|November 26, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Eczema, Just Noah, Parenthood|
It has been a while since I last talked about Noah’s eczema. We call it “Noah’s eczema trials” because the final straw came when he was sleeping in short breaks and only with the aid of a stroller or someone carrying him, he even refused to nurse, water or solids…it seemed, that for the longest time ever, my son was in misery.
We I caved. I still remember it. I was standing by the roadside with tears running down my face while my parents were upstairs in the apartment packing up their bags. We were leaving Dole – and the hospital here – to make a trip to the Mother & Children’s Hospital in Lyon where they have a pediatric dermatologist as well as to spend some at my mother-in-law’s place. There, at the emergency unit, the doctor gave us a few prescriptions to put Noah on to tide us over for the next few days. They included an anti-histamine to tackle his (very bad) itching spells and steroid creams to tackle the skin inflammation. My sister-in-law managed to get a very good cream called Cérat de Galien. It’s a pharmacy made cold cream and for the next few days, while we wait to see the dermatologist, the cream went on his skin twice a day.
After our appointment with the pediatric dermatologist, we were off to the pharmacy to collect a few staples – things that are, we discovered, important for babies with eczema – like a gentle cleansing oil (Aderma Exomega Cleansing Oil), a good moisturiser (we currently use two – Aderma Exomega Emollient Balm & a pharmacy made cream) and a mild steroid cream to help get rid of the inflammation and allow the skin to heal. This in turn will allow the child to feel more comfortable and happier. Scratch mitts are definitely a good thing as the scratching makes things really awful.
Once the inflammation dies down and the skin is no longer red, we were told to stop the steroids and just continue with the moisturising treatment. If there are stubborn patches, we can do an aggressive treatment by putting steroids on the offending patch for two days in a row and observe it. Also, a “cleaner” skin makes it easier to identify the triggers as red on red (read: inflammed) doesn’t show much.
On our end, we deduced from hours backtracking to what I did, brought into the house, fed him and so forth that the suspects were essential oils from my soapmaking ventures as well as the hard water in our home. We were told – with relief – that breastfeeding should go on and that it is okay to eat anything I would like to as transference is minimal (more on this later). The picture above was taken about two weeks after starting on the steroids. At the start on the treatment, the red patches had spread to both cheeks and as you can see, the skin was definitely smoother.
When we went home, we cleared the place of all essential oils and soapmaking tools as well as soaps. I bought a water softener which I installed in the shower after testing out the water factor – can you believe that I had 60L of soft water in my car at one point in time? Bit by bit, I reintroduced the possible allergens like the carpets and soft toys.
Over time, we discovered that the triggers were dairy, rye, cocoa powder, fish and essential oils – these would result in nasty patches of rash and bumps that were red and itchy. Oddly enough, if I had them regularly – which I do – he seems unaffected by it…even when I was breastfeeding around the clock. Certain acidic foods like tomato, mango, red peppers/capsicum would give him a mild rash which usually are tolerable on the itch front. The two spots above both sides of his mouth are particularly stubborn and hard to get rid off. We managed to get clear skin on his face until Eva went through a bout of lice and I had to bring back the essential oil in the form of a preventive spray. That plus going through things like cocoa powder and rye (took me a while to discover that) didn’t help. Teething spells would make things hard to get rid off as he tends to drool a lot!
I hope that he’ll outgrow these allergies soon…life can be less enjoyable with no cheese, seafood and chocolate in the picture!
(The picture below shows him back in October!)
|June 20, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Eczema|
I bought these two bottles a few days ago after a fellow soapmaker told me that chamomile and lavender floral waters might help with Noah’s flare-ups.
I thought I had some lavender floral water in my cupboard which I had reserved for my shampoo bar recipes so I went online and discovered that witch hazel was traditionally used to help dry out wet eczema (oozy bits) and is also an anti-pruritic (helps minimize itching). On one of the websites, a study reported that it can be as effective as 1% hydrocortisone but naturally, it is meant to be used topically. There is an interesting write-up about natural treatments for eczema and it includes a section on witch hazel and chamomile.
I tried it out today when I discovered a few oozy patches on his thighs – just apply as you would with a skin toner but dab on the affected areas. The application took place in the morning and afternoon after his diaper changes followed by a quick moisturising sessions with either my oils or Dexeryl. By evening, it had stopped oozing and was drying out! I hope it’s not just a fluke though and will test it out over the next few days or until the affected areas heal.
I’ll check out the chamomile option next – not this breed tho. The chamomile floral water here is from Roman Chamomile which is still okay but not as effective as its German peer.
