TANTRUMXYZ EDITOR LISA WILLIAMS ASKS FOR SOME HONESTY ABOUT BABY ECZEMA
“The picture below is a photo of my son when he was five months old. It’s a good photo, isn’t it? He’s enjoying himself in his doorway bouncer, he has a lovely smile on his face, and he’s wearing a very cute stripey babygro.
But this photo didn’t see the light of day. The furthest it got was to my partner, to whom I sent it via a private WhatsApp message. I didn’t share it to Facebook, Instagram or even to a family WhatsApp group, which was set up for the sole purpose of sharing photos of my son. Why? Because of the eczema you can see on his cheek.
That patch of angry-looking blemished skin would flare up and calm down at intervals, depending on whether or not we were using a steroid cream to treat the eczema. Aside from the suffering it would cause my son, who would scratch at it with blunt nails and sometimes draw blood, each time the baby eczema appeared I subconsciously put a social media blackout on my baby and his milestones.
It seems silly now, and vain – maybe worse than vain – but at the time, there was no question about publishing these photos; it just didn’t happen. Or, if it did, it was only because I’d whacked so many Instagram filters on the photo (upping the contrast and the highlights, for example) that the baby eczema was effectively photoshopped out of the image. Hideous.
Now my son is nearly two, I am much less fussy about which photos I post online. I accept that many people want to see the unvarnished truth of parenting; whether that be a messy house, a toddler mid-tantrum or spaghetti smeared into their hair. Even a snotty nose might make it on to Instagram if the caption is funny enough.
But when you’re a new parent, sleep-deprived and questioning everything you do, the image you want to project of your new life and the new little life you are nurturing, isn’t one of skin allergies or, indeed, anything less than perfect.
It’s a vicious cycle, of course, because the more unblemished images of family life that we see online, the more we load the pressure on to new parents coming through. I wish I had been a little more honest in how I had portrayed my life online in those early months, but I wish those before me had too.
Certainly getting proper help for my son’s baby eczema gave me more confidence in my parenting. I didn’t realise in those early days, while I was waiting for a paediatric dermatologist referral, that I should have been ‘weaning’ my son’s skin off the steroid cream gently , or that warm baths and too many layers at night time were probably triggering the itching. I didn’t realise that I should have been taking a holistic approach to the baby eczema, making sure that the baby wipes and laundry detergent we used were gentle and irritant-free. And I didn’t realise that brands such as Neutral 0% – which has worked with the Danish Asthma and Allergy Association to formulate gentle products for this exact reason – existed until recently.
I now realise that a patch of eczema on my otherwise super healthy, super happy boy was not a reflection on my parenting, and I hope that by sharing my experience and these photos, that other new parents feel the same.Shop the baby care range
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