This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Ee Laine, whose 1st and 2nd sons have eczema since 6-month old and 3-month old, and share how she manages taking care of two children with eczema.
Marcie Mom: Hi Ee Laine, thanks for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your children’s eczema history – when did eczema start and what’s the severity?
Ee Laine: Most of my struggles happened while we were still living in Australia (we moved to Singapore in Oct 2010). I started noticing red itchy marks on my 1st son after he turned 6 months. His legs especially behind his knees, around the ankles and wrists became either itchy, red and broken, or dry with the skin having a texture of sandpaper.
Our 2nd child had more issues. We started noticing redness at 3 months which could only be controlled by steroidal creams. At 6 month-old after going on solids, his cheeks were red, raw and so bad that one gentle swipe of his fingers will send the skin tearing and bleeding. I remember stirring my corn and pea mash on the stove while keeping a close eye on our baby seated on the high chair right behind me. Just a few seconds of not watching him, he managed to scratch his cheeks and blood went all over his fingers, cheeks and shirt.
Marcie Mom: I had the same experience! I was cooking and turned a few seconds away, and my girl scraped her own neck against the high chair till bleeding!
Share with us: Was it tough to take care of your first child while you were pregnant with the second? And how did you manage when the second child also had eczema?
Ee Laine: It was tough. There was one incident during my second pregnancy that I remember well: my then two-year-old ate a little too much nuts and broke out in hives, rashes and swelling in his lips. I had to rush him to hospital for an Adrenalin jab. Actually my second son had a similar experience in Singapore too, when he managed to eat some Nutella while no one was looking. He too broke in hives with swelling in his lips and was quickly taken to the neighbourhood clinic for a jab.
When we were still in Australia my first son attended childcare while I worked, and the staff was very helpful in applying lotion and making sure he’s okay. Nights were tough because he would wake several times crying from the itch. My husband and I took turns applying more cream and stroking to soothe his skin until he fell asleep. I could not remember ever having a good 7-8 hours sleep. This continued even after we had our 2nd baby.
I stopped work shortly after my second pregnancy. Having 2 young ones with me, I had to multi-task a lot of the time. I think the worst was the lack of any break from the children as we were in Australia without any family support. Church friends as well as mums I knew from my mother’s group were our greatest support and I’m grateful for that.
Marcie Mom: We really share much similar experience! I was also very grateful for the support that my home group fellowship gave me when I was going through the toughest first year of taking care of my baby. So you relocated from Australia to Singapore, how was the adjustment?
Ee Laine: We were hoping the move to humid Singapore will improve my older son’s dry skin but it didn’t. Thankfully, although his skin is still dry around the joints and itchy at night, it is not as bad as it was before. We moisturise faithfully after shower, and if it gets really bad, I do an oatmeal soak in the pail for his legs. Exfoliating those dry bits with the oatmeal does wonders.
For my 2nd son, his skin condition was related to the food allergies so the change in environment and climate did not affect him much.
Marcie Mom: One final question – how did you manage your 2nd son’s allergy?
Ee Laine: I started to notice his eczema worsen after introducing solids. After the bleeding incident and a trip to Emergency, the doctors referred him for allergy testing. As I was still breastfeeding then, I randomly picked 2-3 foods to avoid for myself, hoping to identify the triggers going through the breast milk. I went off eggs, nuts and dairy for about a month. The allergy test confirmed his allergies to wheat, eggs and nuts. It was hell as our diet had many things with wheat in them. And I had often fed him bread. But we noticed some improvement after removing the food allergens. It was tough though – when we went out and his baby food finished, the only thing we could feed him was fries. We couldn’t have any Chinese meal outside, as every dish has soy sauce in it and wheat is one of the ingredients found in soy sauce. For home cooked meals, we had to buy tamari sauce instead and have everything wheat free.
Soon after our move to Singapore he grew out of his wheat allergy. Although he is still allergic to eggs and nuts, we find life more manageable. My mom-in-law, who helps look after him on occasions, understands his condition and keeps him safe. As he grows older, we ensure he learns and remembers what he cannot eat and his older brother helps look out for him too. We have to be very vigilant about him accepting food from other people who may not be aware of his allergies. He knows to ask first before putting anything into his mouth, which is good. Every now and again, I get him to ingest a tiny amount of nuts or eggs just to see if he is still allergic to those foods (still some skin reaction around his mouth but no hives and swelling). I hope he’ll overcome his allergies one day.
Marcie Mom: Thanks Ee Laine for taking time to share your journey on both your sons’ eczema – am sure many moms can identify with them!