Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and manages her Children’s Sleepover

Iman shares about her own eczema and that of her sons
Iman shares about her own eczema and that of her sons

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Iman Ogoo, who has eczema herself and also her sons have allergies, and shares how she manages her sons’ sleepovers. Iman is the founder of Imanmade Natural Skincare.

Marcie Mom: Hi Iman, thanks so much for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! I know it’s a busy time for you, and truly appreciate you taking time for this sharing. Let’s start with you sharing a little of your eczema history, and on your children.

Iman: I had acute eczema from early childhood alongside food allergies, plant allergies and contact allergies to various substances. I was the only member of my family with any kind of skin problem/allergy, but my parents did their best to treat my eczema with conventional steroid ointments and petroleum based emollients which often aggravated my skin further. Thankfully I grew out of most of the allergies and my skin has improved over the years, but I am still prone to eczema and regularly suffer from allergic rhinitis (to dust, mould etc).

I have three sons aged 10, 9 and 4 years, and since birth the younger two boys have had life threatening food allergies as well as severe eczema and asthma.

As a result of our constant reactions to commercial skin care products, I started to make my own skin care at home and over time I turned my creations into a business, helping others to care for their dry and sensitive skin.

Marcie Mom: Sleepovers are particularly worrying for mothers, especially if their children have allergies. What are your sons’ allergies and had there been any incident thus far?

Iman: In addition to the eczema, my youngest son has severe food allergies to dairy, peanuts, egg and a milder allergy to wheat. My middle son is severely allergic to peanuts, egg and fish.  Both carry Epipen (adrenaline) injections and antihistamines everywhere they go in case of reactions. Cat and dog allergies are also an issue along with dust and mould.

Because the allergic reactions can be life-threatening, sleepovers tend to be restricted to their granparents and a select few friends/family. Thankfully we have had no major emergency allergy situations at a sleepover, but my sons often return from sleepovers with inflamed eczema due to the presence of pets or the detergent used to bedding/ etc. To be honest, It can be very frustrating for me, especially if their skin had just cleared up from a bad bout of eczema.

Marcie Mom: What precaution do you take before the sleepover?

Iman: Due to the complexity of my sons having both allergies and eczema, I felt it was best to create a little ‘manual’ for friends and family, to help them to confidently care for my sons. Looking after a child with allergies and eczema can be very daunting, especially for those who have no experience of it before and verbal information is easily forgotten. In the manual I clearly describe each boy’s allergies, how to use their medication (I have a training Epipen to teach the carer beforehand if necessary), foods to avoid, safe foods, a detailed skin care routine, and extra tips/ comforting techniques for each child.

I also provide appropriate skin care products, toiletries and medicines, all clearly labeled, and any speciality foods like non-dairy milk, or wheat alternative pasta. On some occasions I provide a cooked meal to make things easier for the carer.

I ask for pets to be kept away from my children as much as possible, and that extra care is taken to vacuum any pet hairs on carpets and furniture.

I have also had to teach my son’s their allergens from a young age so they could be aware and ask the right questions when away from home.

We hardly ever use the manual any more as friends and family are quite comfortable with caring for my sons. My older sons are also very aware of my 4 year old’s allergies so it’s reassuring for me that they can help to ensure no mistakes are made with his care in my absence.

Marcie Mom: One final question – any recommendation for parents on hosting a sleepover for their child’s friends?


  • Talk to the parents to find out about any allergies their child may have. Ask the parent to give any specific medical info in clear, written form.
  • Try to provide lightweight, cotton bedlinen that haven’t been washed with harsh detergents and highly perfumed fabric conditioners.
  • A young child may get distressed with itching at night. Prepare to comfort the child and not scold them for scratching. A cold, wet flannel or icepack wrapped in a towel and pressed against the itchy site can temporarily relieve the irritation.

Marcie Mom: Thank you so much Iman for sharing your sleepover experience! A mom goes through it too, especially as it does take some planning!

Iman: Thank you for interviewing me Mei, you’re doing a great job informing your followers about living with childhood eczema.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages Eczema Baby and Nut Allergic Child

Gail shares on managing eczema and allergy for her baby son and daughter, and oh, they look so lovely!
Gail shares on managing eczema and allergy for her baby and teenage daughter, and oh, they look so lovely!

This is a series focused on a personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Gail, who shares about managing eczema for her baby and nut allergy for her older daughter. Gail has spent much time looking for products to help families with eczema, and has it all under one roof at her store, Everything for Eczema.

Marcie Mom: Hi Gail, it’s good to have you share in this series! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your older daughter’s nut allergy and the extent of care that is required.

Gail: Hi Mei.  My older daughter, Charlie, was diagnosed with a nut and seed allergy when she was 3 and she’s now 14.  The biggest challenges now that she is a teenager are that she hates carrying her epi-pens around with her as she feels they make her seem different to everyone else.  She will frequently take them out of her bag before she goes to school or out with friends.   Now that she eats out more without me, it’s also a worry as she is very self-conscious about asking whether there are nuts or seeds in a meal.

Marcie Mom: What about care for the younger baby? When did the eczema start and was the scratching intensive?

Gail: My younger daughter’s eczema started when she was just 6 weeks old.  Within a couple of months the whole of her body was covered in eczema and she often needed to have her legs and arms bandaged.  Tallulah was incredibly itchy and would scratch until she bled if left alone for more than a few seconds.  Bath times and nappy changing times were incredibly stressful as this was when she could get at her skin and scratch uncontrollably.

Marcie Mom: How did you manage bedtime for all of your children? What was the most difficult part?

Gail: Bedtime was one of the worst times of the day.  Tiredness would always make Tallulah extra itchy and she would need lots of attention.  This would have a knock on effect on Charlie who would start to feel left out.  It probably didn’t help that I was very sleep deprived too!

Marcie Mom: One final question – was there a turning point during this period which made it easier for your family to manage eczema and allergies for your children?

Gail: Establishing a good bedtime routine really helped.  When my little one was tucked up in bed I would then spend some quiet time with my older daughter so that she felt special too. Finally getting some sleep was a turning point for us all.  Suddenly you start to feel human again!

Marcie Mom: Thank you Gail for your sharing, it is truly not easy to manage all of it and we keep our fingers crossed that night time will get better for all families with eczema kids!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages Children with Eczema and Allergy

Janice manages Children with Eczema and Allergy
Janice manages Children with Eczema and Allergy

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Janice, whose son has allergies and daughter has eczema, and shares how she juggles her time managing both children’s allergic conditions and work. Janice is a working mom, read more about her here.

Marcie Mom: Hi Janice, it’s good to have you share in this series! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your children’s condition, what are both of their triggers?

Janice: Hi Mei, thanks for having me on your series. My daughter has had eczema since she was a baby and was prescribed hydrocortisone ointment at 6 months old. Her eczema usually occurs in the crooks of her arms and flares up with stress or other environmental conditions (chlorine from swimming pools, dry weather). I suspected she may have had food allergies as well. An Allergist confirmed when she was 2.5 years old that she was allergic to fish, ingestion and contact. She avoids fish and fish products. Our dry climate and long winters also cause itchy skin. So we try to keep hers and our own skin hydrated via drinking more water and slathering on lots of moisturizing cream. We still use hydrocortisone on her skin if the eczema episode is too itchy and causing discomfort.

My son has multiple food allergies and we suspected this when he started eating solid foods at 6 months old. He would have redness and small hives around his mouth after he ate his baby cereals and diaper rashes. Our Allergist confirmed he was allergic to dairy, egg, peanut, and tree nuts. Ingesting a small amount of any of these allergens causes hives, itching, swelling, and vomiting.  Without immediate attention he will experience difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis. He is also contact sensitive, meaning if any of his allergens come in contact with his skin hives, itching and swelling occurs. Since diagnosis of his multiple food allergies everywhere my son goes, he or one of his parents will carry epinephrine auto injectors (Epi-pen or Allerject) and liquid antihistamine (Benadryl or Reactine) for immediate treatment. We try our best to ensure my son’s food do not contain any of his allergens to avoid any reactions.

Marcie Mom: Was it hard juggling both children’s conditions or did one get better and offer some time for you to take care of the next?

Janice: My daughter’s eczema is much easier to manage than my son’s multiple food allergies. Eczema flare ups are not life threatening for my daughter. Normally her eczema clears ups and we manage and monitor until the next episode. As for her fish allergies, she doesn’t eat it and we ensure no fish or fish products are in her food.

There is a 2.5 year gap between my children. My daughter was becoming more independent and self-sufficient to allow us time to learn how to manage our son’s food allergies when our Allergist confirmed which allergens. We were also lucky to have other family members and friends to help us with their own personal experiences on managing food allergies. My best friend’s daughter was allergic to the same food allergens as my son. We had immediate help and support with navigating grocery shopping and answers to questions. It was overwhelming at first, but small steps and changes to how we shopped and what we ate helped keep my son safe. If we didn’t have the immediate support, I did find other food allergy information and resources available online and at our public library. I also talked to your Allergist and other health professionals for additional support.

Managing our son’s food allergies, to be honest is stressful and time consuming. Every meal has to be planned. Every grocery shopping trip requires due diligence. Dining out is a hassle. Vacation planning starts with research into dining options and where the nearest hospital or medical facility is located in the event he has an allergic reaction. Until my son is old enough to help manage his food allergies, his parents are his first line of defense to keeping him safe.

