The Incredible Flammable Boy

In order to keep Oliver’s eczema in check, he goes through a rigorous, full-body treatment of steroids and moisturizers, head-to-toe, twice a day. In the evening, we use Vaseline. In fact, we have gone through almost 4 of those enormous, should-last-you-a-lifetime Vaseline containers in the past few months alone.

Vaseline is a good moisturizer, but it leaves your hands feeling so greasy and gross, and it takes hours to get rid of it. Even washing your hands doesn’t help, because it repels water no problem. I hate having it on my hands, but I guess it is preferable to having it on my entire body.

All of this greasing up doesn’t go without side effects. All of Oliver’s clothes, and particularly his pajamas are slowly taking on a greasy sheen. It’s kind of like when you put grease on a paper plate, and it becomes transparent. His clothes are just starting to have a certain look.

In fact, his pajamas have gotten so bad, that they have developed a wet feeling and permanently weigh about 10 times more than they used to. Washing them is of no help; Vaseline repels water on clothes just like it does on my hands. When you feel this outfit, you want to wash your hands afterwards. The cloth is 100% saturated.

Vaseline is also known as petroleum jelly, and it is made from petroleum. If it is flammable, then there is no bigger fire hazard than our child’s pajamas. (According to what I found, the jury is sort of out. It’s not really flammable, unless it’s hot and there’s a wick of some kind. So it won’t burn, unless it does. Explosively.)

Just in case, lets keep open flames away from him (not that we were exposing our child to open flames very often, mind you). Getting rid of eczema is all fine and well, but not if it comes at the expensive of horrible burn scars!

The Family Curse

Oliver’s battle with eczema continues.

We had an appointment with the skin doctor the other day, and it was amazing. They were very matter of fact and they talked about the eczema clearing up in 5 to 7 days. I have to admit I almost got a little choked up, thinking that his months’ long itchy journey could be almost over. They were as good as their word too; we put the medicine all over, and he looked 99% better the next morning. It was like a miracle. His skin is almost completely smooth, and he doesn’t scratch every time we bare a little bit of skin. Words cannot describe how happy I am! Our only disappointment was that it took us so long to get the proper medicine. We could have saved him weeks of discomfort.

Evie was there for them to look at a persistent fungal infection on her toes. Turns out, the reason we couldn’t get rid of that was because it wasn’t a fungal infection at all. Nope, it was eczema too! Lucky her. Sure enough, the same medicine cleared that up overnight as well. It was like the skin knit back together or something. It was almost creepy!

I’ve learned a lot about eczema recently. The root cause of eczema is basically a hyper-sensitivity to things that shouldn’t necessarily cause you trouble. Therefore, it is very closely related to asthma and allergies. Unfortunately, eczema, asthma, and allergies are three things that my family has in spades.

The more I think about things, the more things started to fall into place. I wonder how much else is connected to that? For example, my allergies are obviously related, but is my hyper-sensitivity to poison ivy also related? How about my hyper-sensitivity to cutting onions? Am I just a genetic wuss?

So, long story short, I passed on my ear problems to at least Evie, and some sort of sensitivity that manifested as eczema in both of my children. (Side note, Evie has another ear infection. So looks like that’s not cleared up yet either.) So thanks for that, dad. They may or may not grow out of it. Talking to some of my relatives who struggle with eczema as adults, it’s not very pretty. I’m sad that he might have to deal with that forever. I just hope they don’t develop any other related problems, specifically asthma.

It’s not all doom and gloom around the house though. Oliver is growing up so fast! And I literally mean growing. The other day, we accidentally put 24 month pants on our 8 month old and we didn’t even notice! It seems like he eats a ton. He’s eating a lot more than Evie did, but it’s still way less than what the pediatrician says is average. Oh well, I don’t think anybody is going to be accusing us of neglect this time around.

Oliver is very good at giving high fives. We’re working on “bye-bye”, “so big!”, and the signs for “more” and “all done”. He doesn’t quite have those ones yet, but it really seems like he could get them at any moment. He already kind of pounds his hand down on his tray to mean more.

He is also working on pulling himself up to stand. I think he’s only done it once on his own, but if you hold out your hands, he will definitely use them as leverage to pull himself up. I think he just needs sufficient motivation (like realizing how much more mischief he could get into if he could pull himself up).

Oliver just loves taking a bath. We didn’t give him a bath for a long time, due to the eczema (It turns out giving him a bath *was* the right thing to do, but we’ve tried about everything at this point), but he loves it so much that he gets excited when he hears the water running. A little too excited maybe. Evie does NOT like to take a bath with Oliver. He splashes like a maniac, but she likes a nice sedate bath, with no water flying. She does not appreciate his splashing.

