When Stephanie Smith took her young son to the doctor, she didn’t realize she was starting what would become a difficult cycle of doctors visits and pain.
Smith’s son, Isaiah, began having flare-ups of a rash which responded to heavy scents like perfume or fabric softener when he was only three months old. The doctor diagnose Isaiah with eczema, and prescribed a topical steroid to treat the rash.
While the topical steroids worked for a short period of time, the rash was soon back, and worse than ever. As the rashes worsened, Isaiah became lethargic. His hair began falling out.
“All the doctors I took him to just said it was eczema,” Smith told the Mirror in a recent interview(1). She was told to stop breastfeeding her son, as the milk protein might have been exacerbating the problem.
“Isaiah’s skin was falling off, like it was melting. It was oozing and weeping into his eyes. It was like he had no skin. He was in agony.”
Isaiah’s illness was all-consuming for his family. They cut off contact with many people, worried that outsiders might pose an infection risk to their son, and spent hours with Isaiah running water over his sensitive skin in the sink.
“We couldn’t even hold him,” said Smith. “Every time our skin touched his, it would blister and ooze like crazy. I couldn’t even touch my cheek to his… people asked what we had done to our baby. They asked, ‘Has he been in a fire?’”
When Smith came across a forum about topical steroid withdrawal online, she recognized the symptoms almost instantly.
“I scrolled through picture after picture of children with skin like Isaiah. Red raw skin, flaking off and oozing.”
Smith decided to stop using topical steroids to treat her son, instead experimenting with homemade, homeopathic balms she concocted using her experience with candle-making.
It was a blend of lemongrass and zinc, applied under gauze, that finally made a difference.
Even Isaiah himself seemed to know that the balm was good for him. “Isaiah would walk to the kitchen island, where I kept the balm, point at the jar and point to his face,” Smith said.
Smith documented Isaiah’s progress with photographs daily. 10 months after the homeopathic treatment started, Isaiah’s skin was smooth and clear again.
“We still don’t know for sure what caused the original contact dermatitis,” said Smith, but she thinks it might have been an allergic reaction to ibuprofen, which was passed to Isaiah through her breast milk.
Now the Smith family is making up for lost time with their healthy, happy son. “We lost the first year of his life. I wasn’t able to kiss him or hold him. Now we squeeze him all the time.”
The Smith keep a blog dedicated to helping other families struggling with skin conditions.