Marcie Mom: What measures do you have to take now – for the allergy mainly?

Janice: My husband and I are constantly monitoring my son’s food and surroundings to keep him safe. We try to avoid his food allergens with different measures to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction or incident. Yet we are realistic and we cannot shelter and protect our son from all life experiences and environments.

We spend a lot of time researching and educating ourselves on food ingredients and products. We buy local and organic foods where possible. We eat whole food meals at home and we do like to dine out. To dine out, we contact restaurants to confirm allergen free and safe meals are available for my son. We have taught our son to manage his food allergies, to the best of his abilities and age. He knows not to accept food from others and even confirms with us if the food he will eat is safe.

We provide family members, friends, our son’s teachers and schools food allergy information to raise awareness and educate them of our son’s allergens to help all of us keep him safe. If our son is not at preschool, we have a sitter take care of him at our home. This measure keeps our son safe, as we felt sending him to a daycare even if it was nut free facility the possibility of a dairy or egg allergy incident was still high. Though there is also a possibility an allergic reaction may occur at home, the probability is reduced with his one-on-one care versus being at a daycare or day-home. With all of these measures, we try to keep our son safe and reduce the risk of exposure to his food allergens.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what advice would you give to a mom who has 2 children with allergic conditions?

Janice: Firstly they are not alone and there is a “food allergy army” available either in their community or online who can help and provide support. Secondly I would recommend they build a tool-kit, to help them navigate and manage their children’s food allergies. My tool-kit is filled with

  • reference materials from online and print resources on food safety, product ingredients, recipes, and other parents experiences with managing food allergies
  • contact numbers of friends, family and medical professionals who I can call on when I need help and support
  • my kids’ medication and action plan
  • safe food and snacks

Marcie Mom: Thank you Janice for your sharing especially your precious tip on the tool-kit! Many moms can identify with having more than one child with eczema/allergy.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and manages Cloth-Diapering

MieVee shared about her cloth diapering journey for her child with eczema
MieVee shared about her cloth diapering journey for her child with eczema

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have MieVee, whose 4.5 year-old child has eczema since 5 months old and shares how she manages her son’s sensitive skin around the diaper area. MieVee runs a successful site in Singapore and Malaysia.  

Marcie Mom: Hi MieVee, thanks for taking part in this blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema, when did he first have it and what was the most difficult part of managing his eczema?

MieVee: My eldest son, Vee, started developing a rash at his face during 5 months old. Despite him trying on various creams, the patch expanded to a large part of his face. It was very itchy and disrupted his sleep. Often, he’d rub his face against his pillow till it bled. The most difficult part was getting the rash and itch under control.

When he was about 14 months old, we discovered by chance that he had soy allergy. By eliminating soy from my diet (since I was breastfeeding him), the rash on his face subsided within 2 weeks and eventually disappeared.

However, the folds behind his knees are still prone to itchy rash, if he perspires.

Marcie Mom: I understand that you’d like to share on using cloth diapers for your son. When did you first start to use cloth diaper, and why?

MieVee: I started cloth diapering Vee from his newborn days. My main reasons are to use comfortable fabric against his skin, reduce trash and save money on diapering.

Marcie Mom: How difficult is it to cloth diaper for him, and do you apply any lotion?

MieVee: We use a variety of modern cloth diapers, so it has been very convenient. The easiest to use are pocket diapers with inserts and Velcro tabs. Even hubby could use these easily.

Vee was a high-needs fussy baby, especially during sleep. He didn’t like night-time diaper changes, would scream loudly and couldn’t get back to sleep easily. However, his diaper area would be prone to rashes if his regular diaper was left on for more than 5 hours.

Eventually, I found breathable night-time fleece cloth diapers that absorbed a lot through the night, while letting his skin breathe and remain rash-free. Since then, he slept much better at night.

In the day, he didn’t need diaper cream because we change his diaper every 2-3 hours. At night, because of the long hours, I apply a thin layer of non-zinc oxide diaper cream at his front diaper area. (To prevent the cloth diaper from repelling liquid, I place a disposable biodegradable liner on it.)

Marcie Mom: One final question – what is the best way to fold the cloth diaper?! I couldn’t get it right and gave up within a day!

MieVee: Most modern cloth diapers do not require any folding. Depending on the design, you may insert a rectangular absorbent fabric into a pocket or lay it on the diaper cover, put it on baby, then close it with Velcro tabs or snap buttons. Very easy!

There’re many cloth diaper reviews and tips on my blog to help new parents get started, so feel free to browse through them.

Marcie Mom: Thanks MieVee for sharing your journey on cloth diapering, and your tips!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages Severe Peanut Allergy for Eczema Child

Louise shares on managing her son's peanut allergy and eczema
Louise shares on managing her son’s peanut allergy and eczema

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Louise Jones, whose son has a severe peanut allergy and shares how she manages his allergies and eczema. Louise is passionate about learning and sharing on parenting severe nut allergy child at Nutmums.

Marcie Mom: Hi Louise, thanks for taking time to share with us about managing your son’s eczema and severe nut allergy. Let’s start with you sharing a little of your family allergy history, and about your son’s eczema.

Louise: Hi Mei, Thank you very much for asking me to share our journey. There is, in fact, very little in the way of family allergy history. I have mild asthma (but, touch wood, haven’t had to use an inhaler in years) and can get wheezy around cats. His dad sometimes has hay fever symptoms and his paternal grandmother had eczema as a child. Otherwise, there are no known allergies in either side of the family.

My son has had eczema since he was a baby. I’m not sure when exactly it started, but we were regularly using Oilatum and hydrocortisone cream by the time he was 6 months old. I remember one night him scratching his head so much in his sleep that the next day there was what looked like a graze covering half of his forehead. If I put him in scratch mitts, he would still rub and rub at his skin with the gloves until it bled. At 14 months, he had eczema herpeticum and we spent the day on the children’s ward. However, a short while after that, his eczema seemed to improve and, fortunately, at the moment, it is fairly mild.

Marcie Mom: When did you realize your son has severe nut/peanut allergy? Was there any particular incident of severe allergic reaction?

Louise: When my son was 20 months old, he ate a peanut butter cookie and had a severe anaphylactic reaction. That was our baptism of fire into the world of food allergies. We knew next to nothing about allergies before that point and, so far as we know, he hadn’t had any previous mild reactions to food.

He used to love chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies and had occasionally had a bite of cakes containing nuts. We didn’t avoid foods labelled “may contain nuts” and we had peanut butter in the house. However, that first reaction was the first occasion he had knowingly eaten peanut.

The reaction was extremely severe. Immediately after biting into the cookie, his lips swelled, one eye swelled closed and his breathing became loud and wheezy. Fortunately, his grandmother is a retired nurse and recognized it as anaphylaxis and called an ambulance. As this was his first allergic reaction, we hadn’t been prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector at that point. Although the paramedics arrived incredibly quickly, there was still a 10-15 minute time lag between the symptoms starting and him getting the adrenaline injection. He was taken to hospital and, as the doctors were concerned about the swelling in his throat, they decided they needed to put a breathing tube down. He spent the next 3 days in intensive care. However, within a week, he was back at home and to look at him, you would not have guessed what he had been through.

After that, his skin prick tests confirmed the peanut allergy but were negative for tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts etc). For now, we’ve decided to avoid all nuts, to reduce both the risk of confusion (it’s easier to tell his nursery, relatives etc “no nuts”) and cross-contamination.

Marcie Mom: Did avoidance of allergens for your child also result in improved skin?

Louise: I’m not sure, as at the time he was diagnosed with peanut allergy, his eczema was already improving. However, as well as having eczema, he had been quite a sicky baby. When he was little, this was put down to reflux. When he was around 12 months old, he had a series of chest infections, so the sickness at that stage was put down to catarrh. Following his anaphylactic reaction, the doctors got his asthma under control. It may be coincidence, but he then had far fewer chest infections and the sickness improved too.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what would be one reminder or key advice you have for parents of children with severe allergies?

Louise: Well, I would say please don’t hesitate to administer the EpiPen. We’ve used it twice since that initial reaction. The first time we used it turned out to be a false alarm (he had croup which had triggered his asthma), but the second time it stopped the anaphylactic reaction in its tracks. On both occasions, the hospital doctors told us we had done the right thing.

I would also warn parents to be aware of the increased peanut allergy risk if your child (or someone in your child’s immediate family) has eczema (or another atopic illness). I actually think this is something that doctors should spell out when they are diagnosing eczema and prescribing emollients and steroid creams for babies. If your baby has eczema, please talk to your doctor before introducing peanut into their diet – don’t be caught unawares like we were!

Marcie Mom: Thank you Louise for your sharing, and indeed many parents share about their worry that an ‘allergy accident’ will happen to their child and can certainly identify with your journey. For more on eczema herpeticum, refer here.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages Son’s Eczema during Summer

Christy on Eczema BluesThis is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Christy, who shares how she manages her son’s eczema which flares up during summer. Christy blogs at UpliftingFamilies and is passionate about helping families with their parenting struggles.

Marcie Mom: Hi Christy, thanks so much for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema history, when did he get eczema and what triggers a flare-up?

