Stop the Bullying – Google hangout by OzSuperNanny

An open talk among moms with parenting expert OzSuperNanny on Bullying

An open talk among moms with parenting expert OzSuperNanny on Bullying

Angela Jacobsen, also known as OzSuperNanny, had organized a Google Hangout on Bullying, joined by photographer Zurina Bryant, Chef Vivian Pei, Blogger/PR Paula Robinson and Model/Artiste Linda Black. I missed this hangout, but as always, Angela had kindly answered my question on air, thanks to Zurina for asking for me too!

My question: Children with eczema may get picked on in school, either due to their appearance (for those with apparent eczema), or due to differences in routine, for instance, shower and moisturizing required after sports. What do you recommend that school, parents can do to help the child not get bullied?

Angela: Children do get picked on based on appearance; Parents can talk to teacher, who may inform the class and let them know eczema is due to dry skin. As children are naturally inquisitive, it helps to answer their questions about why a classmate of theirs look different, so that they will understand it is not anything that ought to be picked on.

Parents can empower their child with more information about the skin condition, and also build up their self-confidence.

Zurina mentioned that her child’s school had information leaflet sent to everyone, informing them that a new classmate who has psoriasis will be joining and requested the parents to help educate the child about this skin condition.

Wonderful idea, and as we speak the Eczema Support Group is sending out letters to schools to inform them about eczema, and also that they can get support via our group – come for the brunch buffet this Sat, do RSVP so we can get the food ready!

SOMEONE Manages Children with Eczema and Allergy

Janice manages Children with Eczema and Allergy

Janice manages Children with Eczema and Allergy

This is a 2013 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.

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!

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 2013 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.

SOMEONE Manages Son’s Eczema during Summer

Christy on Eczema BluesThis is a 2013 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 moisterel 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!

SOMEONE Manages her Eczema, Allergies and Food Intolerances

WhatAllergy on Eczema BluesThis is a 2013 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 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.

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 2013 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!

SOMEONE Manages Eczema Herpeticum

Jenny with severe facial eczema

Jenny shares on her eczema herpeticum experience

This is a 2013 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.

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 2013 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.

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 2013 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.

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