By Guest Blogger Andrea Morgan
When my oldest son was about five years old, he started having dry hands when winter would start. I really didn’t think too much about it and cream seemed to help it feel better by the next morning. That seemed to be the pattern for two or three years.
About two years ago, the dryness began to get worse. His hands weren’t just dry, they were red and painful. Sometimes they would crack and bleed. I ended up having to speak to a doctor about it and she prescribed a cream that included a steroid. This worried me. I would certainly prefer to not put steroids on my child’s skin! His hands hurt, though, so we did try it. The first time we used that cream, it worked. But then it didn’t. In fact, it worked for only a couple of days.
By this time, my son was putting cream on morning and night and carrying a bottle with him in his book bag to use at school. We tried cream with the steroid, cream without the steroid, almond oil, more olive oil in his diet. In the meantime, we were told that he had eczema, but were not told of anything that would help. With steroids being in the news so much lately, I have since learned that prolonged steroid use can cause immune suppression and increase the risk of bone fractures. I can’t take back the use of the steroid cream, but I can look for alternatives.
This past summer was the first time that my son’s dry hands did not ease up for the warm weather. All summer we were working with the creams but it seemed that his hands looked worse. They were now red from the knuckle area to just above his wrists. The skin was warm and very dry to the touch. It got to the point where they felt scaly. I didn’t worry him, but I was starting to feel scared at how terribly dry they were. This is not what a person’s hands should feel like, much less a little boy’s hands.
Now, though, after going to a nutrition class in Raleigh, I had some new ideas I could incorporate when thinking about helping these terrible, dry hands. I began rotating different essential oils mixed with almond oil so they would spread more easily. First, I used lavender since it is so good at calming inflammation. Second, I used melaleuca, which is excellent for helping the skin to heal. Third was a guess on my part. I had read that sometimes scaly skin is caused by a fungal infection. On the off chance, I diluted some oregano and used that about every third night. (Night only since it has a very distinctive smell.) Besides, this will improve his immune system, so it wasn’t going to hurt anything! I put at least one of these on each morning and each evening.
By the first morning, his hands began to look better. I think we were both amazed. The redness began to recede first. His hands started to show softness that had not been there before. On the third day, he came to me and commented that when he had used the creams before that they always burned for a while after he applied them. The essential oils mixed with the almond oil didn’t burn at all. It hurt me to hear that the cream had burned him each time, but I felt so good thinking that these new oils we were trying were working and feeling good on his skin.
It has now been a couple of months on this new regime. I ended up adding geranium essential oil to the rotation at night after reading it as good for inflammation, wounds and severely dry skin. That addition stepped up the healing that had already been happening. Some mornings we forget to apply the oils since he doesn’t wake up with them hurting any more, but we always put one or two essential oils on at night. If you were to see his hands, you wouldn’t worry about them. You probably wouldn’t give them a second thought since they look more average than scary.
I know that these oils will help his skin, boost his immunity and that the lavender has an added benefit of helping him to relax at night. The sense of relief I feel in the positive “side effects” instead of the worry about the steroid cream and other creams that didn’t help him any way, is immense. I feel a lot of gratitude at finding natural ways to treat my son’s eczema.
If you would like more information on the products that Andrea recommends, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org