(Can I add that items from this brand costs a bomb? I could have easily found the same thing from my usual cosmetics supply shop online for half the price! Eek!)
|June 18, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Eczema, Just Noah, Parenthood||
I have started documenting Noah’s eczema pictorially. On hindsight, I should have done it when his eczema is at its worse because these pictures were taken as he is recovering and people already think it’s bad. Haiz.
The most recent flare-up was last week due to some allergens that I was testing out (namely eggs and milk) and the weather has been warming up. No thanks to his separation anxiety and teething pains, he only naps if babyworn so that means lots of heat. The teething also has resulted in lots of drool and itchy gums which result in damp mittens that he then uses to rub all over his face and wherever.
The set above shows you his left arm last Thursday (left) and the same arm this morning (right). I have been diligently applying the skin oil and butter that I made and have seen some improvement. The Scratch Sleeves are still staying on although I noticed that he can be sensitive to any changes in detergent so it looks like soapnuts and a wee bit of tea tree oil (about 5-6 drops) every so often are the best for him.
The bottom set shows you his left leg last Thursday (left) and the same leg this morning (right). There is some improvement although it isn’t visible in the picture simply because it’s mostly on the inner thighs and the area near the fold between the crotch and thigh. At least the skin has stopped oozing and is less inflamed. It also means that he has to stay away from shorts for the time being as somehow, whenever he’s in shorts, his skin oozes and gets inflamed easily. Heh.
I’ve also been testing camelline, camelia oils as well as mumuru (sic) butter on this leg (separately, of course) and it appears to be promising. Am waiting for my next shipment of borage seed oils to come in and I’ll also be testing perilla and other butters. In the meantime, lets hope tomorrow’s visit to the paed will be promising!
|June 5, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Eczema, Just Noah, Parenthood|
After going through a variety of commercial creams – Avene Trixera, Dexeryl, Mustela Cold Cream, calendula cream – I decided I had enough of putting Noah’s skin through hell. He was getting a reaction from the commercial stuff and for a while, we had no idea what the triggers were. We managed to narrow it down to nuts and soy. The only thing that didn’t give him a rash was Dexeryl but one issue we have with that cream is that it just wasn’t rich enough. You’d have to constantly slather him with the stuff all day long and after a while, mineral oils just felt weird on his skin – to me, anyway.
So I started scouting around for alternatives to shea butter, sweet almond oil and soy glycine (the last is found in Avene Trixera). Shea butter and sweet almond oil are very common emollients in commercial creams so when we found out that it was causing the flare-ups, pimples and rash, I decided to go the homemade route which would be to make my own body butter or cream. There are a few ways to go about it – one is using water which would require a preservative of some sort and the other is to whip butter with oils. The former is more time- and energy-consuming in terms of production plus I didn’t like the idea of adding a chemical preservative into something that was going to go onto Noah’s skin.
It was whipped butter then.
I spent about a couple of weeks testing a variety of oils and butters. Oils were not an issue but butters were. Hard and semi-hard butters are mostly made from tree nuts but I found a good solution in the form of mango and avocado butter. As for the oils, evening primrose, avocado, rosehip and argan oil worked wonders for his skin. I tried neem on him but it didn’t really work and it stank as well!!!!!!!1 I have a few other oils to test out – borage, jojoba and some other butters (sal, tucuma, mumuru, etc). With any luck, I’ll be able to come up with a back-up recipe in case this formulation doesn’t work.
I also placed an order for a glass bottle with a pipette dropper to store a blend of oils which I’ll use during the day. I plan to add some essential oils – not too much tho (about 3-4 drops in total for the entire 100ml bottle) – which are safe for babies. So far, he has shown really promising results with the organic pure lavender essential oil I purchased from a distillery in Provence. I put about 2-3 drops in his bath water and on the days that he has his bath, he sleeps on his own better.
The next step would be to see if the essential oil in his body butter would help – I whipped up another batch and put some lavender in half of the batch just to see how he would react to it. If it’s a positive, the next would be to clear chamomile essential oil. Chamomile is excellent for finding relief from pain (it is a common ingredient in homeopathic teething gels here) and good for calming the body and soul too.
It is time consuming as I have to wait for the butters to arrive (I buy them from local stores that supply soapmaking items as well), then wait again for the right time to whip and set them. If Noah is particularly fussy that day, it’s nearly impossible to do anything! But when I see that his skin heals well and flares up are starting to go away faster, I tell myself that it is worth the effort.
