When Ezra was only a few months old we discovered that his skin was slowly getting red patches on his face.
At first I thought it was just baby acne, but it started to spread and it quickly got really bad. Like really, really bad. It started covering his scalp and the oils from his scalp would make his hair sticky and crusty. Washing it with mild soap or even water would cause his hair to fall out. He was so itchy and so miserable. When Ezra's skin was at it's worst, it looked like this...
It was terrifying. It was overwhelming. I felt completely hopeless, defeated and so sad for not being able to take his pain away. I stopped taking the kids out because I couldn't take the questions and the judgmental stares. I started washing Ezra's clothing and bedding in free and clear detergent and no dryer sheets (something we learned from my husband's dermatologist). Ezra had to wear socks on his hands to keep him from scratching his red spots raw. He would scratch them so hard they would bleed. He wouldn't sleep long stretches because he would wake up scratching his itches. I would nurse and rock him to sleep many times during the night. I would cover him with aquaphor and wished I could take every itch away from his tiny body. He had just recovered from having RSV where he needed breathing treatments with a nebulizer every few hours and now this?
When we got home I started his lotions and potions (what my mother calls them) and did as much internet research as I could. I had already looked up a lot while waiting for the dermatologist appointment, but now I had names and a diagnosis. I researched car seats and their coatings and found out that Britax, Orbit Baby and Clek were the only three manufacturers that have stated they won't sell any car seats containing brominated flame retardants staring January 1, 2013. So I went to Buy Buy Baby and searched every car seat box in their rafters to find a car seat that was manufactured in 2013 (this was in February 2013, so most of their inventory was manufactured in 2012). The salesman thought I was NUTS. I was so sad to get rid of Ezra's car seat because I had spent so much time revamping it from when it was one of the twins' car seats, but I didn't even hesitate if it would make Ezra better.
old seat... (it was a graco snugride 32 i recovered in washed 100% quilting cotton, but the chemical coating still seeped through.)
We were all pretty happy about it.
Now here are some photos to show the progression of his recovery. This is right after we started his creams and medicines.
Immediately Ezra started feeling better. He (and I) started sleeping better. Things were working.
Ezra ended up needing two rounds of antibiotics to clear up the staph infection, but he was progressing. It was slow, but it was progress and I was jumping for joy.
A year later, we still have to use creams/ointments on him daily, but he doesn't have to use the oil anymore and the concentration for his two creams have decreased with one now being an over-the-counter hydrocortisone. A few things I've learned with this whole thing:
1. What works for my baby/your neighbor/your internet friend's kid may not work for you. Everyone is different with different skin issues. It's a process to find out the right products used in the right combination.
2. We wash anything and everything before it touches Ezra's skin. If not, he gets red bumps wherever he comes in contact with that fabric. He gets itchy and sad so we just make sure everything is washed before he touches it.
3. If we miss one application (some creams were twice a day in the beginning), it would set us back DAYS of progress. So I never skipped applications if I could help it. Never. Miss. An. Application. It's really, really important. Have I said how important it is? It's important. Don't skip.
4. After I applied his creams I would slather his body with Aquaphor. His doctor said he has the kind of skin that can never have too much lotion on it, but Aquaphor really helps. We tried CeraVe creams and lotions, but Aquaphor works the best by far. I keep a tub of it on his dresser/changing area and put some on him with almost every diaper change. It really makes a huge difference applying it consistently. Skin like this needs consistency. Don't skip.
5. Mustela Stelatopia Cream Cleanser is a really good body wash for Ezra. It doesn't dry him out or make him oily. (They're not paying me to say this [neither is aquaphor], but if you're reading this Mustela, you can totally send me free products, thanksssssss.) I've tried California Baby Eczema Wash, but like this stuff better.
UPDATE: March 2015
I've gotten a lot of emails from mothers worrying about their child's skin. I hope the things I've written above can help. Ezra's skin has gotten so much better now that we've figured out what works for him. Here's what he looks like now:
A little bit of Aquaphor and some of his hydrocortisone clears it up quickly, usually overnight. We've been able to decrease the concentration of his hydrocortisone cream and we use it only once a week or so. We still don't use dryer sheets or use normal detergent. But everything is good and getting better! Yay!