Salting & Soaking
When I sat down to write this post, I was shocked to realize I had never posted anything about Freida's eczema on this blog. I guess because I never really had much to say on the matter. I grew up plagued with the skin disease, and while we tried at everything (from diets, to creams, to antihistamines) to obliterate it from my childhood - it never really stayed away, and I suffered years of its abuse (I'll never forget coming to school in the 2nd grade with a Dr's note that I may not be able to sit down that day due to the irritated scabbed skin behind my knees. I wasn't able to bend my legs!!)I finally grew out of it at about 18, and have only had few minor flare-ups since then. My younger brother had it even worse than I did - his entire body was covered in scaly skin and he suffered tremendously from the itching. My mother tried everything. And I mean everything! He was seen by all the big skin specialists, and they had cream imported monthly from Ireland! But it never said goodbye. It really is a plague. And it's insane that "they" still can't seem to find a cure!
Anyways, the only thing I remember praying for consistently since I was a child is that my children should never have to know of eczema. When I had Freida I was so excited that she displayed the cleanest smoothest baby skin on earth - I was just over the moon about being able to moisturize her yummy little baby bum without worrying about it irritating her... When she was about 7 months old, the first signs of eczema surfaced. (I have an entire guilt-based theory about how ferberizing her brought the eczema out of her system; how the anxiety of sleep-training induced the nervous system to lash out. But I know it's mostly bullocks.) I had to immediately switch up her bedtime routine to include oatmeal baths, heaps of aquaphore, and sporadic smears of steroid-laced cortozone creams. That mix of prevention seemed to keep things relatively under control, for the most part. Since she's always been a thumb-sucker (and she liked to alternate from one to the other) I was never really able to control what went down in that region - her thumbs and hands became a muck of dry cracked skin, and from time to time I'd have to cream them, sock them, and secure a rubber-band over them while she watched TV - it was torturous!
Now, we mostly survive off oatmeal baths (I'll definitely be blogging about how we do these!), a very good cortozone cream, and lots of aquaphore during the nights. But recently we've added something wonderful to our skin regimen: dead sea product. Salts in the bath, and mud beforehand. During our most recent trip to Scottsdale Arizona, my brother-in-law (thanks Yossi!!) took us to The Salt Chalet, owned by a friend of his. Apparently, "salt rooms" are the current health fad and are becoming increasingly popular due to the health benefits derived from this sort of "salt experience". You can watch the video about it here.
We took a slew of sand toys along (plus a cousin to play with) to keep Freida entertained for the 30 minute session. I stripped her down to shorts and simply let her sit and play in the dead sea salt (a hell of a lot easier than taking a trip to Israel!). We sat and lounge chairs in the salt room while the kids played on the floor, and we did some of the deep breathing Dr. Gershkovich showed us. It definitely felt like it opened up my airways, and since I have a bout of asthma - it felt fantastic. Aside from that, the whole thing was just so relaxing - kind of drug/trance-like. And I definitely noticed a difference of Freida's skin for at least a week afterwards...
We brought home some sea salts for the bath and a big pot of mud to try. The mud works so well on her eczema!! It took a little coaxing for me to convince her to let me smear mud on her :) but the results were amazing! I cover her problem areas with a coat or two of dead-sea-mud and wait for it to dry. Once it dries, we rinse it with warm water and put her in the bath. It seems to draw out and dry-up the real cracks and irritations, and then the oatmeal bath restores the moisture.
She's been getting a little weary of the mud recently, so we upped the fun-factor by letting her use a paint brush to paint it on her skin by herself... Now she loves mud time!
Obviously, for those of you without any skin ailments - this post was a bunch of boring rambling :)
But! If you or your children suffer from skin irritations, I'd really suggest looking into finding a quality dead sea mud like this one we've been using, and perhaps even hitting up a salt room (there is one in Encino). Plus, I'll be posting about how we do our oatmeal baths - that's really the only thing that seems to keep in under control. And the mud's been keeping her happy for now...!