Many families suffer from this rollercoaster of a skin disease every year. Unfortunately, it has become more and more common in the most recent years. Onset of eczema can start anywhere from birth to adulthood. For all age ranges, it is one of the most challenging skin conditions to not only have but to treat as well. I would like to start from the beginning of the fight. Since my daughter, Kya was just about 15 months old when the battle between her and her skin started. The constant up and down with her skin flare ups, not only was frustrating but more-so heartbreaking.
Watching my baby girl in constant agony and the non-stop scratching at her skin was the hardest part for me. At this age she was not able to voice to me what she was feeling or how bad it bothered her. She would just be miserable during the times when her skin was most red and irritated. However, she couldn’t have understood why her skin was always feeling so itchy and always dry.
Most children who don’t suffer from this chronic skin disease have the softest skin. Which is where the term, “soft as a baby’s bottom” comes from. This was never the case for my little one; she had rough dry patches all over her body. As soon as she was 18 months old, we had an allergy test done to determine what could be making her skin flare up so bad that at times her skin became so dry and cracked nothing was helping keep her skin moisturized. Once the test came back, it was determined she has an allergy to cow’s milk protein. This is where all the visits to the dermatologist’s and we went through many doctors to try to find a solution. Cream after cream, topical after topical, nothing seemed to be working. This was starting to create an issue when it came to her missing school as well as all the time, I had to take from work to attend all her doctor’s visits.
Collectively from 2015 to mid-2018 we had over a dozen different doctors’ appointments, with about 6 or 7 different opinions on what the best treatment was for her skin. This became very exhausting and ultimately, I was beginning to feel defeated. My daughter, as you could assume is my whole world, she is my reason for everything. Defeated or not, I was more determined to win this battle with her skin for her. I spent countless hours researching the internet, reading articles on other people suffering from the same skin issue. What I found to be the best way to keep her symptoms from flaring up is DIET IS KEY! I began changing the foods she was consuming, making her drink mostly water, and started watching her symptoms subside.
“GREAT!” I thought to myself, after seeing her with clear skin and being able to moisturize her skin with natural lotions and creams also with all-natural ingredients; I thought we had it under control. Sadly, enough we had another severe skin flare-up. This time it was extremely intense, the worst I have ever seen. I couldn’t understand what caused this.
That’s when after two days after she was at school, her teacher informed me that she has been scratching at herself nonstop. My daughter will dig at her skin until it is cracked and bleeding. Being as her skin was open and susceptible to infection, she ended up with cellulitis on top of the eczema. “What a nightmare!” I thought to myself, “My baby girl just can’t catch a break!” You can guess what happens next, that’s right, more missed time from school as well as more missed time from work. Before we took her in to yet another doctor’s appointment I took some pictures as her skin looked as if she had third degree burns on her knees and legs. I was concerned knowing that cellulitis can be so dangerous if left untreated.
The first few days were the hardest for Kya and me; her legs became so swollen and sore that it was difficult for her to walk. Simple things like going to the bathroom, or getting up and down out of bed, even her daily chore to feed her cat all was too much for her to do as she was in so much pain. Talk about your heart hurting. All I wanted to do was take her pain from her. After keeping her home for about ten days, making sure she kept her hands away from her sores and keeping her with a strict skin routine, plus the help of the strong antibiotics as well as very potent medicated topical treatments and creams I was able to see her skin begin to clear up again finally.
Since the cellulitis incident, we have changed our diet to even more strict. We try to stay away from “junk” food. Since doing that we’ve been able to pin point the things that I believe are triggering her skin to break out. Although the most challenging part about this skin disease, is it truly is an unpredictable rollercoaster. There will be times that the ocean water makes her skin heal and we have no issues; other times we take trips to the beach and the moment the salt water touches her, she screams bloody murder!
I have also changed my lifestyle to be able to help her manage her skin and understand her body. Kya is now 4 years old, almost 5. Some children will grow out of eczema, as others will continue to ride this rollercoaster until they reach adulthood, or possibly for their entire lives.
Eczema is the skin disease with a mind of its own. Every person is different and each of those people has different triggers. My daughter’s half-brother Liam has severe eczema and is allergic to just about everything. In order to keep his skin calm, his diet plays a very large part. Environmental stress will also cause break outs. Kasey (Liam’s mother) is a close friend of mine and has been riding this rollercoaster with me for at least 4 years now. Having a good support system and staying positive for my daughter is what helps her the most.
Deneen Carter is a licensed cosmetologist, healthcare writer and a mother of a young child who has a chronic skin disease.