My name is Alice, I'm 29 and I'm mum to a little Lou who'll soon be 10 months old (how time flies!). I'm writing today to tell you about my experience as mum to a baby with atopic skin (in other words, prone to eczema).
When a baby is born, the new parent's job is to create an environment of well-being for his baby, so that he can acclimatise to this new world he's been given, but this mission is not without its ups and downs...
Lou's eczema appeared in the first few months after his birth. Starting on her face, the red, dry patches then developed all over her body (torso, arms and legs). This was followed by the question that marked the beginning of our concern: "Have you noticed that Lou has been scratching himself for a few days? »
The beginning of the obstacle course: consultations with health professionals.
After that, we had to face a series of consultations with baby health professionals, all with different opinions and prognoses:
"Don't worry, it's just baby acne, it'll go away in 1 or 2 months.Apply xera calm cream and make her wear gloves if she keeps scratching her face" (while my midwife advised against gloves because "the smell of your hands is very important for a baby");
"the patches are getting worse, it might be better to apply another cream:try dermalibour and when the attacks get worse, put this cortisone cream on her for 4 full days and then fade it out every other day for a week";
"ah but the cream that works well is dexteryl";
It wasn't until Lou was 5 and a half months old, after a very serious attack, that we were able to receive the first practical advice on how to manage his eczema attacks, when the paediatrician saw me despairing: "Indeed, it's severe eczema, you should reduce the number of baths and put him in white 100% cotton clothes".
We even received some unwelcome criticism: "Twice a day?You're not applying enough cream, she needs to be spread all day at least 4/5 times"...
8 months "Your daughter has very severe eczema. The cost of the creams must be expensive for you... Try creams made by chemists that are reimbursed by social security. In short, each new consultation is a disappointment, with: 1) the guilt of the parent who can do nothing to alleviate their baby's pain, 2) the impression that they're being relentless with their suffering baby from bath time to dressing time...
Mums and eczema sufferers to the rescue
Alongside this, I see real support developing from the community of mums whose children have eczema, but also from eczema sufferers themselves (like Dongsinne). These people have proved to be the best practitioners and advisers, thanks to their experience and their personal stories.
Drawing on discussions with Lou's nanny, as well as exchanges with other mums (on discussion groups right up to the paediatrician's waiting room or during parent-child activities), I'm recording the practical advice I'm given to help me cope better with my baby's condition.
Here's a list of all the advice I've picked up that has made Lou feel better:
- Bathing baby in lukewarm water does him more good than water at 37 degrees;
- Buy a shower head that filters the limescale from the water;
- Take baths 1 day in 3 and give him quick showers using only water in the summer to refresh and cleanse without washing oil or soap;
- Only apply cream to clean, *dry* skin (very important!) ;
- Be careful with allergenic fruits (peaches caused red patches to appear almost instantly on Lou's skin);
- Only have baby wear cotton (I was told this at birth but I repeat this good advice, which applies even after the first few months after birth).
All in all, good advice on how to deal with baby's eczema on a daily basis.
In the meantime, I had a chat with Dongsinne, who gave me a detailed explanation of the causes and consequences of eczema (including the benefits of ceramides for the skin, which would later help me in my choice of sun cream for Lou, which she accepted without a moment's hesitation!)
Beyond the care given to Lou to relieve his eczema
I've been able to develop our own habits to create a serene environment for Lou.
These habits include setting up :
- a soothing ambience for the bath with tempered water (especially with the arrival of the hot summer weather) and never for more than 7 minutes;
- After the bath, I always take ten minutes or so to dry baby off calmly, to put her in an environment that soothes her, relaxes her and gives her confidence (especially with her cuddly toys, a dummy and soft music);
- When the cream is applied, I speak to Lou in a soft voice to tell her how proud I am of her, and this moment becomes a mother-daughter conversation. The application of the cream turns into a gentle massage and I blow to cool and dry the cream applied to Lou's body (which is usually itchy at the time). The two of us are together again, surrounded by her cuddly toys and her soft music... which I've also enjoyed putting together in the Sohnskin collaborative playlist!
The key is to let go of your guilt and enjoy yourself in spite of everything
Because 10 months of life go by in the blink of an eye!
And while there are some wonderful moments, as parents it's hard not to think back to the times when we felt powerless in the face of Lou's suffering.
So when Dongsinne and Laura asked me to go with them to Sohnskin's, I was immediately thrilled! Here at last was a project that would allow me to :
- contribute to the development of products that make sense and help our babies through this difficult phase;
- to gain a better understanding of eczema, a disease which has tripled in number of patients in industrialised countries over the last 30 years, and which now affects between 10 and 15% of children in Western Europe.
Sohnskin now offers a range of 3 innovative products specifically for atopic skin, to relieve the symptoms and give baby confidence: from the bath (gentle pH cleansing foam), to the refreshing gel and nourishing balm (with a whipped, not pasty, texture!)...
But above all, I'm very happy to have joined this wonderful community, and I hope to be able to pass on the torch to any young parents who, like me, would like to have a sympathetic ear one day or another.