in my list.) It didn’t do anything for her. Thanks for the suggestion though!

  5. 20112010mo says:

    i totally understand what you go through. i have suffered with eczema my whole life and three years ago up until 3-4 months ago it was so severe i wouldnt leave my house for weeks at a time. i am now in control of my problem and have created a website with all kinds of information on preventing a flare-up and products that are good/bad. you may find it useful at http://www.eczemastruggle.co.uk we can beat this one day at a time

  6. This is a great tip especially to those
    new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Many thanks for sharing
    this one. A must read post!

  7. trendypencil says:

    Thanks for sharing! Poor thing. I hope your daughter’s eczema is more under control. She’s a trooper though!

    My son is 3 months old with horrible eczema on this body and sebhorrhea all over his face and head. Skin is flaky, oozy, peeling and inflamed. After all the skin peels off he looks like a burn victim 😦 Tried much of the stuff you did as well. I’m not thrilled with the 2.5%hc cream and been avoiding using it but now I’m desperate plus the bactroban. The aquaphor helps a little, but I have to put it in every diaper change and on ithick as well as the organic cotton footie PJs and mittens right after application. I’ve heard dive bar soap helps but I’m weary of using soap ESP with fragrance as it may irritate his skin. Olive oil didn’t do much for him and neither did coconut oil. Baby is allergic to oats so he broke out in hives after Aveeno eczema therapy lotion. Tried Mustela clenser in place of soaps and it also helped temporarily, but it seemed to sting so badly. It’s so exhausting trying to find something that works especially for baby so young. We are even using hypoallergenic formula cause he might be allergic to breast milk 😦 everyone’s case sense to be different, so one treatment for one doesn’t seem to always work with another. I’m just hoping to find the magic combination of things. It’s so painful to see your baby suffer like this.

    • I’m so sorry you and your son are going through this. I’m convinced that eczema in infants is the hardest, because the doctors can do so little at this point and the kids can’t tell you anything. My daughter’s 6 years old now, and her eczema is still a part of our daily lives, but it’s much easier now because 1. she can tell me how her skin feels and 2. we’ve got a better idea about what sets her off.

      For newborns its insanely hard, but here are some of the things that helped us the most at that age: 1. Aquaphor, lots and lots of Aquaphor. If you soak your son in the bath, have his medicines in a kit right next to the tub, and as soon as you get him on the floor, put on the medicine and then coat his body in a thick layer of Aquaphor before putting on his pajamas. 2. Wet wrapping–but really, just these pajamas: https://www.adrescuewear.com. If you do wet wrapping, you’ll need 2 sets of these–not cheap– pajamas. But they’re worth it. My daughter wears them when her eczema is bothering her and she’s hot–they help keep her skin cool. 3. Don’t overdress: heat=sweat=flaring. 4. Keep a food diary. As a baby, cow’s milk made my daughter flare, so any dairy was out, as were acidic foods. And we had her on Nutrimigen formula, because it was the only thing that didn’t make her flare–she couldn’t even handle breast milk. At 2 years old, she could handle dairy again, and now she’s sensitive to high-histamine foods like tomatoes and strawberries, and highly acidic foods like oranges. So she knows to limit those foods. 5. Most pediatric allergists won’t see you until your child turns 2. I was counting down the hours until we got there, and I ADORE him–he’s made her life so much easier. She now takes a daily allergy medicine (OTC) and takes Benadryl and a probiotic at night as her regular routine. 6. Probiotics. Ask your doctor about them, even though they generally won’t endorse them as a treatment option and I have no idea how you’d treat a 3-month-old with them. But we actually took our daughter to a naturopath at one point (I was ready to try anything) and they had about $150 in holistic pills they wanted her to take. I told the lady to boil it down to the two most important, and a probiotic was #1 on the list. And it was an amazing transformation. If we run out and she misses 2 doses, it’s a full-body flare. My brother also has eczema and I’ve got HIM taking probiotics and it’s been a huge help. I can’t recommend them enough. that being said, make sure you get the ones in the refrigerated cases. 7. See a dermatologist. They specialize in skin conditions and they definitely helped our family.

      And finally, pester your doctor. If something isn’t working, keep pushing. There are many different prescriptions and treatments out there. Sometimes you have to test drive a bunch of them before you find something that works. Best of luck to you!!

      On Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 11:03 AM, Surviving Parenthood wrote:

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