Parents Reveal The Pain Of Helping A Child With Eczema
Childhood eczema affects 30 per cent of Aussie kids but treatment options are limited, leaving parents to try everything they can to ease the ‘agonising’ pain.
At one point, about 80 per cent of one-year-old Cooper's skin was covered in bright red, angry eczema.
"It was red raw, hot, cracked and scaly, especially in the creases behind his knees and under his armpits which were like open sores," his mother Emma Read told 10 daily.
"Sometimes he'd be up all night, crying and itching."
Read, who lives near Byron Bay in NSW, said she often couldn't pick up her son due to the pain. When she tried to carry him in a sling, it would rub against his knees and he'd scream.
She said Cooper also developed hives, an itchy rash that may appear as blotches or raised red lumps on the skin.
He was in agony, crying and scratching his skin and wanted me constantly ... it's just heartbreaking seeing him like that.
"Sometimes he'd be up all night, and the only thing that would calm him down was for me to nurse him, even though he stopped breastfeeding ages ago," Read said.
Eczema, or dermatitis, is a common condition that causes redness and itching of the skin. When scratched, it can become infected with bacteria or certain viruses.
While the exact cause is not known, heat, dryness and "prickly" clothing can aggravate the condition. It's also common for those with eczema to have other allergies, but the allergy is not necessarily the cause.
According to data cited by the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, eczema affects about 30 per cent of Australian children and is most common in infants.
About 20 per cent of children under two will develop the condition, but then it tends to ease later in life.
Cheryl Talent, President of the Eczema Association of Australasia (EAA), said Australia has one of the highest incidences of eczema in the world.
"That's not just for babies -- across all ages, eczema is on the rise," she told 10 daily.
But Talent said there are limited treatment options available for sufferers -- and that what works for one person may not work for the next.
Treatments include topical steroids and using sensitive skin products, along with avoiding known triggers and irritants.
These could include inhalant allergens -- particularly in spring and summer -- such as pollen, mould, pet dander and dust mites, as well as food intolerances, perfumes, chemical and woollen or synthetic fabrics.
Read said she tried everything to help ease Cooper's eczema but that nothing worked.
Desperate to avoid any irritants, she even bought 10-litre water bottles every couple of days to bathe Cooper in filtered water.
It was only when she discovered a natural cream by Australian company MooGoo that her son's eczema started healing.
Within one week of applying the brand's 'Eczema and Psoriasis Cream' after Cooper's bath, his skin had calmed down. Now, it's part of his bedtime routine.
"The heat and angriness of the eczema disappeared overnight, and we're sleeping a lot better now," Read said.
MooGoo specialises in natural creams for those suffering from skin issues such as eczema, acne and psoriasis.
The company was founded by Craig Jones in 2005 after he realised his mother’s psoriasis eased whenever she used a balm intended for use on cows.
That cream was formulated to help keep the skin on cows’ udders from chafing.
The family-run business now turns over about $20 million a year -- and a tube of the 'miracle' cream sells every two minutes.
It combines anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as Aloe Vera, with natural oils that help to repair skin barrier function, which is impaired in eczema cases.
"There's nothing miraculous in it," Jones told 10 daily, adding part of his formula is leaving out certain ingredients.
Melbourne mum Desirée Van Der Beek-Harker and daughter Aria, five, both have sensitive skin and are even allergic to toothpaste.
Their dermatitis flares when they use products containing sodium lauryl sulphate, parabens and preservatives such as phenoxyethanol.
"Generally, I know what to stay away from for my skin allergies now, but when I was a child and teenager, my mum had no clue what was causing it," Van Der Beek-Harker told 10 daily.
Aria gets it worse and it's frustrating, and upsetting when her skin is red, hot and itchy.
Van Der Beek-Harker has tried using cortisone creams but said she prefers using the MooGoo cream to calm, moisturise and heal wounds.
Jones said the product, which retails at $18.50, has spread through word of mouth.
"We don't advertise it as a medicinal product. What has made it work is mums telling their doctors about it," he said.
But he acknowledged the cream is only one part of the solution, and encouraged parents and sufferers to seek personalised medical advice.
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