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Severe scratching to the head by 4 my month old

(22 Posts)
EmmaPeel Sat 15-May-04 17:56:34

Please help !
My 4 month old boy has got into the habit of scratching himself. He has done this from birth, but the older and stronger he gets, the more damage he is doing to himself ! His poor little head is covered in cuts and scrapes.
95% of the time he is a very happy and content little boy who is always smiling and gigling and who is such a good sleeper (usually 7pm through to 7am) but the other 5% of the time he is in such distress.
The scrathing is mainly on his head, although he will gladly have a go at his legs or tummy if he can get to them.
He does have dry skin on his head, and a little excema on his ankle, but nothing that would indicate such vigorous scratching.
We have tried all manner of lotions and potions (E45, olive oil, diprobase, oilatum in the bath, craddlecap shampoo, calendula etc..) and we no longer use fabric conditioner when washing clothes, and of course keep his nails trimmed everyday.
During the day we have tried putting mitts on his hands but he learned very quickly how to get these off and so we now use long socks which go over his hands and up to the elbow. At night we have had to result to tying his hands with ribbon to the side of his grow-bag. I know this seems a little extreme but without the cuffs in the past we have rushed into his room at the sound of his crying only to find blood all over the sheets.
It is so distressing for us, we have to watch him ALL the time in case he has a quick go, and he seems to be getting worse not better the older he gets.
Any advice from someone who has been through this before would be grately appreciated...

misdee Sat 15-May-04 18:38:11

sleepsuits with scratchmitts! t-shirts with mitts, you can get a whole range of clothing for ezcema sufferers. dd1 had a permantly scratched forehead till she was about 18months old. she used to scare my dad with it. her one yr photo she is covered in cuts from scratching.
try this site for clothing cotton comfort

AussieSim Sat 15-May-04 18:39:37

Hi Emma. My DS too has eczema, although the main problem area is his fingers. I can't keep gloves on him at night - he is a bit older at 15mths. I'm not sure what to recommend.

If he is bottlefed you might try changing formula. If he is breasfed you might try eliminating more toxic things from your diet - like caffeine and so on.

He is too young for antihistamines - our dermatologist won't even prescribe them for my DS - I think the minimum age is 2yo. You might try some homeopathic remedies that might calm him and help him sleep more deeply so he doesn't scratch. Things like chamomile and kalium carbonicum (german spelling, but must be something similar in english).

Maybe a naturopath could recommend something to rub on the head that is more calming.

I know when I have posted on here before people have mentioned special pj's where the mittens are included in the garment.

Have you tried the website Good Luck. I hope someone more knowledgeable than me pops on here soon for you.

EmmaPeel Sat 15-May-04 18:54:18

Thanks for the feedback !
He was breast feed for the first 4 months, with only one bottle being introduced at bed time. I have now totally stopped as my hayfever has kicked in. We are using SMA White having progressed on from SMA Gold. He is also having a little baby rice, cereals and baby yoghurt - all organic. Maybe we should try a Soya or Nanny formula.

AussieSim Sat 15-May-04 18:57:49

I would be careful with the baby yoghurt. Over here they only introduce dairy at 12mths, which might be a bit extreme, but I think I waited till 9mths. I don't know much about formulas but it might be worth trying different ones. HTH.

misdee Sat 15-May-04 19:07:28

ask to be referred to a specilaist. it was a lifesaver for us.

do u have any pets?

Tissy Sat 15-May-04 19:38:49

my daughter had this for a while- it is now better, but she still has a few patches of eczema which flare up every now and then.

For a start, put NOTHING in his bath, and cut the baths right down to the absolute bare minimum. Keep the baths on the cool side of warm- hot water aggravates eczema and itching. Don't use shampoo- babies hair doesn't need anything other than a wipe with a damp flannel- it doesn't really get greasy. If you HAVE to wash it use a MINUTE amount of very mild shampoo. Stitch mitts to his sleepsuits/ long sleeved bodysuits- must admit I don't like the sound of tying his hands to his grobag- have visions of him cutting off his circulation

We wash with Surcare, it is completely unperfumed, and have not had a problem with their fabric conditioner.

Keep his bedroom cool if you can.

I was breastfeeding at the time, and did try a dairy free diet for a month, but it made absolutely no difference.

