Little Lukas Wojciechowski, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, used to cry with pain when he tried to take a step
Two-year-old Lukas suffered so badly with his painful eczema that his feet ripped when he walked.
Little Lukas’s skin was so sensitive he had to wear tights every time he went out in sunshine and he suffered from months of pain.
His desperate mum, Shannon Harle, tried everything to stop her son’s devastating symptoms, which stretched right from the tips of his toes to his thighs.
But then she started using an £8 moisturiser, which she says has completely cleared up Lukas’s symptoms.
Shannon, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, said: “It started when he was two weeks-old – as a small patch of dry skin on his ankles.
“But it quickly spread all over his legs and feet so his legs and ankles were covered in scaly, hard and rough skin.
“The tips of his toes were so raw and peeling they looked sunburned, and his once-pink little soles of his feet were covered in sore, dry skin.”
Heartbreakingly, Lukas’ eczema seemed to get worse every time he came into contact with grass or sunlight – so his mum had to cover him up in tights.
Shannon said: “At home he needed to wear socks constantly, as even the smooth laminate flooring would rip his skin on the soles of his feet.”
Lukas was prescribed moisturisers and when his skin showed no improvement was given a series of steroid creams.
Shannon also stopped eating dairy as tests showed he had a cow’s milk protein allergy and the allergen was being passed through her breast milk.
The 21-year-old said: “The steroids cleared up the eczema, which was great to start, but after a few months of using it, Lukas’ skin appeared to be getting worse.”
Shannon also feared little Lukas was suffering from Topical Steroid Addiction, which is described as a “debilitating condition that can arise from the use of topical steroids to treat a skin problem, such as eczema”.
She said: “His skin was red, weeping and he was scratching every day until it bled.
“I’m convinced it was a reaction to months of using the steroids.
“At night, he would rub his legs together in bed and the eczema would weep and the angry, open sores would stick to his clothes.”
And when Lukas reached the age where he should be taking his first steps, the pain was so bad he couldn’t.
Shannon said: “He would stand up and try to move, then would purposely drop down to the floor and point to his feet and cry.
“It was so upsetting seeing his delicate skin so broken.”
The family doctor suggested Shannon and partner Ben cut Lukas’ steroid dosage but his symptoms were just getting worse.
In January Lukas was referred to a dermatologist in January and offered more steroids, which Shannon refused.
She started gradually weaning him off the steroids and found support from ITSAN and her doctor.
Anyone who suspects they are suffering from TSW is recommended by the charity to seek medical advice directly from a doctor.
In March, desperate for a solution, she found out about the moisturiser Skin Salvation, by Balmonds, on an online mums’ forum.
Balmonds products were created by a Brighton mum desperate for a solution when her daughter was nearly hospitalised from her bleeding eczema.
The creams don’t use petrochemicals, parabens, SLS, PEGs, perfumes and colours that can irritate the skin.
Within a month of using the cream, which is free from nuts, soya, coconut, gluten and palm oil , the painful skin on Lukas’ legs had cleared.
Shannon, who also has daughter, Elisia, three, and who is pregnant with her third child, said: “We saw an improvement in days. He wasn’t crying when we put the cream on.
“Things are so much better now. Using this cream is the only thing we’re doing differently.
“The soles of his feet are more pink now and there are no scabs. His skin is beautifully clear.”
Lukas turned two in June and celebrated with a Peppa Pig party with his family and friends, complete with dairy-free cake.
Shannon said: “I’ve never used shampoo or soap on the kids,” says Shannon.
“My mum and I both have eczema and my dad and brother have psoriasis so his skin problems could be hereditary but we don’t know.
“I do think dairy has had something to do with his eczema so he doesn’t eat any, now, and I’ll carry on breastfeeding until he doesn’t need milk.”
Now Shannon and Ben use Skin Salvation, which has just been commended in the Beauty Shortlist Mama & Baby Awards, once a day and when Lukas’ skin gets dry.
She said: “We layer it on under his tights before bed. When he wakes in the morning, his skin is soft. It’s still red but it doesn’t look painful anymore.
“He’s lots happier, he scratches less. Now he can wear shorts for the first time. He can do everything he wants to.
“He walks everywhere. He’s not spending the day scratching. He doesn’t notice his eczema anymore.
“I’ve not seen his skin look this beautiful since he was a newborn.”
Dr Gill Hart, biochemist and food intolerance expert with UK firm YorkTest Laboratories, warned that poor skin conditions can also be a evidence of an underlying ‘sensitivity’ to certain foods.
She said: “When a child develops eczema, it is important to avoid anything that may be irritating their skin, like soaps, shampoos, or certain chemicals in things like fabric softener.
“Triggers during the hot summer months can be especially problematic for a child so try to keep their room — and your home — as cool and aerated as possible.
“While vitamin D may act as an antioxidant and potentially help eczema, hot air can also dry-out the skin and sweat can irritate it further.
“But irritated skin isn’t always a result of the heat — food intolerances can also manifest as problems like eczema and psoriasis.
“And despite overwhelming and compelling evidence of an association between eczema and diet, very few sufferers are tested for food intolerance by their doctors.
“There are more than 10 different types of eczema, with 15-20% of children affected and 38% of adults.
“Those who tend to develop eczema are categorised as being ‘atopic’ which means they have an overactive immune system, causing their skin to easily become inflamed.
“And it’s this immune system that’s also compromised when exposed to ‘trigger’ foods – which means flare ups can also be caused by what you eat.
“There are no common triggers – everyone’s different.
“There has been a reported link between dairy and eczema and even sugar and eczema, but every case is different and many different foods have been implicated.
“When flare-ups happen, it’s easy to consult Google and ask, ‘what foods cause eczema’ and ‘how to stop eczema’, but unfortunately eczema is not as simple as avoiding a generic list of foods.
“If there is something you are eating which is causing inflammation in the body, there is a possibility that this can impact your skin and that’s where a food intolerance test can help.”
In babies and children, do not to cut out staple foods like milk, wheat or eggs without consulting a health professional — as these are vital to development and need to be replaced with foods that are equally nutritious.