Despite being cleared (not once, but twice!) of virtually all known allergens, my son has eczema.
No pediatrician has been able to tell what causes his outbreaks, because as I mentioned earlier, he cleared all his allergy tests (which tested everything from peanuts to dust mites), but his father and I can—it’s heat.
Since my son was an infant, he has detested the heat. Even the English summers were too warm, and during the worst winters, we were probably the only family to have lower gas bills and he was likely the only child in less than three layers of clothing!
This allergy to heat has traveled with us throughout the world and we have had to deal with it through different doctors, environmental factors and, more critically, markets, in which products which worked for our son’s condition in one country were not necessarily available in the country we’d moved to or were visiting.
What follows is a list of products and strategies that we, parents of a by-heat-allergic child, have used and done to keep our little boy comfy and clear-skinned (at least, relatively!) across continents.
There’s no product that’s necessarily better than others. There are only those ones that work in the places and conditions we’ve been in, so I’ve included that little bit of info, too!
In the UK, we started off with a paraffin-based lotion called Dermol 500 (http://www.diomed.co.uk), which was prescribed by our pediatrician. It was thick and provided a weatherproof barrier for our infant, who, thankfully, hadn’t figured out how to scratch.
We tried many popular baby bath brands, but the only one that didn’t dry out our son’s skin was Earth Friendly Baby’s Organic Lavender Shampoo and Body Wash (http://www.earth-friendly-baby.com).
A two-in-one, all-natural, free-from-parabens-and-sulphates product, this baby wash kept our son super clean and smelling super good (yes, mummy is a sucker for lavender!).
My son’s Nana, being a fan of Dr. Vermen Verallo’s VMV line (http://www.vmvhypoallergenics.com) since it started too many years ago, also used to provide us with a steady supply of her baby line, since it wasn’t available in the UK.
While her coconut oil-based Grandma Minnie’s Nurturing Do-It-Oil solidified in the English cold and never quite melted back, her Coo-and-Clean Baby Wash was a good alternative to Earth Friendly Baby, and we often alternated between both.
We are also huge fans of her Big Brave Boo-Boo Balm, which was a great non-hydrocortisone remedy for everything, from minor cuts and itches to more serious fungal infections—and, yes, his eczema rashes. (We would use a mild version of the formula for extreme breakouts—check out Ego’s Dermaid 0.5% Soft Cream from Australia and get your pedia’s go-ahead before using.)
It was particularly helpful because our healthcare was socialized and it was inconvenient to make an appointment at our nearest NHS just to diagnose a rash.
My son loves his Boo-Boo Balm so much, that to this day, whenever my son has a wound or an itch, he runs to me and says, “Mommy, please put Boo Boo!”
On a trip to Paris, my son’s skin broke out and since we were caught unprepared, we headed to the nearest chemist, where we discovered Mustela’s Nutri-Protective Cold Cream (http://www.mustela.com), which kept him happy and itch-free until we got home.
I was therefore happy to discover that Mustela is now available in the Philippines (contact 0917-8959988; or [email protected]). It has a line specifically dedicated to kids like mine—Dermo-Pediatrics.
We recently added their Stelatopia Emollient Cleansing Cream to his nightly baths (we apply it only to his sensitive areas) and applied Emollient Cream post-bath (we experimented by doing this during an actual breakout!) and to our pleasant surprise, it worked right away. With itching and redness subdued, the cream has become part of our daily routine.
When we were in the US, we also tried Aveeno Baby’s Wash and Shampoo (http://www.aveeno.com/baby-care), which worked well while we were there. No breakouts for our little one then, since we were there in late autumn and basking, not in the sun, but in the lovely cold weather!
A “Tita-pedia” (meaning a Tita who is also a pedia—a term I coined since my son’s fortunate to have some, and Tito-pedias, too!) also recommended we try Cetaphil or Dove Sensitive, which have worked quite nicely during trips, as we can find them in virtually any supermarket or pharmacy in the world, and since I use the former myself, we don’t have to pack more bottles in our luggage!
That said, my son’s skin being sensitive to the heat in Asia (he has a breakout at least twice a week now), it’s also important that we do our best to stick to the tried and tested, which all of these, thanks to three-plus years of trial-and-error, are.