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Posts tagged ‘scratching’

Coping with Eczema? Read These Tips for Emotional Health (Guest post)

Eczema can really get you down – whether you have eczema yourself or you’re a caregiver for someone who has this skin condition. Either way, it’s not easy dealing with the daily emotional and physical stress that eczema brings. After a long journey of battling eczema physically, today Abby shares her advice for coping with eczema emotionally. So get ready to relate to this piece, big time.

-Jennifer

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How Quickly They Forget or Choose to Forget the Hard Times

One of things I worry most about with Tristan’s eczema is, will he look back on his toddler years (when his eczema was the worst) with fear in his eyes?

  • Will he remember the countless nights he spent writhing in itchy agony in his bed as my husband and I took turns holding him and trying to calm his irritated skin and restless mind?
  • Will he remember his hysterical pleas to skip just one bath or how it felt when the cool bath water burned his broken skin as he screamed and lashed out?
  • Will he remember my husband and I holding him down as we slathered on cream multiple times a day, every day, each time the stinging and his tears were relentless?
  • Will he remember seeing mommy cry all those times?

At 4.5 years old, I’m very relieved to say that Tristan doesn’t remember how itchy he used to be or how severe his head-to-toe eczema actually was.

Happy Eczema Free Days

A happy Tristan and a tear-less mom enjoying these eczema managed days.

Just a few months after he turned 3 we FINALLY got a handle on his eczema. (You can read about our family’s battle with eczema here. Or you can view our various Eczema Trials for all the details.) That was just a little over one year ago.  He has memories from around that time, just nothing to do with his eczema. For that I am grateful. I’m guessing this is an example of selective memory at it’s finest.

If you’re dealing with the emotional and physical stresses of eczema today, hang in there. Things will improve. Just stick with your intuition and be an advocate for your child, like this mom.

If all this talk about the challenges of dealing with severe eczema has got you down, take a minute to enjoy a laugh at our eczema spoof “Stuff Eczema Mamas Say.” I’m sure you can relate….and please try to look past my horrible acting skills.

Quilted: A Poem About Living With Atopic Dermatitis

I found this poem at The Online Journal of Community and Person-Centered Dermatology and wanted to share it with you. It so accurately describes our lives, as parents, helping our children cope with atopic dermatitis and severe eczema. If you are an adult suffering from AD or eczema, you surely can relate as well. This poem will show you how hard your parents fought for you, how they tried everything, how they wouldn’t give up on you and a better quality of life, and how much they love and adore you.

Quilted

by Luu, Clara

Clara Luu’s poem is the most eloquent description of  severe atopic dermatitis ( often called S.A.D.)  that I have come across in a long dermatological career.  If you read it, you don’t need all the textbooks or review articles.  It speaks to what we are trying to do with the OJCPCD.

Persistent scratches ripping through the tranquility of the night,
and bedsheets dusty with flaked skin,
mingled with dried blood in the mornings.
Her skin stained with the purple sting of potassium permanganate,
burning from the relentless scorch of tea tree oil, smothered in topical corticosteroids.
Bandaged to retain moisture. Unbandaged to promote air flow.

A blur of diagnoses and “diagnoses” paraded by,
convictions by professionals and well-meaning relatives:
“No heat, no chlorine, no sunshine, no pollen. No butter, no wheat, no potato chips, no fat, no chocolate, no seafood, no meat, no sugar, no salt!”
Too much American food.  oxidized oils, pesticides, hormones-those damn Oreos, all to blame.
“This doesn’t appear to be a food allergy, but we can run some tests…”
“You see, the American doctors don’t study this. This is a question of inner body balance…”
A question of hotness and coldness of the body, toxicity, mystery, cortisone creams.
And a vicious cycle of irritation, scratching,
broken skin, infection, itchiness,
crying, scolding, shouting, scratching…

And the mingling of voices of authority spilled over the reddened cracks in her skin
and filled her heart with guilt and inadequacy.
“You are the only one who knows your body. Only you can know what to do for yourself-”
And the bitterness of her condition was accentuated with the bitterness of soups and broths and reductions,
darkly resplendent with Chinese medicinal herbs, kernels, stalks, and shoots.

