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The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 2)

♦ Read here: ‘The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 1)‘ ♦

First I started to apply virgin coconut oil 4-5 times per day all over ‘Timan’s body as a moisturizer. Over the time of about 2-3 weeks his skin improved tremendously. Everywhere on his body except on the eczema area behind his knees the skin went back to normal, was smooth and felt soft like a peach.

We also gave aloe vera gel from my plant a try, but didn’t see any improvement at all. I didn’t even have the feeling it really worked as a moisturizer. And ‘Timan’ complained it was stinging and burning his inflamed skin patches.

In the meantime the northeast monsoon had just started with its rain and the tap water was very chlorinated again, even I could feel the change. It’s not only chlorine, the water is treated with, I think the company treating the water is also adding something else to make it less harsh to the skin. Maybe this is what is causing the rash. This time around only ‘Timan’s legs were involved, from the buttocks to the rim of the shorts (note: unless we go out, he’s running around with undies and shorts only, I ditched the shirt after his armpits got better and stopped itching).

The Christmas parcel from Europe arrived and with the present for ‘Timan’ there were also some remedies for the little guy I was looking for. My parents included among other things tea tree oil and Urticalcin, a homeopathic remedy to treat a calcium deficiency. I never considered calcium could be the problem, but I believe this idea is on the right track.

Dry coarse skin, dermatitis, hyperpigmentation and eczema can be a symptom of Hypocalcemia (calcium deficiency) according to the Cleveland Clinic.

‘Timan’ has never been a milk-lover after weaning from breastfeeding with 22 month, he was nipping on his soy-milk about as often as he was drinking cows-milk before. And eczema can be a sign of calcium deficiency. But as with all homeopathic remedies, the symptoms got worse at the beginning before they started to improve.

The chemicals in the water and therefore in the clothes combined with starting to take the homeopathic calcium tablets made the eczema on his legs flare up even more.

To give ‘Timan’ a break from itching and myself a pause from preventing the scratching I applied Hydrocortisone again and it reasonably cleared within 4 days. Never before it had cleared in such a short time.

I have also started to use a wet compress on his legs 3x per day for 30 minutes each time. This was a huge success for the area behind his knees. It went very smooth and the inflammation could be kept at bay.

Right after the wet compress I gently apply some drops of the tea tree oil, to my surprise it does not sting or burn at all when I am using it undiluted. It probably depends on the stage of the inflammation or the concentration of the oil itself.

Additionally, whenever the weather is reasonably good, we are going to the beach for a swim. Of course ‘Timan’ loves this more than anything.

But I believe to really put an end to ‘Timan’s eczema on his legs we would have to move to another house that does not get the water from the ‘Public Utilities Corporation’ and but ‘untreated’ water from a creek in the mountains. And all our laundry would be free of chemicals. Yep, those houses do exist here in Paradise, we just have to find one. Let’s keep fingers crossed that we will anytime soon.

To put all together, these are the things that work for us to keep ‘Timan’s skin eczema free:

  • using untreated water from the mountains for cooking, shower, bath, etc.
  • chewable multivitamins and minerals that are free of most common childhood allergens
  • dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, chicken-free, tomato-free, scombridae-free (fish-free) diet with many fruits and vegetables, preferably raw
  • Urticalcin – homeopathic tablets to treat a calcium deficiency (even though they contain lactose -> room for thoughts about the dairy-free diet?)
  • drinking a lot of water
  • antihistamine
  • wet compress on his legs
  • tea tree oil on his legs
  • virgin coconut oil as moisturizer all over the body as often as needed (sometimes 4-5 times per day)
  • using a nail file to keep his finger nails as short as possible

And if he would have a flare up in the future I can’t control with natural remedies

  • Hydrocortisone

But this is how his eczema area looks right now, after almost three weeks with Urticalcin, without the use of steroids.