Doctor gave us some steroid / antibiotic cream to use on a couple of infected patches- used very sparingly it made a difference.

Elena Schalburg's creams are good. My dd's eczema is not "cured" by them, but is significantly better when using them. They are not cheap, but might be worth a try- she sells quite small pots, so you don't need to spend too much.

HTH, if I think of more, I'll post later.

shrub Sat 15-May-04 20:06:32

my ds2 did this - he is now 11 months old. he did it when he was tired and as he was falling asleep.
Ditto everything tissy says. babies don't need soap/shampoo/baths - its the pharmaceutical/beauty industry that needs the babies!! they have lovely skin all on their own. i use 'weleda baby oil' to massage into dry skin contains calendula,chamomile and sunflower oil that it no chemicals- all organic. i use it myself. my ds2 grew out of it about 3/4 months ago. good luck

robinw Sun 16-May-04 07:01:10

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robinw Sun 16-May-04 07:13:22

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robinw Sun 16-May-04 07:16:36

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EmmaPeel Sun 16-May-04 09:43:20

WOW... thanks again for all your helpful feedback !
Tissy, your comments on bathing and hair washing make a lot of sense and I will try your suggestion of keeping them to a miminum and not use any shampoo on his head.
I would also just like to explain our reasons for tying his hands... we have always put mitts on his hands at bedtime, but one night his desire to scratch became so great that when he found he could not get his fingers to his head, he resulted in rubbing the area so furiously, he removed a layer of skin the size of a large orange and bled all over his base-sheet... and this is with the mitts still on ! we were horrified ! believe me, the last thing I wanted to do was restrain my son at bedtime, but my husband and I felt we had little choice. We have stiched small loops of ribbon to each side of his growbag and with his mitts on, this stops his hands from getting to his head, but allows him enough room that blood flow will never be resticted. We understand however that his next stage of development will be him wanting to roll over in bed, and so we realise for safety reasons we will obviously have to stop tying him up so he can roll himself back safely..... we are bracing ourselves !
One final thing... can anyone tell me where I can find Nanny formula ? (I live in SE England)
Thanks again...

misdee Sun 16-May-04 10:29:58

i understand about tying the hands down. my dad did this once to my dd as they couldnt stop the scratching and were in despair. i was actually called out of work many times as dd wouldnt stop scratching.

A cool cloth applied to an itchy area can provide instant relief to an itch and stop scratching initially. I'd avoid E45 products, as some contain lanolin which a few people are allergic to, especially those with eczema. Aveeno is meant to be very good, make sure u apply it regularly, as with all emoillants, the more often you apply the less likely the skin is to dry out and cause an itch which results in the itch/scratch cycle. A short course of hydrocortisone may be an good idea, tho i was always reluctant to use it on dd1 face, so the gp gave us 0.5% for facial ezcema and 1 or 1.5% for the rest.

This may seem like a silly question, but have you taken him to the gp to get the medication needed. if you are paying out for each cream it can be expensive. If i had to pay for each of my dd emoillants bath additives etc we would be paying out over £40 a month. one gp told me i was using the creams too much (dermol 500, very expensive) but i said, if i didnt use it then dd1 would be down his surgery more often with infections. (like she was when she was a baby).

Check all clothing 100% cotton if possible as it allows the skin to breathe better as keeps it cool, the amount of clothes we've found are unsuitable for dd1 is a nightmare, clothes shopping cna take ages as i check the tags. Wash his bedding at 60degrees at least twice a week, at one point we had to do this every day as the amount of flakey skin on the bedding was horrible.

Best of luck. one day the itch scratch cycle will hopefully stop for your son, its so distressing for you and him.

turkishdelight Sun 16-May-04 21:45:35

Hi Emma,

Obviously it is a good idea to eliminate the cause for itchiness, have you found that out yet??

however, in the meantime, I can wholeheartedly recommend pure Aloe Vera Gelly, topical formula. it relieves itching, soothes the skin and also will help heal the broken/bleeding skin. the Aloe Vera plant is well known for skin soothing properties. I cannot make a comment about the ones out in the various shops, but the one I use and recommend is chemical free, completely natural and SAFE to use, and produced by the leaders in Aloe. please contact me if you would like a tube (ah, also it comes with a 60-day staisfaction guarantee).

