It seems from the research that children with eczema are more susceptible to becoming sensitised to allergens. It was also found that a family history of allergies made it more likely that a child could develop allergic sensitisations. Please click for the full article of Eczema, Asthma & Allergies Part 1: Why Does My Child Have All Three.
In Part 2, we will be sharing the stories of our interviewees. We will be sharing their experiences managing and preventing eczema, asthma and allergies. From what you’ve learned from Part 1, can you see an correlation with the research?
Donna and Theo
Donna is Mum to 3 year old Theo. Theo is allergic to peanuts, almonds, baked beans, locust beans, green peas and lentils. Theo has also suffered with eczema as a baby; a red, sore, bumpy looking rash on his face. There was no history of allergies in the family. The doctors said that the rash was baby acne or milia.
It wasn’t until Theo was 7 months old that Donna discovered why her baby had a rash face. At 7 months, Theo was given some peanut butter, but when given it as finger food his lips and eyes swelled. Donna called the doctors and took him there where they prescribed piriton (anti-histimine brand in the UK). “In hindsight I should probably have called an ambulance or at least gone to A&E due to the type of reaction, but I knew little about it back then” said Donna.
Theo was referred to a paediatrician who did blood tests that day which confirmed a peanut allergy. At an appointment 3 months later, Theo was prescribed epipens (epinephrine adrenaline auto-injector pens).
“When I stopped breastfeeding when he was 18 months old more allergies to other legumes appeared (things he’d been fine with before) – the beans and peas, and particularly locust bean which is in hamster food (reacted just being in the same room while eating!) and used as a thickening gum in Philadelphia cheese… These cause hives, sickness and Diarrhoea. It can be tricky avoiding all these things but you do get used to it!
Theo has been prescribed epipens and piriton for allergic reactions. Donna says “A good skincare regime and allergen avoidance has helped keep the eczema at bay.” Theo also has emollient bathes every other day or so as an eczema preventative and uses Aveeno cream on prescription.
“Managing the allergies is an interesting one and we’ve learned so much. I’m sure there’ll be more challenges but for now we keep ourselves informed and educate all those around him, and are vigilant. Nursery are fantastic too. Even though he is very young he already understands there are things he can’t have, and is quite accepting of it. When I feel worried I tell myself we have the tools we need in case of the worst case scenario which is anaphylaxis; if we didn’t know and didn’t carry epipens it would be more dangerous so at least we found out early on.”
Donna is an allergy mum and blogger, you can check out her blog Nut Allergy Mum at http://nutallergymum.blogspot.co.uk/
Anna, William and Felicity
Anna is Mum to 5 year old William and 2 1/2 year old Felicity. William is allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts and lentils. Felicity is allergic to egg and dairy intolerant.
Williams allergies are very severe with symptoms from birth. He would wheeze; he was sick and puffy after every feed, Anna was breast feeding at this time. Williams eczema started appearing when Anna started weaning him. “We saw several gps with my son and formal diagnosis was given on referral to dermatology department of local children’s hospital after skin prick testing. We didn’t know what was wrong until 5 or 6 months in. A very stressful time!”
His eczema became so bad that he was admitted into hospital after a referral appointment for infected eczema and required treatment over a weekend. Anna says “ when my son was born he showed symptoms of CMPA (Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy) straight away, although he wasn’t diagnosed until skin prick testing at 6 months when he was admitted on referral to hospital for his infected eczema.”
William has had several trips to A&E “one was when we were on holiday in Spain and he had egg pasta, he suffered anaphylaxis and we had to call an ambulance and spent the night in hospital, very scary!”
With Felicity, Anna noticed the signs as soon as the eczema appeared. Felicity developed eczema when she’s was weaned onto formula. Anna requested a referral to the children’s hospital and steroid treatment was prescribed and both children were moved onto Neonate Formula.
“I’m not sure what you can do to prevent it. We don’t have a history of allergies in our family on either side so I don’t know where it came from. I think the key is getting a diagnosis quickly which we didn’t get. No one seemed to know what was wrong although looking back at pictures it seems so obvious! Management is all about getting the right treatment plan and access to help, advice and resources which there is more of now. So many alternative foods are available if you just know where to look.”
Anna is an allergy Mum and blogger, you can find her on her twitter @mychildsallergy.
Dana and her daughter
Dana has a 7 year old daughter who is allergic to “Peanut, tree nut, and about every environmental allergy you can have. Her nut allergy is anaphylactic. Animals make her face swell, eyes burn and rashes. She also has a sensitivity to wheat/gluten but that one is improving where the other allergies are getting worse.”
Dana’s daughter has had eczema and bad skin from birth. Dana breastfed and ate nuts throughout. Her daughter’s rash was very difficult to get under control. At 9 months Dana and her family went to the zoo and fed the animals with peanuts, her daughter swelled up. They saw a doctor after the first reaction to nuts and were referred to an allergy doctor 2 weeks later. They received a formal diagnosis and a prescription of epipens.
After the formal diagnosis all peanuts and nuts were removed from Dana’s house and her daughter’s skin began to get much better.
At 10 months old Dana’s daughter got RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus – a common virus that can lead to mild cold-like symptoms in adults and older children but more severe in infants) and this is when she first had asthma.
It wasn’t until 2 years old that the animal and environmental reactions started. On her blood work and skin tests, Dana’s daughter’s nut and environmental allergies get worse every year.
Dana’s daughter has been prescribed epipens, steroid cream for eczema, inhalers for daily use as well as rescue inhalers and breathing equipment for her asthma. She also has nose sprays and eye drops for environmental allergens.
Flair ups for eczema still happen in winter and spring but it was nothing like when Dana’s daughter was a baby. Her asthma is exercise induced so inhalers before PE or any outside activity or exercise is used. Dana makes sure steroid ointment is applied for any and all eczema outbreaks. “We we strictly avoid all peanut and tree nut products even the ones that…may contain. Always have meds on hand [and we] never leave without epipens.”
