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It’s Only Skin Deep

One of the questions that I get more than any other (including “are you sure that English is your first language?”) involves how we treat Jensen’s eczema.  I just sent a blogging compadre, Valerie, our daily routine.

And she’s still speaking to me.

I know so many of you have kids that are dealing with skin issues.  If you’ve followed this blog for the last few years, you know that we’ve been on a roller coaster ride as far as getting a proper diagnosis and then pinpointing a treatment that works for our boy.

From the time he was a little bitty guy, Jensen would try to scratch his own skin off.  He also had other issues that simply stemmed from not being able to communicate his own discomfort.  We saw a number of doctors which diagnosed him with everything from scabies (my personal favorite) to severe food allergies.  For 9 long months my boy existed rice cakes and organic hot dogs.  And little else.  He was miserable.

And up until recently, he did not sleep through the night.  He’ll be 5 in March.  Do that math.

And you’ve been wondering why I write as though I’m deranged.  It was sleep deprivation, my friends.  And btw, I still write like I’m deranged. Now it’s just a fun part of my personality.

I’ve come to you all many countless times asking for advice for a whole bunch of issues.  From my hair woes to my son’s skin condition.  And you’ve always come through for me in spades.  A lot of Jensen’s path to a cure is because of wonderful advice that I’ve gotten from readers of this blog.

I am so grateful for that.

We finally got a diagnosis from an pediatric allergist a little over a year ago.  My son’s skin issues do not stem from allergies.  He has severe atopic dermatitis.  And it’s only skin deep.  What he eats and drinks make no difference at all.

I wanted to document the routine that is working for us.  So much of this has been trial and error, but I think we’re finally getting a handle on it.  And Jensen is showing wonderful signs of significant improvement.

If you have a child that suffers from skin issues, always check with a doctor before changing their treatment.  And while our regime works for us, it is always going to depend on the particular child.

The Treatment

Jensen’s doctor prescribed Hydroxyzine orally.  When we started, we had to give him up to 4 teaspoons a day.  We’ve been able to wean him down to 1 t. right before bed.

His doctor also prescribes Triamcinolone Acetonide (topical) on the super itchy red spots. We can apply this up to 2x a day if needed.

Okay, here’s where it gets really weird.  We soak him in a tepid bath (no soap) for 20 minutes up to 2 times a day.  When we get him out, we don’t completely dry him off. This is when we apply the Triamcinolone on the bad spots and really apply a thick layer of the Spectrum Vegetable Shortening (it’s really organic pressed palm oil, and it’s only about $7 for a large tub- WAY cheaper than Aquaphor, which can contain mineral oil, btw).  I find Spectrum at the health food store.  BUT, Walmart is starting to carry the Spectrum brand, so I’m hoping I can talk them into carrying the Spectrum Shortening.  This is by far the best topical lotion I’ve ever found.  It is what I call Lard, for fun.  But it’s really not lard.  But saying LARD makes me laugh.  Because I’m 7.

BTW, do you remember when Jensen use to drink Neutrogena straight from the bottle?  I guess even then he knew something that we didn’t.

Then I dress him in 100% cotton clothes and make sure he has socks on.  And matches.  Because matching is really important.  Just kidding.  He rarely matches.  After a while, his clothes and sheets get really heavy because of all the goop I put on him, but now even his clothes stay moisturized…    And I wash his clothes separately and make sure I put them on a 2nd rinse.  And no dryer sheets or softener.

At night, because this is the worse time, after his bath and after all the goop, we put saran wrap on his hands and feet, then we put COLD WET SOCKS on his feet and hands over the saran wrap.  And he wears long sleeved 100% cotton pjs.  He doesn’t mind the cold wet part because it takes away the discomfort IMMEDIATELY.

In fact, if we’re out and he has an itchy attack, I keep “cold sticks” (those frozen long skinny things that you can put in water bottles to keep them cold) in the cold bag, and apply it to the itchy part.  Ice works too.  Takes the itch away immediately.

On really bad nights, we’ve been known to wet one pair of pjs, and put a dry pair on top.  And he sleeps in them.  (A reader gave me this tip, and then our doctor confirmed it.)  Our doctor also recommended putting 1/4 cup of bleach in his bath water and then fill the tub very full.  I kid you not.  This helps to ward off infection if his skin is broken from scratching.  Then we rinse him well.  (And as a bonus, the bathtub comes out SPARKLY white.)

All of this is just part of our routine now.  We don’t even think twice about it.  And Jensen is completely used to it and complains very rarely.

Unlike his mother who literally yelped when he wrapped two very cold wet besocked arms around me tonight before bed.

Thank you to all of you who have graciously shared with me your tips and recommendations.  And if any of you are new, and have a child suffering with Atopic Dermatitis/Eczema, I hope you find something in this post that will help.  And if nothing else, please know that you’re not alone.

Another community of bloggers that I rely heavily on for all sorts of tips and information can be found here at Works for Me Wednesday!


18 Responses to It’s Only Skin Deep

  • I am 41 years old and I have atopic dermatitis…mostly on my hands. I have used the ointment you mentioned and I just started using a couple of new meds (Eletone and Cloderm). I have also been using CeraVe cream. I am going to look for the Lard!

    I had not heard of the Saran Wrap and wet sock treatment. Might have to try the cold sticks on bad days.