I just hope the itching will finally stop and ‘Timan’ gets off the antihistamines. Slowly I will also reintroduce dairy products (in moderation) and eggs, but will definitely wait with corn products, chicken, tomatoes and fish of the family ‘scombridae’ (tuna, marlin, swordfish, mackerel, bonito and such). Red Snapper is much tastier anyway. 🙂

Yeah, 2012 will be a better year for my son and therefore for all of us. And with proper skin care, applying lots of moisturizer and an appropriate diet we’re going to be able to keep the tots skin eczema free and silky soft.

What worked for you or your little one to treat dermatitis? Are you using steroids or natural remedies? Did you use homeopathic remedies for eczema?

p.s.: Using virgin coconut oil does not only keep the dry skin soft and smooth, it also evens out scars, i.g. from the tots appendix operations.

The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 1)

We just started a new year and to me it seems concerning ‘Timan’s eczema it’s a new start for us too, his skin is getting better and better. But we had quite a journey last year. After the ruptured appendix with complications ‘Timan’ started to break out with an itchy rash. He had this rash literally on his whole body, his eyes were sometimes swollen or later the skin around them was red, inflamed and itchy.

Little did we know that this was just the beginning. Even today I am not entirely sure I found all the triggers, but after many sleepless nights, lots of ups and downs, more often downs then ups, we are at a stage where I can say that we can control the tots inflamed and itchy skin, even without steroids.

Unfortunately we don’t have many specialised doctors here in Paradise and no allergy tests are available at all. There are two dermatologists, but no pediatric dermatologist and no allergist is in the country either. We would have to go overseas for tests and treatment. So I started to do some research online, the same as probably every parent would do with a child who is scratching himself bloody at night. And with the help of my parents in Europe, who sent some remedies that are not available here, we finally see an improvement.

Not every person is reacting the same way, there are so many reasons for the skin to break out in a rash. It may be atopic or a reaction of the immune system to an allergen, here on my blog I simply want to show you what worked for ‘Timan’. And maybe it’s giving you a new idea.

I believe his rash was triggered by a change in chemicals to treat the tap water, chemicals to combat bacteria in the drinking water during the time the water in the storage lakes on the island was getting less and less. First ‘Timan’ had little blisters all over his body, a little while later the back of his legs was hot to touch and the skin looked brownish red, as if it was burned.

The first thing we did was to use ‘pure’ water for ‘Timan’, water the Hubs collected way up in the mountains. I used this untreated water for cooking and to shower or bath him, unfortunately until now we still have to use the chlorinated water to wash our laundry. It took about 5-6 weeks until he started to look better without using medication. However the rash behind his knees and under the armpits stayed.

Eventually we went the medicated way, the itching was getting worse, the scratching was getting more and our tot was clearly suffering. I started to use Hydrocortisone on the eczema spots behind his knees and it worked, but did not clear everything. The itching stopped, the skin behind his knees looked ok, but never went back to the way it used to be. And every time I stopped applying Hydrocortisone, 2-3 days later the red area and the blisters reappeared. Was there a need for a stronger steroid cream? I felt I had to talk to a professional. So we went to see a dermatologist. I was so disappointed. The doctor didn’t tell me anything new, I had the feeling I knew much more about ‘Timan’s skin condition then she did. But she said the way I was handling it was good, it’s well under control. No wonder with all the Hydrocortisone. However she didn’t have a solution to get off the steroids and we went home with a recommendation to use more antihistamine.

I started to look for possible other triggers myself, something from within the body was causing the eczema. We went dairy-free, egg-free, a while later corn-free and saw a slight improvement, especially under the armpits. But I also realized 2 days after having chicken, tomatoes or pelagic fish his knees got worse, even during the time I was applying Hydrocortisone. So we also went chicken-free, tomato-free and pelagic fish-free (only scombridae were causing an immune response).

However applying Hydrocortisone on an almost permanent basis is not the way to go so I started to look into natural remedies. Furthermore there is only a very limited selection of moisturizer for eczema-prone skin to buy here in Paradise.

♦ Here you can read ‘The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 2)’, the way we got the eczema under control,♦

but first please tell me:

What is your experience with allergy or food intolerance? How are you dealing with it? Did you find all the triggers?

My tots quirks are driving me nuts sometimes

I’m writing this post in an attempt to lighten my heart, to get the evil thoughts out of my system, because most of the time once in a while my little son is driving me insane.

