Nothing can prepare you for the sad and helpless way you feel when you experience your child scratching himself until he bleeds. You wonder why you couldn’t have stopped him in time despite the numerous lotions and potions you have been covering him in, not to mention the scratch sleeves/mits etc but there’s always the odd time you just can’t stop it.
I would find myself saying ‘stop scratching, please stop scratching” on repeat until it made us both cry. Ruaridh was around 4 months old when his eczema started to develop (not long after he had decided to stop breastfeeding, so obviously as a mother you blame yourself). May I also add that it wasn’t the fault of the formula or later the milk, he was not lactose intolerant; he just had eczema.
We went to see the GP and were prescribed what I would now call “light” ointments and creams and “very weak” steroids while we waited the long wait to see the Dermatologist. A friend who had been through the same journey with her wee boy recommended getting in touch with Eczema Outreach Support. The support and information was invaluable to help get us through the most difficult times. As a family (myself, Ruaridh’s dad and Ruaridh’s, now 3 year old sister, Flora) we attended an EOS event and what an eye opener it was.
Long before we were able to be seen by the Children’s hospital dermatology department (who are absolutely brilliant may we add and have always been there to see us for urgent flare up issues), the team at EOS were teaching us how the creams should be applied (if nobody tells you downwards, how would you know?), how you should put their clothes through that extra rinse to remove cream residue, recommending books, websites and calling us to make sure we managing okay with the whole workload that comes with a child with eczema. I also found this website https://www.itchybaby.co.uk/ and the amazing product Scratchsleeves, the biggest help.
For Ruaridh this workload included stripping him down and creaming him four to five times a day, blasting his skin with a selection of 4 (yes 4) steroid creams on top of the base layer as required. That is, whilst trying to look after him as a baby, looking after his insanely jealous (but still wonderful) sister whose life had been turned upside down by the arrival of this little guy, cooking, cleaning, nursery runs, work (in my husband’s case) to support us all, and generally keeping sane. “Sorry we can’t go out for that walk, I need to be back by 11:00 to do the next round of creams”. If you did decide you could break the rules and delay or drop a creaming session then the guilt you feel when the subsequent skin flare ups occur, is horrible.
While all this madness was going on, EOS would call to see how we are doing. If we were too busy they’d leave a message and even be on the other end of email when this is the only way you can communicate once you’ve finally got everyone to bed. It made the eczema world feel a lot less lonely.
After a year of perseverance (and just pure luck we think) Ruaridh’s skin is wonderful. Only with a minor flare up here and there (thank you Chicken pox) but we are delighted. He is still creamed twice a day but this is the preventative measure we may always have to keep. Fingers crossed we are one of the lucky ones who may have “grown out of it” (there was a point that I never believed that was possible). Here’s to the next year and more progress and a huge thank you to EOS especially for the emotional support received when we most needed it.