Later, with disappointment and failures came desperation
Cycling through past attempts, various diets.  The doctors’ echoes weren’t very much help-
the relief provided through the prescribed creams and ointments was ephemeral.
Though some knowledge provided comfort – like the dreaded skin prick testing – her back gridded into a 5×7 rectangle and stabbed thirty-five times to reveal her body’s weaknesses towards watermelon, shrimp, milk, Kentucky bluegrass,
timothy hay, walnuts, chicken, turkey, sea bass, lobster, dust, mold, and cockroaches -
Her skin still burned and flared, cracked and red and dry and unforgiving, betraying her.

I’ve watched the parade of well-meaning people walking in and out of her life: smiling
pediatricians, puzzled dermatologists, vehement relatives. No one is to blame.

I’ve watched her sneak Oreos away from the pantry, stealing bites of childhood innocence;
shopping for turtlenecks; being tormented by other children
for the ragged appearance of her skin.

Watched my father drive three hours to the only Costco that stocked unscented Keri Soothing Dry Skin Formula and return home with thirty cases of three bottles each
(which by the way, also didn’t work).
And I’ve watched her grow up and out of her skin,
which still bears the scars and rough patches of struggles and treatments,
up and out of reticence, sensitivity, resentment, confusion, worthlessness.
Rising above the motley patchwork of voices to wholeness.

Author Bio:  Clara Luu was born and raised in San Jose, CA. She is currently a sophomore at Stanford University, studying Human Biology and living an exciting pre-med life. “Quilted” is drawn from a composite of household dermatological experiences from her childhood. This piece written for the “Becoming a Doctor” medical humanities seminar taught by Professor Larry Zaroff. It exemplifies the key motifs motivating Clara to pursue a career in medicine: the mutifaceted aspects of wellness, the importance of culturally sensitive medicine, the strong role of family in the healing process, and the mysteries of some medical conditions that are the catalyst for exploration, discovery, and compassion.

Surprise Sale – Day 21

To celebrate eczema awareness month in the US, The Eczema Company is offering a daily SURPRISE SALE item.  Each day a new sale item will be announced, but the sale will only be valid until 11:59pm the same day.

No more secrets! The coupon code for each daily sale item will be announced here first, but then we’ll share the love elsewhere too. After all, everyone loves a good sale. Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog, so you’re in the know as soon as a new sale is announced!

Today’s daily surprise sale is…

Guava Mitts – Save 50% off these adorable scratch mittens for babies (up to 22lbs.) with reversible modern prints. A velcro strap keeps these mittens on your little Houdinis. Sleep in peace knowing your little one’s hands are secure from scratching.

Use the following coupon code at checkout to take advantage of this one day surprise sale.

SURPRISE21GM

And remember to feel good about your purchase, $1 from every sale in October will be donated to the National Eczema Association!

Surprise Sale Day 10

To celebrate eczema awareness month in the US, The Eczema Company is offering a daily SURPRISE SALE item.  Each day a new sale item will be announced, but the sale will only be valid until 11:59pm the same day.

No more secrets! The coupon code for each daily sale item will be announced here first, but then we’ll share the love elsewhere too. After all, everyone loves a good sale. Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog, so you’re in the know as soon as a new sale is announced!

Today’s daily surprise sale is…

Kumfy Cotton’s Tops (opening and closed mittens) – Save 20% off the retail price of $27.95. Don’t forget about our bulk discount, which applies when you buy two pairs of pants (15% off) and three or more pairs of pants (30% off) – this coupon code can be applied on top of that!

Parents love these soft cotton tops to prevent little fingers from scratching. The open mitten style can be flipped open to let fingers free or can be folded closed. Available in sizes up to 7/8, they can help big kids find some scratch relief as well. The closed mitten style is available in sizes up to 4T. And of course they coordinate really well with Kumfy Cotton pants and onesies. Ideal for babies with eczema or children with habitual scratching due to autism.

Kumfy Cotton garments are made from Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified safe cotton.

