While at Wal-Mart purchasing yet another package of Band-Aids for my son, Austin, I wondered, Why am I always buying these? I was raising two boys actively involved with being outdoors, swimming, fishing, hunting, riding bikes, and sports. Both of my boys bled and used Band-Aids for their multiple scrapes and injuries. Their injuries were a “normal” part of living active lives which allowed them to learn natural limits – pain is a good teacher.
Austin went through a box of Band-Aids like a box of chocolates. He picked out his favorite size, texture, and print (usually his favorite superhero or cartoon character). We had several boxes and different types of Band-Aids, not just one or two variety packs. Where was he putting all these Band-Aids? Mostly on his arms and legs. His bed sheets always had blood stains. He picked at his skin and healing sores which he called “mosquito bites.” He picked at these at night time, not during the day. He took baths at nighttime.
Eventually, I noticed he had countless sores in different stages of healing. Were the Band-Aids causing him to itch? Was he nervous and developing excoriation (a skin-picking disorder in psychology)? I would focus on this issue of concern and speak with his pediatrician about it every summer. Then, he would get better and his sores healed over the winter. So, it must be summertime mosquito or bug bites (chiggers – are what we deal with in the South). Year after year, I watched him go through the incessant itching and picking at his skin. I used creams, salves, anti-itch medications, and tried everything I could to stop this. His skin was becoming severely scarred and he wore long sleeves and pants to hide his sores.
The skin-picking was just one manifestation of Austin’s overall health issues. His health needs dictated my focus and energy to find the cause and a cure for many years. Austin became toxic and was hospitalized several times at the age of twelve. During a meeting with a contact dermatologist, I mentioned his skin picking and showed the doctor his scars and Band-Aids. The doctor conducted a skin patch test to determine what was causing these toxic reactions. At this time, his skin-related symptoms included horrible “chapped lips” which were not actually “chapped lips” and a “willow-pattern” of redness weeping from his face to his shoulders and chest.
The results/culprits: benzoic acid, nickel, parabans, aloe vera, and Cocamidopropyl Betaine. Benzoic acid is found in many foods and drinks (ginger-ale and sodas). Nickel is a metal. Parabans are used in cosmetic and pharmaceuticals to prevent bacteria – preservatives. Aloe vera is a natural plant which we used in liquid form (George’s Aloe) to heal his digestive distress and on his skin to help heal his scars. Cocamidopropyl Betaine is derived from coconuts and a chemical compound which produces the bubbly suds of soap – a surfactant. This surfactant was named the allergen of the year in 2014. It was in all of our shampoos, soaps, and detergents.
Band-Aids were being used as a literal Band-Aid to cover a much more complex medical condition – toxic reactions. To learn more about Austin’s complex health issues and how I helped him heal, pick-up a copy of my book: How Do I Help My Child, A Mother’s Mission. If your child is skin-picking and patching his wounds and sores with Band-Aids, look deeper to find the underlying cause. When a child’s skin feels like bugs are biting him all the time, anxiety is a normal manifestation. Excoriation is often a co-occurring diagnosis due to the toxic reaction within the body (microbiome) – not anxiety.
Meanwhile, I buy less Band-Aids and notice summertime continues to be Austin’s peak skin-picking season. I believe it is from swimming in pools with chlorine and heavy metals. We deal with it and allow him to swim (with a shower after) and live his life to the fullest, Band-Aids included. As I am writing this blog post, he just walked in with fresh blood on his finger. Thankfully, it is a cut, not skin-picking. He just said, “This is the first Band-Aid I have used in a while, that’s pretty cool.” Awe, what a perfect ending!