Not even two weeks ago he turned tree years old and everybody told me the terrible two stage miraculously comes to an end on the third birthday, right? 😉 Of course not. It’s getting worse. Much worse.

In an attempt to save the last bit of my sanity I’m writing down the things that are driving me nuts bother me just a tiny little bit in the behavior of my little devil adorable, sweet little boy. And of course, after reading them you will laugh and say, hey, they are all age appropriate, that’s the stage of development he’s currently in, everything is normal and ok.

Ok for the tot maybe, but those quirks make me kick the wall (when nobody is watching). Because ‘Timan’ knows how to do things properly, he even likes to do them. Just not very often. Sigh and sigh again.

So here they are:

  • I can’t sit somewhere during the day without ‘Timan’ running towards me and climbing on my lap. It doesn’t matter if he was peacefully playing with his toys somewhere else, as soon as I’m sitting he’s coming and trying to climb up. This is not funny anymore and not relaxing for Mommy. I don’t like to sip my coffee while standing around as if I was a parcel at the post office that somebody forgot to pick up. Grrrr.
  • He loves to bump his head into soft body parts like my belly when I’m all relaxed. He does it like a bull and it’s really painful. And tighten my abs the whole day long may be good for my appearance, I know, but it’s so tiring. Grrrr.
  • He’s taking more things and toys in his mouth than when he was 1-year old. Ok, go figure, because now, two years later he just has more toys. On top of mouthing his cars he also does it with other things like pieces of cell tape, clothespins, tubes of cream, rolls of toilet paper … the list is endless. So far he only does it with things we have at home. And he doesn’t suck his thumb. So I should be grateful, shouldn’t I? Sigh.
  • He still pees next to our main entrance. As soon as I unlock the door in the morning, he shoots outside and marks his territory. Maybe we need to get a dog that takes this task away from him. 😉 And don’t get me started with our gate. This is the next place that is frequently getting his spray.
  • The tantrums these days last much longer than they used to and the screeching and screaming is much higher and louder. Especially if he’s close to me and screeching with full lungs into my ear. This is so freekin painful and gives me a headache every time. Grrrr.
  • He’s sometimes quite opinionated for his age. Every thing he knows better and he doesn’t accept other opinions, like mine for instance. And every time when this happens it makes me wonder: Have I taught him the wrong things? Or is this the beginning of a typical single child behavior?
  • He is such a slowpoke when it comes to do things that are not his idea (brushing teeth, washing hands or getting ready and stop moving around so I can put cream on his rash for instance). But on the other hand, if he wants me to do something, it has to happen in this very second, of course.
  • Only a broken car is a good car. And here I guess we have the typical issue boy vs girl. I wouldn’t say that I’m a typical ‘girl’, but I like things neat and intact. A broken toy is worth nothing to me and has to be fixed or replaced. And here I have to learn from my tot, because a broken car is all of a sudden transformed into a new toy, with a new purpose and a new name. I guess that’s also called a vivid imagination. So I’m trying to step back and let the destructive work take place to a certain extent.

‘Timan’s favorite broken ‘new’ toys with the names ‘wagon’, ‘racing’, ‘cabrio’ and ‘special’.

And having written this last section, I’m already starting to feel a little better. Maybe because ‘Timan’ is peacefully napping right now, maybe because I’m a proud mommy of a sweet little tot with such a vivid imagination that enables him to play on his own (he just doesn’t want to do it as often as I like him to) or maybe because finally we have rain here in paradise, rain that might fill up our lakes for water storage and hopefully our water will take a turn to the better within the next couple of weeks.

And by this time ‘Timan’s chlorine rash caused by the tap water might also be a nightmare from the past, I hope. Unfortunately it’s still there, maybe a little less than before, I don’t know anymore. But it’s still very itchy, even though since two weeks we are using untreated water the Hubs has to bring down in bottles from a river way up the mountains, where nobody is living. And maybe it’s not the chlorine, but something else and I have to find out what it is.

But I’m trying to give our little son all the love, cuddles and all the mommy-time he needs.

