All this started with eczema.
At around four months, this little one had an especially harrowing night which culminated in over an hour straight of scream-crying in the mall while I attempted to attend a family birthday party at a restaurant there. Now, as I say, I'm not a doctor and I am literally learning everything I know about babies from a singular resource who doesn't speak and has even less information about the world than I do. We make a great team. All I can say is her face was fine when we left for the birthday party and it has not been fine ever since. We're talking going on six months later, guys. I should say that at the time I was nursing exclusively, the whole food introduction fiasco came later.
So yeah, scream-crying in the mall and nearly the entire drive home. Wakes up with enflamed cheeks and chin which I assume to be drool-rash and treat by obsessively covering up all the cute outfits I picked with cotton bibs and keeping her from scratching herself raw by forcing her into those newborn mittens until her paws got so big that well-meaning family members started speculating whether or not she even knew she had hands. My good husband, ever the funny guy, leapt to my defence with a routine revolving around the idea that our kid would be five years old and using her feet as hands because of the mittens. Everyone laughed....out of horror. It's ok, she totally learned how to use her hands. Everything was fine on that front.
The rash though, just got worse. My little suffered through the night rubbing those thumbless mitts on her jaw while she slept, waking up to blood-stains on her collar, sleeves, mitts, and the crib sheet. We tried, well everything.
Here's the list:
Lipikar Baume AP+ by La Roche-Pousay (this works well and has an anti-itch component but sheesh, pricey to slather all over a baby several times a day)
Dove Baby Tip to Toe body wash and cream (smells good, did nothing for us)
Aquaphor Healing Ointment by Eucerin (we still use this one from time to time, it works well on raw patches on her face)
colloidal silver gel (I highly suggest this, having used it myself on sunburns, regular burns, my own eczema)
colloidal oatmeal baths
Aveeno Baby Eczema Ointment Overnight
probiotic powder by mouth for her and for me
elimination diet for me (I didn't honestly see much difference here, though many moms swear by this)
breastmilk baths (honestly, this is the most effective thing I did and still do for her skin. It also zapped her cradle cap. Love this stuff. Let's bottle it.)
Eventually, we gave in and got her a prescription for hydrocortisone which worked for about three days. Then we got another prescription for a stronger dose of hydrocortisone which worked for about three more days. In fact, everything we tried seemed to work for a very short time--just enough time for us to high-five each other and congratulate ourselves on our awesome parenting skills. Then she'd wake up with red, ragged cheeks again, using everything from her carseat harness to the zipper of her coat to scratch her face to bleeding.
It seemed that nothing would work for this persistent drool rash. Have I mentioned that I know nothing about babies? Yeah, so the thing is it wasn't a drool rash after all. And I guess that fact that I really don't have an overly-droolly baby should have been a clue to that, but what do I know? A visit to an awesome paediatric dermatologist confirmed that what was plaguing our little was not a drool rash at all but chronic and persistent eczema.
Eczema is a dermatological condition which is characterized by the thinning of the top layers of skin. Babies who have eczema have red, itchy skin in patches (or all over, poor things) which easily bleed and have a high risk of infection. Most lucky babies grow out of it in time. This baby? It remains to be seen.
Why does this matter? Well it turns out that some babies with eczema can be higher risk for two other paediatric conditions: asthma (which so far we have been lucky enough not to have seen in our little) and the reason we are all here, allergies. So yeah, we started with what looked like an innocuous skin rash caused by normal, everyday, baby drool and ended up here--in the throngs of severe food allergies.