Is there anything softer than a baby's skin? Silky smooth, delicate and unravaged by time and the elements. Oh, how jealous I am of their perfectly peachy complexions!
I remember so vividly giving Sam his first bath...well actually his daddy did most of the hard work as I was afraid I’d drop him!! But I loitered around the periphery of the bath waiting patiently with lotions and potions in hand, ready to soften and moisturise the child to within an inch of his life! Little did I know the battle that lay ahead with the little man’s ever-so-sensitive skin.
It was just after his 4-month vaccinations when the skin on Sam’s face broke out in dry, red patches. I instantly blamed the vaccinations and put it down to a mild reaction so set about applying moisturiser to the affected areas. I opted for Child’s Farm products as I’d heard so much about this brand and thought it would be ideal for his baby skin. But after a couple of days of using it his face was no better and as the redness was so close to his eyes, and me being a first time panicky mother, off to the doctor we went. Sam was diagnosed with a mild case of dermatitis/eczema and prescribed 1% cortisone and an intensive moisture cream. Now, I know steroidal creams can be somewhat frowned upon, especially when it comes to children’s skin and prolonged use is not recommended, but the hospital pediatrician told us that 1% is the mildest form imaginable and would have to be used for a very long time before it had any detrimental effect. So home we went and applied said creams. Every nappy change saw Sam stripped and lathered in cream to the point he almost slipped out of our hands he was so greasy!
The cortisone did seem to have a positive effect but once I stopped using it his face and body would flare up all over again. The creases in his legs and arms, his elbows and chest were so red and itchy and drove the poor little boy to distraction. Night time, in particular, was horrendous and he would wake crying from the pain of scratching. Scratch mits were no good at this stage as he simply pulled them off, so we resorted to putting socks on his hands as we could pull them all the way up his arms! I have to say this was a super remedy but we did get some rather odd looks when out and about during the day. Perhaps people thought baby brain had well and truly kicked in and I’d dressed him back to front and upside down!
We also got a prescription for Piriton antihistamine from the doctor to give at bedtime but holy-moly this sent the child berserk. He was almost speaking in tongues as he spun around the cot high as a kite on the stuff! For weeks and weeks we purchased every brand and type of lotion and potion designed for sensitive and atopic skin, from La Roche Possay to Silcocks base, from Elave to Aveeno, Eucerin to Welleda...you name it we tried it! But none of them had any positive impact on his skin so each time we resorted to the cortisone cream.
After a trip to a pediatrician for a tongue tie consultation we were given a prescription for a milk formula free from the protein found in cows milk. It never crossed my mind that my little man could have an allergy to cows' milk as he was yet to have dairy per say as he wasn’t weaned! This formula was twice the price of normal Aptamil for half the quantity and though it did seem to help his skin a little, it certainly didn't clear it up entirely.
We tried every old wives tale and home remedy you can think of. Everyone seemed to have a fool proof cure for their child’s sensitive skin but none seemed to work for our boy. The frustration and guilt I experienced was awful and the pitying looks from people when we were out drove me even more demented! I felt like I had to explain why Sam looked the way he did to everyone we met.
When Sam was 11 months old he got an ear infection and along with it came a viral rash. Due to the breaks and cracks in his skin from scratching, a bacterial infection made its way in and infected the viral rash (all very bloody complicated!) but to cut a long story short the poor child was riddled with the most horrendous welts and sores all over his little body and subjected to the most vile antibiotics on earth! Not even chocolate buttons or icecream could get it past his lips! My heart broke for the little mite as his skinned flaked off and peeled like a snake shedding its skin.
Not long after this we came across the product known as Epaderm and ooohhhhh my word...it’s the best cream ever! Hospitals even recommended it for eczema prone skin. Now we cream Sam up twice a day, still bathe him with no products in the water and still use the cortisone cream when he has a flare up (mostly when teething!). I'm happy to report that his skin has improved ten fold! I have also had him vaccinated against chicken pox as I am petrified of what they would do to his delicate skin.
It has been a huge amount of hard work, worry and dedication to get Sam’s skin under control and I am hopeful that he will eventually grow out of having such super sensitive skin. My advice would be to treasure your baby's precious skin if it is peachy and blemish free, but at the first sign of irritation head straight for the GP.
Hope Swail is an early years childcare expert and Mum to Sam (aged 2).