Tuesday, July 3

The Itch That Rashes

The following post is about eczema, so if you're just not into open, oozing sores I recommend skipping this one.

Eczema is called the Itch that Rashes because the irritating, frustrating itching occurs before the actual rash occurs. Supposedly the scratching irritates the skin and the rash then occurs.

Ain't so though. Not always anyway. I've had two with eczema and it was incredibly different for each of them. My oldest flared in the summer and mostly on the tummy and face. It bothered him here and there year round, but was manageable...as long as he wasn't teething. That boy could drool and the drool really bothered the eczema. He mostly grew out of it, only suffering from extremely dry, chapped hands in the winter and patches on his cheek and around his mouth. We had him allergy tested and it turned out he was allergic to beef. We removed the beef and the eczema disappeared. We forgot to bring along a non-beef alternative to a meal one night and we sat and watched his eczema patch break out on his cheek. No scratching, and yet there it was.

My daughter started dealing with eczema pretty young and it started behind her knees. It looked like a heat rash at first, but got scaly. It got bad. Her ankles and the backs of her arms. Her wrists and the inside of her elbows. Sometimes her entire legs would be covered. I took her in to see the doctor for suspicious rashes only to be told it was another way that eczema can look. It always looked different on her...there was no predicting it. We tried to have her allergy tested too but the allergy quack told us that we just had to keep her from scratching and it would go away. We insisted she wasn't scratching, but he said she must be doing it in her sleep because that's what causes the rash. He wouldn't test her because allergies don't cause eczema. Oh, really? He did prescribe an antihistamine to give her until she turned 4 and could use a different prescription. He told us, "It will make her pretty tired most of the time, but you could probably use the sleep." Excuse me??? Desperate to help her feel better, we did go ahead and try the script but discovered an unhappy fact: she reacts the opposite to meds. That girl was wired. We were watching Veggie Tales at 3:00 in the morning! Our pediatrician gave us a referral to a big allergy clinic in Arkansas...one of the best in the country supposedly. They tested her and came back with no allergies. They couldn't test for sensitivities. They declared she had asthma and gave us prescriptions for all manner of steroids and whatnot. In the end, allergy test be hanged, we avoided milk and did a lot of research through naturopathic methods and have come a long way. She doesn't have asthma. She had a cold. We did clear it with the pediatrician before ignoring their advice. She agreed. The kid doesn't have asthma.

So here's what you probably already know about this stuff:
Doctors don't know what causes it and don't know how to eliminate it. There are effective creams (prescription only) that can clear up outbreaks but don't prevent new ones. Eventually an immunity is built up and the creams are no longer effective, but there are others available. Most of these are some sort of steroid and come with scary warning labels. The dermatologist just clucks when you mention this and says, "Have you ever read the warning label that comes with Tylenol?" Why, yes, I am that anal. It doesn't mention tumors, skin cancer, or back hair anywhere.

You should bathe no longer than 5 minute at a time and only 2-3 times per week. Unless you ask the people at the Arkansas hospital and they will tell you to bathe every day for twenty minutes to get the skin good and hydrated....it's a new method they told us, very effective....yeah, don't do that. It may be worth a try, who knows, it may work for some, but it made ours much worse. They recommend applying Vaseline to the child after the soak and then applying the ointment. We had greasy hair and blotches on everything for weeks.

Don't use soap. Use something really mild, if anything. Cetaphil makes a great non-soap soap. Equate (Wal-mart) makes a great imitation. I've heard phisoderm is good, but haven't tried it. I use a baby shampoo on Honor and we use the suds on the necessary parts. Rinse and get out. Immediately (no, really, IMMEDIATELY) get some cream on the kid. Pat dry with a towel and get a good, thick cream on there. Not a lotion. If water is the first ingredient on there, it's probably not what you need. My favorite so far is Palmer's cocoa butter formula. Cetaphil makes a good cream and wal-mart makes a good imitation. If they are cleared up, but you're in a preventative stage, Almond Oil is nice. It soaks easily and is very inexpensive. Put on thin cotton pajamas and you're done. Unless they've snuck their hands in the cream jar and have applied it to their hair and your sheets. Then you've got more work to do.