Use the following coupon code at checkout to take advantage of this one day secret sale.

SURPRISE10KC

And remember to feel good about your purchase, $1 from every sale in October will be donated to the National Eczema Association!

Daily Surprise Sale – Day 6

To celebrate eczema awareness month in the US, The Eczema Company is offering a daily SURPRISE SALE item.  Each day a new sale item will be announced, but the sale will only be valid until 11:59pm the same day.

No more secrets! The coupon code for each daily sale item will be announced here first, but then we’ll share the love elsewhere too. After all, everyone loves a good sale. Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog, so you’re in the know as soon as a new sale is announced!

Today’s daily surprise sale is…

Kumfy Cotton’s Pants with Feet – Save 20% off the retail price of $27.95. Don’t forget about our bulk discount, which applies when you buy two pairs of pants (15% off) and three or more pairs of pants (30% off) – this coupon code can be applied on top of that!

What’s so great about these pants? They have covered toes to keep little fingers from scratching feet or pulling up pant legs to get to those itchy spots behind the knees or on the ankles. The are available in sizes up to 7/8, so they can help big kids find some scratch relief as well. And of course they coordinate really well with Kumfy Cotton tops with opening or closed mittens and the long sleeve mittened body suits. Ideal for babies with eczema or children with habitual scratching due to autism.

Kumfy Cotton garments are made from Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified safe cotton.

Use the following coupon code at checkout to take advantage of this one day secret sale.

SURPRISE5PANT

And remember to feel good about your purchase, $1 from every sale in October will be donated to the National Eczema Association!

Eczema Awareness Month (USA) & Secret Sale Day 1

October is eczema awareness month in the United States.  In Canada it will be celebrated in November (more to come on that next month).

In October, $1 from every sale will be donated to National Eczema Association.

So, let’s spread as much eczema awareness as possible in the US in October!  But how? Here are a few ideas:

  • Speak to your child’s school or class to educate them about the myths and truths about eczema.
  • Form a support group in your area, the National Eczema Association can help.
  • Raise funds and donate them to help a family get to National Jewish Hospital’s Atopic Clinic or donate money or time to a local support group.
  • Buy from The Eczema Company! During the month of October, $1 from every sale will be donated to National Eczema Association.

A SECRET SALE!

To celebrate eczema awareness month, The Eczema Company is offering a daily SECRET SALE item.  Each day a new sale item will be announced, but the sale will only be valid until 11:59pm the same day.

What’s so secret about it? The coupon code for each secret sale item will be announced only on this blog, not promoted anywhere else. Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog, so you’re in the know as soon as a new sale is announced!

And to kick start this promotion…

Today’s secret sale is for ScratchMeNots! Save 50% off the retail price of $24.95. Keep little fingers from scratching with these mittens adored by parents everywhere. Try one if you haven’t before or stock up on the next sizes you’ll need for your growing child.

Use the following coupon code at checkout to take advantage of this one day secret sale.

SECRET1SMN

And remember to feel good about your purchase, $1 from every sale will be donated to the National Eczema Association!

An Incredible Experience with National Jewish Hospital’s Atopic Dermatitis Clinic (Guest Post)

Nancy, of Real Food, Allergy Free, and I connected via an eczema Facebook group, around the time I was starting The Eczema Company. When I learned that she was heading to National Jewish Hospital with her daughter, I was so excited for her and eager to hear first hand what her experience was like. NJH has such a unique, team approach to atopic dermatitis. I was sure you’d be just as curious as I was about how the hospital’s specialized clinic helps parents and children gain control over their eczema. So, I was thrilled when Nancy agreed to share her story with us. Thank you, Nancy!

Bio: Nancy is a home-schooling mom of four beautiful children.  Her youngest struggles with severe eczema.  Nancy is passionate about the real food movement, but is also a real mom with a limited amount of time and money.   Her blog, Real Food, Allergy Free , features fast, frugal and (mostly) healthy allergy-friendly recipes that even “normal” people would enjoy.

