What’s wrong with his face?
That is the question that I hear 9 times out of 10 when people meet C.J. for the first time.
You see, C.J. has eczema and to be honest we kind of expected him to. Pea has eczema and we have family members on both sides that have had it at some point.
Pea’s eczema is very controllable. She rarely has flare-ups and when she does her topical ointment clears it right up. C.J. is not that fortunate. His eczema is not easily controlled at all.
I’m really writing about this because I want to say out loud that it’s not a big deal that he has eczema. We’re okay with it, my husband and I. While it is technically classified as a “disease,” lucky for you, it’s not contagious so you won’t catch it. And more importantly, nothing is wrong with my son.
Okay, enough snark. Seriously I know that people mean well when they ask me about his face. I just think the wording throws me off because I don’t want him to grow up thinking that something is wrong with him.
Some days, his beautiful skin is smooth and clear and some days, its as if his skin is shouting at us. There is redness and bumps and swelling and at times drainage (which I wrongly referred to as pus and was corrected by his doctor). It is scratchy and I cut his nails ’til my face turns blue and he still manages to draw blood when he scratches his face. Putting those infant gloves on doesn’t help because then he’s just rubbing cotton against his skin, which can still leave it raw.
When it is raw, his skin is red, it looks like an open wound and it drains fluid. While it is healing the skin can get yellow and dry, then crack and peel off and according to the doctors as it heals it burns and scratches. Which he then scratches and rips the skin off…so, really it’s a vicious cycle.
He’s also susceptible to bacterial or viral infections when he scratches it and he’s had one round of antibiotics. We don’t want him to have antibiotics all of the time, so I put breastmilk on it from time to time and his new doctor says it’s just something he’ll have to deal with and unless he gets really, really sick – his body will fight it off.
His cheeks are eternally red/pink- on good days and on bad days.
We have tried every eczema product that we could find, but no relief has come. Oatmeal bath soaks, aloe vera, baking soda paste- no, no, no. I’ve tried adding a probiotic and Vitamin D drops to his diet because according to a naturalist (anti-medicine, all natural folks) that would help- no. Look, he’s just got it bad and according to the doctors (we’ve seen 2) the altitude does not help. One doctor said “you wanna get some relief? Move to a place where there is humidity.”
Okay, yes. Let me do that right now.
We have asked about scarring and always told that the likelihood of scarring is almost zero, but still. Even if it does scar, I don’t want him to have low self-esteem or think less of himself or think he’s not handsome or or or…
All because maybe people will keep asking him what’s wrong with him.
You know who else people think something’s wrong with?
I get asked all kinds of stuff. The Dr says I should remember that eczema can be hereditary. Keeping that in mind- his grandpa has it, his uncle had it, cousin had it- and I could go on. Both sides of his family tree. People. Have. Eczema. And asthma and allergies, so.. yeah.
More specifically he has Atopic Dermatitis and according to the National Eczema Association, “Atopic dermatitis was included in the atopy category because it often affects people who either suffer from asthma and/or hay fever or have family members who do; but now have been genetically connected.” So in plain English, it’s hereditary.
I don’t care about the eczema. I care about how uncomfortable he is and the fact that he’s not old enough to know not to scratch it. I care that his face keeps opening up and draining over and over. It’s annoying, but this is life with eczema. So I just continue to educate myself and learn to deal with it because really, things could be worse.
The National Eczema Association has a plethora of good information on their website and their Facebook page is great too. They have doctors and current people living with eczema posting some great tips.
We’ve got a topical ointment that works well for the rest of his body that I try to use only when he has a flare-up. I use coconut oil on his chubby little legs, behind his ears and I put it on the skin inside because his poor little ears scratch SO bad and he rubs and rubs and rubs his ears and they bleed on the inside from too much rubbing/scratching.
I use Cerave after trying every moisturizer on the planet earth. It is expensive as all get out, but it works. It’s not too heavy and it seems to be moisturizing his skin well. His forehead used to be extremely dry and flaky and now it’s not. I moisturize him at every diaper change and if I look at him and think about it- we lube up. The more moisturizer, the better for him.
If and when I use cleansers during a bath I use Dove sensitive skin and/or Cetaphil body cleanser. I try not to use any cleanser unless necessary.
Most kids grow out of eczema and some people have it into adulthood.
My kid has eczema. So what?
As my good friend Jill would say: “It is what it is.”
It’s no one’s fault. Not his, not mine.
This is the hand we were dealt and so we deal with it.
One day at-a-time we’re learning how to live with eczema.
Look at that face- he’s just perfect. Inside and out.