For the past four weeks, Cecilia has been afflicted with Perioral Dermatitis (PD). A rash most likely due to toothpaste with fluoride. It took over the area around her mouth, areas of her cheeks, and her eyelids. We kept her from therapies and friends for around 3 weeks as the wounds were open and considered to be contagious to those who may be immunocompromised. She was prescribed antibiotics and topical creams. And bless her heart, it was so severe, she could have been the poster child for the antibiotics.
Here we are 4 weeks later and she still has signs of PD but every week it continues to clear up. Having a facial rash didn’t seem to be physically painful for her; she wasn’t scratching the affected areas at all.
One afternoon, after a trip to the potty, she was washing her hands. I noticed she was checking herself out in the mirror. For a minute she examined and touched her calloused skin. I made a point of telling her it was a little skin rash but didn’t think she was paying much attention. She hopped off the stool and ran toward the kitchen while I finished washing my hands. Seconds later she was climbing on the stool again, handing me the cream demanding I put it on.
I know she was equally affected when I had to make a run to the grocery store one afternoon and had no choice but to take her with me, scabs (which were in the healing non-infectious phase but still looked quite severe) and all. She was her usual self saying hello and waving to everyone. Her demeanor changed throughout the course of the trip from happy-go-lucky to quiet and cautious. She noticed she was getting strange looks and reactions from people. Not the normal, “Oh Hello…Oh my goodness how sweet, beautiful, joyful (insert your own adjective here)…Well isn’t she precious” comments from familiar friendly faces of our community. She adjusted her behavior. She had her arms folded on top of the cart handle. It absolutely tugged on my heart strings when she rested her head on her arms and chose not to interact with her surroundings. It was very uncharacteristic of her.
Which brings me back to a point I have made before; she is the most emotionally intelligent/aware child I have ever known. She quickly picks up on the energy of other people she is not familiar with and adjusts her behavior accordingly.
For now, we have replaced all the fluoride toothpaste in the house with Toms, non-fluoride toothpaste. We are still applying our creams and anxiously awaiting the day when her skin is completely clear and baby soft again. In the mean time, we will continue our little daily routines of giggling, cuddling, learning, playing and being outside.