Meet Charlie, the world’s greatest ninja and more….

Hi, I’m Charlie, I’m 7 well 7 ¾ . It’s really cool, because it’s my birthday soon and I’m having a Ninja party!  But I’m here to tell you about me….

I have really itchy & scratchy skin; the Doctor says I have eczema. Some people call it Atopic Dermatitis. For me it’s a real pain, because sometimes my skin breaks out into these rough red patches, that are so itchy, I just want to itch my skin off! So to stop the itching and the sores getting infected I have to put creams onto my skin. I also have to be careful with what I eat, because things like cupcakes and ice-cream that has milk, eggs and if I eat peanuts this makes my skin super itchy.  My naturopath, Maree has done a food plan for me and she lets me have coconut ice-cream, which is really yummy and doesn’t make me itchy!

The weather makes my skin worse, and when it’s cold and the heaters are on, my skin dries out, and  my skin cracks and bleeds.  At night, I scratch in my sleep which wakes me up, and then in the morning I am really grumpy. I get itchy rashes on my feet, hands, arms and legs and when I scratch a lot my skin gets thick and red and get’s scabs that sometimes ooze.  For me when I am tired, sad, and angry or have a cold, my skin can get more easily infected and it takes ages to heal.  My Mum has to look at my skin when it’s patchy and rough, she’s making sure it’s not red and tender and making sure no yellow stuff is coming out – that stuff is gross!   If I get infected I have to go to the doctor as the infection can become sceptic and cause a blood infection, then I have to go to hospital. My mum keeps my nails short, and sometimes I have to wear soft cotton gloves to bed to stop the scratching especially if my skin is inflamed. Healthy skin like yours, works like a cover and stops bacteria that live under your finger nails from getting in and causing infection.

I have a dog called Fargo and he’s so cool. I love rolling and playing with him, but if I do that on the grass, or on the wool carpet it’s like ‘oh no’ time to shower, and apply barrier cream!  My dad and I love to take Fargo to the beach, and we splash in the waves. My naturopath Maree say’s this is the best thing because the minerals from the ocean can help my skin, so in the summer time I love swimming,  I can swim in a fresh salt swimming pool or at the beach.
Maree gives me a skin soothing balm to put on as it acts like a barrier and helps keep my skin moist.  I call it my magic ninja balm! I take it to school and keep some in my desk and my school bag.  I also have a thick cream that I have to put on. They both have herbs that help soothe and repair my skin.

Sometimes my friends make fun of me, especially when my skin is bad and I have red rashes everywhere and have to apply cream heaps. This makes me sad, and makes my skin worse.  My teacher is cool; he did a class talk on eczema which helped explain it.   People with eczema like me can’t keep the skin moist so it’s not flexible. The top two layers of my skin become dry and brittle then it cracks and can get infected, Scientist don’t really know why it happens, they are still trying to figure it out…

When I have a bath or a shower I have to make sure I don’t rub my skin, because that can make it worse, so when I dry myself I have to pat myself dry with the towel, then I apply a thick coating of cream. Sometimes I play and make polka dot’s out of the cream, and I go into the lounge looking like Polka Dot Man, the world’s greatest Ninja!  My Dad or Mum help me to rub the cream in especially over the sore bits, we have to dab it.

I don’t use soap in the bath, I use a gel made from aloe vera and kawakawa, this helps to repair my skin. My naturopath gave me this, because soap can dry my skin. Sometimes my Mum puts Epsom salts in the bath as minerals can help.  I can’t use bubble bath and have to make sure I am out quick if I stay  more than 10 minutes it can take my body’s natural oils away and dry my skin more.  Other things that dry my skin out are wool, rough fabric, like polyester, nylon or acrylics.  Mum makes me wear cotton clothes as she says they breathe.  This makes me laugh because can you imagine my clothes breathing like me!  Other things that I have to avoid are anything with a smell like detergents, perfume, colon and deodorant – just as well I don’t wear that stuff!

Sometimes where I go can make my skin worse, my naturopath say’s things in the air like pollen, pet hair, dust and mold can make it worse.  When I am at my friend’s house I have to be careful that I don’t lie on their wool carpet or have wool as a blanket.  We have to vacuum; dust and change sheets to keep dust mites down, mum even changed my curtains to wooden slats.

I hate all the fuss over my skin and sometimes I say I have put my cream on but I haven’t.  I just want to be a normal kid, but when I don’t look after my skin it gets really bad.  I worry sometimes that everybody is looking at my skin, Mum says people are more worried about their own problems than my skin, and we all have something that we are embarrassed about or afraid of. Mum says if my friends ask me about it, just tell them, it will help them understand.  And good friends like you for what’s on the inside, not what your skin looks like.

My Mum and Maree my naturopath, work together to make my eczema easier to manage, mum makes sure I have heaps of good foods with lots of omega 3 oils. I do have to eat things like vegetables, and Mum often hides them in my soup, or in spaghetti bolognaise and I have sprinkled on my breakfast foods a pro biotic to make my gut stronger, there are other things like magnesium, B & C vitamins and zinc that help with reducing inflammation. And sometimes I get to drink calming teas that have herbs that relax me and calm my skin.

At home I have a chart, and I have to tick it when I put my cream on, because we are making a routine, as my Mum always has to nag me and she gets frustrated when I forget.  The chart helps, and when I have a bad week, we go over the week to see if anything different has happened to make my skin worse, like something I have eaten, or a school test.

So if I avoid certain foods and apply my creams, it can make my breakouts a lot less, and it means I can play and keep my training up to become the world’s greatest Ninja!
The end – Charlie!

P.S if you have skin like me then get in contact with Vitalise, they are cool and can really help.

Illustration by Jane@pixiepencil.com