Dealing with a severe skin allergy in a newborn baby can be quite distressing for both Mom and baby. Find out how mom-blogger Surbhi discovered that her newborn baby was suffering from Atopic Dermatitis and the steps that she took to treat it and prevent it from recurring.
Meet Surbhi – a doting mother to two handful munchkins. She is a mom blogger and a children’s book writer. She writes about life after parenthood and everything around it on her blog
Q. Thanks so much for talking to us, Surbhi. To begin with, can you share your baby’s birth story with us?
Ans. Ours was a planned pregnancy and I was focused on leading a healthy lifestyle. I decided I wouldn’t give into my cravings or binge-eat. But that didn’t really happen. At the onset of my second trimester, my blood sugar tests indicated that I had high blood sugar and my gynecologist told me that I had Gestational Diabetes (GD). She asked me to be very strict about my diet, exercise and daily routine. GD has irreversible effects during and after delivery which can be harmful to either baby or mother or both. If not controlled and managed under expert supervision then it could lead to major complications like premature delivery, enlargement of the baby’s head, mother might become permanently diabetic, the baby might be born with diabetes, etc.I was asked to monitor my blood sugar regularly. I was given a blood sugar testing machine to take home and I had to prick my finger thrice every day. I was required to email my readings every day to all the doctors and the dietician for their monitoring too. For the next 4 weeks, I was successfully able to manage and control my sugar levels through diet and exercise. I was then asked to get my sugar levels checked at a lab. I was so sure that the test results would be negative because I was not only extremely cautious about my food intake but I was walking regularly for 2 miles every day. Despite all these efforts, my fasting sugar levels were through the roof. The Endocrinologist who was on my case, told me that the best way to bring down the blood sugar levels at this stage was through insulin injections. I was extremely worried about the baby inside of me. I was asked to take the insulin shots on my stomach once a day before meals. My gynecologist was also worried about my rising sugar levels and as per her, this was the only way to manage my GD.I was fast approaching my due date and due to major hormonal changes, my blood sugar levels were rising constantly. I was then asked to monitor the levels 6 times in a day by following a pattern advised by the Endocrinologist. I had to take the insulin shots 4 times in a day, before and after meals. So now, in total, I was pricking myself 10 times every single day till my due date. Because of rising blood sugar levels, the doctors decided to induce labour at 38 weeks since waiting longer could have been dangerous for the baby. I went to the hospital on my pre-decided due date in the 38th week. Even after being induced, the labour pains were not occurring. After a few hours, the doctor noticed a steep fall in my baby’s heartbeat. The umbilical cord got stuck around her neck which dropped her heart beats and was causing distress. I was rushed to the OT and my daughter was born via c-section. Thankfully, my blood sugar levels dropped to normal within a few hours postpartum. However, I was asked to be cautious about my sugar and carb intake for atleast 6 months postpartum with constant monitoring of sugar levels.
Q. When did you first notice signs of the skin allergy in your baby?
Ans. Mydaughter didn’t show any signs of skin allergy in the first few weeks after she was born. When she turned 3 weeks old, I decided to massage her after seeking my doctor’s permission. It was on the first day after her oil massage that rashes erupted all over her face, scalp and body. We rushed to the doctor and that’s when we are informed that she has an extremely sensitive skin condition, also known as Atopic Dermatitis.
Q. What is ‘atopic dermatitis’ or ‘atopic skin allergy’? What are its causes and its symptoms?
Ans. A. Atopic Dermatitis is the most common type of eczema which is often found in children. Children usually show the signs before they turn 5 years old. Infants may have red, crusty, scaly areas on their cheeks, scalp or the front of their arms and legs. Atopic Dermatitis is hereditary but it’s also caused by external factors like pollution, harsh chemicals in skincare products and extremely cold weather conditions. It is non-communicable.
There are also other external reasons that trigger atopic dermatitis or make it worse such as:
Strong soaps and detergents
Fabricslike wool or scratchy materials
Perfumes, skin care products, and makeup
Pollen and mold
Extreme hot or cold weather conditions
Long or hot showers/baths
Dry or sweaty skin
Dust or sand
Certain foods (usually eggs, dairy products, wheat, soy, and nuts)
Q. How did you deal with the problem? What advice did your doctor give you?
Ans. A. It was very stressful for both me and my husband to see our daughter suffer because of our negligence. Being our first-born baby, seeing her in pain and discomfort just broke our hearts. She fully recovered in 4 weeks but those 4 weeks were the toughest 4 weeks for us and for everyone in the family. We did everything we couldto ease her discomfort. We followed our pediatrician’s advice to the T.
We were asked to not to massage her or apply any oil on her body until she recovered
Use only 100% cotton fabric for her clothes
As it was summer, we were asked to keep her in cool temperature especially in the daytime to minimize the itch and discomfort
We were asked to keep her in a well-lit and airy room to ease the drying of rashes
We had to make sure her skin could breathe and get a lot of fresh air to stop those rashes turning into blisters
Q. What are some ways in which you helped keep your baby comfortable during this difficult time?
Ans. Here’s what we followed.
Milk powder formula
Made her wear 100% cotton clothes
We would keep the air-conditioning switched on all day between 24-26 degrees
Since the maximum rashes were on the back, we had to make her sleep on her stomach
Sometimes she just wanted to stay latched because of the discomfort and wouldn’t let go
Somedays we had to keep her in our arms or lap because she didn’t want to lie on the bed due to discomfort
Q. Based on your experience, what tips would you give other parents whose children suffer from atopic skin allergies?
Ans. Here are some tips you can follow.
Always ask your doctor before using any oil or skin care product for your new born baby
Always make your baby wear 100% cotton clothes
Keep the house well-lit and aired during the day to keep the house free from bacteria
During summers, try to keep your child’s skin dry and sweat free. Sweat causes major itching and discomfort to children with Atopic Dermatitis
Steer away from using skin care products with harsh chemicals and preservatives
During winters, keep the skin well moisturized to avoid itching and dry, scaly rashes
Coconut oil and olive oil are the best oils for kids/babies with sensitive skin
Q. What was the one major learning that you got from this whole experience that you would like to share with other moms and moms-to-be?
Ans. Don’t be in a hurry to use creams, lotions or oils on your newborn baby’s skin. Baby’s skin is very delicate and needs proper care and attention. While buying any product for your baby, always check for ingredients and use the ones that are hypoallergenic and free from harsh chemicals. Always ask your pediatrician in case you feel your baby’s skin showing any signs of allergy.