But what if lotion makes it worse? With my oldest, the lotion wasn't cutting it and one day I just had this weird idea....powder. I applied corn starch to his stomach and his rash went away by morning. It wasn't a heat rash, but it responded like one. So go with your gut. Every kid is different. And even on every kid, the breakouts can be very different. We've had them look like hives, we've had them look like ringworm. Honor's generally look like old bug bites that she's scratched until they are oozing and bleeding.

Stress exacerbates eczema. Lack of sleep, tension, food issues....it all contributes, so keep a routine, get plenty of sleep, and figure out what their food issues might be.

Be careful what touches their skin. I'm a devoted Tide fan, but we switched to ALL Free & Clear and it helped. I actually tried several alternatives, but this one worked the closest to Tide that I could find. I missed my sweet smelling laundry, but we were desperate to heal that child's skin. Since we've implemented some other things, we have been able to switch back to Tide, but I still can't use Downy or I see her react.

Okay, if you've already dealt with eczema, there's what you probably already knew. Tomorrow I'll dish on what you might not know. You know, the weird stuff.

3 comments:

Jenni said...

Caleb may have eczema on his feet. The family doc said he didn't think it was athlete's foot and could be eczema. He has dry, sensitive skin (like me), but his feet are the only place that really seems to be effected very badly. He's putting vitamin E and aloe on them and it has helped. I also got some kind of homeopathic from the health food store for eczema, acne, and other skin problems.

The lady at the health food store told me that her allergist told them to cut dairy and wheat out of their diet and it helped them tremendously. Caleb and I agree that those are two of our favorite things and the problem isn't bad enough to quit them.

The B vitamin info is interesting. We haven't had a lot of antibiotics, but I seem to really *need* extra B at times. I'll have to get back on that and see if I notice an improvement in our skin. I've got a few problem spots and overall sensitive skin, but my main problem is adult acne. I almost never got zits in high school, but since having kids I get them several times a month. It is embarrassing.

Anyway, thanks for the info!

Christy said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

I was waiting eagerly LOL.

Layton sounds like Honor. He has huge, red scaly patches all over his body that itch constantly. There is no predicting it or helping it!

We had him tested for allergies and they said that he is not allergic to the usual things (soy, nuts, animal dander, ect... but they did not test him for gluten, dairy, citric acid, or dye allergies) His allergist declared that he has asthma and put him on Zyrtec and Singulair-luckily he is able to take them without too many side effects. However, they just upped the Zyrtec and he has stopped sleeping at night and is irritable. I also think it is making him dizzy because he isn't walking much lately.
We use Aveeno oatmeal baths at the recommendation of a pharmacist-I think they are making it worse so we are about to stop. We were using Cetaphil and that didn't hurt or help so I guess we will go back to that. We put Eucerin all over his body every hour and Cetaphil lotion in between if I notice it looks dry again. We use Hydrocortison cream (1 %) before bedtime and before naptime to help the itching-it does help but I found out yesterday it can make the skin overly fragile which worries me.
I am going to try the almond oil-have you tried primrose oil? I have read several things that recommend it but I haven't tried it yet.
We are using hypoallerginic, unscented Tide with zero benefit. I am still using it, but have seen no improvements.
I have eliminated juice and citric acid from his diet to see if that helps...when we have insurance again I am going to get him retested for other allergies to see if it is something he is eating.
I have started baking our bread using organic soy flour, whole wheat flour, flax meal, wheat germ and raw honey. I am also putting flax oil in his peanut butter (he eats it on toast every morning) and I have eliminated most processed foods from the house. I am waiting to see results-I may never see them but I am hoping!

What are your thoughts on cutting diary and gluten? layton's pediatrician suggested it, and most of the research suggests it but as an infant and as a baby eating baby foods he never showed any signs of eczema. It really flared up around Thanksgiving when he was 8 or 9 months old...

Jen in MS said...

My daughter Madeline had eczema pretty bad when she was a toddler. Thankfully, it's completely gone now and she has beautiful skin! I used All Free and Clear too, but can now use whatever I want. I'm so glad she out grew this and I hope your daughter does too.

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