best wishes

robinw Mon 17-May-04 06:41:01

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Janstar Mon 17-May-04 08:33:04

Emma, my son did the same thing at that age. I remember discovering him with blood all over his head and crying my eyes out, I just didn't know what to do. Luckily my sister was there and she had been through this with her ds. It was eczema, and our doctors were very helpful, also the health visitor. We ended up changing to non-bio laundry detergent and refraining from using perfumed soaps and bubble baths etc. We were prescribed 50/50 ointment which we used on him morning and night. The most brilliant thing, I found, was a herbal shampoo called Alphosyl, you can buy it over the counter at chemists, I used to shampoo his head and body with it every night in the bath and it made a tremendous difference.

DS is 3 1/2 now and he has grown out of it, hopefully yours will too.

ChicPea Thu 20-May-04 08:18:16

Hi EmmaPeel. DD had itchy scalp and really scratched so was prepared when DS arrived and did the same except worse for DS and in fact the nodular patches over his body increased to areas. Neither DH or myself suffer from eczema. My Ob referred me to a Prof of Peadiatric Dermatology who told me to do this:
AM: warm bath with oilatum/similar and wash ALL OVER including scalp with acqeous cream only (use spoon/spatula to scoop out and do not touch hands/wash cloth/baby with spoon without washing spoon/spatula again due to contaminating pot of acqueous cream) and then using hands or wash cloth rub all over. Absolutely no shampoo/detergent. If using wash cloth, must be boil washed. I use cotton wool so I can just throw it. No sponge as carries bacteria. Apply steroid cream where necessary and Diprobase otherwise.
Late AM: Diprobase all over.
Mid afternoon: Diprobase all over.
Before bed: Bath routine as above.
I thought like Tissy that regular baths/wetting skin was bad for eczema and the Prof told me that by washing skin with acqueous cream, the scuff and bacteria from skin is removed and the skin is "fed" and therefore it is very beneficial. I saw him 4 weeks ago, applied steroid cream twice a day for 6 days, now have it down to once per week. Am still doing baths twice per day which DS loves and Prof still recommends. I must say the improvement is startling as DS was covered and now his skin is normal. I am not recommending that you use a steroid cream, this should only be prescribed by doctor.
I find that the socks up to the elbow help to a point but useless when baby knows how to rip them off. I did change the formula from Cow & Gate Premium to Soya milk but this made no difference at all. Am using Ecover products for washing. Went to Dubai for a week at Christmas and his skin cleared up COMPLETELY without any exposure to the sun as far too hot. Am wondering if my two cats (not long haired) are contributing to the problem. Good luck!

ChicPea Tue 22-Feb-05 22:41:30

Bumping this for Levanna!!

Levanna Thu 24-Feb-05 00:29:01

Many thanks Chicpea .

jabberwocky Thu 24-Feb-05 03:30:23

DS had a rash following a cold and was scratching his head quite a bit. It even started to bleed in one spot. I put some jojoba oil on it and it cleared up almost immediately.

Flippy178 Fri 20-May-05 15:09:15

My ds has had very itchy scalp problems on and off for two years. his scalp got infected after a bad case of cradle cap and the paediatrician recommended using a coal-tar shampoo to get rid of the infection which did work (it was called Capasal). But after that it did get very dry and itchy.

I use Vaseline on his scalp, leave it on overnight or for at least an hour to moisturise (I found olive oil irritated him). I put loads on so it is really greasy. Then comb it and wash it. Works but is a bit messy.

I haven't really found a shampoo that doesn't irritate and dry out his scalp, which has been the main problem. The important thing for my ds is to keep the scalp moisturised. We avoid all the white creams (aqueous, Diprobase etc) because they really irritate his skin generally so we use Epaderm which is like Vaseline on his body.

I would echo what other people have said, use as little as possible in the bath etc, maybe just try washing him with water for a while to see if this makes a difference.

Hope this helps.

Flippy178 Wed 25-May-05 10:56:13

Forgot to say that my ds (age 3) really scratches more when he gets hot or tired or stressed. Keeping him cool at night really does make a difference, I always have to remember to reduce the temperature because he likes it much cooler than I think. maybe your son is getting too hot in the grobag.

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