I want to talk about something that is an absolute passion of mine, ECZEMA!
As a matter of fact, it is:
Eczema Awareness Week 5-11 September 2011
I have three children. Aged two to seven. They have all suffered eczema to some degree. Miss 7 grew out of her very mild eczema by the age of 2, however being my 1st child, it did cause me so much distress. My boys have not been so lucky, and have been diagnosed with allergies which trigger their eczema.
When my second child was an infant, he developed eczema at about 3-4 months. I was baffled, he was exclusivly breast fed, what was I doing wrong? (He was being exposed to his triggers via my breast milk, but it didn't get severe until he was on solids, I weaned him at 18 months and things then got way out of hand) His skin was always so dry, so instintivley I would slather him in creams. I went to doctors, nurses, naturopaths, everywhere I was recommended to go. By the time he was 12 months old, (eating plenty of different foods,) he was in a dreadful state. I desperatley sought advice where ever I could, and even changed GP's as I felt like I was being judged either as a neurotic mother, or as a bad mother for letting him get so bad.
By the time he was 18 months old, I was pregnant with our third baby, and a year into my nursing degree. I was becoming increasingly frustrated and hurt by the sheer amount of (mostly well-meaning) family, friends and strangers who offered me their advice. I would be in the supermarket, and have complete strangers approach me and start asking me "what do you feed him?" or tell me what I was doing wrong, or the famous "have you tried blah blah?" or "My sister's neighbours child had eczema JUST like this, you HAVE to stop feeding him wheat, milk, eggs, soy, broccoli, strawberries, and never give him packaged foods". I became much more aggressive in my quest to find answers.
Through a mutual friend, I was put in touch with a gorgeous woman who had been on this journey with her child for 8 years and wow did she change our course! This stranger lives about 700kms away, but I phoned her up, and we spoke for so long like we had known each other for years... well we truly did, because she too knew the heart ache behind having your child scream for hours on end because their skin is crawling and on fire at the same time, she too would have to remove blood-stained sheets and clothing from her children's delicate, broken, and blood-caked skin, she too had been in that awful place as a Mum wondering desperatley "what am I doing wrong?", she too had cried everytime she came home from the doctors with nothing more than a prescription for steroid creams and antibiotics to treat the infection that had developed on their skin. She knew that feeling of not being able to help your child. A few days after our talk, a care package arrived in the mail from her, home made moisturising cream and a recipe book. She is an ANGEL!
Mother's complain of a lack of sleep alot. Mothers of children with a condition like eczema know this all too well, and it stays like that for years! These days it isn't anywhere near as bad for us, but it still wakes at least one of them each night. Oh I have so much to say,! I will have to write about eczema another time, what I can say, is that we did find some answers, and some real help.
So here is my simple advice, from the heart, paying it forward, to share the love this Eczema awareness week.
- Be gentle on yourself, it is such a hard road.
- Remember that YOU know your child best
- Take that well-meant advice with a 'grain of salt', and a smile, they really do mean well (I think...)
- Moisture is your child's skin's best friend
- Make your own cream if you want to avoid nasty chemicals and additives and save money (I have a recipe to share soon)
- Do WET DRESSINGS, ALOT, they work! (Post coming later, much to say on this, but for now, here is a you tube demonstration, maybe sponsered by tubigrip lol??? You can use simple bandages and I will source another video later that I like better.)
- Request (DEMAND!!! It took me more than one trip to doctors!) a referal to see a paediatric allergist to get to the facts- ie what are the triggers? This means a skin prick test and/or blood test. My Doctor argued that I needed to consider the distress these tests would cause my boys. I argued he should sleep over at my house one night and witness the distress they experience every 24 hours as they try to sleep and play, I held them down for the said tests, and they did not cry, right up until the itch reaction happened on the prick test... but I was SO delighted to KNOW what their triggers were, and our excitement showed them it was all going to be okay.
- Our paediatric allergist has a rule... "Treat PROACTIVELY, not REACTIVELY!" and it is so true!
- Don't play guessing games or take that advice from lovely family/friends in regard to messing too majorly with their diets. We all know kids need specific, adequate nutrition and if you go messing with their diet too much you could comprimise their health in other ways. Eczema knocks them around enough. There are actual elimination diets you can follow, the RPA hospital has a great one, but be warned, it is really really hard even with some proffessional support, going alone could be a nightmare!
I hope this post can help somebody, eczema is such a cruel condition for little ones, but it can get easier. Just this week both my boys had a MAJOR flare up, but we got on top of it so quickly this time (YAY!). I am past caring about being considered a nuerotic mother, as parents we are our children's advocates and need to speak up on their behalf.