The most heartbreaking part of her daughter Phoebe's skin condition isn't the financial cost, or even the bullies at school ("they're just curious"). It's the fact that Phoebe no longer trusts what her mother says will help her.
After the countless medications and topical ointments, it no longer works when Helena says 'this is a new cream, this one will work.'"
"It was easier when she was younger, I could manage it better. Now that she's older... [she's] stopped believing in it. She tells me 'I don't want any more creams. The doctor isn't getting it right, I'm not putting on any more of those creams.'"
Helena has even caught Phoebe hiding an expensive prescription cream in the rubbish bin. "Because she has to apply the cream at school, she was getting sick of people asking her what's all over her face. They say that she's really ugly," she tells us. "I get 'Mummy, I don't want to go to school' because of it."
Ever since Helena can remember, Phoebe has suffered from a skin condition. "She has always had [it] underneath in the folds of her skin, like underneath the kneecaps, under the elbows, sometimes around the face. [It] disappeared and now it has started again, especially on her face and eyelids. "
Because of the undiagnosed nature of Phoebe's skin condition, she has been prescribed countless medicated creams, including steroid cream, on a trial and error basis. For Helena, this means shelling out hundreds of dollars with no guarantee of success.
"You should see Phoebe's cosmetic bag, it's bigger than mine! And
it's just filled with the most expensive creams and ointments... Just a
small tube the dermatologist gave me was $45."
Helena's advice for other mothers is to chat with the school or school nurse about their children's skin condition. List their triggers, pack their moisturiser and gloves, and find activities that won't cause skin irritation. "Little kids can't do it themselves, [they need] that help from the school nurse," Helena says.
Helena recommends: Billie Goat Moisturiser for Sensitive Skin. "It's very effective and really easy."
Has your child got a skin condition? Have you tried prescription medication for their skin? Tell us your skin story by commenting below.