Born just a few days after her due date, Bella was a content and healthy newborn.  At six weeks old her skin turned bright red.  It almost looked raw.  I didn’t rush her to the doctor until it started oozing yellow fluid.  The doctor diagnosed her with infected eczema.

I remember thinking it didn’t look like the eczema my other children had.  My other children had small raised patches of itchy skin.  Bella’s entire body and bald head was bright red and oozing.  But then again, my other children never developed eczema this young nor had it been infected.  We were sent home with oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics and steroids, and a referral to a dermatologist.  That was the beginning of an exhausting five-year battle with the worst case of eczema I had ever seen.

As a newborn, eczema didn’t seem to bother Bella, but as she grew older and developed motor skills, the itching and scratching never seemed to stop.  All of her clothing and sheets were covered in blood stains from the wounds she opened while scratching.  We saw multiple pediatricians, dermatologists, and allergists.  Allergy testing showed she was allergic to egg, dairy, soy and nuts, so we limited her diet accordingly.  We tried every holistic approach we could find including consulting naturopaths, trying the GAPS diet, homeopathy, nutritional supplements and UVB therapy.  I was thankful that these treatments made the days somewhat tolerable, but the nights were unbearable.

Sometime in those first years Bella developed night terrors.  Even before she was able to talk in complete sentences, she would scream “no” and “ow” while tossing and turning like she was in pain.   Because she dug into her skin like a crazed person, my husband or I had to sit with her and do our best to stop her.

The older she grew, the more frequent the night terrors occurred.  It came to the point where there were more night terrors than sleeping.  Two hours of sleep per night became the norm.  We just couldn’t do it anymore.  When Bella was four years old, we asked the pediatrician for something to help her sleep.  After trying herbs and Melatonin, the doctor prescribed Clonodine.  It helped, but she was still having a couple of night terrors per night.  The doctor mentioned the next level of medication he could offer was Prozac.  We were not willing to go there, so we decided to be thankful for what sleep we were now getting.

I HATED that my child was so dependent on medication and yet was still miserable. My pediatrician and my dermatologist both independently recommended I take her to Cincinnati for a therapy that was basically chemotherapy.  I drew the line there.   I would have to be happy with where we were in this battle.  There were no options left.  That is until I joined a Facebook group I saw Jennifer was part of called “eczema parents.”  Everyone there was talking about a two-week program for children with severe eczema at National Jewish Health in Denver.

Bella in her wet wraps at NJH

I cannot explain in words the emotions I felt when hearing about this program.  I saw before and after pictures that blew my mind.  They were helping children live normal lives without extreme medical intervention.  I wanted to hope, but I was so afraid of disappointment.  I had no idea how we would afford a program like this, but I knew we had to give it a shot.

A phone call later I learned that National Jewish has a unique approach.  Every patient is assigned a team of doctors and nurses including an allergist, dietician and psychologist with specialized training in Atopic Dermatitis.  The skin is treated with hydration therapy (wet wraps) while extensive testing is completed to find triggers that cause the eczema to flare.  The child also attends individual therapy and group art therapy, and the parents attend group therapy.  I was thrilled to learn that our team would also include a sleep specialist.

National Jewish Health was a true answer to our prayers!  Through the miracle of wet wraps, Bella’s skin was 99% clear within three days!  You can read a daily log of our experience here.

The rest of the two weeks were spent teaching us how to maintain her new skin and testing and challenging her food allergies.  To my utter and complete amazement she passed all of her food challenges.  Not only did we leave there with new skin, but we left with only one dietary restriction: nuts.

Going into this program, I felt fairly confident that they would help Bella’s eczema and maybe open up her diet a bit, but I had no idea if they could help with the night terrors.  In just a few consultations, the sleep specialist gave me the hope I was looking for.

The sleep specialist explained that night terrors were nothing more than the child getting stuck between stages of sleep.  Night terrors are usually triggered by lack of sleep.  It was normal for kids with severe eczema to wake up from the itching several times per night.  She was sure that once we got the itching under control, the night terrors would go away.  We would no longer need medication.  To my amazement she was right!  Bella started sleeping through the night while we were there.  In the five months since, she has had three or four night terrors, and they were obviously connected to not getting enough sleep (sickness, house guests, etc.).

