Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Aargh…eczema!!!

One of the first things we learned as new parents is that every day brings something new...good or bad. We were happy when my boy outgrew his snuffling began enjoyed sleeping at night.

Then, we got excited as he showed:
- developing motor skills (rolling over, standing up, grasping objects, grabbing objects!) and
- more sophisticated social skills (more smiling, laughing, grumbling, bashful looks, complaining, squealing...).

During his third month, I noticed crusty, dry skin on his calves. Dry, white or light brown flakes covered the front and sides of his scalp too. I keep forgetting to mention it to his paed because we have to keep an eye on this wriggling, loudly squealing baby! (I need to bring a list of questions)

When the paed saw them, she declared them eczema and I found this on www.WebMD.com:
"One study suggests that children with a family history of allergy-related problems (like atopic dermatitis) who were weaned from breast milk before the age of 4 months were more likely to develop recurrent eczema than children who were weaned later.
If possible, babies should live on their mother's milk exclusively for the first three months, and doctors advise continuing breast milk for at least up to six months (preferably one year) as you introduce your baby to solid food.
To avoid triggering food allergies that might bring on eczema,do not offer any potential problem foods (such as eggs, nuts, or fish) until your doctor gives the OK.
Babies should also be protected from such potential allergens as tobacco smoke, pet hair, and airborne irritants such as mites and molds."
This is disturbing as many of the above factors apply to him:
a. family history of allergy-related problems- he has his father's smooth, fair skin BUT it is sensitive to dust, heat, sweat, chlorine, grass and a million other allergens.
b. weaned from breast milk before the age of 4 months- I'd started him on a mixed diet around his 4th month i.e. 3 oz breastmilk + 1 oz formula. Now, he's taking 2 oz formula. I've got to go back to 100% breastfeeding.
c. tobacco smoke- I can't run away from this as my Dad smokes!
d. Pet hair- Lots of stray cats behind my parents' house and many would saunter into the garden to nap, poo or have kittens! There must be a lot of their hair in the garden, in which he spends a lot of time.
e. Mites and molds- There should be a huge amount of this around too since my parents' house is rather old...err, and dusty!
Anyway, here's how I care for baby's eczema:

Keep him cool. He's dressed in light, cotton fabrics and NO polyester or other man-made materials.

Lukewarm or cool baths, no showers. Hot water and showers are drying to the skin, did you know? I also add some bath oils so that he'll be covered with a light layer of emollient. He now uses SebaMed's gentle cleansing solution and NO soaps, which is also drying for the skin.

After bath, while he's damp after the towel rub down, we apply a thin layer of SebaMed moisturizer all over his chubby body.

His Pureen, Johnson & Johnson and other over-the-counter brands lotions are either used by his father or me for our hands or feet :-)

Regular moisturizing. Before he sleeps, I'll slather on another layer of moisturizer. Hubby bought this Aveeno oatmeal-based cream from the US, which works really well on him :)

He also bought this Aveeno oatmeal-based bath solution, which I place in a cloth bag to avoid a mess.


If your baby sleeps in an air-conditioned room, he'll need even more moisturizing. Better yet, switch off that air-conditioner as it creates more problems like flu and coughs although it's cooling...

Keep baby's fingernails short. In case he sweats, he'll want to scratch because eczema is very, very itchy! Sometimes, I'll put his mittens on again to prevent further damage.

Stay away from seafood. One day, he had a SERIOUS break-out of eczema and we were mystified until I remembered that I ate an extra large helping of chilli crabs the day before! As I'm still breastfeeding him, I'm more cautious now of avoiding crabs, squid, scallops and prawns.

My parents' home is a real hot house and they are adamant about not installing an air-conditioner. It's a real obstacle as our apartment is quite cool without the need for an air-conditioner but we are not there!

He sweats a lot there and I would wipe him down again in the evening when I return as he'd be sweaty anyway after my Mum sponged him earlier. I'd also put the fan on high whenever I'm with him at home but my traditionalist Mum would turn it down for fear of making him too cool. Poor boy would be in hot sweat frequently there =(

We are at a dilemma due to our 2-homes arrangement - I'd hired a half-day maid (RM400/month) to help out with the housework though I find that she's inefficient because the floor and other areas are still dusty.

I'd started weaning him off his night feeds but I'm reinstating this as he was problem-free during the months he took more breastmilk. This means less sleep for me - a huge sacrifice as I need to drive 45 minutes to an hour to and from work. Then, there's my smoking Dad and pet hair. Too many factors working against baby's eczema here!

During the weekends, we'd bring baby home and he's nice and cool there. Recently, we'd begun exploring daycare options around our area with horrendous results (my next post)! Anyway, am keeping our fingers silently crossed (and with lots of trust in God) that things will work out soon as we've found more and more doors opening and leading us the way back to our home...

In the meantime, I can only continue to gripe about the state of un-cleanliness at home, beg my Mum to keep baby cool and dry, up his breastmilk supply and perhaps introduce baby lotion to his grooming routine to help reduce the dryness. Sigh!