Christy: When my son was around two years old, I noticed one day that the back of his knees were red.  I took him to the doctor because I didn’t know what was going on.  The doctor said it was eczema and gave us some medicine to treat it.  It seems as if summer heat, increased sweating, and swimming pools (chlorine) causes him to get a flare up.  The best treatment we used was a thin layer of cortisone and then cover it with moisturizing lotion, or a prescription steroid cream.

Marcie Mom: Share with us how his skin changes as he grows older – did it improve? 

Christy: The doctor said most people typically outgrow it; however, my son is 12 years old and still gets flare ups in the summer time.  I feel if he would pre-treat his skin every day that it would greatly improve his skin but he is a typical boy and forgets.

Marcie Mom: How does summer affect his eczema and does the family need to accommodate to his condition during summer?

Christy: My son doesn’t really seem too bothered by his flare ups.  Occasionally, they will start bleeding.  I just have to remind him to use his eczema cream on his arms and legs.  We haven’t ever skipped an outing or anything due to his eczema but he does have to carry his prescription cream with him. 

Marcie Mom: One final question – I read from your blog that each of your 3 children has some special needs. Did managing eczema for your son make it harder to manage the other two children?

Christy: His eczema hasn’t made it harder to manage with my other two kids.  He was the youngest when he was first diagnosed and I would make a habit to put cream on his legs twice a day, usually during a diaper change.  Now that he is older, I just have to remind him to put on his eczema cream. 

Marcie Mom: Thanks Christy for taking time to share your personal story and it is good to know that eczema can be managed well!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages her Eczema, Allergies and Food Intolerances

WhatAllergy on Eczema BluesThis is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Ruth who is sharing about her eczema, allergies, food intolerances and allergic march. Ruth is a copy writer and marketing communications specialist (Ruth Holroyd) and also has an allergy blog WhatAllergy.

Marcie Mom: Hi Ruth, thanks for sharing about your multiple allergic conditions. Let’s start with you sharing a little of your atopic history.

Ruth: Well I was born with eczema, I don’t ever remember NOT having it. Then a peanut allergy, hay fever, asthma and then allergic to dog and cat dander and I was on the allergic march.

I was also allergic to egg as a baby but I can eat eggs now when well cooked though I have to be careful not to overdo it or they can start to make me fell unwell. This now just an intolerant reaction which is easy to manage and I save eggs as something to eat when I eat out.

The eczema has been with me as long as I can remember but does seem to go in cycles. It does clear up sometimes for a few years then comes back to bite me.  I have it pretty well under control but I know that certain foods cause awful itchy eczema to flare up.  Dairy is the worst for this as well as tomato, celery and fresh coriander.  It gets me the day or even two days after eating and my skin will be boiling with pain, red, raw and like a think crusty hard scaly mask of pain. This mainly gets my face and neck but can be all over and even tiny traces can do this.

I have allergies now to all nuts, soya, dairy, kidney beans, celery, tomatoes and pretty much everything processed and any kind of lactic acid. Beetroot and cucumber are suspected foods but this seems to be a bit random.  And the thing is it’s a different reaction with each food. Often delayed and causing eczema so often doesn’t show up in allergy testing. But if I exercise WHAM – if I’ve eaten the above allergens, especially dairy or celery I’ll get anaphylaxis which is just terrifying.

Soya milk causes me immediate and severe asthma. Soya protein, flour and other types cause less dangerous asthma but I’m better avoiding any soya.  It has meant I have reduced my asthma medication drastically since discovering this was a trigger.

I also have a wheat intolerance which I often just don’t mention as it’s not life threatening but it’s really painful, causes extreme constipation and bloating and very very bad wind!  I know if I’ve eaten any.  Not great for anyone who is near when I eat any gluten or wheat.

Marcie Mom: How have so many allergic (and hypersensitivity) conditions affect your lifestyle and quality of life?

Ruth: I try not to let them affect my life but it’s impossible to completely achieve this.  You have to be really well prepared. So I try to have lots of fresh food in the house. I tend to just avoid the allergens and not use many freefrom branded goods because they often contain one of more of my allergens.   Home cooking from scratch is the norm but there are some amazing healthy freefrom ready meals coming out like ilumi which make life just a little more fun.  I tend to cook extra and freeze portions for days when I can’t face cooking.

Eating out is a huge challenge.  I do try to do this as you really miss out when you just never go out but I try to go for entertainment options where food is not involved like walks with a picnic, drinks instead of a meal, shopping, cinema etc. The options are endless. But eating out should be a treat and I have managed to have some lovely meals out but not without military planning, endless checking and just a little worry.

Going on holiday is a challenge too because you NEVER get a holiday from allergies.  We go self catering or camping and this works well.  Expensive hotels tend to be better too as they are less dusty and have better catering but small B&Bs can be wonderful if you can find one you trust which isn’t going to trigger any of your allergies. I find dust is one of my hardest as even in a busy pub I’ll be wheezing if it’s got carpet and curtains.

I know it’s tough on my husband and family too who have to cater to my every whim (Now wouldn’t that be nice?) and often change plans so I’m safe, take extra care in the kitchen etc.  Family and friends have been amazing at helping me stay safe, always have an eye out for mistakes I might make and often surprise me with their kindness and understanding.

Especially with the eczema. What I feel like is a raging, red, angry, miserable horrible person. What they is just me and often they say my skin looks fine. Just a little pink and maybe like sunburn. Not something to worry about but I imagine everyone is horrified.  Learning not to care what your face looks like and what people think is a hard lesson when you can feel it itching and burning but if you take your mind of your eczema and go out you scratch a little less so it’s well worth it.

Marcie Mom: Does your career choice have anything to do with your eczema and allergies?

Ruth: Probably not really but I did want to be a policewoman which was an instant no go when they discover I anaphylaxis AND multiple triggers caused by exercise. Not good really.  Working from home has made my life so much easier. I can take a morning off if I’ve had a really bad allergic reaction and I can catch up when I’m feeling better.  Noone can see me on really bad eczema days and this does take off the pressure.  If I was working full time I would have had a terrible work record over the last few years as the allergies have been so much worse. I’m getting them under control now though and working out ways to stay safe – I have been a bit lax and made lots of mistakes but we live and learn.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what advice would you give to a lady who wants to build confidence and meet more people, despite visible eczema?

Ruth: It really needed not be a life sentence although it often does feel like one.  My advice is always to try to accept it, so you have allergies. Big deal. You can live with this if you’re careful and on the plus side I am really healthy, don’t put on weight, have learnt to cook amazing tasty food, love cooking and baking now, have met some amazing inspiration people through blogging, judging on the freefrom food awards and public speaking.  I also organise an Allergy Support Group. This is a great way to meet like minded people and have a good moan in a friendly place where people really get you.  Get involved in local groups like this, join forums and learn as much as you can and make sure you get the support you need from your doctor and allergy specialists – not always easy but vital as these things change and can get worse without warning.

Keeping eczema and asthma under control can have huge impacts on allergic reactions. If skin is not moisturised well and breaks down allergens can and will penetrate your skin too. If you asthma is not well managed you could get far worse allergic reactions. By keeping these areas well managed you can greatly help your allergy health.

Exercise too for me is key. The fitter I am the less allergic I am. Not sure why but maybe you sweat out the allergens quicker or maybe the body is just better able to process allergens. Who knows, but it’s another way of enjoying a better life too. Eat well and exercise.

Also everyone should read my blog – it was voted in the top 5 UK allergy blogs last year and is jam packed with useful tips, product reviews and advice for living life to the full with life threatening allergies, eczema and asthma.  Life is for living and there is always someone worse off than you.  Life with allergies and eczema can have its positives too and lots of them so keep smiling and moisturise!

Marcie Mom: Thank you so much for sharing your eczema and multiple allergies. Many can identify with it and I do hope ladies reading your sharing will be encouraged.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages her Eczema, Allergies and Chronic Pain

Jen shares on managing eczema, allergies and chronic pain
Jen shares on managing eczema, allergies and chronic pain

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Camper Jen who is sharing about her eczema, allergies and how she manages it all along with her chronic pain. Camper Jen founded PainCamp and holds a license in her field of clinical social work with specialties in the areas of Mental Health, Medical and Chemical Dependency.

Marcie Mom: Hi Camper Jen, thanks for participating in this eczema sharing series. I know you have confirmed food and environmental allergies, can you share with us when you first got allergy tested and what prompted you to do so?

Camper Jen: As a baby, the doctor told my mother that I was allergic to dairy. Between the ages of 12-14, I was tested again with blood and skin tests. I also had testing done for sensitivities as well as allergies. All of the allergies and sensitivities were confirmed back then but I basically ignored the results (except for the 3 years of allergy shots). Two years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Pain Syndrome (along with many other diagnoses). That brought me back to addressing my allergies, sensitivities and food intolerances as causes or contributors for some of my symptoms. This time around I am addressing them with direction from a naturopath.

Marcie Mom: What about your eczema – when did it start, and how is your skin now?

Camper Jen: I was diagnosed with eczema as a young teenager. I just had an appointment with the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago and she said I’m getting hives along with the eczema now. This is due to higher histamine levels as I’m probably reacting to something I’m eating (oops – corn) as well as my environmental allergies (it is summer time here). The areas that are most affected are my legs, backs of my knees and the inside of my elbows.

Marcie Mom: I read from your site that you also have Chronic Pain Syndrome and a lot of other health conditions. Did any of these conditions make it harder for you to manage your eczema, or even trigger eczema flare-ups?