Should you take your child to National Jewish?  Absolutely!  Can you imagine walking into a hospital where all of the doctors just “get it?”  Everyone from the doctors to the nurses and even the sleep specialist, who isn’t normally part of the team, understood exactly what we were going through, and were confident they could help.  There is no cure for eczema, but the team at National Jewish has come pretty close.  Our lives were forever changed by the team at National Jewish.  I only wish I had known about it sooner.

Bella is all smiles with her eczema now under control.

Eat, Scratch. Eat, Scratch: The Food Allergy and Eczema Connection (Guest Post)

This guest post is about a subject very close to my heart. Louise, a certified dietician and pediatric nutritionist, and I share very similar views about how certain foods can trigger eczema. Yes, this idea is becoming more and more common/accepted and physicians are starting to admit it’s not so rare to see eczema flares after eating certain foods. If you’re unsure about food allergies, I hope this post will make you pick up the phone and make an appointment with the allergist and nutritionist. Make sure to check out Louise’s informative blog, where she shares lots of great tidbits and recipes for keeping kids healthy!

Bio: Louise Goldberg RD, CSP, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian who is board certified as a pediatric nutrition specialist and a certified food allergy specialist.  Catch more nutrition tips and info from her on Facebook at An Apple A Day Nutrition Consulting or on Twitter at @AnAppleADayRD.

Eat, Scratch. Eat, Scratch: The Food Allergy and Eczema Connection

Eczema can be challenging for kids to deal with and even more challenging for their parents.  My patients tell me having eczema affects all aspects of their life, from difficulty concentrating in school (because of feeling so itchy) to a rough night’s sleep.  Moms and dads become super sleuths when their little one has a flare up:  Was it the cold weather?  Was it the new laundry detergent?  Did Aunt Pearl have perfumed lotion on her hands when she pinched his cheeks?

Considering that a food might be triggering the flare up may be only one of several possibilities or it may not be considered at all; however, when other environmental factors have been ruled out, it’s time to put your child’s diet in the spotlight.  A study investigating the link between foods and eczema revealed that 1 in 3 children who have moderate to severe eczema also have a food allergy.  In fact, chronic eczema is sometimes the first indication for parents that their child has a very active immune system and allergy testing (including foods!) should be pursued.

Testing 

There are a couple ways to test kids for food allergies.

A skin prick test, where a small amount of purified extract from a specific food is placed on the child’s skin.  The skin is then lightly scratched or pricked to make elicit an immune response.  This method is out of the question for a child with eczema.  The test will most likely be inaccurate, difficult to determine results and can further irritate the skin.

A RAST (Radioallergosorbent test) is done using a sample of blood taken from the patient and tested outside the body for antibodies to specific foods.  It is the most reliable testing at this time; however still has faults.  You can get false positives, false negatives and it doesn’t account for other responses.

An elimination diet can pick up on a wide variety of issues in the diet and it is not age-restricted.  If parents suspect one or two foods are responsible for eczema flare ups, they can do a trial elimination of those from the diet to see if it gives their child some relief.  If they aren’t quite sure where to start, an allergist or a dietitian can give them some guidance, as well as direct them to alternatives that will provide their child with good nutrition so their growth isn’t compromised.

Common Foods That Trigger Eczema Flare Ups

While any food protein has the potential to cause an immune response, the allergens most commonly associated with eczema symptoms are: eggs, milk, peanuts, soy and wheat.  I’ve found that some of my patients have even had flare-ups associated with tomatoes and green peas so make sure to bring up any additional food concerns you have with your allergist and dietitian.

Asking you to adjust or restrict your child’s diet to search for a food allergy may sound like a daunting task.  And even though omitting that food may not cause your child’s eczema to completely go away, if it means one less itch, one less scratch and a good night’s sleep, it will be a relief to both of you.

If you have more detailed questions, feel free to contact me at Louise@AnAppleADayNutrition.com and check out the food allergy resources listed here.


