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Sleep / behaviour issues of 4 year old with eczema - help!

(5 Posts)
Utka Mon 16-May-05 20:20:49

DD1 is 4 and has had eczema since the age of 4 months. It's been particularly bad for the last 2 years, and is at its worst during the summer (we think she may also get hayfever). She is allergic to a whole host of things - though this is through skin contact rather than the breathing related type.

Life at the moment seems to be one long avoidance of things that irritate - food, house allergens, the sun etc. It affects every aspect of her and our life, and whilst she's pretty good about the whole thing, it's really getting both DH and I down.

The main issue is that for the last 2 years we have had only about 20-30 unbroken nights. Initially this was due to scratching and us needing to reapply cream repeatedly through the night. However, we now wet wrap her during the bad phases, which cuts this down a bit. The main problem though is that she now seems unable to sleep through - she seems to have forgotten how. She wakes for water, trips to the loo (she is still nowhere near dry at night, and needs our help with the wet wraps). We are currently taking it in turns every other night to get up to her.

DH and I understand that she can't help the itching, but we are starting to think that she is using it to manipulate the situation. She knows that we won't let her just lie there and scratch, so whenever we try to get tough about the repeated wakings, she just starts scratching. Some of it may be down to the stress of being told off, but some of it seems put on. The trouble is that the fuss in the middle of the night always wakes dd2 (14 months).

In addition, even when not seemingly itchy, she sits and just picks at her hands and ankles (the worst bits). We have tried giving her warnings, and then putting her gloves and wet wrap socks back on, but we're getting increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that the wet wraps may be becoming a sort of punishment. DH also worries that the picking is some sort of early self-harm and that we need to deal with this now to prevent it from becoming a problem.

We've tried ignoring the hysterics that accompany any attempt to put cream on her, and just do it without any fuss, removing her from any audience there is. This does seem to help, as she calms down after the outburst and apologises. But we have to go through the hysteria to get the calm bit!

She is definitely a highly strung child (and someone told me that the eczema is only going to make her even more jumpy and irritable). The shame of it though is that up to the age of 2 she slept 12 hours a night, so we know she can do it. When she does sleep well (say only one waking), she's a different child the next day.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions as to how we handle it? Our health visitor has been helpful in directing us to various eczema websites, but I'm after some psychological advice. We don't want to make an already difficult situation worse, but we are losing our rag!

Utka Tue 17-May-05 21:57:57

Just bumping this one!

calpopscalum Wed 18-May-05 20:57:24

So sorry to read this - I suffer very badly from excema and to be honest I am constantly scrtching. Nothing that anyone can say will help to stop me as I am not even aware that I'm doing it - when someone mentions it, I then become more aware of the itching and it makes me want to scratch even more! perhaps your daughter is the same.. It is honestly something I know I do because othre people tell me I do it but I really am unawre of my constant picking and scratching. Do you give her nuts to eat? I just ask cos I started eating more brazil nuts a while ago and they definately helped me - just a handful a day. Dr laughed at it but I definately found they made a difference. I also use oatmel in a warm (not hot) bath as it almost instantly calms down my inflamed skin and really soothes it. Just pop some in a sock or muslin square and let it bob about. i also use it to wash when I'm in the bath. I also found that being by the sea on a sunny day helped although being out in the sun away from the coast seems to make it worse!

It really stresses me when someone tells me off for scratching which just starts the vicious circle, could you try just reapplying the cream without telling her off and just ignoring the scratching/picking? Easy to say of course when it's not 3am (I can empathise with your lack of sleep too my 2 yr old has never slept through and it's a killer). Also could you try letting her apply the cream or at least help - might get over some of the hysterics.

I'm sorry, you've probably tried all of this but I know how it feels to be suffering from excema.

Hope you egt a solution very soon
take care

bunny2 Wed 18-May-05 21:02:45

Utka, I can only send you my sympathy. Ds is a similar story. He has woken virtually every night his entire life - he was 5 last week. He just doesnt know how to sleep through and inevitably wakes up scratching and comes into our bed (even when his eczema is mild, he wakes up, must be a habit). For the sake of a semi-decent sleep, we let him stay in with us. I dont have any solutions but will watch this thread to see if someone else does. Keep the piriton handy! I swear by it!

mckenzie Wed 18-May-05 21:12:24

sorry to hear about your situation Utka. I wonder if your GP might be able to refer you to someone for some professional advice on how to handle the situations. You might need to force him/her to do so but I think you and your daughter deserve some help.

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