By Amelia Summers
It started when my child was still very young.
Joshua was only a few weeks old when we noticed that he was developing strange rashes all over his body. Naturally, it was a worrying and confusing time for us. Babies are vulnerable and it can be incredibly difficult to pinpoint where the problem lies exactly, medically speaking. I remember being concerned, and the confusion exhibited by doctors was not incredibly reassuring either, though I understand they were doing their best.
Soon, the doctor provided us with a name for what was affecting our child: Atopic Dermatitis.
We were told that there is no known cure for this skin rash, and the cause for it would take some detective work to weed out. Taking care of a baby is hard enough as it is, and it’s true that babies are generally treated gently. However, we as a family had to be extra careful when it came to handling Joshua. I took care to wash my hands and ensure his sleeping area was clean. He cried a lot, to get our attention, but also because of the itchiness of his rashes. The rashes were prominent between the folds of his skin, such as under his chin, between his elbows, and behind the knees. Diaper-changing was a meticulous and careful process, and we burnt through bottles of petroleum jelly very quickly in an attempt to keep his skin moisturized.
We also went through his entire baby wardrobe, dividing his clothes, hats, and socks into separate piles based on the material. Soon enough, it became clear to us that the baby couldn’t tolerate synthetic fibres. We had to buy clothes and check the labels to make sure the material was 100% cotton, for example.
It was a learning process.
As my child grew, we learned that we also had to be mindful of the foods we fed him. Slowly, as a family, our diets shifted as a result and we began cooking healthier, more natural foods as those seemed to lessen the intensity of the rashes.
The doctor visits continued over the years, and we developed a daily routine of bathing the child with special bath oils and applying prescription ointments multiple times a day. I can say for sure that I learned a lot about how vulnerable a child can be to their environment, and we did our utmost to ensure that he was as comfortable as could be.
The external environment really did have its effects.
Besides what we were feeding him and clothing him in, we began to notice that when we visited the city to meet with Joshua’s grandparents, his dermatitis would be markedly more severe. Those were probably the worst of his symptoms. Despite his carefully selected clothing and healthy diet, the external environment was still affecting his atopic dermatitis. Our trips to cities and polluted regions were unnecessarily stressful, and it was a harrowing feeling, realizing we were, in a way, helpless.
With strength as a family and courage, we have persisted.
My child is fifteen years old now, and his rashes have begun to subside. Looking back at his baby pictures, it becomes clear how much his condition has improved, but we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s still plenty of things he has to be mindful of, such as his environment, food, and clothing choices. We still need to purchase medication for him.
Though the journey was a stressful one, and it continues to this day, with every day being a new trial and error experience, I have a positive outlook on his situation. We’ve learned so much about atopic dermatitis as a family and have adjusted our lifestyles to better accommodate for our child.
Despite being a challenging experience, it has also been eye-opening, and I’m proud of how far we’ve come, confident that we’ll be able to tackle the whatever the future brings, despite the hinderances of atopic dermatitis.
Clinical Trial Hero would like to thank Amelia for taking the time to share her family story.
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