    My husband has it too. Mostly on his hands. It runs in his family. (The Crazy just comes from MY side of the family.) When his hands are really bad, he too wears the cold wet socks. Of course I won’t let him touch me when he does. 🙂

    I hope you find the Lard and get some relief!!!!


  • “One of the questions that I get more than any other (including “are you sure that English is your first language?”)”

    You’re so funny! Silly. But funny! 🙂

  • I swear by the lard…DeeDee turned us on to Spectrum a year ago when our Keller was a scratching fool. Fortunately he’s managed to move on from the worst of it (he was severely premature and his skin just had a heckuva time catching up with everything else)…now we only have allergies to deal with.

    BUT, the lard works…and it’s all natural to boot!

  • I have had eczema since I was little also. I don’t know what type it is anymore but I went to bed with socks duct taped to my hands and feet for years! I didn’t know people still did that. I’ll have to try the cream though because my hands get awfully sore. Thanks for the tips!

  • I have read that the bleach bath (or soak for hands) is effective. My husband has eczema on his finger tips – they become thickened and then split and bleed. Hardly anything made much difference until a dermatologist recommended a urea cream. If he uses it every day, his hands are totally fine. The one he gets is called Carmol 20, but there is a prescription version called Carmol 40 which has 40% urea. Hope this may be helpful to somebody.

  • For years I had such skin problems on my hands from dust allergy that soaking them in vinegar and then wrapping in towels, but crying while they soaked, was my only relief. THEN GOD SENT ME PSORCON. It is a prescription but using it and saran gloves overnight, COMPLETELY CURED ME. What a wonder drug and all because I received a free book in the mail from Dr. Cherry telling of a woman with this problem. God is truly amazing and obviously is helping each of us individually. Thank you so much for your detailed sharing. I am sending it on to others.

  • I can’t believe you have time for anything else with this routine! Glad it works for you tho.

  • Curiosity question: If the palm oil works, why wouldn’t all natural coconut oil too? They have similar properties and positive attributes. With coconut oil’s anti-bacterial wonder power, couldn’t it do the same thing as the bleach in the bathtub? It’ll leave one a bit greasy for a bit, but it does soak deep into the skin.

    Anyone tried this?

  • I am so glad to read this. I had our boy up at ten last night doing our routine at an odd hour because he wasn’t sleeping. I totally understand the part about not even thinking about all that you do, just doing it as a part of your daily practice.

    For the record, Holly, we use coconut oil frequently. Son loves it and we have been very pleased with the effects.

  • My teenage daughter has fought this battle her whole life.
    We’ve done IT ALL!!!

    She’s had 2 rounds of steroids this year already. She was in such bad condition…nothing but the prednisone would clear her up.

    We’ve used the lard method…..especially in the summer. Swimming pool chlorine seemed to cause her much distress.
    This applied before swimming helped tremendously.

    She cannot use anything with lanolyn in it. It’s deadly to her. She’ll claw herself to death..
    Thanks for the great tips!

  • What a blessing this blog has been to you! Having had skin issues, I can understand the frustration of not knowing what to do.

  • I have found that taking 1000mg Biotin (a form of vitamin B) daily has relieved my itchy legs. I do not have the severe skin issues only a very mild case in the winter, but the Biotin has completely helped!
    Thanks for posting about this problem!

  • maybe you do this already, but when we do the cold sock trick we use old adult socks with the toes cut out and then they can completely cover the legs or arms.
    Our bad spots are in the knee and elbow joints.

  • One of my bf’s small son had severe eczema for years. She literally keeps it controlled by taking him to the chiropractor. That’s it. When they cease going for chiropractic adjustments, his severe rash comes back! Just FYI.

  • Wow…I feel so bad for all of you suffering through this yourself or with your kids. I never thought about problems like that. My daughter briefly suffered from eczema when she was little, but a year off of cows milk and she has been fine ever since (fyi- we should buy a cow for all the milk she drinks now.)
    I pray someday they will have a magic pill you can take to cure this problem. Hey, one can dream.

  • LOL you are incredibly funny. Of course I am still speaking to you, you speak my language! LOL

    I am still looking for the Spectrum, I did find another vegetable shortening that I am going to try. We have been trying the tepid bath and that is helping. I am hoping that we won’t even need to visit the allergist! Thank you DeeDee, you may have saved my sons skin, and his mother’s sanity (whatever is left at least).

  • “Then I dress him in 100% cotton clothes and make sure he has socks on. And matches…”

    … just in case he needs to start a fire in his bed – to keep warm, due to the cold wet socks…


    Sorry, that’s all I could think of when I read that.

    And I am also sorry you have to do all of that. That poor little doggie 🙁

  • We have used Bag Balm or uttercream along with Vasaline. LOTS of Vasaline.

    Also At Whole food there is a new product called, EczaSalve made for Eczema. By Moon Valley Organics. 100% Natural. I think it came out this last summer. At least that is what the store told me.
    It is kind of spendie but we try everything we find. Our little buddy has a bad case of exzema. He scratches so much his finger nails never seem to need trimed.

    He is our 3 year old grandson that lives with us, and likes it this salve. He will point and ask for it. Since some topicals sting his skin.

    On a not so funny, funny note. One day my back was a bit itchy and I decided to try him out as a back scratcher. This was not a good idea. He made me bleed. =) He gets down to bussiness right away.

    Thanks for your blog, my sister in law sent it to me. We are alway looking for ways to help our little guy. We have fought this since he was 5 weeks old.