The interesting thing is that you can really start to see how he and Evie will play together. He just adores his big sister and follows her around everywhere. He already tries to do everything she does. She can’t really play with him, but every once in a while you’ll get this glimpse of how things are going to be in a year or so.

Eczema follow-up

So far, no good.

Oliver’s eczema is worse if anything. We’ve been going through all the clothes, washing them without detergent, Vaselining him morning and night, changing our sheets twice as frequently, trying not to touch him with clothes that may have touched detergent, etc. It certainly doesn’t seem to be helping. I even switched shampoos.

He has good days and bad days. Some days he looks better and I think, “Maybe what we’re doing is working!” and then the next day he looks worse than ever.

The worst part of all is that he has now discovered scratching. Before, I could always pretend that he wasn’t really bothered by the eczema, even though it looked terrible. Now, however, he tries to scratch his chest and face whenever you give him an opportunity. At this point it takes two people to change his clothes; one to hold his hands back, and the other to dress him. We have to put him in a double shirt and put socks on his hands to prevent him from scratching in the night.

It makes me so sad to see him desperately trying to scratch. It wasn’t so long ago that I myself had to deal with insane, full-body itching, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I certainly wouldn’t wish it on my precious baby. And I certainly can’t pretend that he’s not bothered by it anymore.

I feel very helpless, and that’s not a great feeling when it comes to watching your kid be miserable.

Bleaching the Baby

I mentioned that Oliver has developed a really bad rash all over his body. Despite our best efforts, we just couldn’t beat the thing, it was a monster rash. Finally we did some Internet searching, and eventually our doctor confirmed that he had a textbook case of eczema.

I always thought that eczema was just like really bad dry skin. It certainly looks like it, and it’s certainly itchy like dry skin is. However, since I have been learning about eczema, it actually has nothing to do with that. Well, I shouldn’t say nothing to do with it, since dry skin can bring on a bout of eczema. But really, eczema is about allergies.

Regular allergies are when your body overreacts to something. Eczema is no different. However, not everybody who has eczema is necessarily allergic to the same thing. So eczema is something of a mystery, since there’s no root cause and everybody’s body is a little bit different.

We were already doing some things, like slathering on the Vaseline every night and using some hydrocortisone cream on the bad patches now and again, but that didn’t seem to be enough. So Sara hit the books, looking for anything that could help. Many people recommend eliminating dairy, but there doesn’t seem to be much scientific evidence supporting that theory. However, one study stood out: bleach baths.

It turns out that bathing twice a week in a bathtub of water and diluted bleach significantly helps reduce eczema. It sounds pretty crazy, especially since bleach is so caustic, but the study was pretty clear: it works. The doctor gave us the go ahead, and we gave it a try.

The results weren’t as dramatic as we were hoping (or as the results of the study implied). The eczema certainly wasn’t worse, and it may have been a bit better. But certainly there was no miraculous recovery. We’ve only been doing it for a week and a half or so, so we’ll continue for a while and see what happens. However, our hopes for a quick cure have been dashed.

Lately our efforts have been focused on detergent. It has been theorized that a lot more kids are allergic to detergent than is generally thought, and that is to blame for more than just eczema. However, the research does seem to show that detergent allergies absolutely can cause eczema. So we are currently trying to keep anything that has been washed with detergent from touching Oliver’s skin. This is more difficult than it sounds, or at least it is at first, until we manage to get everything re-washed with different soap that does not have detergent.

This has only been going on for a few days, so it is too soon to tell, but it seems like it is having a positive effect so far. However, we need to wait and see. At this point there is a lot of, “But it looks better on his chest, right?” or “Don’t you think his neck looks better tonight?” So we don’t want to declare victory before victory is to be had.

As long as I am doing an Ollie Update, I might as well throw in a few other things:

  1. He is rolling all over the place like a maniac. He hasn’t really been crawling yet, but he looks like he’s ready to at any moment. However, he doesn’t really need to crawl, because he can get where ever he needs to by rolling, pivoting, and rolling some more.
  2. He likes to “talk” which mostly includes “Da da da da!”s. He just looks so serious when he’s saying it, and he proclaims it so loudly, it really seems like he’s trying to say something.
  3. He really likes the idea of eating solids, but he gets tired of actually doing it pretty quick. He will still try to grab anything in sight, and he may even try to eat food out of your mouth.