There are lots of things new moms worry about once their babies arrive. Is he getting enough to eat? Is he gaining enough weight? Are we bonding? One thing they are often not immediately concerned with is eczema -- that is, until the first signs of the skin issue pop up. The moment I noticed the dry scaly patch on my son's arms, I was immediately alarmed. To be honest, I had no idea what it was. Thoughts of crazy, flesh-eating infections flew through my "new mom" mind. I wasted no time taking him to the doctor. It's "just eczema," the pediatrician said dismissively. But as time went on, I would learn that in some cases, eczema is not just eczema.
As the months wore on, his eczema grew worse. My poor little boy's back, tummy, arms, and legs were very irritated. He was so young, the first dermatologist I went to was reluctant to give me a steroid cream to use to soothe the symptoms. Instead, I kept him slathered with heavy creams. As he got a little older, his persistent itching only made things worse. At the suggestion of another mommy friend, I took him to another pediatric dermatologist, who prescribed a very low-dose cream that finally gave him some relief.
He also told me that cases of infant eczema like this are usually indicators of two health conditions later on: food allergies and asthma. That last statement, however, I pushed to the back of my mind. I just didn't want to worry about one more thing. So, I went on, muddling my way through motherhood, not thinking about it again ... that is, until my son's wheezing became noticeable at age 2. He was too young to officially be diagnosed with asthma, according to the cardiopulmonologist, but she suspected that it may eventually be the case. Ugh. So he started on an inhaler. (He was officially diagnosed at age 4.)
Then one day, in my constant effort to plump up my incredibly lean child, I gave him one little spoon of peanut butter. Seconds later, my husband noticed tiny red welts popping up on his face. Ugh. Thus began the food allergies.
All of these things are linked -- eczema, asthma, and food allergies. It's all about the body not being able to tolerate certain things. And genetic factors can play a part, so if there is a history of any of these things in your family, your baby is at greater risk.
While most children with the skin condition don't go on to develop those other problems, many do. It's an important thing for moms to keep an eye out for. That's especially true for parents of young children who can't express their discomfort or what is going on with their bodies. That's not to say a new mom should be paranoid about yet another thing, it's just something to be aware of.
Does your child have eczema, asthma, and food allergies? How did you realize it?
Image via Ian Murphy/Flickr