Childhood Eczema – light at the end of the tunnel?
All of my children are affected by eczema, to a greater or lesser degree. Unfortunately it runs in my family, with my Dad suffering the greatest.
My daughter, 11, has had nasty flare ups but seems to be doing okay at the moment, with only very minor flare ups. My youngest son, 2, has had a few itchy patches for close to a year, but they’ve never developed into a full-on breakout.
My 4 year old son, however, has been suffering terribly for close to two years. It started out over 2 years ago with a patch on his back which lasted quite a while, but we were eventually able to get rid of. After that, it came back again and gradually spread in patches over his back and lower legs. It now covers most of his left lower leg, much of his right, and he has patches on his upper thighs, hips, buttocks, elbows, one shoulder/part way down his upper arm, and a small smattering on this upper back and arms.
The point in this post is to start documenting a new journey we’ve embarked on. We’ve tried what feels like everything to control/improve/cure L’s eczema. We’ve used emollients and ointments (over-the-counter and prescribed), “natural” creams, changes in diet (GAPS, Paleo etc.), coconut oil, aloe, olive leaves, olive oil, antibiotic cream, gave in and tried steroid cream, salt baths, seaweed baths, Oilatum baths……the list goes on. We know that dairy triggers/affects the skin of all of our children, even though an allergy test came back negative for lactose intolerance in L.
The point where we were at last week was a child who scratched and scratched all day long, would make himself bleed and his patches would ooze. He’d have flakes of skin all over his bed each morning, and for the past couple of months he would wake fully at least once a night from scratching in his sleep. I would desperately ask him multiple times a day/night to “please stop scratching, it makes it worse”, knowing full well he couldn’t stop. That desperation that it’s really not helping things, the skin everywhere, constantly washing hands because his nails would have dead skin under them, terrified of infection, not knowing how to help him.
Here was a child so upset that he couldn’t go swimming, and whose elbows hurt if he did a front drop on the trampoline. Eczema has taken over his life bit by bit, and now we were realizing just how much. The warmer weather is going to be here soon, and the dread that fills my stomach knowing that once again we’ll have people asking what he’s done to hurt his legs so badly, or offering well-meaning advice on how to deal with eczema. He hates people commenting on his eczema, but there’s no way of stopping it happening, especially with inquisitive children.
When we decided to try topical steroids the first time, we were so happy to see it had some effect, and thought it would clear it up. However, after over 2 months of use we gave up as it helped a little then improved no further, and we didn’t want him to be prescribed stronger steroids. That had been our “last resort”, so were pretty devastated that it hadn’t worked. Of course it got worse again, and I’ve since learnt that his skin also went into topical steroid withdrawal (TSW).
In the many months that followed, we tried all manner of things until – last week – I went back to a website I’d looked at in 2014. This private doctor is said to be some kind of guru when it comes to childhood eczema. He looks at the child’s skin, then prescribes a cream comprised of moisturising cream, steroid cream and antibiotic cream. The reason we hadn’t gone down this route sooner was because we really wanted to avoid using steroids on him again, but now we really were at the absolute last resort.
The success stories from his patients are absolutely amazing, and fill you with a mixture of awe and “this is too good to be true”. So, praying that this would finally be the thing that did the trick, I paid the £100 consultation fee and sent Dr. Aron pictures and a background of L’s eczema. The next day I received an email with details of the prescription, how to proceed with treatment, the phone number for the pharmacy in London where his cream would be made up, and a link to a discussion group on Facebook for people undergoing treatment/considering it.
I called the pharmacy straight away, and almost fainted at the price! £39.95 for the cream, plus £4.95 postage! Nothing was too much though, if it’s going to work. For the repeat prescription I will either see if L’s doctor will agree to prescribe the components or have the prescription sent to me and get it filled locally. Both of those options mean having to mix the creams yourself as most pharmacies don’t have a licence to mix them, but there is a wonderful video on the discussion group showing how to do this effectively yourself.
We are now at the end of day 3 of treatment, and I’ve truly been blown away by the results so far. Here are some pictures (click on them to make larger) –
Day 1 (prior to first application)
I only managed these 2 non-blurry pictures as he didn’t want his picture taken! Very frustrating as it doesn’t show the true extent, but at least shows some of it. This was taken after a bath, just before the first application.
Day 2 (end of day, last application of cream)
Left leg, side
Right leg, side
Amazing difference already! Not much change in texture but huge improvement in redness. He slept all night last night, and has scratched way less today than I can remember since before he had eczema. Lighting isn’t natural like yesterday, and has slightly washed out his skin, so slightly redder than shown.
Day 3 (end of day, last application put on after bath)
Shoulder (wish I had “before” pics of this – it was red and bleeding)
Skin has improved further! He slept all night again last night, and slightly less scratching today. Artificial light again, shows slightly darker/redder than is in real life.
We are to apply the cream 4-5 times a day. We managed to fit 4 apps in on day 1 (first was after midday), 5 apps on day 2 and 4 apps today on day 3 (we were out late afternoon/early evening so missed one). At the end of day 7, Dr. Aron asks for an update so he can adjust the treatment accordingly. Hopefully we’ll be able to reduce the apps next week if things keep going this well!
To the ingredients…… There is an antibiotic in it because apparently most eczema sufferers have staphylococcal bacteria present on their skin. This contributes towards redness and itching. The antibiotic clears up the infection, making the eczema easier to treat. We had the antibiotic cream prescribed (separately) before, which helped a little for a while. I’m guessing it, and the previous steroid ointment, didn’t work effectively because they were prescribed differently to how they have this time. L’s creams are based on a special ratio of steroid, antibiotic and moisturiser based on his weight and age. As his skin improves, the amount of steroid and antibiotic will be reduced along with the applications.
So, it’s safe to say we are very happy with the treatment so far! From what I gather, some see an improvement in the first few days, others by the end of the week, and a few after the first week. I desperately wanted L to be one of the “few days” ones, and am so happy it’s helping him so much. He doesn’t like having the cream on so many times a day, but even he can’t argue with the fact his skin is starting to get better!
I hope this information is useful to at least one person. It’s early days, but we can’t believe this is the one thing we’ve tried that is actually producing very noticeable results all round, and have a lot of hope for the coming days, weeks and months.