Thanks for hearing me out and reading my outburst. I guess it’s not so bad after all.

But now, please tell me it’s me, not the tot, who has the problem. The things I’ve listed, they are age appropriate, aren’t they?

The mysterious rash continues

I never thought I would write so often about ‘Timan’s health issues when I started this blog. But it seems like that’s what I’m doing every couple of weeks. Because it’s really bothering me and what parent wants to see the child suffering. Yuck.

In the first 2 1/2 years of his life the tot had no problem what so ever. Apart from a couple of throwing up incidents, which cleared within less than six hours, he didn’t have a single health problem, nothing, nada, nuet.

But starting about half a year ago it seems like we don’t get out of the sickness circle. First the stomach problems that ended with a ruptured appendix, two surgeries and a stay in UCI and now a mysterious rash that we can’t seem to get rid of.

‘Timan’ has this nasty itchy rash all over his body. It started early July and I thought it was a simple Prickly Heat Rash. But now I’m convinced it isn’t and actually never was. Another three weeks have passed since I fist wrote about it. We did three more visits to the Pediatrician and we are still dealing with it. And it actually has gotten worse.

Both times, about 2 days after the oral hydrocortisone stopped, the rash came back. Another treatment with stronger oral antibiotics followed, because by now the little one was diagnosed with a staph infection. But in spite of oral antihistamines he kept scratching himself bloody at night.

And every morning the tot wakes up with one or both eyes swollen. He was given oral hydrocortisone because the swelling didn’t go away but now his eyes look normal after one or two hours, but the itching persists.  The next thing is completely dry and itchy skin around the eyes, the excessive scratching and wiping is turning the whole area red and irritated.

.

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The pictures might not look too alarming, but the itching and pain the rash is causing must be very intense.

The whole situation is extremely frustrating, for ‘Timan’ maybe not so much as for me. I wake him up at night to take his 4th dose of antibiotics just to find him moving from one side to the other in his sleep and scratching his whole body. He’s taking oral antihistamine twice a day, I apply moisturizer in form of unscented petroleum jelly for sensitive baby skin numerous times a day and in the middle of the night and he still keeps scratching himself bloody, especially on the side of his thighs and behind his knees.

And the rash on the rest of his body doesn’t disappear anymore. So much I want to help my little son, but nothing seems to work. He is getting more and more restless, I feel his behaviour is changing too and I have to admit, I’m feeling I’m reaching my limit as well.

The Pediatrician, the only private one on the island, told me the next step would be looking for the reason in our house, the environment we are living in. But still, she doesn’t want to label his rash as an Atopic Dermatitis, as of yet. Which is good I guess.

My gut feeling is that it was (and still is) caused by an allergic reaction.

We need to find the cause for ‘Timan’s allergy and this is not an easy task, especially here in Paradise. There are no patch tests available here and there is no dermatologist in the country either.

I wrote about my suspicion before and now I’m almost 100% convinced that all this is caused by our tap water. The water in the two storage lakes on the island is getting less and less and the water quality worse by the minute. The PUC (Public Utilities Corporation, responsable for the water treatment) has changed or increased the chemicals. Whatever chemicals they are using, Chlorine, Chloramine or something else (nobody can tell me for sure), they are the culprits that are causing the rash. Sometimes I have the feeling I’m itching too, caused by the water or by my imagination, I don’t know.

Nevertheless I’m also considering a food allergy even tough I hardly believe it is. The only thing I can think of adding to ‘Timan’s diet in the last two or three month is olive oil.

But anyway, a couple of days ago I took him off milk, cheese, yoghurt, foods with flavor enhancers (E635 and such) and olive oil.

However the most important change was using bottled water for everything. For ‘Timan’ to drink, cook food he’s eating, brush his teeth, wash his hands and take his bath. But how do I get the chemicals out of the laundry? And we keep hoping ‘Timan’s skin is going to take a turn for the better. But when?

Did you ever have such an itchy rash all over the body or eczema caused by chemicals in the tap water (e.g. Chlorine or Chloramine)? How and after what time did the symptoms clear?


