Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Four-Year-Old's Experience with Allergies & Eczema

Almost a year ago our pediatrician referred my son (three-years-old at the time) to an allergist, and since then we've been on a bit of a ride. He tested positive to all sorts of allergies (dust, mold, cat, dog, lots of types of grasses, weeds and trees, and a couple foods). She said those allergies were the cause of his nearly-constant diarrhea, as well as allergic rhinitis (runny nose, watery eyes, itchiness, etc.), and eczema. 

For the sake of his eczema, she had us change over to 100% cotton in everything that touches his skin. This took us some time, as that process was much harder than I thought... no more gym shorts, no fleece (jackets or blankets), no quick-dry material including swim suits, etc. Coats and socks were a challenge too.  

We followed her protocol of environmental control measures to allergens and irritants including ALL NEW bedding (100% cotton sheets + allergy covers for mattress and pillows), no carpet, minimal drapery (washed regularly), booting our poor animals outside, going NUTSO over dust mites, and then of course an elimination diet and nasal rinsing (extra fun for a 3 yr old).  We no longer allowed anyone to play on the beds in play clothes as they probably have allergens on them and our doctor said it's very important that his bed and bedroom be kept allergen-free. We keep our windows shut and if he plays outside he's sure to take a bath and change clothing afterwards. If we go somewhere I know is extra-problematic to his allergies then I try to remember to have us all change clothes when we get home and he goes straight to the bath. 

I upped my clean-freak status from reasonable to over-the-top in order to keep our home as allergen-free as humanly possible. If you read my dust mite post then you know that this includes wet-wiping ALL surfaces in the house EVERY week, wet-mopping the entire house once a week, washing all bedding in hot water at least every other week, washing and freezing stuffed animals as much as possible, and keeping the whole house clutter-free. The doctor had stressed the importance of doing all I can to control his environment in order to minimize his reactions in hopes of avoiding his heightened possibility of developing asthma. 

He was prescribed 5 meds initially to get ahead of it all (ranging from 1-3 months in duration). I hated for him to be on all the meds but we followed what she said, since that's what we went to her for. After he finished the initial course of prescriptions, he was to stay on Zyrtec, Claritin & sinus rinse, only using the anti-refux medicine as needed, as well as hydrocortisone cream for eczema flares.  

By around the six-month mark, we were doing pretty well at staying ahead of his symptoms naturally (through environmental control as well as essential oils). He was even able to go off the Zyrtec/Claritin, using LLP capsules. At his next check-up the doctor agreed it was ok for me to just put him on Zyrtec if/when needed rather than year-around. The only bit of my routine she was leery of was the use of an essential oil diffuser simply because she didn't want excess moisture in the air. So, at her suggestion, I got a humidity monitor and if the air wasn't dry enough then I use a waterless diffuser instead. 

At this point our protocol no longer included prescriptions. It consisted of using LLP, sinus rinse, diffusing EO's, and applying home-made eczema body butter as needed (or hydrocortisone when the butter didn't cut it). But then there were all the environmental controls, and frankly I couldn't keep up with the rigorous cleaning schedule after having a new baby. We eventually even fell away from doing his LLP and sinus rinse and diffusing as preventative maintenance. We are awesome parents. So, he had a relapse with the diarrhea and had to go back on the anti-reflux prescription for a time. He also had allergies and eczema off and on. We tried to get back on top of it again, since prevention is so much better than treatment. 

His eczema flared off and on, but the hydrocortisone would knock it out. Since his doctor said not to use hydrocortisone on his face, I only treated his cheeks with my home-made eczema butter. They improved to the point of looking normal again!! However, I noticed that behind his knees my eczema butter became less and less effective over the year so that I'd have to use the hydrocortisone cream whenever he broke out there. We went through a couple tubes. Little did I know that those couple tubes of hydrocortisone were damaging his skin and building up an addiction he would suffer for later. 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and I don't give medical advise, as that would be illegal. I'm a mom, sharing our story. If you believe you have a medical condition, please discuss it with your doctor.

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