In going through some old clothes recently, I came across this baby mitten the other day. This mitten belonged to my younger son. I have rather petite hands so the photo doesn't really reflect just how tiny this mitten is. My mother bought these mittens for him when he was an infant because he seemed to always be scratching himself. Every day, I would inspect his tiny fingernails to make sure he wouldn't cut himself while scratching. He was itchy all of the time. Initially, I thought he had dry itchy skin due to the colder, dryer weather as we headed into winter. The red itchy patches soon spread and nothing I did seemed to soothe his itchiness. He would rub the bottoms of his tiny feet on the crib mattress to relieve the itchiness. We didn't realize he had eczema or peanut allergy. We didn't even know what eczema was exactly.
The pediatrician told us to just use Vaseline. That provided no relief. An allergist wrote a prescription for Zyrtec for my infant son. That seemed to relieve the itching but also made him like a miniature zombie, so we decided to stop giving him the Zyrtec. We went to a dermatologist and they prescribed desonide ointment, which is a corticosteroid, and instructed us to use it for 3 or 4 consecutive days each time he experienced an eczema flare-up. I was uncomfortable using it out of concern for side effects, especially given his very young age. I had to use it all over his body, especially on his scalp where the eczema caused yellow itchy crusts to form. The ointment did help and finally got to have our appointment at the Lexington branch of the Children's Hospital of Boston. The dermatologist there confirmed that desonide ointment was the right treatment and he also wrote a prescription for an antibiotic to have on hand in case infection occurred in a particularly irritated patch of skin.
Flash forward five years, the eczema is almost all gone. We go to a different pediatrician now too. We still use hydrated petrolatum or Vanicream on a daily basis. Occasionally, there are small flare-ups around his knees or ankles. A few days using the ointment takes care of it. We now know that he also has mild to moderate asthma and an allergy to peanuts, a scenario which probably sounds familiar to many of you. For those you just starting down this road, I encourage you to get a second and maybe third opinion. I hate to think how my son would have suffered if I had stuck with that pediatrician and his advice to "use Vaseline"! There are many competent physicians out there; don't settle for advice that doesn't work or doesn't make sense!