Tackling Eczema Diagnosis and How We Cope Now #OneTwoFreeYourSkin

Monday, 24 September 2018
When Jack was younger, his skin was something which would cause me endless battles and sleepless nights. He had awful skin, which in turn turned out to be eczema but the journey to get that diagnosis was a painful one emotionally. 

You see, Jack had always had fairly dry skin, but when he was around 5 months old it seemed to be getting worse. I enquired with the health visitor and we visited the doctors and still, it took a while to get some help. Some 15 months later we finally got an eczema diagnosis with lots of various visits in between that to get some help and support. In all this time, I would trawl the internet for treatments which may help him, creams I could possibly purchase to help him 

During those 15 months, Jack underwent various visits to the GPs, some blood tests to try and diagnose other health conditions which they thought may be contributing to his skin as well as seeing the health visitors about it as well. Ashley and his father both have terrible skin, and both have eczema so it was always in my mind it would be eczema but it took lots of appointments and care routines to try and diagnose this. Eventually, Jack was put under the care of a paediatric dermatologist who gave us a treatment plan to follow and prescribed various different creams both moisturising and steroids, whereas the GPs would only ever give steroids. We would see her roughly every 2-3 months until nothing was working then we were seen every 6 weeks. Jack went through a vast array of different creams and steroids and was prescribed cotton gloves and clothing to wear to try and eliminate the scratching. Jack would constantly scratch as he was that uncomfortable but then seemed to have no pain threshold and it would look awful and eventually become infected. Once the skin was open there were limited treatments he was able to have and it was such a long process. I remember thinking and saying to health professionals how it looked like he was cutting himself, it was that terrible.

Eventually, it seemed to ease the skin seemed to heal over time and we just stopped focussing on it as it was making us stress and worry too much. 6 years later, he still has awful skin and he still has awful flare-ups, but we seem to know most of his triggers now and are able to keep it under control. I find it weird that Isla hasn't got the awful skin, although she has some eczema patches nothing half as bad as what Jack has had and been through. 

I'm thankful for Jacks now being manageable, its never gone and I'm not sure it ever will but whilst we can manage it I'm happy and so is Jack. We have these tips to help us keep on top of eczema and keep it under control.

Be aware of problem areas
Jacks problem areas are in his joints and his scalp, he suffers terribly behind his knees, elbows and his wrists, everywhere that moves basically. These are areas which he can always freely get to scratch which doesn't help. We always check these areas of skin to be able to quickly notice any big flare-ups to keep on top of it.

Moisturise twice daily
We ensure we apply cream to Jack and Isla twice a day morning and night, and when a flare-up appears we apply more regularly and at night will apply it slightly thicker. Whenever we can we allow their skin to breathe, leaving the areas free from clothing, which for Jack is perfect in the summer when he can wear shorts and long sleeves but not so great in winter when he needs to cover up. 

Bath every other day
I wasn't aware initially of baths drying out the skin more, I thought the water would add more moisture in, but I was wrong. Since this, we have only bathed the children every other day although now as Jack is getting older we are trying to encourage him to shower daily again rather than bathing. We don't always use bubbles, on one of our visits to the dermatologist she informed us of what the bubbles would be doing to his skin. Since then we've always had a deal to have bubbles at least once a week but where possible we just use skin friendly soaps. 

Be aware of triggers
Being aware of possible triggers for your child is important, sometimes you aren't able to get rid of them but being on top of them can help. Jack suffers terribly in the hot weather, so is not something we can eliminate. We find when he sweats a lot, he itches a lot in his problem areas, especially his scalp as his hair irritates him more. We also find that some fabrics and grass can be a trigger for him. We are yet to discover Islas triggers but as hers isn't as bad I think that's possibly why. Epaderm have a wonderful tracker on their website you can use to help you try to identify your child's triggers. 

Whilst we know Jack's skin isn't going to magically get better, I know we now have better control of it, a lot better than it was. He seems much more comfortable most of the year round now apart from when in a major flare-up. 

This post is an entry into an Epaderm competition, #OneTwoFreeYourSkin

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