December 16, 2008

Spa Day!

My youngest son has severe eczema to the point where he will scratch himself bloody. It's a really horrible affliction and I feel so bad for him because he's just bound to be miserable. It takes a great deal of care and diligence to keep his skin moderately stable and on a GOOD day, he's still patchy and welped and uncomfortable.

We have a good regime from the doctor which consists of many things we CAN'T do (no fragrances in soaps, detergents, shampoos and no bubble baths which is one of those awesome childhood traditions that is hard to deprive him of) and a decent prescription medicine. The absolute BEST part of the regime (for him, not us) is what we refer to as "spa day".

This consists of taking a wet toddler and slathering him with handfuls of Vaseline. We pull him out of the tub and while he is still wet let him dig his hands into the Vaseline and then we scoop in and liberally apply the goop. At first I thought he'd never lay still for it, but it turns out that it's a genetic pre-disposition for all males of the species to go supine and allow a woman to blob copious amounts of slippery stuff all over his body. He's so accustomed to this practice that he will occasionally run through the house shrieking, "ba day, ba day, ba day!"

Doing this after every bath is time-consuming and an adventure. As soon as Tristan senses we're finished he likes to jump up and run streaking through the house because he doesn't want to wear a diaper. We call this being "free and easy". Normally, if one is fast enough one can catch a baby before he runs off unfettered of his diaper. However, this particular baby has been coated with about 22 layers of petroleum jelly and anyone who has ever seen a country rodeo with a greased pig competition can imagine what happens next. I don't even have to tell you.

The next step consists of me yelling, "Free and easy!" as the war cry to let the rest of the household know that Tristan is on the loose, weapon locked and loaded. One or more of the other men of the household will attempt to subdue the greasy heathen and generally it will take two of us to strap him back into his diaper.

Getting him dressed is another whole matter as cotton clothing doesn't slide well on sticky skin.

However, the treatment works great for eczema and I'd highly recommend it with some slight modifications. Maybe adding sticky flypaper (fragrance-free!) to the spa day station. Or perhaps fencing and cross-fencing the interior of the house. Or maybe inventing a new type of petroleum jelly that instantly puts babies to sleep on contact.

This morning I walked into the kitchen to find Tristan had scooted a chair up to the counter and had gotten into the butter dish. He had squeezed the butter into his hands, rubbed it liberally on the counter, the cutting board and as I walked in he was coating his hands and arms with it. He looked up and me and smiled hugely, saying, "ba day!" Makes sense I guess. We've turned him into some kind of desperate lube junky.

I dropped him off at daycare and the daycare worker hugged in and cuddled him and exclaimed, "Tristan you smell so yummy, like fresh baked bread!" As I walked out the door all I could think was "Lady, please don't eat my baby."


  1. that is the cutest story ever. i still have really bad eczema and i've tried everything...petroleum jelly doesn't work for me, but i'm glad it's working for your son. :)

  2. It might be the combination of the vaseline and the prescription meds. He's on something called desonide which we put on first and then cover with the petroleum jelly.

    Yours might also be exacerbated by stress as well. Children's eczema is primarily physical and environmental whereas for adults there is the component of our stress level.

    Be sure also you are using absolutely NOTHING with fragrances. The whole solution is all the steps combined which means no soaps, no fabric softeners, no laundry soaps, no lotions, no perfumes or colognes. This includes your towels, clothes, sheets, anything your skin touches.

    I know someone who uses a particular product from Bath and Body Works that does well for her and it has fragrance to it, so who knows!

  3. Sounds like a fun way to handle what could be a nightmare. Good on you.

    Have you actually tried butter instead of PJ? It might be cheaper, for one thing.

  4. Ok first of all that is so funny I got little tears. "BA DAY!" hee hee hee!

    Secondly, Vaseline? Swear to god, fixes EVERYTHING. I have been through MORE prescriptions for the psoriasis on my face, none of which worked, and then this winter when I was putting Vaseline on the kindergartner's sore nose, I rubbed the excess off on my face (moms! we're so hygienic!), and for the first time since the late '80's, I have no flaking on my face.

    Naked buttery toddler. Hee hee hee!

  5. You painted a perfect picture of this with your words. It could be extra funny to me because I have a two year old son right now and when my oldest daughter was a toddler, she got into the Vaseline on her own! What a mess!! That stuff just doesn't wash off, but it can make your shower dangerously slippery.

  6. Chris, butter here (real butter) is pretty expensive. I can't remember the price of PJ, but I'm almost certain it's much cheaper!

    However, YNL... yes, all babies should be buttery. YUM!

    Jenny, my first couple of times slathering him down we tried to do it in the bathtub and realized if we continued that practice someone was likely to end up in the emergency room. Not a good thing!

  7. Hysterical! I have bad eczema and so does my little one. I recently purchased California Baby Shampoo and Bodywash and I'm now declaring it a miracle! I even used it on my head- and noticed an immediate difference! I also got the lotion. I actually just gave it an award on my blog!

  8. I had terrible eczema as a child and young adult. I had my last bout in my mid-twenties. I am so happy to have outgrown it. I hope your child does too. Once I had it so bad on my face that my eyelids were cracking and bleeding.


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