Camper Jen: Early on in my diagnoses of Chronic Pain, I was using warm water pool therapy as a part of my pain management approach. Due to my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (along with not having my food allergies/sensitivities under control), my eczema was not managed well during this time. After every visit to the pool (5x a week) I had uncontrollable eczema symptoms. I am not able to manage my eczema with conventional prescription lotions, creams and soaps that my Dermatologist has prescribed because I am sensitive to the chemicals that are in them. I’m trying to find a great organic and non-toxic lotion or cream to sample. If anyone knows of any that works for them, let me know!

Marcie Mom: One final question – what advice would you give to someone who is managing eczema and other chronic health conditions?

Camper Jen: I have experienced frustration with having eczema on top of other chronic health conditions. I have found some relief by addressing my allergies and sensitivities under the direction of a naturopath. My dermatologist is not familiar with holistic and organic approaches to treatment so I’ve started to look elsewhere for help. I would encourage people to look more closely at possible causes and triggers for their eczema (allergies and also sensitivities/intolerances) and seek consultation from a holistic practitioner. There are also other mind/body approaches I have found that helps take my mind off the itching sensation (tai chi chih and listening to music). If one approach doesn’t work, keep trying and don’t give up!

Marcie Mom: Thank you so much for sharing about your eczema, allergies and your journey in healing your body. Truly appreciate the positive vibes and good work you’re doing to help others!

Camper Jen: Thank you for this opportunity to share how eczema has affected my life. We can all learn from each other!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages Eczema Herpeticum

Jenny with severe facial eczema
Jenny shares on her eczema herpeticum experience

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Jenny who is sharing about her eczema herpeticum experience. Jenny blogs about her own personal experiences with eczema at i-have-eczema. She also has a lovely blog at Little Jenny Wren on her crafts, cakes and fashion.

Marcie Mom: Hi Jenny, thanks for sharing about your eczema herpeticum experience. Let’s start with you sharing a little of eczema history.

Jenny: Hi Mei! Thanks for having me! Eczema only became a problem for me in my mid-teen years when I became a lot more exposed to environmental allergens. Since this time it has become very widespread affecting every part of my body except my nose, fingers and feet. As a child I suffered more so from asthma and hay fever but as an adult I suffer with severe eczema. 

Marcie Mom: When did your eczema herpeticum occur and what happened before and during treatment? (an archived post on Eczema Herpeticum – What is it and is it dangerous?)

Jenny: Since April 2012 I’ve contracted Eczema Herpeticum 7 times. Eczema Herpeticum is when the herpes simplex virus presents itself in an eczema sufferer, but instead of getting a cold sore or two, the virus spreads rapidly through areas that are affected by eczema. This can be an extremely dangerous condition, especially if not treated swiftly, as it can go on to affect organs and even cause septicemia and other life-threatening conditions.

My most recent outbreak is the worst I’ve ever experienced. It started in my eyes as a mild itch that I put down to being possible conjunctivitis. However over the course of the day the typical warning signs of eczema herpeticum became apparent as the cold sore-like vesicles presented themselves. It became so bad that I couldn’t even open my eyes. I also went on to develop a secondary infection of Periorbital Cellulitis so required emergency medical help. I then went on to spend 6 days in hospital being treated through an IV drip. It was pretty frightening as when I’ve suffered with eczema herpeticum in the past a dosage of Aciclovir tablets have been able to sort me out… but not this time.

Jenny on Eczema Herpeticum

Marcie Mom: Is there any medication and follow-up consultation required?

Jenny: In my case because I’ve contracted this virus so often, I am on a near-permanent course of Aciclovir tablets in order to keep it at bay. Most people would only require enough medication to treat the initial outbreak as it is uncommon for it to prevail as it has for me. I also see a dermatologist at the very least of once a month to ensure my skin is in good control.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what would be your biggest take-away from this experience?

Jenny: In all honesty I’m not sure how to answer this question. I’m now at a stage where I’m terrified that it will happen again to the extremity that I ended up hospitalised. It has only been a week since I was discharged after all. I guess in order to overcome it I need to get my immune system into a workable order as it is when you are run down and stressed that the herpes simplex virus breaks out. As an aside note, I have been taking immunosuppressants to control my severe eczema for a few years now and so these will not be helping to treat my immune system. If possible I would suggest to take eczema through the natural route to try to stop your immune system from getting into this state as mine has.

I’ll also add that I was never affected with the herpes simplex virus until I met my current partner who periodically suffers from cold sores. I never in my wildest dreams expected it to manifest in me as it has. Cold sores are such a common contagious infection that can be spread through something simple such as sharing towels and touching things that the infected person has touched. They’re pretty hard to escape from so always practise good hand hygiene where possible.

Marcie Mom: Thank you so much for sharing your eczema herpeticum journey, quite a few children had it too and parents reading this would have gained some insight.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages Allergy Testing for Child

Kristin on Allergy Testing on Eczema Blues
Kristin shares on managing allergy tests for child with multiple severe allergies

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Kristin Beltaos, whose son has severe food allergies and shares how she manages his allergies via allergy testing. Kristin is a member of the Anaphylaxis & Food Allergy Association of Minnesota’s Speakers’ Bureau and a consultant/licensed trainer and owner of A Gift of Miles.

Marcie Mom: Hi Kristin, thanks for taking time to share with us about allergy testing. Let’s start with you sharing your son’s allergy history – when did he have them and did it show up as rashes on the skin?

Kristin: Hi Marcie, thanks for asking me to participate. My son’s allergies exhibited themselves prior to us leaving the hospital from his birth. He vomited and scream-cried after breastfeeding multiple times a day; physicians and nurses attributed the vomiting to a baby’s underdeveloped digestive tract. At six weeks, his pediatrician decided to have an Upper GI Series to rule out pyloric stenosis, a narrowing of the pylorus, the opening from the stomach into the small intestine that causes severe projectile non-bilious vomiting in the first few months of life. This test came back negative. It was decided that he had severe acid reflux and prescribed Zantac and later Prevacid in order to control his condition.

For the next seven months his vomiting continued, he also had eczema, unexplained hives, did not transition to baby food or table food and was labeled borderline failure to thrive for 18-months.

Two particular instances made us think something more was happening than acid reflux. The first was that I tried to wean a breastfeeding and provided him with a milk-based formula. He literally had one drop on his lips; his head looked like a red, cherry tomato and he scream-cried for over an hour. At first I thought, ok, ok, you’re a breast man and you don’t want a bottle. Then connecting the dots had us questioning…is this a clue for something else?

The second was the straw for my husband and I. I’d describe my son as a happy, but fussy baby. I know that sounds contrary, but he really was happy. One morning, he was fussy and I picked him up and kissed him all over his head to make him laugh. For every kiss that I gave him he had a nickel size hive, there were eight hives for eight kisses. I had cereal that morning, and while my lips weren’t wet with milk, there was residue. Later we found he was allergic to milk by touch and ingestion, along with other allergens.

Lastly, because of missing the window between four and nine months when oral motor skills are developed, he served 18-months in the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics Feeding Clinic to learn how to orally manipulate his food, i.e., chew, transition food from side-to-side, learn how much to chew prior to attempt swallowing and work on food texture issues. Even after he was diagnosed with his food allergies at 11-months, his food challenges haunted him until he was just shy of his fourth birthday.

I have to say all the while this was going on, I always knew something was wrong. I knew the doctors were missing something. So I tell parents, especially mothers, know that you aren’t going crazy and to seek opinions until you find an answer.

Marcie Mom: When was your child’s first allergy test and how did the physician help you to interpret his test results? 

Kristin: At 11 months, my son had a Radioallergosorbent Test, commonly known as RAST Test, which is a blood test used to determine to what substances a person is allergic. Our pediatrician broke the news to us that he was allergic to Cow’s Milk (including by touch due to the cereal and kiss episode), Eggs, Peanuts and Tree Nuts. In the summer of 2011 we added Sesame to his list.

After his diagnosis, we moved to a board certified allergist for care.

Marcie Mom: How often is a repeat allergy test required? And did it benefit your family to learn of new/ outgrown allergies?

Kristin: Obviously allergy testing is recommended whenever you have a new and/or unexplained reaction of course. For management of already diagnosed food allergies, the recommendation may vary from allergist to allergist and based upon each patient’s individual allergies and needs. Personally, I have my son’s allergies reviewed on an annual basis.

Coincidentally, we just had his allergen review within the past week. We received good and bad news. His Cow’s Milk numbers have been on the rise in the past two years, very disappointing as you can imagine. In this last test, his numbers more than doubled, placing him in the next Class level, Class 4 that is labeled as a Strong Positive. Our allergist continues to encourage us to stay hopeful, that the big reveal would be closer to when he enters high school as to whether this may be a lifelong allergy. He’s only seven, soon to be eight, so we have some time yet.

His Egg numbers have stayed the same; however, we are able to do a Baked Egg Challenge to see if he might be able to consume Egg in a baked good, i.e., muffins, cupcakes, cake, bread, etc. This is a test done in a supervised medical environment, clinic or hospital, with your board certified allergist or other medical representative present. I should add that this type of Challenge is not something done at home in your own experimentation.

We’re also investigating, via another blood test, whether he might be a candidate for a Baked Milk Challenge. The results remain to be seen on this front.

