Published: August 30, 2014 17:07 EDT | Updated: August 31, 2014 04:14 EDT
Healthy start: Becky Manting was forced to bandage his son Rory’s hand and inject him with steroids to combat eczema
When my eldest son Rory was about eight months old, the first sign of the problem appeared: small patches of dry, itchy, scaly skin appeared on the front of his feet.
It seemed pretty harmless, and his father had eczema at home, so it was not a huge shock. The application of 1% hydrocortisone cream from a general practitioner quickly removed it.
We don’t know that this is just a warning of coming pain. Ten months later, it was Easter, and we drove from London to Somerset to see my grandmother.
Our family had a stressful time-when I was eight months pregnant, the failure to buy a house at the last minute led to a nervous, last-minute temporary move.
On Good Friday, the day after we arrived, Rory woke up with a cyan rash: red, raised bumps. It looks shocking. He did not scratch himself, nor did he cry-but he did feel feverish. We took him directly to A&E.
Our first thought was that it was a reaction to the things in the house. Maybe a new cleaning product for bathing? No, we are sure, this is eczema. I was relieved. But this feeling did not last long.
He prescribed more hydrocortisone and antihistamines and we were sent away. In the next few days, his skin did improve, but from that moment to today, he has never been completely asymptomatic.
The first six months are the worst. Since we don’t know the reason for the attack, we don’t know how to stop it from getting worse.
Just a week or so before I gave birth, I walked into Rory's bedroom and found that he had scratched himself—the toys, the crib, and the walls were full of blood; it was like a scene in a horror movie. Now I know this situation is not uncommon, but it was starting to get out of control at the time.
The doctor advised him to bandage his hands day and night to prevent him from hurting himself — we used socks and fixed with surgical tape — and gave him increasingly stronger steroid ointments, but to no avail.
I spent several hours researching articles on the Internet and trying various methods. I even tried to get him to stand in the bathtub while rubbing hot porridge on his skin-this is the story of an old woman, based on the soothing qualities of oatmeal. Sadly it did not help. Finally, when our newborn Thomas was only five weeks old, Rory was hospitalized with an eczema infection. (Thomas is now two years old-thank goodness, he doesn't show any signs of skin problems.)
Although we did our best to keep his skin clean and dressed, Rory’s impulse to play, coupled with his now significantly weakened immune system due to skin trauma, eventually led to a terrible abscess all over his body—infection. Sores. body.
He was detained for five days, given intravenous antibiotics and sometimes sedatives, in an attempt to calm his crazy scratching and pain. I still find it difficult to describe how traumatic this episode is.
Rory's hair stopped growing, he stopped eating and talking, and his face was shockingly pale—he looked, I'm sure, he was completely shocked.
Painful situation: Becky Manding from Richmond, Surrey, first saw her son Rory showing symptoms of eczema. Rory is now almost four years old when he was only eight months old.
When we left the hospital, the doctors shot: Rory had to take the steroid prednisolone.
We gave him his first dose when he was discharged from the hospital, and when we returned to our home in Richmond, Surrey from Great Ormond Street, surprisingly, he barely scratched.
Within a few days, I can stop wrapping him in a damp cloth at night-I describe an uncomfortable process in detail elsewhere on these pages. A week later, Rory's skin became clean. It feels like a miracle. No itching, no cream. No more crying and bleeding every night. I cried in relief.
But if it looks too good to be true, that might be it.
All these drugs work in a similar way, blocking some of the chemical messengers involved in the inflammatory process. Like all drugs, they have side effects: in Rory's case, there were shocking facial swelling, constipation, and terrible, headache-inducing tantrums. Out of the pan, into the fire.
Prednisolone was never intended as a long-term solution because it has other undesirable side effects, such as growth restriction and abnormal behavior. Therefore, under the supervision of experts, we started to reduce his dose by milligrams, stopping every time his skin became inflamed.
In the past 20 months, he was able to stop prednisolone for a while. We controlled the condition with only steroid cream, but soon we had to re-examine it.
However, for all the shortcomings of prednisolone, we are very grateful to have it in our armory. It pulled us back from the brink of having to return to the hospital many times. So what should I do now?
I accept Rory, now almost four years old, with eczema, we have to sit down and pray that he grows up like many children. If you don't let it get out of control, this situation is more likely to happen, so my main focus every day is to try to control it with the least amount of drugs.
I am very grateful to modern medicine, but I also believe in finding alternative ways to keep pace with it.
It's all over: Becky and her husband are forced to wrap Rory’s hand with a bandage to prevent him from scratching himself
We decided not to use milk-including butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc. In addition, the bananas we found can cause outbreaks. I think changing the diet helps.
In retrospect, I wish I had a step-by-step checklist of things to do and try. So, on these pages, I tried to elaborate on what the experience — and many medical appointments — taught me.
Keep in mind that eczema is an incredible individual condition, and what is frustrating is that I think when you seek relief and play waiting games, it is usually a trial and error situation.
In the UK, eczema affects approximately one in five children and one in twelfth adults. Cases range from dry, scaly skin patches that can be relieved with a mild GP prescription topical steroid, to life-affecting diseases that require hospitalization.