Kathy and her daughter
Kathy has a 2 year old daughter who has eczema, allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, avoiding shellfish and is allergic to cats and dogs. They suspect asthma and have a nebuliser and rescue inhaler, but not able to officially diagnose due to age.
Kathy’s daughter started to show symptoms around 2 months old. The eczema was from head to toe and so horrible. Kathy said her daughter “looked like a burn victim, her eczema was beyond severe.” The eczema started to clear up a bit around her first birthday, but at about 20 months old, Kathy’s daughter tried peanut butter and went into anaphylactic shock.
Upon seeing an allergist after this reaction, a skin and blood test were done which confirmed allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, cats and dogs. Kathy’s daughter has been prescribed epipens, anti-histamines and inhalers along with strict avoidance of all allergens.
“What I’ve learned is how serious allergies are and how careful we have to be with reading labels. Since we avoid shared equipment and facilities her eczema has been gone for quite sometime and we have things under control with that. But anytime she has a cold she requires albuterol and budesonide treatments via nebulizer as her airways close up” Kathy says.
Kathy’s daughter has now been cleared for fish but they continue to avoid shellfish. Kathy’s daughter’s tree nut numbers have fallen so they are hoping to do a hazelnut challenge soon.
Good luck to Kathy and her daughter, we hope for the best!
Carly and Oliver
Carly is Mum to 6 year old Oliver. Oliver has an allergy to tomatoes which triggered his eczema. His eczema was also, unknown to Carly, exacerbated by fabric softener and white soft paraffin creams.
Oliver’s symptoms started when he was about 18 months old. His initial eczema covered his body and was so sore that it hurt him to be picked up. Carly saw a doctor and was suggested that it might be a tomato allergy. Carly tried cutting out tomatoes and then tried a tomato based meal two weeks later. During the couple weeks of tomato elimination, Oliver’s eczema was still sore but after tomato was re-introduced his eczema became bright red and very sore again.
After Carly discovered that fabric softener and white soft paraffin creams made Oliver’s eczema worse, they were cut out along with tomatoes. Oliver’s eczema only really comes back in the winter now, but clears up with cream.
Oliver has been prescribed Aveno cream. Carly also uses coconut oil which helps Olivers skin.
“You have to be very aware of school meals, kids parties and visits to friends houses. You are constantly checking ingredients. Tomatoes are in meals etc that you wouldn’t expect them to be in. Schools need better practices to deal with allergens, they need to educate the other children in the class about allergens and how to prevent them. As do the general public, people who have no experience do not understand allergies, they ask the same questions-
Isn’t that hard?
What do you eat?
Will they grow out of it?
You can do everything possible to eliminate and prevent allergens but ‘slip ups’ happen, an unknown food, eating at a kids party, cross contamination from other children. Allergies are stressful!”
Ali and Molly Lee
Ali is mother to Molly Lee. Both Ali and Molly Lee have severe multiple allergies.
Ali is allergic to milk, eggs, wheat, soya, penicillin, dust, fur feathers, tree pollen, grass and Tocopheryl acetate (a form of Vitamin E). Molly Lee has been diagnosed with reflux as well as delayed allergic reactions to milk and egg. She is also affected by pollen and has hay fever. Both suffer from eczema and were covered in eczema as babies. They also are affected by asthma.
“I was the typical allergic child with clear and easy to understand reactions. Traditional allergic testing methods (skin prick tests) work a treat on me. I swell up nicely and that gave everyone something to work with…Molly was a different case altogether. Her reactions are delayed and it took years to find out the triggers. She was born covered in eczema but we think that was triggered by me eating a lot of tomatoes during my pregnancy. Molly hates tomatoes so we do wonder if she’s allergic but haven’t had that tested yet. Once her skin cleared up as a baby we started to moisturise two to three times a day and her skin is now pretty good. She does have a prescription for cortisone but we get through maybe a tube a year at most.
Molly vomited daily until the age of 7. She, and we, never had a nights’ sleep due to vomiting and stomach pain. Finally, at age 4 she was admitted to Chelsea and Westminster hospital and the gastric team diagnosed reflux. I will never forget her last cry of ‘mummy’ as she went under the anaesthetic. Truly heart rending. Stomach and nasal tubes were inserted and she was hooked up to a mini computer to assess the level of acid in her stomach and throat. It didn’t take long for the diagnosis to be confirmed.
She was put on high doses of omeprazole and ranitidine which calmed things down but didn’t stop the vomiting. We were repeatedly told she wasn’t allergic until a consultant from Great Ormond Street got involved and diagnosed delayed allergic reactions. Once the elimination diet showed eggs and milk to be an issue Molly recovered and stopped vomiting constantly.
She is now off medication (unless she eats too much sugar!) and on a no dairy, no egg diet. She vomits rarely now, although still gets a bit of heart burn now and then.
I am grateful that the one consultant believed she was allergic; without her I think Molly would have continued to live a life of pain, sleep deprivation and constant vomiting. Molly is now, finally, at age 11 a healthy bmi of 18.”
In her experience, Ali believes that it is best to “jump on a reaction the minute it starts. Most GP’s seem to start with the lowest dose of everything, which in my experience, just prolongs the problem and allows it to ‘get a grip’. Best to go strong and short with medicines.”
We would like to say a huge thank you to all the parents who shared their experiences. Those stories described in this article are not the only responses we received from parents. Thank you to everyone who contributed and those who allowed us to share your stories.
Through sharing stories we can help those who are struggling in the allergy journey and provide support, because we’ve been there. Don’t suffer in silence!
Have these stories resonated with you? Please leave a comment below.