Peanut is no longer tested for because his numbers are too high. It is believed that peanuts will be a lifelong allergy.

Interestingly enough, his Tree Nut results have come back negative, pointing to outgrowing this allergy. We will investigate with a skin test to confirm and of course orally test him by having him consume Tree Nut(s) that are processed on dedicated lines with no risk of cross contamination with peanuts.

Lastly, his Sesame results came back very low, which may point to him outgrowing this allergy as well. We will pursue a skin test, should he pass, a Sesame Oral Food Challenge would be in the cards for him.

As you can see, testing regularly not only allows you to know the status of a person’s allergies. Moreover, if a child outgrows an allergy or allergens, it permits the reintroduction of food items permitting an expansion in diet. An expanding diet is ALWAYS a good thing. : )

Marcie Mom: One final question – for a mom who has difficultly with figuring out false positives in test results, what would you recommend to do?

Kristin: I honestly do not have any recommendations regarding false positives. What I do recommend is finding and partnering with a board certified allergist that you truly trust. In doing so, you’ll feel confident in the recommendations provided and can go about living life to the fullest with food allergies.

Marcie Mom: Thank you so much for sharing your journey on managing allergies and allergy testing – many eczema families are also ‘figuring’ this out and your sharing will be useful for them!

About Kristin Beltaos, M.A. – Kristin is the owner of A Gift of Miles, offers food allergy one-on-one consulting, national and local trainings, school consulting, and parent/school advocacy; and serves the markets of stress, with subspecialties, and reproductive challenges. She is a Licensed Trainer with the Minnesota Center for Professional Development, teaching food allergy continuing education to early childhood and school age providers and educators, a member of the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota’s (AFAA) Speaker’s Bureau and a former board member. Kristin wrote and drove the implementation of the first food allergy 504 Plan in her child’s school, was influential in creating a new school food policy which eliminated food celebrations (both in classroom and school wide) – a policy that other schools are interested in emulating. Kristin was named a Top 25 Food Allergy Mom, 2012 by Circle of Moms. Stay happy and informed by following Kristin on her Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages Baby with Severe Eczema

Lauren Son Eczema Blues
Lauren shares about managing severe eczema for her son in his first year

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Lauren, whose 3 year old son has severe eczema in his first year, and shares how she manages eczema for a newborn. Lauren plays and teaches bassoon in Traverse City, Michigan.

Marcie Mom: Hi Lauren, it’s good to have you share in this series! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema – when did it start and how was his skin at his worst then?

Lauren: Hi, Mei. Rhys developed cradle cap (a yellow, scaly crust on his scalp) around two months of age and developed body-wide severe eczema at three months of age.  I first noticed a problem when one day he started to repeatedly rub his eyes and face with his hands.  He was not yet coordinated enough to truly scratch.  The red skin and rashes followed, at first on his face, and later nearly everywhere else.  At its worst, his skin was inflamed, crusty, and oozing and the plasma would soak through his clothes and bed sheets.  It was quite similar to a very bad reaction to poison ivy.

Marcie Mom: Allergy testing isn’t accurate in the first few months of a newborn’s life  – did you have difficulty finding out his triggers in the first year?

Lauren: My husband and I had tremendous difficulty and often had disagreements stemming from the mystery of it all.  That first year we took Rhys to three different doctors and also to non-traditional (in the American sense) healers.  I stopped consuming dairy for about a month because I was breastfeeding, we eliminated all detergents from our home – even shampoos and toothpastes containing detergents, and we kept Rhys away from our cats.  No lifestyle change seemed to make an obvious improvement.

Marcie Mom: How and when did the eczema improve?

Lauren: During the first year, it was a combination of two events.  First, Rhys’s pediatrician realized he couldn’t fully help and referred us to a dermatologist.  The dermatologist prescribed Triamcinolone, a strong topical steroid, and frequent moisturizing.  I believe he gave us samples of CeraVe. Second, around the same time, I spoke with a friend whose son has food allergies.  She told me dairy consumption was often a trigger for eczema breakouts and other allergic reactions and convinced me to again eliminate dairy from my diet.  She also told me about a friend of hers whose child had severe eczema.  The pediatric dermatologist in that case had advised to (1) give the child three lukewarm baths a day, using cleanser only on soiled areas, (2) use topical steroid as needed on “hot spots” after the bath, and (3) moisturize on still-damp skin.  The triamcinolone broke the cycle of inflammation and the frequent bathing and moisturizing helped his skin’s resiliency.  Moisturizing red and oozing skin never worked; it was really only effective at maintaining healthy skin.

As you mentioned, Rhys is now three.  We no longer give him baths three times a day, but we do moisturize after baths and as needed throughout the day and we use the steroid Fluticasone Propionate Cream for break-outs.  We still avoid detergents and products with synthetic scents.  Rhys underwent allergy testing late last summer and due to the results and personal experience, we now avoid peanuts, tree nuts, legumes, dairy, and eggs.  If Rhys begins to scratch uncontrollably, the dermatologist gave us permission to give him children’s strength antihistamine.  We have so many more pieces of the puzzle figured out now, not all, but many.  Most of Rhys’s skin is now smooth and healthy.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what advice would you give to a mom who has a family history of eczema/allergy and preparing for the newborn?

Lauren: Eat the healthiest possible foods while pregnant.  Some might even advise you to eat as much chemical-free and organic food as possible while pregnant.  If your baby develops the symptoms I mentioned, do your best to keep the baby from scratching and seek help.  If your child’s healthcare provider has never seen such a severe case of eczema, find a healthcare provider who has already seen and treated a case like your child’s before.  And don’t blame yourself.  Your baby will outgrow some triggers, like the drooling that accompanies teething.

Marcie Mom: Thank you Lauren for your sharing, many moms can identify with it and hopefully every baby grows out of eczema.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Manages Child with Multiple Allergies

Child Allergies Eczema EczemaBluesThis is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have a father, known as Spanish Key, who has a daughter with eczema and multiple allergies, and shares how he manages her daughter’s conditions. Spanish Key blogs at End Eczema and also started the Eczema Map Project.

Marcie Mom: Hi Spanish Key, it’s good to have a dad to share. Let’s start with you sharing a little of your daughter’s eczema and allergy history.

Spanish Key: My daughter’s four years old. She’s got moderate-to-severe eczema and mild asthma. Her history is part of an ongoing family history of atopy, since my grandfather, a cousin, and myself all had or have eczema. Shortly after she was born we noticed the eczema and blood in her stool. The blood was apparently from food allergies through breast milk.

We had her skin- and blood-tested and she was positive to virtually everything. The allergist said we should feed her nothing but rice, banana and zucchini. Obviously that was nutritional nonsense so we asked her pediatrician who expanded the list to nine items including chicken and carrot. She ate nothing but those things for two and a half years—and my wife, while breastfeeding her, had to avoid all the major allergens as well.

Her eczema flares up worst on her hands. It happens every six months or so. In between we see it on her feet and scattered all over. Asthma shows up when she gets sick with a cold.

Marcie Mom: You’ve shared about your daughter’s allergies – which would be the ones which have been tested positive and for which she experienced moderate to severe reactions?

Spanish Key: Things are changing over time. We get her skin- and blood-tested once a year, and challenge her orally with new items. There was an exciting moment when we went from a short list of things she COULD eat to a short list of things she COULDN’T eat. Right now the known positives are nuts (all kinds), dairy (all kinds), and sesame. Just last week we introduced beef and coconut. She had no reaction to those. We also know she’s allergic to horse dander—she has horse-riding lessons every two weeks and always comes back blotchy-faced and itchy, so we included that in the testing.

Eczema Food Allergy List
Food Chart at 3 year old

Her dairy and sesame allergies don’t obviously make her skin flare up. Instead, she vomits almost immediately. The allergist says this is not the typical reaction but it’s still most likely an allergy and not an intolerance.

Our biggest fear is not eczema but that she’ll develop an anaphylactic nut allergy. We are not sure whether we should be avoiding nut products ourselves. We eat nuts and peanut butter in the kitchen. This might be good because it is exposing her to small amounts and inducing tolerance—or it might not.

Marcie Mom: How do you manage so many triggers and allergies? Does it affect her nutrition and lifestyle?

Spanish Key: Most of her life we have made all her food from scratch. I do it myself since I’m the cook. I know what goes into her food. In the last year or so we’ve let her have some packaged candy after we read the ingredient list.

For the first four years, we gave her special vitamin powder, because all the children’s vitamin pills we could find contained coconut. But as of two weeks ago, she’s been taking regular kiddie vitamins and loving them.

I do my best to balance her diet. But it’s frustrating because she either was a picky eater to begin with or has become one, from lack of variety. Now she is able to eat a wide variety of foods, but she doesn’t like many of them. In practice she eats a lot of pasta, rice, and soy. These foods are not so great for her teeth which are in worse shape than her brother’s. She’s getting enough calories—actually we worry she might be a bit chubby—but she really ought to eat more vegetables. But you could say that about me too!

Marcie Mom: One final question – what would be your top 3 tips to another parent whose child tested positive to lots of allergens?

Spanish Key:

  1. Make all their food yourself from scratch.
  2. If you give them packaged food, always check the ingredients. Always. Most soy sauce contains wheat. Most bread and margarine contain milk. Vitamin pills can contain nuts.
  3. And make sure their teachers know that they have food allergies, because treats often get shared at school.

