I was recently reading a research report that had been undertaken at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne on the financial and emotional costs of having children with Eczema versus children with Diabetes and it was very interesting to say the least.
Whilst the study had been undertaken more than 10 years ago I imagine those results would not have changed much.
The results showed children who had moderate to severe eczema had higher costs financially and emotionally than those with diabetes. Children with mild eczema had the same costs as children with diabetes.
What is so interesting about this is so much more money is injected into support and research for diabetes and far less for eczema research and support. Yet eczema is the most common skin disorder in children under 11 years of age and has more hospital admissions than any other paediatric dermatological disorder.
Lets not forget that Eczema, Asthma and Hayfever are all linked, this means that 25 – 50% of children with Eczema also develop Asthma and 30% develop Allergic Rhinitis. For many families this puts a huge financial strain on the household income which in turn on family relationships.
Why was I thinking about all of this? well it was a case of chronic tiredness and looking into our medicine cupboard to find it was more like a chemist store of antihistamines, asthma preventers, asthma relievers, nasal sprays, chest rubs and a concoction of other treatments and remedies combined with a filing cabinet of pharmacy scripts for all of these items.
Ok, slight exageration on the filing cabinet but too bad if we were to get sick with anything other than allergies as we would have nowhere to put the medication.
The chronic tiredness came into it because every night for the past 5 and 1/2 years (the age of my oldest child) I have rarely had a full night of sleep usually the ritual is setting up both children with water and tissues and setting up my bedside table with ventolin, nasonex, chest rub and moisturiser.
My 5 year old son has terrible allergic rhinitis which followed on from his eczema. From the age of 6 months he slept with a humidifier in his room every night because if he didn’t he would cough all night long. Constant trips to the doctor for yet another course of antibiotics which occured every 6 weeks and the usual talk of he attends childcare and because of family history he is likely to be asthmatic and this is why he is always sick.
Well I felt like the worst mother on earth and every day was the same ritual of scrubbing and cleaning the humidifier and wiping down my son’s room from all the steam left by the humidifier combined with various well meaning advice about food allergies being the cause and do this and do that.
Finally the humidifier packed it in which was actually a blessing in disguise. I started to notice that my son had the same symptoms as myself as I have had hayfever my whole life so I took him back to the doctor and suggested that he has hayfever . Well the doctor was very quick to slam down my idea and was actually very rude.
I left the doctor in tears and rang the Asthma Association and asked about a new humidifier one that wouldn’t soak the room in condensation I told her the entire story of the past 18 months and she told me that many children were being misdiagnosed with Asthma when in fact they had Allergic Rhinitis she suggested I get a referral to a particular Respiratory Paediatrician who specialised in eczema, asthma and hayfever.
Well now I was angry I went back to the doctor and told him to either he give me the referall or I would find someone who would. Well $300 and a few months later my son saw the specialist, and yes I was right. Needless to say I had great pleasure in letting the doctor know. No more humidifier, no more antibiotics and useless medication for a condition he didn’t have and money down the drain.
Even though he has Hayfever and is reliant on antihistamines particurlay at night he is a much happier child and rarely has antibiotics.
My daughter has asthma, eczema and hayfever so depending upon the weather is were we are at with what will happen with her day. As soon as the cold weather arrives the eczema returns. Yesterday when she headed off to kindy her skin was lovely, not a mark on it.
She came home yesterday afternoon and the eczema patches had started on her legs, feet, face and back obviously from running around and becoming overheated. Her hayfever has also flared up but her asthma is under control from a new medication she is on which took months of trial and error to finally control.
So this weeks tiredness is the result of Liam needing nasal spray in the middle of the night because he can’t breathe through his nose and Emily requiring more cream because her eczema is causing her to scratch combined with crying and cuddles in between.
Who knows what next week will bring!
I know I have an easy job compared to many parents who have children with severe eczema. The task of cream and wet wrapping applications can take up hours in the day.
For families who can’t afford the ongoing myriad of creams and medications combined with long waiting lists on the public hospital system to see a specialist, the added financial strain can push the average family to the brink and research shows stress exacerbates eczema and asthma.
So the main point to this post is, “Why is Eczema one of the leading health issues amongst children and yet it is so poorly funded?”
Furthermore, ”Wouldn’t it be better to provide information and education before a child develops eczema?”
Pregnancy health screening should include a family history of allergies, so the unborn childs risk can be determined and information and education put in place to lower the incidence of a child developing eczema.
Maternity hospitals also need to be educated on the risks associated with early introduction of skincare and the affect on a newborn baby’s skin. In particular a baby who has a family history of allergies.
Eczema rates amongst children have jumped three fold in the past 30 years and according to medical research the one common factor in this has been the introduction of baby skincare products being used on a newborn babies skin and interfering with the epidermal barrier.
I have watched numerous You Tube videos of maternity nurses bathing newborn babies in high foaming baby skincare products and endorsing the product.
I personally think this is irresponsible. Eczema is a very painful and serious skin disorder which if not treated properly can result in life threatening infections and in some cases death.
Many new mums look to the maternity nurse as a source of advice on caring for their baby, “So shouldn’t it be mandatory that one of the highest rating skin disorders to affect young children be first on the education list?”
Why do I feel so strongly about this? because if I had of received the education before having my children then I would have had the tools to make better informed decisions for what is best for my children.
Instead my education was being told my child has an 80% chance of developing eczema and here is a bottle of lovely smelling bubble bath to bathe your baby in.