It always is…
|May 5, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Eczema, Just Noah, Parenthood|
We visited the homeopath today to discuss how to go about Noah’s eczema and she confirmed my reasons for wanting to stay away from the cortisone creams. They are best reserved ONLY for the extremely bad cases of eczema and even then, should only be applied on the areas that are red but she warns that constant use can lead to asthma which is harder to treat. When we said that we didn’t get any, she smiled and told us that that’s good!
She never commented or asked about my diet during my pregnancy. She did, however, ask about family history of allergies and eczema. I guess that’s more of a contributing factor than what I ate. Her questions were focused mainly on Noah’s temperament, behaviour, sleeping & eating habits, environmental factors (“is it hot or cold when he scratches?” “does he sweat a lot?”) and other things like his poo, whether he drools, where does he appear to scratch or itch and so forth. She checked Noah’s skin and remarked that she doesn’t see any oozy patches (which is good), just a lot of crusting going on which means that the skin is healing and told us that the key is in catching the patch when it’s hot and inflamed (just before it starts to ooze). Once it oozes, no grease on the affected area as it will inhibited healing. Hm.
She then proceeded to devise a couple of treatments. We would then start the treatment according to what Noah likes. That meant we had to test out five different things with Noah and see how he responds – salt, sugar, lemon juice, vinegar and smoked salmon. Just a pinch of any one of these items each day. If he responds well, then we pick the treatment that corresponds with the right taste. We have three weeks to see if the treatment works. If it works, it will clear everything up. If it doesn’t work, we’ll be back to square one. Either way, we’ll have to give her a call to see what is the next step.
She also encouraged me to continue putting on creams. People with eczema must not go a day without creams or moisturisers. Dexeryl, she agreed, was not rich enough so it is important to find whatever works for Noah. We were told that even though a cream may work in the beginning, it may lose its potency so we have to be prepared to end up with a lot of creams that DON’T work or outlived its use. Any oils and butters are fine – just do a patch test and if he responds well, stick to it. If he starts to break out again, then find another moisturiser that works.
She pointed out that it’s good that I am stopping him from scratching because scratching makes things REALLY bad so at this stage, I’m prepared to invest in “tools”. Am thinking of ordering a scratch sleeve for him and then use that as a pattern based for bigger sizes.
For once, I felt good about the whole thing. As I left the office, I felt more strengthened to help Noah fight this battle. Prior to this visit, I was on the verge of giving up as I felt that I wasn’t going anywhere. This form of treatment is quite similar to TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine – where herbs and other ingredients are used to treat the body or root cause and not just tackle the symptoms. Encouraged, I decided to place an order for 10ml samples of a variety of oils – I read – that will help with eczema such as argan, rosehip, evening primrose, burriti, borage and butters like mumuru and cupuacu.
I hope to find a few that works for him and with any luck, we’ll have his eczema under control.
|March 24, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Eczema, Just Noah, Parenthood|
It’s not fun to deal with problems in children and eczema is one of them. Noah’s lovely unblemished skin started disappearing in February and now one month later, as you can see in the picture above, it is not a pretty sight.
The doctor gave us a prescription for a balm but it contains liquid parrafin and vaseline which I’m not keen on using as they aren’t all that natural to begin with. So I went out and bought a calendula balm which was made up of 85% calendula infused oil (sunflower oil), shea butter, chamomile, cocoa butter and Vitamin E as a preservative. While the rash started to heal, pimples appeared instead. So I switched to a cream I made up at home using shea butter and calendula-infused sunflower and sweet almond oil and put him on it for two days. The dry skin got better but the pimple situation got worse. He started getting pimples in places where there was smooth skin!!!!!!!!!!!!! Someone alerted me about sweet almond oil being a possible allergen so after reading and researching, I discovered that people can be allergic to sweet almond oil AND shea butter because they are classified as tree nuts and fall under “nuts” in the allergen list. Gah.
I decided to reformulate my cream but after more research, I discovered that a lot of butters out there are based on nuts and I was left with either cocoa butter or mango butter. I have them in stock but the trouble is that he could be allergic to either one of them. So my current option now is to go single ingredient – something I should have done from the start. I’ll be infusing some calendula in either organic sunflower oil or organic olive oil. In the meantime, I’m discontinuing use of both the calendula balm and his homemade cream just to confirm if it is the shea butter in either one of the items. I’ll also have to stop either nuts of any sort, eg pistachios, macadamic, almonds and so forth.
I salute mothers out there who have to deal with this – I knew it was hard but knowing is very different from actually experiencing it. I do hope that the paed will suggest something when I see her on Wednesday – an allergen test or something would help shed light on what is bothering him. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the silver lining that comes along with this – him sleeping well, eating well and just being a happy baby. Thankgoodness! I don’t think I would be able to cope this well if he was fussing and crying all the time!