Monday, November 30, 2015

Two Months TSW

Since my last TSW update, my son's symptoms peaked and then have shown improvement! 

Week 5 TSW...
Sunday was pretty rough... His face and neck were visibly broken out with red splotches and he was super itchy. It was a struggle to make it through worship services and we decided he had reached the point of needing to stay home in the future. Monday night he had a terrible time sleeping and was thrashing all over the place, flailing about and whimpering. He was absolutely miserable and incredibly itchy. It was a long, rough night. 

By Tuesday, HIS FACE AND NECK LOOKED NORMAL! His torso was showing improvement. His legs were consistently staying 99% dry instead of oozy. 

On Wednesday his continued to show improvement in appearance with less redness and LESS ITCHINESS! He stopped taking Benadryl!! 

Unfortunately we already had scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist. Before booking the appointment we were very positively assured that this doctor had treated TSW before and knew all about it. I was VERY CLEAR that I'd only come if he offers non-steroidal treatment. Well... he sent us home with a prescription for none other than hydrocortisone ointment! Can you believe it?  What a waste of my day, two hours drive time, and $170. 

The dermatologist was also very positive that our entire experience up till now was caused by a raging eczema infection (not TSW) that needed treated with a double to triple long round of antiobiotics (14-21 days!!!). He completely disregarded that the skin and itch had seemed to take a turn for the better, and guaranteed me that our son would land in the hospital within two weeks without the long dose of antibiotics. 

We really questioned the infection diagnosis and wanted a second opinion, so I booked an appointment with his allergist for Friday. In the mean time his skin continued to improve. (Hallelujah!) 

The allergist told us that he definitely did NOT have an infection, and did NOT need antibiotics!! She was absolutely sure of this (just as the dermatologist was absolutely sure of the opposite). She did send us home with a long medication list which included a stronger prescription dose of topical steroid. At this point I was just so glad he didn't have an infection that I didn't take offense to the topical steroid prescription. (She knows that we don't want to use topical steroids anymore but told me it would still be written in her recommendations.)

I have to crack up at Briana's video about "the doctor visit..."

Considering his recent turn for the better, the confirmation that he did not have an infection, and the lack of consensus between these two specialists, we decided to give our current regimen a little more time to see if his body would continue healing itself. From the allergist's recommendations we also began using Ranitidine (a stomach medicine with antihistamine effects), bleach baths (to prevent infection), and eczema gloves (a major upgrade from wearing socks on his hands). 

Weeks 6-7 TSW...

Remember how the dermatologist absolutely ASSURED me that our son had a raging infection requiring up to 21 days of antibiotics? Since he said "I'd hate to see what he looks like two weeks from now without these antibiotics," I'd like to let you take a look for yourself. These pictures were taken exactly two weeks after that appointment (with NO antibiotics, since our allergist confirmed he didn't need them)... 

This is the best he's looked since going off topical steroids, and it's a beautiful sight to me! He just needed more time. His legs still had a ways to go, but were considerably improved. 

The improvement between last month and this month is a night and day difference. During weeks 6-7, he seemed to arrive at a plateau. He maintained his mostly-healed state, with his upper body looking great and legs looking OK, but he was still somewhat itchy. At some point during these weeks we stopped needing to wrap him in tubifast bandages! Our life began to somewhat resemble almost normal again. We finally had hope for the first time that the worst may be behind us. 

Weeks 8-9

He's held steady for several weeks now. His upper body has remained in a mostly clear state, with just a couple subtle rashes coming and going in his elbows. 

The fronts of his legs are nearly normal again...

and the backs of his legs are holding their improved state, though it's not entirely clear yet. They vary from day to day but seem to be back to a more normal, manageable eczema state rather than the extreme redness, rawness, skin weakness & oozing he experienced during TSW. (He hasn't had those symptoms since week 5!!)  

It would seem that his cycling is following the pattern I read about in Dr. Rapaport's findings... the flares reached their "peak in severity" and have now begun "to lessen in severity and duration. The 'good times' (interflare phases) become longer... The distant areas do not manifest rash anymore, only the original long-term steroid-treated sites recur but with milder eruptions." 

At the recommendation of a naturopathic doctor we visited in week 4, we've been on a whole-food, anti-inflammatory diet. We've done no sugar, no food dye, no grains, and no processed food. I'm not sure how much diet comes in to play for him but as long as he was improving we didn't want to dramatically change anything. We're just now starting to re-introduce  non-gluten grains in small portions, and keeping up lots of fruits, veggies and lean meats. 