Marcie Mom: Thank you so much for sharing your journey managing your child’s eczema and multiple allergies (and from a dad’s point of view!).

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and Manages her Self-Confidence

Rebecca shares on how eczema affected her self confidence, and she is now able to adopt a positive attitude despite her eczema
Rebecca shares on how eczema affected her self confidence, and she is now able to adopt a positive attitude despite her eczema

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Rebecca, who has eczema and shares how she manages her self-confidence. Rebecca blogs at Beczema on her eczema journey.

Marcie Mom: Hi Rebecca, thanks so much for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your eczema history, when did you get eczema?

Rebecca: Hi Mei, thanks so much for asking me to contribute.

I have actually had eczema all of my life and I can honestly say that, now I am in my 40s, I am finally coming to terms with it. But, I think that 40 years is far too long for anyone to spend in crisis about a skin condition. Yes, it can be physically debilitating at times, but mostly our lack of self confidence as eczema sufferers is related to a perception of how we think we look – so I started the Beczema blog in the hope that I can go some way to changing the way fellow eczema sufferers think and feel about going out into the world.

My eczema has not always been severe. I have had months where you would not even know I had it, but then it hits me out of the blue and really takes hold. When I was a child, it was mostly located in the usual spots – inside of elbows, backs of knees, feet – but also some very visible patches around my mouth and eyes. In recent years, it has struck my face more than it has anywhere else.

Marcie Mom: Share with us the visibility of your eczema: Is the eczema in patches, lesions or visibly apparent?

Rebecca: These days my eczema affects mostly my face. Flare-ups usually begin with intense itching, swelling and the appearance of random hives. Then it gradually worsens as the days go on, the swelling becomes more pronounced, deep creases develop around my eyes and my skin dries out to such an extent that it becomes visibly flaky, red and very sore.

Then my skin will crack – which is the painful part – sometimes making it very difficult and painful to even smile. Which is something I have had to teach myself to do even when I am feeling at my lowest.

Marcie Mom: How did your eczema affect your self-confidence?

Rebecca: During my school and university years my eczema was probably the biggest cause of anxiety for me. At school, I was called ‘porridge face’ and ‘E.T.’! Then in later years when friends all started using make-up, I was well and truly left behind. I couldn’t use anything on my skin except the big pot of white grease as prescribed by the doctor.

I think kids are actually much kinder these days; they seem to have a respect for others and a perception of people’s differences that seemed to pass people by completely in the 1970s. But, even so, the emphasis on appearance seems to have been heightened considerably in recent years – perhaps because we are ‘mis-sold’ an ideal of the perfect body by the media? The link between looking good and feeling good certainly seems to have taken hold.

According to a report in the UK, 60% of people have at one time or another felt ashamed of the way they look – and these are people with perfectly healthy skin. So, who can blame sufferers of eczema for wanting to hide away from the world. If folk with lovely stretchy, elastic, non flaky, non red skin are hiding themselves away because they don’t live up to the ideal – then, frankly eczema sufferers have a much better excuse.

Except, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that by withdrawing from the world, you are stirring up eczema symptoms and creating a situation for yourself  whereby your condition is likely to get  worse.

Two dermatologists from the US, Dr Richard Fried and Dr Fran Cook-Bolden have looked closely at the ‘Skin-Mind’ connection in the treatment of eczema. They have evidence that patients with eczema actually get worse when they are under times of depression or anxiety.

Not surprising to any of us who have had the inevitable eczema flare-ups around exam time, interviews, wedding days! But, while a withdrawal from public life might seem like the most comfortable option during really bad bouts of eczema, the sense of isolation that results from hiding away can contribute significantly to longer term depression.

The self-perpetuating viscous cycle that exists between skin and negative emotional states is a real problem and one that, if you can tackle and overcome to some degree can actually help and improve your eczema symptoms.

It has taken me nearly 40 years to get there myself and I know that it takes a massive effort to be confident with problem skin – lots of talking to yourself into things that you find uncomfortable.

But, take it from me, the pay-off is huge. I don’t know what my face will look like when I wake up in the morning, some days it’s fine but some days it looks like I’ve been stung by a swarm of bees and been given a chemical peel during the course of the night.  But, one thing I can guarantee is that at least one day out of seven, I’m not going to look good.

So, after decades of hiding I have made a huge effort to break that link between looking/feeling good.

Marcie Mom: One final question – How is your confidence now and how has this journey changed your view of yourself?

Rebecca: I would love to say that I have totally tackled and completely conquered my lack of self-esteem and confidence as a result of my facial eczema, but the truth is – it is a daily battle.

If I am honest, I have to give myself a pep talk before any public events when my eczema is at its worst. For example, this weekend I had a party to go to – a garden party in the middle of the grass-pollen season! Naturally, my skin allergies and resulting eczema showed up right on cue. My skin was angry, red, and unbelievably itchy.

But, I put my best foot forward. Put a smile on my face and introduced myself to lots of new people – asked them questions about their lives and totally ignored the elephant in the room (well, the garden).  And it worked. I didn’t allow myself to hide away in a corner like I might have done some years ago or make excuses for the state of my skin, I didn’t let it rule my life. Not only did the satisfaction from winning that particular battle feel amazing – I had a great time!

Marcie Mom: Thanks Rebecca for taking time to share your personal story.

Update May 2015 – Rebecca has shared her story on Mirror UK

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Managed Two Children with Eczema

Ee Laine's boys with eczema, looking cheerful!
Ee Laine’s boys with eczema, looking cheerful!

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!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Thyroid Cancer and Manages Eczema

Gibz shares her experience managing eczema, result of her thyroid treatment
Gibz shares her experience managing eczema, result of her thyroid treatment

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Gibz, to share how she manages her eczema, a side effect of the treatment for her thyroid cancer. Gibz is a lovely young lady, and works full-time and blogs to share and encourage others.

Marcie Mom: Hi Gibz, thank you so much for for taking part in my blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’ and I’m so glad to have jumped into your twitter chat and got to know you. Before that, I had no idea that eczema is a side effect from thyroid treatment. Do share with us your medical conditions, and in particular, when skin rashes first appear?

Gibz: I had thyroid cancer so I have to take thyroxine daily to stop me becoming hypothyroid. I’m also hypoparathyroid which means I can’t manage my blood calcium levels; this was a complication of the cancer treatment. Skin rashes first appeared after I had my thyroid removed and started my thyroxine and calcium pills.

Marcie Mom: How did your skin react during the treatment? Do certain drugs trigger a rash and is that a side effect you knew before it happened?

Gibz: My skin became really dry during certain points in the treatment, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. As time went on my skin got worse and I started getting rashes. Skin rashes appear when my thyroxine dose is changed, whenever you go on a new dose your body needs around 8 weeks to adjust, and in that time everything goes a bit crazy! I knew dry skin was a side effect but I didn’t realise eczema could be triggered by it.

Marcie Mom: You have reached out to others via your blog, and I saw that your best friend is also a cancer survivor. Is skin rash common in cancer treatment?

Gibz: I don’t think she’s had any problems; it’s not something we’ve talked about! That depends on the treatment you have, with some treatments it’s probably very common, I don’t think it’s common during thyroid cancer treatment but I could be wrong.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what advice would you give to another who suffers eczema as a result of treatment or another medical condition?

Gibz: Talk to your doctor about it, chances are you shouldn’t be getting that kind of reaction and they might be able to give you different tablets or a new dose that will suit your body better. If they can’t do that they should be able to help you control your eczema.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Gibz for taking time to share your journey with us, I really enjoy connecting with you and it added another dimension to my understanding of eczema.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Managed Wet Wrapping for Child with Eczema

Stephanie's beautiful girl in wet wrap
Stephanie’s beautiful girl in wet wrap

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Stephanie, whose daughter has eczema since 18-month old and shares how she manages wet wrapping for her. Stephanie is the founder of Allerchic, an online store for eczema, allergy and asthma.

Marcie Mom: Hi Stephanie, thanks for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing your family eczema history, who has eczema and what’s the level of severity for your daughter?

Stephanie: Thanks Mei!

Sadly the eczema comes from my side of the family, I had eczema as a child not what I would class severe, more the typical spots you expect, backs of knees, elbow creases. It disappeared for a long time then came back in my 30s on my eyelids.
My husband & my other daughter don’t have eczema (Thankfully)
My beautiful girl Jade has the triple threat of atopic conditions she has anaphylaxis, asthma & moderate to severe eczema.

Marcie Mom: I understand that you believe that wet wraps had helped improve your daughter’s eczema. How did you discover wet wrapping, and what improvement to your daughter’s skin did you notice?

Stephanie: Wet Wrapping has made a Huge difference to my daughters eczema! I first discovered Wet Wrapping when working in Children’s Ward (almost 20yrs ago), thankfully things have changed a lot since then – there is no more wresting a small child while trying to wrap bandages! For my daughter the Wet Wraps have an overnight effect on her eczema. The next morning without a doubt we see improvement, It may still take a couple of nights to get a flare up under control, but it is definitely quicker than cream application alone.

Marcie Mom: Quality of life is a big issue for eczema families. What do you think about your quality of life and your daughter’s before and after wet wrapping?

