Christopher was 6 months when eczema started. It looked like he had a big red beard on his face at first but then it spread all over his body. At 7 months he was hospitalised for the first time because his eczema escalated out of control when he developed hand, foot and mouth disease. It was horrific.
Trying to stop him scratching was impossible. At times I’d be driving and see him start to attack his face, but there was nothing I could do because I was on the motorway. At home I couldn’t lie him in his cot and leave him to sleep because he would just scratch until his skin was bleeding. In the end I’d have to hold his hands when he slept to try to stop him scratching. We tried gloves and Scratchsleeves but it was as if nothing could stop him scratching. Breastfeeding him was the only thing that calmed and soothed him.
I went back to work when Christopher was a year old. Leaving him with people was really hard. Would they manage to deal with his scratching and cope with his skin? My mum was anxious looking after him and it was hard for nursery staff too. One day the nursery phoned me saying he was having a really bad day and by the time I got to nursery his bandaged were soaked in blood.
After 3 weeks being back at work I ended up taking a panic attack because it was all too much. I was exhausted from the lack of sleep, the relentlessness of the eczema and the treatments, the pressure it was putting on my relationship with my partner and working full-time on top of everything else. Eventually I was able to move into a part-time role at work, but it took time and each week working full-time was a massive strain.
I heard about Eczema Outreach Support when Christopher was 1 and things were really tough. It was amazing to speak to someone who got it! Nobody else understood to the same extent and they were there on the other end of the phone to support me through hospital visits, as well as having resources to help the nursery understand the condition and just being a listening ear when I was feeling like a wreck. Having the support from other parents was great and at events I picked up things we hadn’t heard before from the Dermatology talks.
As Christopher got older things gradually got better. His sleep started to improve and he’d only be waking 3 or 4 times a night rather than every 15 minutes! He is now 3 ½ and sleeps for a full night.
We tried every cream under the sun and at one point my partner even ordered a cream from Australia to try because we were desperate to find something to make a difference. I’m not sure what changed but his skin started to improve over time. He still has eczema but it is now small patches. At one point Dermatologists were taking photos of him because his skin was so severe but now he has small patches and it’s something I never imagined possible. It feels like a miracle!
Eczema is horrific, it takes over your life. The stress and strain impacts emotions, relationships, work and the decisions you make. Most people don’t realise how horrendous eczema can be.