This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Selena Bluntzer, whose 4-year-old daughter has had eczema since she was 3 months old and share how she manages beach holidays with her family. Selena blogs at AmazingandAtopic.com on her daughter’s multiple food allergies, asthma and eczema.
Marcie Mom: Hi Selena, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Can you share with us the severity of your daughter’s eczema and what are her triggers?
Selena: I would characterize my daughter’s eczema as mild to moderate. It’s contained to mostly her hands, yet it flares on her legs, arms and torso, when she ingests an aggravating trigger (food or medication). In the past, she has had some more severe bouts with staph infections, but things are better, now. It has definitely improved with age and/or the fact that we’ve learned to control her triggers. Her biggest triggers are her multiple food allergies. She is also affected by the weather and I also believe stress affects her, as well.
Marcie Mom: Let’s talk holidays! Is a beach holiday something your family does often? And did you have any worries about how your daughter’s eczema and asthma would change on a beach holiday?
Selena: We live about 3 hours from the beach. We’ve taken our daughter to the beach 3 times and she is 4 years old. The first time we took her, we didn’t know about her food allergies, and didn’t know very much about managing her eczema. We were certainly wondering how the change in environment would affect things. After learning of her food allergies and asthma, we also needed to figure out how to pack for such a trip.
Marcie Mom: Share with us the preparations that you need to take, from planning the length of car drive, how often to stop and moisturize (or just do so in the car), what to pack – for her skin, and change of clothes? (I always pack three sets of clothes for a day holiday, to keep my daughter fresh and not trigger eczema flare.)
Selena: I guess I will cover our latest trip, for which we were probably the best prepared. We typically plan to leave very early in the morning, stay one night and leave the following afternoon. Since we’re dealing with food allergies, eczema and asthma, we always have to pack for all 3 conditions.
For the food allergy issue, we had to pack enough food to feed her for the duration of the trip. She has multiple food allergies and we cannot count on being able to find safe foods when we travel, nor do we take the risk of letting her eat at restaurants. We packed her favorite shelf-stable goodies and some perishable items in a large cooler, packed with plenty of ice. (One time, we stopped for gas and were stranded for a couple of hours when our car battery died. Most tow trucks do NOT have a place for a child car seat, and it took a while before someone could get our battery “jumped”, so we could get to the shop for a replacement. It’s always good to have extra allergy-safe snacks on hand, because we can’t just pick up anything at the convenience store, with my daughter’s multiple food allergies.) We had to pack her antihistamines and epinephrine auto-injectors (EAIs). We took multiple sets of EAIs with us, because we did not know how far away emergency help would be, should it be needed. I bought a waterproof carrier so we could take them down to the waterfront.
For her asthma, we packed her rescue inhaler (she was not on a daily medication, at the time), her nebulizer and medications. We also had a power inverter so we could run the nebulizer inside the car, in case we needed to stop for any unexpected, sudden asthma attacks and were not near an electrical outlet (http://www.amazingandatopic.com/2012/01/reactive-airwayasthma-gear.html).
For her eczema, we packed her ointments, lotions, allergy-safe sunblock, SunSmarties UPF clothing, including water shoes to protect her feet from the hot sand and a hat to protect her scalp ( http://www.amazingandatopic.com/2012/06/upf-50-clothing-great-for-eczematic.html), and hydrocortisone and steroid ointments, for any serious outbreaks/spots. For the car trip, I dressed her in thin, light clothing, and did the moisturizing before getting in the car. The drive is just under 3 hours, so we only needed to do so once. We changed clothes after every activity, and I basically packed two outfits for every activity/part of the day, in case she needed a fresh set.
For our next trip, I plan to take a freshly washed set of sheets with us, for lining the hotel bed. She didn’t seem irritated by the sheets, or anything, but it just seems like a good idea, since you never know about bed bugs and such.
Marcie Mom: One final question – how did your daughter like the beach and did she swim in the beach water and play with the sand?
Selena: She loved it! She loved playing in the water and didn’t want to get out, when it was time to go inside. She really enjoyed digging in the sand and making sand castles. I was worried, at first, about how that would affect her skin, but it turned out that it was like having a sea salt scrub spa treatment! Her skin looked amazing at the end of our trip! I thought she might have been troubled by the high salt content in her open splits on her fingers, but she was having too much fun to even care and never said a thing about it! I was really impressed. Now, I will say that I had to prep her skin with lots of Aquaphor ointment, beforehand, to protect it, because we went out once without it and it did get irritated, but as long as I remembered to do that each time, her skin came out looking renewed and fresh. My husband and I have discussed taking more frequent trips to the beach, just based on the wonderful effect the beach had on her skin, aside from the enormous amount of fun she had!
Marcie Mom: Thanks Selena for taking time to share your journey on your daughter’s eczema and beach holiday. There are many beaches in Malaysia and Singaporean and Malaysian parents reading this may be motivated to take up your tips and head down to a beach!