By Alex Matthews
A little boy whose eczema was so bad he could barely leave the house is preparing for his first sunny beach holiday after a ‘miracle’ cream cured his ‘oozing’ skin.
Seven-year-old Dara Lynch’s skin was so raw he could never go to the beach or swim in a pool because it would leave him in agony.
His eczema was so bad that he couldn’t even go to restaurants as he would overheat.
And if the schoolboy and his family even visited someone’s house, his parents Arlene Lynch and Ryan Lynch had to ask them to turn the central heating off so his skin would not be irritated.
Some days the skin on Dara’s hands would be so tender and inflamed they would curl close, leaving him unable to stretch out his fingers.
Mum Arlene, 38, had to wrap him in bandages and a special suit every day to protect him before cutting the bandages off each night because they would stick to his oozing skin.
But after five years of ‘hell’ full-time mum Arlene has finally found a cream that works for Dara and has completely healed his angry red skin.
Now the family have been able to enjoy their first ever beach holiday to Albufeira in Portugal in April – and Dara is looking forward to his first summer playing in the sun.
Arlene from Feeny in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, said: “The impact and the success of the treatment on our family life is immeasurable.
“In April we stayed in a private villa in Albufeira Marina. It was so amazing that Dara was able to splash in and out of the pool.
“Now that Dara is able to enjoy life again we will certainly go away again. There are lots of trips and outings planned now we can actually go on them.
“Dara is now a happy, confident seven year old living life to the full and doing all the things he could not do in his first five year. Eczema and its severe effects robbed that from him
“My poor baby boy had to go through hell. As parents it was torture to watch him suffer so much every day.”
Dara did not have any signs of the skin condition when he was born but his symptoms began when he was four months old.
To begin with his parents suspected his formula milk was causing an allergic reaction but his eczema continued after they switched it.
When Dara started school he was unable to take part in many activities because his skin was too fragile.
After several trips to the GP and Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Derry, Dara diagnosed with Atopic eczema.
He was prescribed topical steroids and oral antibiotics but nothing was able to clear up his skin condition.
When he was four-and-a-half years old his parents were advised to put him on immunosuppressants but his mum refused.
Arlene said: “Our family life in those years was absolutely centred around Dara being as comfortable as possible to avoid any major flare-ups.
“Obviously we could not do holidays in the sun going to beaches or the swimming pool. Outings to a restaurant were few and far between because Dara would overheat and become extremely itchy.
“It wasn’t worth putting him through that. Going to anyone’s house we had to ask them to turn off their heating.
“Dara was wrapped in bandages daily and we had to cut them off when redressing him as the skin would have oozed and stuck to the bandages.
“Our nightly routine would involve popping Dara in the kitchen sink and starting the gruelling, heartbreaking routine of changing the bandages.
“Most of the time his skin was raw, bleeding and oozing, so we had to cut the bandages around the wounds and remove them in small segments. It was agony for him.
“He also had to wear a ‘skinnies’ suit every day to stop him scratching his wounds and bolero scratch mittens on his hands.
“We had several years of giving vast volumes of oral antibiotics and topical steroids but nothing seemed to be working.
“We would cover him from top to toe in creams to absolutely no avail.
“There were days when he could not open his hands or walk. He had endless sleepless night where me and my husband would sit with him and tap him to try and ease an uncontrollable itch.
“When Dara started playgroup he was unable to play in the water, sand or use play dough due to the onset effect to his raw hands.”
Dara’s parents finally found an answer to his condition when a friend told them about a treatment, called the Aron Regimen, which they had heard about on a radio station in Dublin in 2015.
They contacted Dr Richard Aron, a consultant dermatologist in Cape Town, South Africa, and were offered an online consultation for £100.
On 15 October they received a tailored compound of steriods, antibiotics and moisturiser to help treat Dara’s condition.
After beginning with five applications per day Dara now only needs the cream once every 24 hours.
It means Dara is now able to enjoy family holidays with his mum, his dad Ryan, a 39-year-old supermarket owner and manager, and nine-year-old sister Leah.
The family took their first holiday abroad to a private villa in Albufeira, Portugal, which was a success and they are now looking forward to being able to enjoy summer trips.
Dr Aron runs clinics in London and South Africa and prescribes treatments following an online consultation.
Dr Aron said: “I am delighted that Dara’s treatment has been successful and he is able to start truly enjoying life.
“A lot of the children I treat present with a history as severe as Dara’s as they come to me at the end of their tether.
“I heal my patients using a combination of moisturising cream, antibiotic cream and steroid cream, which is very important.
“I also make sure patients get adequate rest to make sure their skin has time to heal, give them a simple bath regime and advise they avoid food with colourings and artificial additives.
“Hearing from people who have managed to change their lives is always gratifying. I’m glad when I can help.”
FACT BOX: WHAT IS ATOPIC ECZEMA?
• Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common form of eczema, a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked.
• Atopic eczema often occurs in people who get allergies – “atopic” means sensitivity to allergens.
• Atopic eczema is more common in children, often developing before their first birthday.
• It’s usually a long-term (chronic) condition, although it can improve significantly, or even clear completely, in some children as they get older.
• Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema you should have had an itchy skin condition in the last 12 months and three or more of the following: visibly irritated red skin, dry skin for 12 months or more, a history of asthma or hay fever, the condition started before the age of two.
• The symptoms of atopic eczema often have certain triggers, such as soaps, detergents, stress and the weather.
• Many different treatments can be used to control symptoms and manage eczema, including self-care techniques, emollients and topical corticosteroids.
Information from NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/#when-to-seek-medical-advice