***

Do you want to know what happened later? Find out here:

The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 1)‘ – January 6, 2012

and read how we got rash and eczema under control without steroids:

The mysterious rash –  did we get rid of the eczema? (part 2)‘ – January 9, 2012

Every person is reacting differently, it’s a matter of finding out what works for you. Good luck. 🙂

The mysterious rash

The nice time of the year, you may call it ‘summer’ and others call it northeast monsoon, is over and the next season, the southwest monsoon has begun, strong and cold winds are coming from the south. That’s ‘winter’ here in Paradise. Temperatures drop to 29C/85F and it’s supposed to be dry. Well, it is kind of dry and because it doesn’t rain enough we might run into a severe water shortage soon. But nevertheless the air is filled with humidity and feels hot, hotter than during the ‘summer’-time.

Because of all this ‘Timan’ developed a Prickly Heat Rash and I treated it accordingly. But the rash behind his knees got worse, got infected because the tot was scratching, and one Saturday morning it looked really bad. So I sent my two men to our local clinic’s ‘casualties’ to get a treatment. They came back with an oral antihistamine (allergex elixir, ‘Timan’ refused to take it because it’s deep red, like blood according to him) and a cream for fungal infections (Clotrimazole). I was using Clotrimazole a couple of times when ‘Timan’ had a diaper rash and it used to work pretty good.

Not this time with Prickly Heat though. My poor tot kept scratching behind his knees, the pimples got bigger and spread over this leg. The following Friday we went to our private Pediatrician, it’s the only way to get a decent diagnosis and reasonably effective medicine. Of course you have to pay for it, and of course we are more than willing to pay.

One important thing I learned about our Paradise is, that if you have a choice, do not use the public health system. In those local clinics you have to wait for hours, get to talk to a doctor who probably knows less than you for not more than 5 minutes, get no explanation you might understand (not because you don’t have enough brain cells, but because you don’t understand what he’s telling you very fast with his Indian accent) and if you have to come back for a second treatment, you will not talk to the same doctor again. Everything is free of charge, also the medicines, and therefore they are not the best, but the cheapest on the market. Oh, I forgot to tell you, sometimes they run out of them as well. But it’s the only place you get a medical treatment during the weekend.

‘Timan’s pediatrician, the one who sent him to the hospital because of his stomach problems, treated his rash with oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics, an ointment with a low hydrocortisone content mixed with calamine and some tincture to dry out the prickly heat part. And advised me to come back by next Thursday if the rash is still there.

After the weekend I also noticed little pimples on his belly, the small of his back, his knees and ankles, his elbows and his cheeks. So I started to give him an oatmeal bath 4 times a day and I had the impression it was  improving a little bit. But after the course of antibiotics and creams the tot’s face still looked like this:

His legs improved a lot but still looked like this:

Yesterday we went to see the doctor again and she started treating the rash with more Steroids, definitely not my first choice of treatment. But it’s getting better, a big relieve. Now the tot is taking 4 oral medications (Predine, Cetirizine, Polariamine, something to soothe his gassy tummy caused by the antibiotics), his Vitamins and I’m still applying the Hydrocortisone/Calamine cream.

The more I thought about it and researched on the internet, the more ‘Timan’s mysterious rash looked like an Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis to me. But what was the trigger?

There were no changes in our life, nothing, except the water in the two reservoirs on the island is getting less and less every day. And the little it rains doesn’t make a difference.

Could the tap water have triggered ‘Timan’s rash? Maybe the local PUC changed the chemicals to treat the water. And again I went online to find out more. Maybe they changed Chlorine to Chloramine (both of them are toxic and can cause skin rashes) and failed to inform the public I missed the public announcement in creole because ‘Timan’ was babbling into my ear during the evening news?  I tried to find out, but didn’t get an answer on the phone.

I still hope it was not the water and just the change in humidity. Because I have enough of the water problems in the past. (But that’s going to be the subject for another post).

How are you treating Heat Rash so it doesn’t turn into a secondary infection with a toddler/preschooler? Do you have experience with preventing and treating Eczema without the use of Corticosteroid Creams?

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