When I was growing up, Eczema was almost unheard of, well to me anyway. I didn’t know anyone else who had it and I hated feeling different. It felt like there was something wrong with me. My skin was so much different than everyone else’s and I couldn’t understand why that made me a freak.
When we had to line up outside our classroom, none of the other kids wanted to hold my hand. They would look at me strangely when I couldn’t sit on the grass because it would make me itchy and impossible not to scratch. I learnt the words, “It’s not contagious,” from a young age, so they would know they weren’t going to catch it from me. Not that it really made any difference.
My skin was always, dry, itchy and sore. Numerous visits to the doctor, Princess Margaret Hospital, specialists – you name it. Things may have helped a bit, but it was never a cure or long term solution.
Over the years it became more tolerable, and while I still have reactions to things, dry skin and sensitivities, it doesn’t bother me much anymore. I do have thin skin on the palms of my hands due to cortisone cream usage when I was little which has caused extra problems. I can not touch anything acidic – oranges, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, pineapple, peeled potatoes.etc.
When my first child was born, the thing I worried about most was if he would have eczema, because it is genetic. I hoped he wouldn’t but at around eight weeks he started getting a rash over his body. It was confirmed at his three month check up. He had eczema. And it broke my heart because I knew exactly what we would be in for.
It was just the beginning of a lot of pain, skin infections and a lot of stress. More doctors, hospitals, dermatologists, and it never seemed to get any better.
The thing that annoyed me the most is when I took him to a new doctor or hospital, they always asked what I had been told previously, and more often than not was told, “No, that’s wrong. I don’t know why you were told that. Do this instead.” You get the feeling that nobody actually knows what they are talking about and is just guessing. And it is so stressful. You want answers to what is going to help, and even the experts can’t agree on what to do. So who are you supposed to listen to?
One doctor told me his eczema was because I took folate when I was pregnant. Another told me that water broke down the skin and he wasn’t to go swimming, have any baths, only very quick, cool showers – which we tried and still didn’t help.
After seeing the last dermatologist, who wasn’t cheap, it frustrated me that he was only concerned about his feet at the last appointment, because my son would not stop scratching them and they were so bad. When I mentioned how dry his skin was overall, he basically dismissed it like it was nothing to worry about. His skin should not have been that dry all the time with what I was putting on his skin.
I looked into the cream he had told me to use on him and found that it can cause dry skin. Being a dermatologist, I’m sure he should have known that it was the particular cream he prescribed that was the culprit. I was annoyed he didn’t seem concerned or even mention that it could have been the problem. When you are paying a lot for an appointment and you are only in for around five minutes and not having your concerns addressed, that’s just not on. We haven’t been back there since.
One thing that drives me insane is that people assume that because one method or product worked for one person, it will work for everyone. But that’s not the case. If they’ve found something that worked for them, that’s great. But everyone reacts different and has different triggers. And some kids do just grow out of it quicker.
My son is five now. His skin is still bad. At times it isn’t too bad, but when it flares up it can take awhile to get it under control. I wrap his feet in bandages at night and dress him in a full onesie to make it harder for him to scratch his feet. It doesn’t always work and I had been woken up a lot to rewrap his feet because he’d attacked them again.
I think part of the problem with him, is it has become a habit. I’ve noticed when he’s upset or angry about something, he scratches – usually his feet. If I don’t see it happen, within seconds his feet go from being almost healed to a bloody mess, literally. And it absolutely breaks my heart to see it. And I’m so frustrated that we virtually have to start over to try and fix his feet.
Almost every day has been a battle of some sorts. Putting his creams and ointments on, bandages, multiple times a day. Fighting with a toddler/ child is exhausting. But it has to get done. It’s a battle I’m hoping to win one day.
For now, I do what I feel needs to be done, instead of the experts. I use cortisone creams whenever a rash appears. I don’t like using them, especially after my skin is so thin because of it. But sometimes there just aren’t any alternatives. My son will scratch and scratch until there is no skin left. I cover him in Dermeze, which I find keeps his skin moisturised for longer. Until his feet heal, or until I can trust him not to scratch, I will continue to wrap his feet in bandages every night. And possibly days too.
You do what you have to minimise pain and itching and just hope one day, it will get better. They’ll outgrow it – even though I never really did.
When my daughter was born, I again worried that she would have eczema too. She’s now 18 months old and apart from a few minor rashes that cleared up, she doesn’t seem to have it.
Eczema seems to be so common, these days. I hope one day there will be some sort of cream or something that gets rid of it so no more kids have to go through this. Anyone who has a child with eczema will know the pain of watching your child constantly scratch, be so itchy they can’t sleep, and wake up to sheets covered in blood.
Eczema can take over your life.
Has your world been take over by eczema?