Growing Up with Eczema and The Green Monster (Guest Blog)

Kim is new blogger on the eczema scene. I first learned about her blog over on Twitter where she’s constantly tweeting about eczema news and related stories. She had chronic eczema as a child and still suffers today so I asked her to share a story with us from her childhood. I always find it so interesting to hear an adult’s perspective looking back on their experiences with eczema as a child. Mostly I just want assurance that kids with eczema don’t harbor any negativity towards their parents for putting them through medications and treatments and such :) Aren’t we all just hoping our kid’s turn out stronger because of this bad hand they’ve been dealt?

Bio: Kim has been coping with eczema since childhood along with battling several food and environmental allergies as well. Most recently she has been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity amongst a variety of new foods including coffee, oatmeal, peanuts, cashews and more. She blogs about her personal experiences, factual information regarding eczema and provides her own product reviews and recommendations at EczemaContagious.

Growing Up with Eczema and The Green Monster

Thinking back to my childhood, I can remember vividly how painful my eczema was. At about the age of nine years old, I switched from a public school to a private school as per my mom’s strict orders. I guess she felt that since she was forced to go, my brother and I should be also. Now if you’re not familiar with the way that most Catholic elementary schools work, you have to wear a uniform. Unfortunately when I first started there, we had only one choice of uniform, not like these days where there is one for every season (lucky ducks). This uniform just so happened to be the heaviest and most uncomfortable type of green wool skirt possibly ever made, in my opinion at least. We had to wear this skirt with either a short or long sleeved white blouse year round, yet we could add a heavy green wool sweater when needed. (YIPPEE!)  There were very strict guidelines about the length of the skirt; it basically had to sit exactly at your knees. That was just perfect because that’s exactly where I had my rash the worst, on the backs of my knees. I also had severe rashes in the bends of my elbows, which was perfect for when I wore my lovely green, wool sweater in the colder months.

I recall a very specific hot day when I first started there, and it was probably around 95 degrees in the hot, dry, San Fernando Valley which is located right outside of Los Angeles, California. Picture this, me sitting on a bench on the playground after finishing my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There I sit, all by myself in pain due to my terrible skin rash probably irritated by the green monster that was scraping against my legs. And it was an itchy rash, and I mean ITCHY!!!!! (If you are not aware, wool should be avoided by eczema sufferers at all costs, due to the extreme irritation it causes.) These rashes were the puffiest and most inflamed ever and they were not pretty to look at by any means. I had to scratch otherwise I would go crazy, and typically when I scratched, it would turn into a blood-fest.  Super disgusting I know.  It was seriously miserable and that’s before I even mention how the other kids on the playground treated me.

You would think at nine or ten years old, Catholic school kids would be kind and sympathetic to someone who was obviously in pain, but this was definitely not the case.  Lepers were frequently mentioned in the bible, which by the way, we had to read every day, and I guess I began to think of myself as one of them. I sure felt like I was being shunned as these lepers were, as most of the time the kids would give me the once over, notice my rashes, and then completely ignore or avoid me.  I’m sure they wondered, “Is eczema contagious?” and were worried that they would too have terrible skin rashes. Apparently sympathy and empathy didn’t exist at this age. I like to think that kids these days are better but I’m not sure it’s true.

I went home sad and crying a few times more but eventually I did make some friends. After a while everyone got used to me and my rashes and it wasn’t that big of a deal to them anymore. Of course it was still a huge deal to me and I grew up completely self-conscious about my skin but after 37 years, I just deal with it because I know there are more important things to worry about.

The point of the story I am trying to make, is not that you shouldn’t send your child to Catholic school (haha),  but that it’s tough being a kid, so do your best to help your child deal with his or her eczema symptoms as best possible. Find out what their individual triggers are and do everything possible to help them avoid them. Find out which treatments work and which ones don’t, and there is a lot of time, patience and money that will need to be spent unfortunately. Help them to be comfortable in their skin which at times can be pretty ugly. Support them and help them through the tough times and if they ever have to deal with a green monster, help them find a way to tame it!

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