Pets and Eczema…Do They Mix?
I was 12 years old. I had been living with eczema, asthma, and allergies for seven years and everyone was used to it by now. I got out of dusting, running the vacuum, and we couldn’t have flowers in the house. All those allergens that caused flare ups were being avoided for the most part. The one that couldn’t be avoided any longer was the topic of a pet. My dad grew up with a dog, and my sister had been begging for one. At this point, life had taken a few wrong turns. My Dad went through his second divorce and my younger sister was living in Florida with her Mom. We all wanted a dog to fill the unspoken void that we were all feeling. We knew early on with this diagnosis the doctor said certain pets would cause a flare up for certain types of eczema. The doctor suggested doing research on the best kind of dog for a child with eczema. We didn’t really follow this advice but I suggest following it!
A new addition to the family
Well, my Dad, sister, and I got a German Shepard, Venus. I was so excited. Although, the second I pet her and she licked me I had instant hives. I hear that other people that have eczema do well with German Shepard’s, but sadly this wasn’t the case for me. My older sister bonded so quickly with our dog. I would just wave to her and talk to her like she was a human. I never became a “dog person” because of my eczema. She licked me once and my entire lip was swollen for an hour. My room was the only safe place because she didn’t go in there. After a while I became immune to Venus. I wouldn’t recommend this to be the way to introduce a pet to a child with eczema.
I didn’t want my family to have to get rid of Venus so we went to the doctor to see how I can make living with the allergens more bearable.
Trying to minimize allergens
The skin of someone with eczema is more open and susceptible to air allergens. Although we thought we were doing our best to control dandruff or dust in the air we wanted to learn how to do more. The number one factor that helped was purifying the air. I used a dehumidifier when I was younger, however, got away from it. As I said in previous articles consistency is best with eczema. Once you find something that works it is important to continue to use it or do it even if you don’t have a flare up. Once we put several air purifiers in the rooms, it was easier to not only breathe but also I didn’t have hives or frequent flare ups. I used to feel like I could only be in my room but the dehumidifier helped circulate the air.
I always felt like I had a special bond with Venus like she knew I wanted to pet her. My son has eczema and although he isn’t asking for a dog yet, I want to make sure to do the research, do the homework, but most importantly be consistent with his care to make it work.
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