Stephanie: Before I started Wet Wrapping during a flare up neither of us had a great quality of life (or sleep!). Jade was often crying during cream applications, she was itchy, hot & irritated during the night & although fast asleep I knew she wasn’t getting the deep restful sleep needed as she was so agitated all night. This then of course flows over into the day, Lack of concentration, irritability & of course constant irrepressible scratching was sending us both crazy. As a mother it breaks your heart to see your child like this, so of course I had to find better way.

Wet Wrapping took the sting out of cream application, they take the heat of the rash & seem to generally make her a lot more settled & calm & as we apply her wet wraps before bed they without a doubt have improved her quality of sleep too.  So once again this flows into the day. Now I have a much happier, less itchy & irritable little girl.  And a happy eczema child = a very happy mummy!

Marcie Mom: One final question – did you daughter take well to her first wet wrap? Any tricks you used?

Stephanie: The first time I applied the Wet Wraps she was very miserable & irritated but it was almost like someone had waved a magic wand & she calmed very quickly once they were in place. Because we started using Wet Wraps fairly early on my daughter she is happy with the process, she knows it makes her feel better & so she is happy to wear them.

The advice I always give people when starting to Wet Wrap is:

  • Watch the Youtube Video on how to Wet wrap, do this a couple of times until you feel comfortable with the process.
  • Use the Tubifast Garments they are so much easier to use than bandages
  • Plan to Wet Wrap about an hour or two before Bedtime for best results
  • Have EVERYTHING ready to go before you even bath your child – This includes thinking about where you are going to apply Wet wraps, for little ones also think about a song you can sing or put their favorite movie on to help keep them distracted.
  • Explain to your child that it will feel a little funny at first, but it will stop them feeling so itchy.
  • Get them to have a good soak in either a water soluble bath oil (or bleach bath if prescribed)
  • Apply the steroid (if prescribed), thick Layers of emollient, Wet Wrap & clothing
  • For Babies feed them straight after Wet Wrapping (Breast or bottle) to help them settle, For older children a reward such as a game on the ipod, a special story & cuddles are a great idea. I truly believe, It is so important to set up positive reinforcement around Wet wrapping.
  • For Parents – Don’t stress or beat yourself up about getting the technique perfect. You will figure out the best routine for you & your child!
    Eczema parents are so amazing & I think sometimes we all just need to be told that 🙂

Marcie Mom: Thanks Stephanie for taking time to share your wet wrapping journey, indeed many have positive feedback on it.

Stephanie: Thank You Marcie Mom its been Great Talking with you!

Living with Eczema

Someone Manages Differing Eczema Views

Deborah Wyatt, founder of TalkHealth which includes a Talk Eczema forum
Deborah Wyatt, founder of TalkHealth which includes a Talk Eczema forum

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life.
Today, we have Deborah Wyatt, whose daughter’s eczema inspired her to start TalkHealth, an online
community including that of eczema. Deborah will share on her experience managing differing views on
eczema, since the founding of TalkEczema in 2000.

Marcie Mom: Hi Deborah, thanks for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s
start with you sharing your personal experience when your daughter had

Deborah: My daughter was confirmed as suffering with eczema after falling ill with a virus when she was only 5 months old. The virus and/or the medication seemed to be the trigger.

Living with a child with eczema was all-consuming. For around 5 years it totally took over and dominated our lives. I really didn’t enjoy the first 5 years of my daughter’s life, and to be honest it’s just a horrible memory peppered with sleepless nights, sore and bleeding skin and sheer exhaustion.

Nobody can ever appreciate what it is like to live with a child with a skin condition like eczema.

Like many people affected by eczema, we tried every possible combination of products and treatments in order to try to contain the symptoms. My quest was to make my daughter’s skin as comfortable as possible. Friends and family were very supportive but it was the eczema community I developed online that really threw me a lifeline.

I’m grateful that today, aged 14, my daughter is more or less eczema free. She still has patches of localized eczema which we treat with emollients and suffers with hayfever, food allergies and asthma. But the difference now she is older is that we are very much in control of it.

Marcie Mom: I know from my experience moderating at your forum, and also running support group and this blog, that parents will believe most strongly in what works for them. Some may have been endorsed in studies and internationally, while others not. From your experience, what is the best approach to ensure that everyone (we’re talking eczema sufferers of all ages, experiences, living in different countries, climates and under different health systems) shares amicably on what works?

Deborah: The talkeczema forum, like many other patient forums, is a great place to meet like- minded people and to share experiences of different products and treatments. However, I would always say that if anyone is in any doubt about any treatments they read about, they should talk to their GP or healthcare professional in order to obtain a balanced view. It’s always better to work in partnership with your healthcare professional in order to achieve the best outcomes.

Marcie Mom: There will be at some point where medical opinion is warranted, especially when there are studies but not widely endorsed. How do you tackle such views?

Deborah: It’s always wise to talk openly and honestly with your healthcare professional in order for them to help you make the right treatment choices. Sites like talkeczema are a great place to gather both evidence-based and anecdotal information and advice and by talking your findings, thoughts and views through with your healthcare professional, they can help you to make the right choices for you and your child.

Marcie Mom: One final question – how much would you rank the importance of support in an online community to your own life?

Deborah: I think you can’t put a price on the level of support and help that can be gained in an online community forum. One of the hardest things about living with a chronic health condition like eczema is the emotional turmoil it brings. Talking things through with other people who really understand what you are going through is very uplifting and powerful. It makes you realize you aren’t alone and there are others out there who can offer that vital emotional support.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Deborah for taking time to share your view on managing views! As our world gets increasingly connected, it is good to bear in mind your pointers!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Managed Allergic March for Son with Eczema

Sarah, with her 3 children, shares on managing allergic march
Sarah, with her 3 children, shares on managing allergic march

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Sarah Chapman, whose third son has eczema since three-month old. Today, she shares how she managed her son’s Allergic March. Sarah is a volunteer with AllergyUK and had shared her allergy knowledge nationwide.

Marcie Mom: Hi Sarah thanks so much for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your family’s eczema and allergy history, and when did eczema or allergy start and what’s the severity?

Sarah: I had eczema soon after birth, and throughout my childhood. I still get it every now and then. My maternal grandfather had it all his life. I can remember him scratching! My mother and her brothers had eczema as well. There is also a lot of asthma in my family and nickel allergies.

My husband has asthma with links to environmental allergies.

Marcie Mom: I understand that your son, now 17 year old, experienced the Allergic March, progressing from eczema to allergies.  What was his condition from birth to a young child?

Sarah: Our 3rd son had eczema day 10 after birth, and as time went by he had a poor sleep pattern (by that I mean an  inability to sleep for longer than 2 separate hours a night, and 20 min cat naps a day) He also had very slow and poor weight gain, even though breastfeeding was going well. These are the early signs of food allergy in a breast fed infant before three months old.

As he grew his eczema was very hard to control, his daily treatment was 5- 8 all body emollients and twice daily low dose steroid cream. Just before we were about to start wet wrapping treatment we discovered that he had an egg allergy and then peanut at 13 months old. I had also started to suspect that environmental allergies, like pollen, dog and cat were a problem.  At 18 months old immunologist confirmed allergies to, dust mite, cat, dog, tree pollen, hay fever, egg, tree nut, peanut.

As we paid a great deal to lessen dust mite exposure and pollen in our home, and controlled diet and his skin improved. When I stopped breastfeeding him, his skin got instantly better, but he began to catch every infection going, and skin became infected and so on.

Treatment added to original eczema plan, change of emollients, eye drops, nasal sprays, antihistamine during hay fever and tree pollen season.   Age 2 epi pens, and emergency plan for anaphylaxis.

Like many allergic children he physically shows signs of being an allergic child. He has a ‘captains salute’ a small dry crease on top of nose from rhinitis, from using hand to push up nose from constant nose drip. He is a mouth breather child, again a sign of poorly controlled rhinitis.

He has dark rings, and an extra dry crease under his eyes. He also has derma- graphism (am not sure about the spelling of that btw!) which means that if he is slightly scratched a wheal will form within minutes. He also snored as a child which isn’t normal and is a sign of rhinitis.

Rhinitis has a major impact on sleep quality, and babies and young children require sleep to grow. Concentration at school when you have a totally blocked nose 24/7 is very difficult and so has impact on education.

Marcie Mom: How did the eczema progress when he started elementary school?

Sarah: As he neared 5 his eczema improved, this is typical of an allergic march child, and at the same time his rhinitis and environmental allergies were making more of an impact. We had discovered more food allergies to add to list.  Eczema treatment 3 full body emollient a day, and no steroid cream required. Except after food reaction in which eczema would appear as hives and other IgE response symptoms disappeared.

Age 5   allergies, Dust mite, Tree Pollen, hay fever, dog , cat , egg, peanut, legumes, tree nut, kiwi fruit.

Age 7   Dog allergy considered life threatening, change to emergency treatment plan, oral steroids and asthma inhaler (has asthma response during allergic reaction, but not asthmatic) yeast extract new food allergy.

Food challenge in allergy clinic confirmed outgrown cooked egg allergy = increase in  food  choice with higher calories.(still underweight.)

Age 10 Outgrown raw egg allergy in food challenge. Dog allergy lessened and quality of life improved, for instance sleep overs with friends who have dog, controlled with antihistamine.

Eczema,dry skin only.

Marcie Mom: What was his condition as a preteen and teenager? Did puberty change his condition? And how is your son now, as a young adult?

