With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

26 January 2009

Baby Mittens

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!


Jeanne said...

I agree with you completely. It's amazing how the peds dismiss the eczema as "baby" eczema. We've travelled that road, and also use the Vanicream daily! Imagine that! My son is E, P, TN allergic. I'm a new reader to your blog and I'm loving it!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jeanne. It's strange how so many doctors don't pay attention to the eczema and yet we keep hearing about the "atopic march"--eczema, asthma, food allergies.

It made me a little sad when I came across that baby mitten, in part because of all the worrying we've gone through since then. If only we had had a different doctor from the beginning, a lot of my son's suffering and my worrying could have been avoided!

Anonymous said...

What a sweet picture! I love your blog. Thank you

My daughter's eczema got better as she got older. She is 8 now and has only had one flare up over the past few years.

Marketing Mama said...

Yes, sounds familiar here, too. Of course we didn't know our baby's eczema was related to food allergies, and our ped insisted that my diet didn't affect our baby (breastfeeding).

I only just this week found Vanicream. Is the hydrated petrolatum kind of like aquaphor or different?

Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

Yes, sounds so familiar. My little guys exzema started within two weeks. It was until after we got the peanut/tree nut diagnosis that our doctor said that babies that develop early exzema tend to have certain allergies. I could have strangled him at that moment. It was after a severe peanut reaction that we found out.

Unknown said...

Thanks Marketing Mama and Elaine, for your comments!

Hmm. Difference between Aquaphor and Hydrolatum? To me, the Hydrolatum is easier to spread on the skin but is still somewhat sticky/tacky to the touch. Between the two, I prefer the Hydrolatum. (I feel like I have tried SO many moisturizers at this point!) Slightly different ingredients, according to their websites.

What is in Hydrolatum?
The ingredients of Hydrolatum are petrolatum, purified water, sorbitan
sesquioleate (an emulsifier), and methylparaben (a preservative).

Aquaphor® Healing Ointment: Active Ingredient– Petrolatum. Other Ingredients: Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Panthenol, Glycerin, Bisabolol.

Jennifer said...

This sounds like us too. I kept asking if it was excema, or what else we could do..... He pretty much had excema since birth, but it has gotten much better now and we only have occasional flare ups at 4.5

Anonymous said...

My son was also covered in eczema the magically, totally disappeared when I got the offending foods out of our diets. My ped was such a cool lady. She actually said to me after we found out about the food allergies that she would never look at eczema the same again. She would always thing of food allergies as a possible cause. Too bed she retired. I miss her.

Anonymous said...

When our son was diagnosed we felt overwhelmed and just wanted to absorb all the information the doctor gave us so we could help our child. In the end we realized he gave us really bad advice and a few dangerous prescriptions. It's unfortunate that some allergists are better with food allergies then others but it's the world we live in. Great advice about getting more then one opinion!