It has been several months since Zac last had a skin infection. We did think/hope that we had found a way to prevent them, even though we know we have no idea what really causes them. We met Dr Adam Fox back in September and told him how Zac had been plagued by recurrent skin infections, which are essentially boils. He explained to us how everybody’s skin is partially colonised by ‘staphs’ but that Zac’s skin must be excessively colonised and also more prone to letting them in. He suffers with a kind of atopic eczema, which gives him pruritus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itch), a sensation of chronic itchiness, so he scratches all the time. I guess he creates tiny little tears in the very delicate layers of his skin and then the ‘germs’ penetrate and take hold. This is the link to the post that explained it all.
Dr Fox suggested we start using Oilatum Plus every day in the bath as it has ‘bug killing’ agents and will help protect him. Until this week, it had been doing its job and we were very happy. But late last week I noticed he was hopping a bit when I got him dressed and noticed a little red spot on his tummy, just behind the elastic on the waistband of his underpants. It looked a bit suspicious, so we dunked him in his bath, put some fucidin cream on it and hoped for the best.
By the next morning, it was clear that the infection had taken hold and it would need anti-biotics. The strange thing is that even though it was growing rapidly and was hot to touch, Zac hardly complained. It is almost as if he is used to this kind of pain and is pretty oblivious to it. I am not sure I would be. It looks dreadful.
The most worrying thing about these ‘staph’ infections is that they are related to MRSA and you always worry that if you don’t get the anti-biotics quickly it could spread and make him very ill. So that is why I was relieved that we saw a GP who showed some genuine care and understanding. She took just one look and said it needed anti-biotics. In the past another GP saw us with a much worse one and sent us away saying it was nothing. We were back 24 hours later when the boil started oozing from two sites and another GP had to drain it while I held him down.
When this lovely GP said this one needed anti-biotics I was quick to mention that Zac is now very averse to the foul tasting flucloxacillin and had a bad reaction to the vomit inducing erythromycin. I mentioned that Dr Fox had written a letter suggesting a less harsh tasting and acting medicine (Augmentin) and she happily agreed to prescribe it. This GP is the best one at our surgery and it usually takes months to get an appointment with her so I was thankful that we saw her on this occasion. I get so tired of fighting the less interested GP’s who look at me as if I am crazy.
So what next? The wound has now burst and is healing nicely. Zac has taken his anti-biotics and suffered no adverse reactions. We have been continuing with the daily dunk in the ‘sheep dip’ as I affectionately call the Oilatum Plus – but I need to do more than just manage this. I want to know what is causing this and how we can prevent it.
I have been working really hard at keeping his diet ‘clean’. No dairy or gluten and I am very careful that there are no accidental slip ups. Zac is very good at monitoring this himself and I cannot fault his school or other carers such as grandparents. So what is causing it? He is still very sweaty and it is possible that the excessive sweating is washing away his ‘grease’ layer and making his skin more permeable. It is possible that his almost invisible eczema is causing this because of his constant itchy feeling. But why is he so sweaty and why is he so itchy and why does he have so much ‘staph’ on his skin and why is his tummy to big – there are some days it looks so distended and some days he does say it hurts. He has been saying it more and more lately, so I can’t help but wonder if we have another food that needs to be removed. I guess it could be soya.
Our last appointment at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital before Christmas was a very good one. A new doctor. She was very interested in his case and instantly decided to re-run all of his allergy tests. She ordered blood tests for the ‘usual’ allergens. She also ordered skin prick tests and suggested some ‘oral challenges’ on the ward just to see if he had another itchy mouth episode from tomatoes and tropical fruits. He had several of these episodes last year and she felt we need to consider epipen training in case he was moving from non-IgE to full IgE and possible anaphylactic reactions. This transition can happen apparently and unlike many of the other doctors we have met, she thought it better to be prepared and err on the side of caution rather than wait for his first ‘ana’ reaction and then face having to treat a much more urgent and dangerous reaction.
The first blood tests took place on 23rd December. As that is over a month ago, I thought it was ok to ring the hospital to see if they were back. They said they couldn’t ‘see them on the system’ but would get the doctor to call and or write if she need to discuss them! Still nothing. The skin prick tests are booked for 21st February and we have no date for the oral challenge. We do have a date for our next meeting with the consultant though – 14th May!!! I am hoping that with a lot of nagging we might get seen before this.
When we met last year, she also felt that the skin reactions could not be ignored, so I am sure if she knew he’d had another episode despite the regular use of Oilatum Plus, then perhaps she would see him sooner. I might see if they will let me email her these pictures. This little photo gallery shows all that my little man has gone through in the last twelve months and although I know many have it much worse, I know deep down that this is not normal.
Anyone else out there had similar skin troubles? I know this blog is mostly about food and diet, but I have been hearing from so many of you who have skin problems – mostly the ‘dairy free’ crowd – I just wondered if anyone else has suffered with boils? It sounds such an archaic word, something out of a bygone age of poor diet and deprivation – which is of course the irony. Although Zac is on a restricted diet, it is a very healthy diet with absolutely no junk and processed foods and he is topped up with multi-vitamins every day under the instruction of our dietitian – so I flatter myself to think it is nothing I am doing wrong with feeding him – is it? If you any of you have experience of boils, pruritus and the various appearances of atopic eczema, please get in touch.