Sarah: By 12 redeveloped raw egg allergy, and by 13 possibly cooked egg, now at 17 prefers to avoid himself.  Food allergies: Egg, Peanut, some Legumes, Brazil nut, Yeast Extract, Kiwi Fruit, Hay Fever, Mold, Tree Pollen, Dust Mite.

Skin very dry, but otherwise OK!

We have used epi pen 3 times so far, but despite this is gaining confidence in his ability to buy food independently and going out with his friends.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Sarah for taking time to share your son’s allergic march, it is useful for parents to know but hopefully, won’t go through the full allergic march!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE Managed Diet for Child with Eczema

Judy Converse, nutritionist and a registered dietitian, shares about managing diet for her son.
Judy Converse, nutritionist and a registered dietitian, shares about managing diet for her son.

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Judy Converse, founder of Nutrition Care for Children LLC, whose son showed signs of eczema in his first two months. Today, she shares how she managed her son’s diet. Judy is a licensed nutritionist and a registered dietitian for more than 20 years, and had shared on Eczema Kids Nutrition here.

Marcie Mom: Hi Judy, thanks so much for returning to take part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema history – when did eczema start and what’s the severity?

Judy: My son’s rashes became visible just after birth. It was confusing – he was breast fed; I had received no medications or interventions during delivery. There seemed to be nothing, as far as I knew, that he could have reacted to. Within the next few weeks, it was bad enough that he might bleed from scratching at it, unless we covered his hands for sleep. I know this is controversial, but we came to strongly suspect this was part of an adverse reaction to his newborn dose of hepatitis B vaccine, which had been given without our knowledge.

Marcie Mom: I understand that you got into your current field to understand more about helping your son.

Share with us: What perplexed you so much when you were managing his diet that spurred you to be a nutritionist and dietitian?

Judy: I became a dietitian years before my son was born, and had already worked in this field. But I had not been involved with pediatric nutrition up to that point, other than some work in the WIC program in my training. My son’s circumstances are what triggered me into this niche. What perplexed me – or I should say – stunned me – was that even though he was having rashes and many other concerning symptoms, we were repeatedly told it was “normal”. He had projectile vomiting, terrible hard screaming (one nurse said to me “he’s too young to have colic” when he was just a few days old and screaming until he was blue), seizure like events, and runny liquid stools – at 8 or 12 months old, he would have 10 liquid runny mucousy stools a day, that ran up to his neck and down his legs. Even my father, then about 70 years old, brought it up to me. Five kids plus three other grandkids and he’d never seen poop like that. But the doctors insisted it was normal. It isn’t normal. It’s clearly a sign of a problem with digestion, absorption, inflammation or all three.

My son was born full term weighing 7 lbs 8 oz, but slid down the growth chart so that by age 2 months, he was hovering at the 5th percentile. This was the wrong direction. Obviously, his digestion was not working normally. But I could not get any of my son’s pediatric providers to see that. I found this quite disturbing, to see that a baby’s nutrition, growth, feeding and eliminating were not a priority to them.  My training had given me thorough evidence based information about how crucial these are for normal brain development and learning. It was a shocker to me that no one was concerned. No one seemed to realize this can impact a baby’s brain.

Marcie Mom: Was it easy to figure out his allergies or did the allergy testing not corroborate with your observations?

Judy: Though I had excellent training in my undergrad and graduate nutrition studies, allergies in infants was new territory for me. I had no guidance from my son’s health care providers. I reached out to La Leche League, which I knew about because one of my graduate advisors had been involved with them. They gave me helpful information about breastfeeding an allergic baby. This was in 1996-1997. No internet to speak of. I opened my text books and dove into learning as much as I could. I requested allergy testing when my son was 8 months old. This is young for this testing, but he had dramatic allergic responses to several foods he had never eaten. The doctor apologized, saying my son would probably have asthma and eczema for the rest of his life. Neither came true – I was determined to redirect that.

I later learned that these reactions were only part of the story. These were IgE allergy reactions. When my son was about two years old, we checked IgG food sensitivity reactions. There were several reactions there as well. They didn’t correspond to the IgE. It filled out the rest of the story, and confirmed he had other foods we had to prioritize. This is something I have seen often in my practice since. There is plenty of debate about IgG food allergy testing, especially in children as young as 2 years old. But once we mapped both the IgG and IgE reactions, we could make a more effective plan. My son was eczema free and has been his whole life since. His stools and growth normalized. He was happier. Over the years, he has had a few asthma episodes. Every time we are offered an inhaler, he seems to use it once or twice, then it sits in a drawer and expires before he needs it again.

Marcie Mom: One final question – now that your son is an adult, did that shared experience managing his diet give him fond memories of your care and love for him?

Judy: My son is in high school – not always the moment when parents feel appreciated by their kids! But he understands all the effort made on his behalf. We as a family have learned to enjoy many foods that we never would have discovered if it weren’t for his needs. He is sort of a foodie. He loves good food, is interested in cooking, and has an adventurous palate, because at a very young age, we had to have other options for him. He has taught me a lot.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Judy for taking time to share your journey on managing your son’s diet – am sure many moms like me are inspired to study to help our children!

Living with Eczema

Someone with Eczema Baby Managed Returning to Work

Kelly shares on how she managed returning to work!
Kelly shares on how she managed returning to work!

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Kelly who will be sharing on returning to work, at about the time when her son with eczema was six-month old. Kelly is the founder of Bamboo Bubby, and is a return guest of my blog, see here for her interview on the bamboo bubby sleeping bags.

Marcie Mom: Hi Kelly, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema, when did he started to have eczema and how was it at 6-month old and now?

Kelly: Thanks for the opportunity to share my experiences Mei! My son was around 6 months old when we finally found a doctor who put the word eczema to his dry, red and irritated skin and who referred us to a specialist eczema clinic. It wasn’t however something that just started overnight. I remember starting to search pharmacy shelves when he was two weeks old looking for a cream that would take away some of the dryness and irritation. We had also need numerous doctors over this time too who were quite blasé about it and would tell us to just use sorbolene (which made it worse!). I think we tried every other cream known to man in that time too as well as trying every type of formula in the hope of finding one that he would drink, because we thought he was just a ‘difficult drinker’ who fought every single feed, often pushing his bottles out of our hands so hard they’d fly across the room!

It wasn’t until our eczema clinic appointment and after a round of allergy tests showed up an intolerance to cow milk protein, that the link between his milk refusal and his eczema became clear for us. We then went through a process of trying soy formula (this was the worst his skin had ever been), then a couple of prescription ones (which he outright refused) before we tried a goats milk one as a last resort and the change was instant from the first bottle. For the first time in his short little life, he drank a whole bottle instead of us forcing 10mls at a time into him. So we just kept giving him this and after a month or so his skin improved A LOT! We were of course also layering moisturizers on him after every nappy change as the eczema was all over his body, but especially bad on his cheeks, stomach, back and legs.

Now, at 3 years old, he still gets eczema flareups, but we know what to do to control and manage it now. Flareups are now usually caused by sickness, fatigue or seasonal allergies.

Marcie Mom: What were your son’s triggers and were they easy for you to communicate to your caregiver?

Kelly: I think we were very lucky that we discovered his trigger not long after I returned to work and he started at our local childcare centre. They were fantastic about accommodating to his needs and being in the baby room, we took all his milk bottles each day anyway. Our Child Care Centre though is required to have policies and procedures in place to meet local and other legislative requirements, meaning they have a Healthy Eating Policy plus several around medication management. So, once we had a written management plan from the doctor that stated his trigger and that he needed moisturizers applied in a certain way after every nappy change it was a very easy process to communicate his needs. They have a very organized system of keeping track of all the babies various different needs and they did a really wonderful job of ensuring he was looked after in this regard.

Marcie Mom: What was the eczema skin care routine you were using, and was it difficult to get the caregiver to understand and be committed to the same routine?

Kelly: Of course there is probably no one else in the world who would do for your child exactly the same as you would yourself, because that’s what we do as parents for our children, often going above and beyond to feel we’ve done everything and the best possible job! However for us, obtaining the GP Management Plan really was the key to ensure the centre provided as close to what we were doing as possible with the regular application of various moisturizers and to make sure his trigger food was avoided.

The aspect I found the most difficult to deal with though, was the sleep routine (or lack of) that our baby desperately needed, yet due to the eczema and milk intolerance we’d never had a chance to establish at home before then throwing child care into the mix! It was around this time that I made my first sleeping bag for him, which helped the caregivers to know that he wouldn’t be damaging his skin while sleeping.

Marcie Mom: One final question – every mom needs to let go, at some point, of our newborn and especially difficult if the child requires special care. Was there a moment that tugged, pulled or pierced your heart when returning to work?

Kelly: I think there was more than a single moment! For me the hardest part was actually knowing in my heart that returning to work was not the best thing for our family, but that it was unfortunately a financial necessity.

I honestly never contemplated just how difficult it is to manage a condition like eczema on top of my own post-natally triggered condition AND return to work with the stress that this brings too, however I believe that having to ‘do it all’ has strengthened who we are as people and what we now know we can cope with. When I look back over the past three years, I’m now grateful for it all. I’ve learnt a lot about juggling of work, baby, household and about the importance of focusing only on doing what is important and necessary – everything else can wait and does get there eventually – it just takes longer than it used to.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Kelly for sharing your journey on returning to work, we all go through it at different degree and different stages in our life, HUGS!