Our allergist recommended trying an elimination diet for tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, milk, and wheat. We've done the wheat, we just need to monitor his reaction when reintroducing it. Afterwards we can try the others, in case any of them trigger his remaining eczema. However I think it's safe to say at this point that eliminating the topical steroids was a MAJOR step in the right direction for him. Instead of continuing to require more and more steroids, his body is regaining its ability to heal naturally. Even though the withdrawal was AWFUL, the results are worth it! 

Only time will tell what the future holds, but at least now it's looking brighter. :) 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

One Month TSW

We are one month into topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). 

If you missed it, you can read my original post here about how my four year old began this awful journey because of using over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, as directed, for his eczema. Instead of helping his eczema, the steroid cream gave him a new condition that's much worse, called Red Skin Syndrome.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Essential Oils Kill MRSA Bacteria and More!

Did you know that essential oils have been found to kill MRSA bacteria, E. Coli and other bacteria and fungi within two minutes of contact? Research carried out at the University of Manchester revealed such, and say that they "believe that discovery could revolutionize the fight to combat MRSA and other 'super bugs.'" Sadly, essential oils are underutilized since they can't be patented, and therefore are not "commercially viable."

You can use essential oils in a variety of ways around your home to kill bacteria. Check out Katelyn Watson's experiment... 

"So I am in Mirco Biology and we had to take 2 plates home. One SDA plate and one NA plate. We had to open them up for 30min every other day for 4 days. Well this is what is growing on mine. This is in the air that we breathe everyday, we have different types of mold spores, bacteria growing. The mold spores here found in the air can trigger allergies, cause upper respiratory infections if they have a food source to grow on. I asked my teacher if I could have 2 more plates to re-peat the experiment. I did the very same thing again except I added 5 drops of thieves to the plate. I had it in the same area of the house for the exact same amount of time. NO GROWTH. WHAT?????? I am always posting on here diffuse thieves to kill germs, and bacteria, in the air well now this just proves that it does work. I am so excited to show my teacher this tomorrow she was very interested if the thieves would actually kill the fungus and bacteria so it could not grow and reproduce. These oils are 100% pure goodness."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Two Weeks TSW

In my last post I shared how I discovered that my son (age 4) is addicted to hydrocortisone cream. If you missed it, click here. He's been through about two weeks of TSW (topical steroid withdrawal). People go through it for weeks, months, or even years, and there's no way to know how long or how severe his healing journey will be. All that's guaranteed is that his skin will get worse than it ever has before, and unfortunately we are already to that point. 

What started as a somewhat regular eczema flare in appearance got worse.  

A lot worse. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Four-Year-Old Is Addicted to Topical Steroids

How in the world did this happen? 

We used over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream behind my son's knees to treat eczema flares, as our doctor instructed us to do. We emptied a grand total of about two tubes worth of cream over the course of a year.

Now he has a red, itchy, burning, debilitating skin condition known Red Skin Syndrome, which was caused by the hydrocortisone. It is NOT eczema, but it can sometimes be mistaken for worsening eczema, resulting in stronger steroids, leading to worsened symptoms and withdrawal, creating a vicious cycle that's horrendously painful to break. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Four-Year-Old's Experience with Allergies & Eczema

Almost a year ago our pediatrician referred my son (three-years-old at the time) to an allergist, and since then we've been on a bit of a ride. He tested positive to all sorts of allergies (dust, mold, cat, dog, lots of types of grasses, weeds and trees, and a couple foods). She said those allergies were the cause of his nearly-constant diarrhea, as well as allergic rhinitis (runny nose, watery eyes, itchiness, etc.), and eczema. 

For the sake of his eczema, she had us change over to 100% cotton in everything that touches his skin. This took us some time, as that process was much harder than I thought... no more gym shorts, no fleece (jackets or blankets), no quick-dry material including swim suits, etc. Coats and socks were a challenge too.  

Friday, October 9, 2015

Essential Oils: Shh!!! Don't Tell!!!

If you haven't heard already, the FDA has been having a fit over what we are and are not allowed to say when sharing essential oils. The problem is that essential oils are such a unique market that the FDA doesn't know what to do with them. Since Young Living is the original EO company and they set the standard for the entire industry (no other company can make the claims YL does), the FDA is working with them exclusively to reanalyze how to regulate the entire market. They have a long ways to go! What's "ok" to say today may not be "ok" to say tomorrow, which is more than a little annoying.

So, in order to help us all understand what is and is not OK, enjoy this video from Young Living....