When he was about 2 ½ years old, my son broke out in a mysterious rash on his lower leg. It was ugly. First, it was an angry red patch. Then, it was a cluster of pustules and the next thing I knew, it was 3-inch soupy mess that he just couldn’t keep his fingers off. Originally, it was diagnosed as atypical ringworm. His grandmother told me that his father had it as a child.
They treated the messy area with antibiotics. I had him sleep with thick wool socks taped to his wrists. It eventually got better. Little did I know, it was just the beginning. He subsequently developed less dramatic versions of the same affliction up and down the landscape of his legs. I tried several different types of soaps and protective gels to no avail.
Eventually, he was diagnosed with the dreaded and ubiquitous eczema. More creams and soaps were prescribed. None of them were satisfactorily effective. In the mean time, my baby’s perfect skin was being marred with terrible scarring. I had to do something and the doctors didn’t have a really good answer.
I went back to my roots. When you live on a farm, certain skills are a main stay because you have to do a lot for yourself; especially, in the lean times. In the old days, they used baking soda and salt to quiet irritated skin that wasn’t caused by parasites. That is what I began to use.
As he grew older, the loose baking soda and salt became impractical because, if he had 4 pounds of baking soda and 2 pounds of salt, that is how much it would take to bath himself. Once again, I had to go back to the old way. I began to make him soap made with baking soda and salt. Even he could manage that with minimal wastage.
For several years, this was a stable and effective solution. Then, he went to school and the real trouble started. It was difficult for me to isolate the cause. By the time I was done, I had reconfirmed that he had eczema and that the preparations that the dermatologist recommended were limited in effectiveness, at best.
I went back to my grandmother’s and talked to them about the other skin remedies that they used. Some of them, well, we just won’t talk about that. I listened. It turned out that all that chemistry and biology I had taking wasn’t just for fun. I was able to see the trends in their descriptions. From there it was a walk in the park, actually, the woods and a little research.
This is my theory; a minor irritation becomes exacerbated when it becomes overly dry, my guess is a deficiency in linoleic acid. This process is further complicated by the introduction of bacteria and/or fungi to already compromised skin. My solution was to take the complete botanical compounds that have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and steep them into the soap; leaving them there to leech every active particle and use the cellulose to remove the sloughed off cells that inhibit penetration into the superficial layer of the skin.
I also superfat the soap with oils such as hemp seed and evening primrose that replace the linoleic acid. Most importantly, I allow the glycerin, a natural by-product of the saponification process, to remain in the soap. Glycerin is a humectant. This means it draws moisture into the skin. As the baby washes with the soap, also carried in with the humectants are the botanical compounds. By balancing the ingredients, I was able to create a clean rinsing formula.
The pathogens and particulate matter are rinsed away and there is no residue to invite more and give them a more adhesive surface. That’s my theory but the bottom line is we don’t have those episodes with his skin any more unless mommy forgets to make more soap for him before he runs out.
In short, (I know it’s a little late for that) Elias wanted me to share this story with you because he wanted, “other mommies to know how I did it in case their babies have that problem too.”