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My Son With Eczema Doesn't Like Having 'the Itchies'

I have a son who never sleeps through the night comfortably. Who can’t go outside to play in the sun for more than a couple of minutes. Who will scratch chunks out of his skin, if he does. Who other kids don’t want to sit next to in school at the reading circle because of his sores. Who so badly wants to have lots and lots of friends. Who is only 5 years old and already wishes to be somebody else.

“Mom, I want to be like Bryce from my school,” he says to me in the middle of one of his scratching fits.

I grab him a cool wash cloth to place on his skin, knowing that it won’t do much to relieve his pain, or stop him from tearing himself open. He has to stop on his own, which usually isn’t until after the blood starts pouring. That’s when he says it feels better.

He’s in his bed, uncontrollably rubbing his legs and feet together while his hands are busy taking care of the rest of his body. They’re frantically moving from his face to his arms to his chest and back.

He tells me again, “I want to be like Bryce. He doesn’t have the itchies. And the itchies hurt me.”

Still under the scratching trance he continues, his mind racing as fast as his fingers.

“Or, I could be the Hulk, and smash them out.”

“Or Captian America… and block them with my shield.”

“Or, or, Spiderman….so I can trap them with my web.”

“Right, mom?”

He looks up at me. So innocently. So sweetly. So miserably. And there’s nothing I can do for him.

He has eczema; an uncomfortable skin disease that causes dry patches on the body to become unbearably itchy.

He doesn’t have the same kind of eczema that your neighbors’ sister’s first cousin’s son’s daughter has. Because across the board, eczema is different for everyone, which is what makes it difficult to treat.

We’ve given him every kind of cream, lotion and ointment under the sun. Yes, he stays lathered up daily. Yes he’s hydrated. Yes, we’ve tried this brand of soap and that brand of soap. Yes, we’ve tried oatmeal baths. Yes, we’ve done wet wrapping. Yes, we’ve even tried breastmilk. Yes to coconut oil. Yes to free and clear detergents and clothing brands. Yes to oatmeal. Yes to emollients. Yes to fruits and vegetables. And steroids. And cancer strength medications. And I already said yes to oatmeal, right? Now his dermatologist wants him to try an injectable that has only been approved by the FDA for ages 18 and older. So, it’s not for a lack of trying things.

What I want for everyone to know is this:

Eczema isn’t contagious — your children can’t catch it from playing with mine. It doesn’t make him any less attractive.

Or any less of anything, actually. Quite the opposite. He’s become the most compassionate little boy I know. No, I’m not making up excuses to get out of your kids’ party. Or even your party. We really can’t go out if it compromises his skin.

Eczema is uncomfortable. It’s an every day thing. It’s an every night thing. It’s emotional. It’s physical. It could be forever. And it flat out sucks.


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Thinkstock image by kwanchaichaiudom