Little Lincoln Kunst's eczema is so severe his dad Troy applies creams and bandages every few hours. Nighttime is particularly torturous, causing the boy to scratch his skin till it bleeds.
"We've tried just about every cream on the shelf," Troy said.
The dry, irritated and flaky skin of eczema sufferers weeps and bleeds, with rashes and itches they can't help but scratch.More stories from Today Tonight
For decades eczema has been a skin condition that's frustrated doctors. No one really knows what causes it but it seems that almost weekly a new eczema treatment is released, claiming to cure the condition.
What works and what doesn't depends on the sufferer, but one thing we do know for sure is causes of the irritating condition are on the rise.
John Garrett's daughter Emerald has also suffered from eczema since birth.
He says it's incredibly hard "to see the children that you love, see them lying in bed at night, scratching, tossing and turning, and you know they're not sleeping properly, that it effects their behaviour, effects them as little people."
Emerald has tried countless treatments, but for her relief finally came in the form of salt therapy.
"We used creams, we went to doctors - endless trips to doctors. Used cortisone creams, which are no good for the skin in the long run - all they seem to do is put a bandaid on the problem," John said.
Dimitri Taylor owns and operates a salt therapy clinic on Brisbane's Bayside.
"It is the salt that is in the air that's microscopic and has the benefits we want to see on our skin and in our lungs," Taylor explained.
"The properties of salt are that it absorbs moisture from the surrounding environment, so it makes it perfect for where there is inflamation - it draws out that inflamation."
Taylor says a growing number of his clients are visiting his clinic to treat eczema - a trend that doesn't surprise Cheryl Talent from the Eczema Association of Australasia.
"Every week we get a new cure. Every week someone will get in touch with us and say 'oh we have a cure ... it cured my son's daughter's friend's eczema'," Talent said.
Salt therapy is no silver bullet and neither is any product on the market warns Talent.Common treatments eczema include:
- Oral antihistamines
- Pimecrolimus cream
- Coal tar
- Dietary adjustments
- Evening primrose oil
- Ultraviolet radiation therapy
Dermatologist Dr Michael Freeman says that "unfortunately there is no cure for eczema. Fortunately, many people do grow out of eczema certainly by the time they start school. For those kiddies that don't improve at school age, teenage years can be another point where the oil in the skin increases and they naturally improve."
Dr Freeman says the impact of eczema can't be underestimated, particularly in the young.
"Eczema is certainly far more commonly shown in children because their skin is quite thin and the primary problem in many cases of eczema is a skin barrier issue," Dr Freeman explained.
Today one in four children develop eczema before the age of two. 50 years ago that was less than ten per cent.
Climate, lifestyle and genetics are contributing to the rise of the condition and for first-time parents raising a child who has developed eczema can be distressing.
"Try not to get too stressed because that flows through to the baby," Dr Freeman said.
"You just have to try different things and see what works for you," Taylor advised.Contact details
- Eczema Association of Australasia - www.eczema.org.au
This reporter is on Twitter at @DamienHansen7
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