Fortunately Rowan’s (now aged five) eczema is now much better and under control yet his eczema was much worse in his early years. Joeli said: “My son has had eczema, pretty much from the time he was born. He would wake up and scratch until he bled. He had to have special pyjamas that covered his hands and prevented him from pulling his arm inside to scratch. It was awful.” Rowan would wake up every 30 minutes and start scratching, and did not have use of his fingers until he was two and a half years old.
Joeli had to take Rowan out of nursery because his eczema was so bad, resulting in the family paying for days that he had missed and Joeli cutting back on work. The financial burden of eczema can be tough when having to purchase creams for daily use as well as wet wraps to moisturise the skin. Cutting back on work and missed days of nursery make it even harder.
Getting to the bottom of Rowan’s eczema meant seeing three different healthcare professionals and finding out what was triggering his eczema was extremely difficult. Joeli said:
He already had known food allergies but that kept taking a back seat during conversations with the doctor because his eczema was so bad. It was honestly awful, covered most of his body, cracked and weeping on his face.
Luckily the dermatologist referred Rowan to an allergist to have allergy testing, which is when the link between the food allergies and the eczema became clearer. The tests revealed Rowan was allergic to milk, eggs, fish, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, beef, banana and berries. Since cutting these food from his diet his eczema is much better with only occasional flare ups.
Joeli has worked tirelessly to ensure Rowan’s life would not be impacted by such a debilitating condition. Joeli worked closely with Rowan’s school to ensure that Rowan could wear his own uniform to avoid making his eczema worse. His school has been very supportive and local groups of friends who have children with eczema have also been working together to support each other.
When asked what advice she could give to others going through difficult times with their eczema, Joeli said:
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter how tormenting eczema can be, it can and will get better.