When Stephanie, her husband, and their six-year-old daughter kicked off 2013, they were joyful. Mom Stephanie was about to give birth to a baby boy. But when that boy, named Isaiah, was just three months old, the nightmare began. Isaiah developed a red rash on his cheeks. Stephanie took him to a pediatrician, who explained that her son probably suffered from contact dermatitis. As soon as Stephanie returned home, she switched all of the family’s shampoos, creams, and deodorants to hypoallergenic ones and did away with scented household products that could possibly cause allergies and eczema. Isaiah’s skin infections remained, however. The little boy’s face was covered in severe blisters, and his skin was cracked. After several visits to the hospital, doctors diagnosed it as severe eczema and prescribed cortisone. Stephanie and her husband could hardly have suspected it then, but the medicines and treatment that their son was using had the opposite effect. The more cortisone the boy got, the worse his eczema became. The family’s life began to revolve around Isaiah’s plight. He was in constant pain and cried day and night. His parents felt helpless and didn’t know what to do. Seeing their child suffering like that broke their hearts. But over time, Stephanie began to listen to her maternal instincts. And that led her to a realization that changed everything…
In 2013, Stephanie gave birth to her second child. He came into the world as a healthy and happy boy, and Stephanie and her husband the little guy Isaiah. He was loved dearly by his mother, father, and big sister.
But when Isaiah reached three months, Stephanie noticed that something wasn’t right with her son. She noticed a red rash on Isaiah’s cheeks and took him to the doctor. The diagnosis was contact dermatitis.
Stephanie went home and got rid of every household product in the house that contained potentially allergenic chemicals. She threw away shampoo, deodorants and perfumed soaps.
But despite this, Isaiah’s eczema flared up. A allergist diagnosed Isaiah with eczema and prescribed antibiotics and a mild form of cortisone cream.
Still, the boy’s skin just got worse and worse. Eventually, it got so bad that the family had to bring Isaiah to the emergency room. Once there, doctors wrote out prescriptions for even more cortisone and anti-fungal medications.
The nightmare continued. Isaiah was in constant pain, and Stephanie had to sleep next to her son every night to comfort him.
While Stephanie searched for answers, Isaiah continued to struggle with eczema. He lost his hair and was constantly tired. He was in and out of the hospital. But the only thing that seemed to happen was that the physician prescribed stronger cortisone cream.
At this point, Isaiah’s whole body was covered with severe eczema.
His parents had to wrap his hands in gauze, so he wouldn’t scratch himself. And because water was the only thing that calmed him, Isaiah’s parents often wrapped their son in wet towels and put him under cold, running water.
They repeated this treatment daily.
Their son’s skin improved, but only for short periods. He lost weight, was dehydrated, and smelled like metal. At the same time, Isaiah was given even more cortisone.
It was a vicious cycle, and the boy spiraled into deeper and deeper pain.
Meanwhile, Stephanie and her husband started spending hours and hours researching the subject on the internet. They found several pages about cortisone treatment and soon stumbled across a nonprofit organization called ITSAN (International Topical Steroid Addiction Network), where they found information about “Red Skin Syndrome” (RSS) and the harmful side-effects of cortisone creams.
They soon discovered that Isaiah had all of the symptoms of Red Skin Syndrome.
Stephanie and her husband realized that the cortisone had, in fact, made their son’s eczema worse. Instead of helping Isaiah get better, the cortisone creams had compounded everything.
And this whole time, Isaiah’s doctors had missed the connection.
When Stephanie tried to convince doctors to stop prescribing cortisone, they wouldn’t listen. The hospital staff seemed to think she was crazy. But still, she trusted her gut and the truth of what she had read.
Then, thankfully, a pediatrician listened to Stephanie. He gave Isaiah intravenous fluids and nutrients.
Ten months after Stephanie put a stop to her son’s cortisone treatments—against the recommendations of several doctors—Isaiah began to show signs of improvement. His skin became better and he started gaining weight. Despite this, several doctors continued to suggest cortisone. But not for long.
“I think people finally realized how serious we were about not using them, everyone seemed to back off as his health was improving so much,” Stephanie wrote on her blog.
Now, a few years, Isaiah is eczema-free and feeling well. After he stopped cortisone treatments, Isaiah got his life back and everything has gotten better. So great to see!
Now that the family has put the tough times behind them, they hope their story helps raise awareness of Red Skin Syndrome. They also want more doctors to understand cortisone allergies, which can have devastating consequences.
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