'It is incredibly hard to see them in pain': Local mom shares her experience coping with her children's extreme skin allergies
"When my son Gabriel was around 15 months, I had to rush him to the ER during the night as his skin had become so inflamed and broken it was bleeding, and he was in so much pain."
Chastin Dreyer and sons. (Supplied)
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It's not life-threatening but living with atopic dermatitis (or eczema) can painful. 

Chastin Dreyer, a Table View mom of three, knows this all too well. 

"When my son Gabriel was around 15 months I had to rush him to the ER during the night as his skin had become so inflamed and broken it was bleeding and he was in so much pain,"  she recalls of the first time she realised her son's experience of the condition would be different and much more extreme than her own.

Chastin's flare-ups began while in her twenties and only occurs in her hands, her youngest son, Jesse, also lives with the condition. 

She says at his worst, Jesse has "scratched himself to bleeding point."


Must read:"Our little trooper": Katherine, the toddler whose skin broke out in blistering rashes

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Both her boys' symptoms began when they were toddlers, and it's been no walk in the park for her family. 

"We need to rub them down at least once a day... It becomes incredibly difficult for them as they cannot always enjoy sport or physical activities when their skin is irritated, and they are in pain." 

The mom says she's tried everything from cortisone creams to ointments and prescribed allergy medications but what has really helped is "Child Farms Baby moisturiser in conjunction with Pure (glycerin) soap... those are working very well together in conjunction with our prescribed allergy medications."


 Also read: This toddler is allergic to everything from sunshine to ice-cream

The emotional impact 

According to Mareli Fischer, a clinical psychologist based in Claremont, skin conditions lessen quality of life because the constant physical discomfort may lead to developing negative mental health issues, with sadness and frustration leading to anxiety and depression. 

And coupled with feelings of self-consciousness, and a need to fit in with their peers, developing positive self-esteem becomes challenging for children. 

"Having eczema flare-ups will make kids self-conscious because other children might ask uncomfortable questions or tease them about their appearance. Bullying often leads to symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as low self-esteem," she says, advising parents to encourage their children to talk about their frustrations. 

Here are a few of Mareli's top pointers for parents: 

Acknowledge feelings

"It is important to acknowledge your child's feelings of sadness or frustration. Make sure they feel heard and provide them with emotional support and comfort." 

Take care of their emotional health

"Teach them to address negative self-talk, and give them an outlet for their feelings through creativity, talking or play."

Practice mindfulness

"Help your child to focus on gratitude for the positive people and moments they have in their life." 

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