Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Unusual form of Eczema

Our oldest son was a toddler, maybe two years, old, when we first experienced what the boys would grow to call "pick" in their later years.  (Before I continue with this story, the pictures and story that follow might make you wince a bit, so if you are squeamish, please don't continue with this post.  I am writing it because there might be another mom who has children with this same condition and I'm looking to connect.)  I'll never forget it.  The Big Dog was playing softball in Virginia.  He was an umpire, then, and they had a once-a-year tournament where the umpires played softball.  We made a family weekend of it and were enjoying being at the ball park during the day and the hotel in the evening.  Our little guy was toddling around on that hot summer day in a sturdy pair of sneakers and thick socks.  That's what you do with a toddler right?  Give them good shoes and socks.  Imagine my horror when I undressed our little guy that evening and when I took off his socks big chunks of skin came off with the socks.  His little feet were red and raw with peeling skin and new pink skin exposed underneath.  That next day, he crawled around the playground because his feet hurt to much to walk on them.

And so began our journey into this strange form of Eczema that, as it turns out, both our boys have.  The problem occurs mostly in the summer months, but begins as soon as the air turns warm.  We began very early in their lives to put them in sandals as early as March to give their feet as much exposure to the air as possible.  Even so, the skin peels wherever the shoe touches their feet.  This happens to their hands also, but we haven't found much to be done for that.

What happens?  Essentially, they get water blisters that pop and peel.  The skin is then dead and what's underneath is new skin which is very sensitive.  As the weather gets warmer, they get water blisters on the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet and the blisters pop.  I guess the water gets trapped between the layers of their skin in the warm weather.  It's very very bad if they spend more than an hour in the water, especially during the summer months, but extended water use all year will cause some 'pick.'  The boys hate the feeling of the skin so they pull at it to remove it.  That is how we named this condition "pick."  When they were little, I would say, 'Don't pick!  Don't pick!'  So the boys thought that their condition was called "pick" and the name stuck.  Here are a few pictures of their condition after a day shooting archery outdoors just this month:

Honestly, now, our guys are so used to it, they don't even complain of the pain.  But when they were younger, we had some very difficult evenings.  They would try to go to bed and their hands and feet would just sting.  We saw a dermatologist who said that we needed to remove the moisture from their hands and feet.  And so we had some special roll-on medicine made to dry up the skin...didn't work.  Then a family doctor said, "No.  No.  You need to moisturize every night."  So we did that...didn't work.  We've been told only leather shoes and white cotton socks...still getting pick.  We were told synthetic shoes and socks...yeah, you can see the pictorial evidence above.  

As I mentioned briefly above, I am writing this post because there may be another mom on this planet with a few boys, or even girls, who are struggling through a similar condition.  It took us at least 10 years to figure out what to do to avoid bad episodes.  I want to pass on what we learned for anyone else who could use it.

Here's what works for us:  We have put our boys in sandals by mid-March every year for years.  That's helped a lot.  But the best thing for our guys are Crocs. You know Crocs, don't you?  The rubber clogs that come in bright colors with lots of holes all over them?  They allow air to move and the feet to breath.  Our youngest wears them year-round.  When we found Crocs, I nearly cried after the first few weeks of summer.  Even with sandals, the boys would get the water blisters under the places where the sandals covered their feet.  With Crocs, their feet breath and they don't have nearly the extensive peeling that they have had in the past.

Another thing we have discovered is that they can't swim for more than an hour at a time.  If we spend the afternoon at the pool, they swim for 45 minutes to an hour and then get out for at least 15 minutes to completely dry their hands and feet.  You know how your skin gets soft and wrinkly after a lot of time in the bathtub or pool?  They boys get water blisters just like you or I get wrinkly.

We do only wear leather shoes and white cotton socks so that their feet breathe during the Winter months.  If they are running around alot in sneakers and socks, even in the winter, the extertion and perspiration can cause a pretty bad episode.  The pictures above are from a day on the archery range.  We did a lot of hiking that day and even though it wasn't terribly warm, that exertion causes the skin to blister and peel.  

So there are a couple tips on how we have dealt with this situation.  I share it so that maybe you can use the tips if you have a child with a similar situation.  Our doctors have all told us that it is hereditary and that the boys will grow out of it.  At 13 and 15 years old it does seem like it's not as bad as it was in their early years, but that may be because we are learning more about it.  We have yet to find anyone in either family with a similar condition, so I'm not sure about the hereditary part.

And there you have it.  Please contact me if you have a child with a similar condition, I'd love to share with you more of what we've learned.

1 comment:

  1. Lori, I'm finding that practical information, like what you're giving and journaling is the only reason I'm enjoying social media these days. The rest is a waste of time.
    I hope that your boys grow out of it or someone comes along with some great advice.
    Take care.