There are many different types, but the most common is "atopic"-a term referring to family vulnerability. The most common suffering is children. Normally, this condition manifests itself in the first year after the child is born. By the age of 7, approximately 65% of the child will subside, and by the age of 16 it will subside 74%.
This is Becky's guide to fighting eczema:
Your family doctor can advise on first-line treatments such as steroid creams. Many are mild and can be purchased over the counter. But before you look at these, try emollients. We are advised to clean Rory with only water and a little oil. Any emollient, such as a water-based cream, will work as long as it is tasteless. Then use a fragrance-free moisturizer. The ointment may be very greasy, but the effect is longer.
Brands that are easily available on the street include E45, Diprobase and Epaderm. It's worth trying some. You can get a prescription from your doctor to help reduce costs.
Weleda's Aveeno and White Mallow Derma series are also good choices, but they are expensive.
Listen to your GP and your instincts. If you feel things are out of control, please seek expert recommendations. Act first. It will take a long time to pull back from the explosion.
The story of Becky and Rory is a very familiar story. Childhood eczema makes young patients weak, but it also makes parents very painful.
Of course, they look for ways to go beyond medical treatment to relieve pain.
Eczema has many causes from the environment, including dust, food, and pollen.
About one-third of children will experience food as a trigger, but this will be combined with other factors. Only one in ten children will use food as the main or only cause of eczema, so rejection of diet will only help a few people like Rory. It is difficult to give parents a clear answer about diet and allergies.
We didn't avoid it-we just didn't have the best way to prove food allergies. Routine allergy tests performed on children with eczema may be unreliable.
For example, a skin prick test will show positive results in eight out of ten children with eczema, but only three out of ten will develop symptoms after meals.
The clearest way to find food triggers is to follow an exclusive diet, but this is not a risk-free option.
Parents must keep two pitfalls in mind. First, the likelihood of food becoming a problem is small, so the expectation that this will help must be very low. This is difficult for parents who are eager to relieve their children’s itching.
Secondly, diet control is not easy for children. Toddlers may be picky and have limited food preferences.
The most reasonable elimination foods are milk, eggs, and wheat. They need to be eliminated in sequence within at least two weeks. Quitting dairy products on toddlers can be tricky, so doctors only recommend this if eczema is severe and affects the quality of life.
We still don't know what causes eczema, but it is likely that multiple factors together cause the immune system to overwork. Urbanization, pollution, and excessive use of detergents have combined to increase the incidence of eczema.
If you notice that your child has a sudden attack when the pollen count is high, you may find that the antihistamine syrup is effective in the short term.
● Irritating chemicals can irritate sensitive skin, so an extra rinse is required for each wash. Many patients find basic, allergy-approved brands such as Surcare helpful. Do not add fabric softener.
● Allergies or food intolerances may cause emergencies. You may receive a skin prick test to mark common skin prick tests. Rory underwent a food intolerance test from a dietitian. This is not an approved mainstream medical method, but many parents find it instructive. It pointed out that milk is a potential irritant, so we excluded it. His sudden attacks became less frequent.
● Dust mite allergy is very common. Try wet dust removal, replace carpets with hard washable floors, and use a humidifier. Throw away very old pillows, wash regularly and choose anti-allergic bedding, such as Baavet wool duvets and pillows.
Eczema can take away decent sleep for its victims-and the whole family-which can lead to further deterioration, because lack of sleep can destroy your immune system. Keep the main stimulation area covered at night to reduce the damage caused by scratching. If your legs are itchy, try cotton tights, or use professional clothing on your arms, such as ScratchSleeves. Cut the torso from a pair of tights to get a less complicated solution. Check out eczemaclothing.com.
Keep your nails as short as possible without cutting them quickly.
Night wet compress is an effective but time-consuming and highly skilled exercise. It reduces the rate at which the skin dries out by maintaining a layer of moisture next to the body.
● Take a hot bath. Add a suitable emollient (your GP can prescribe an antibacterial version).
● A popular old-fashioned treatment is to put a bag of muslin oatmeal in the bath water. Oat milk has a soothing effect on the skin, you can use the bundle to gently massage your child.
● Use clean flannel to gently remove any flaky, peeling skin-but do not scrub these areas.
● Soak the fabric bandage roll in bath water, and then squeeze out the excess. Take the child out of the bathtub and pat them lightly with a towel to make sure they are dry in the cracks, but make the limbs a little damp.
● Apply a small amount of steroid cream first, and apply only to the most needed areas. Then cover the affected area with a thick emollient. Wrap the damp bandage firmly, but don't wrap it tightly, and then tuck the loose end in to secure it-don't use pins.
● The most important thing is to put a layer of dry bandage, or easier, some tubifast clothes to fix the bandage. Put pajamas on it.
● While you are working fast, use CBeebies or story tapes to distract your child.
Warning: If you need to wet wrap your child's torso, make sure to check if they are warm while they sleep, because you don't want to add a cold to the equation. There are great wet packaging videos on YouTube.
They disagree, but as long as you accept medical advice, many parents will find relief in alternative therapies-food intolerance testing, homeopathy, and skull osteopathy (a type of head massage).
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