Sunday, April 5, 2015

Who is this Dr. Aron?

This is part of a series of posts about Penny's eczema story.  To start at the beginning, go here.

I first heard about Dr. Richard Aron on the Facebook group Eczema Parents. Like any parent who has been around the eczema block, I was very skeptical at first.  We've all heard of plenty of miracle lotions and diets.  None of them have helped.  And these parents on FB were saying they had paid an overseas doctor online for a consultation?  It honestly sounded like a scam.

Over time though, I saw the same parents continuing to share their experiences with Dr. Aron's method and these parents didn't seem to be crazy. None of them seemed to think it was shady.  So I joined the FB group for his patients and just listened in for a while.  I was still worried I would find out that most of his patients regressed or had to keep using the cream every day for life.

What I discovered was just the opposite.

Post after post of children whose itch disappeared within days.  Children who had started using the cream years ago and now only used it at a twice weekly maintenance dose or only for occasional flares. 

In fact, several of his patients had been to National Jewish Hospital, the other treatment we were considering.  Despite getting some relief, they were having trouble tapering the steroids and/or the itch never went away.

He had also treated children who had tried to go through Topical Steroid Withdrawal without success.  These children had been in much worse shape than Penny.  Some stopped growing and their parents said they had zero quality of life.  Their stories left me with a profound thankfulness Penny's case wasn't any worse than it was, and a hope that life could be better for us than it was now. Here are links to a couple of their stories:
The idea behind Dr. Aron's approach is simple: most treatments don't address the fact that 90% of eczema patients have staph colonized on their skin. This is what causes the crazy itch that persists even when the skin is clear. Why even when the skin is cleared for a while, the rash always comes back, often followed by skin that turns red and burns. It's a completely different, but very reasonable, explanation for Red Skin Syndrome or Topical Steroid Withdrawal. 

He prescribes a cream like Vanicream or Cetaphil (or others for patients in other countries depending on what's available) and has it compounded with a steroid cream and antibiotic.  His prescriptions are tailored to the age, weight, and severity of the patient.  At first, he prescribes anywhere from 4-6 applications a day.  He has his patients update him regularly over email and helps them gradually taper off the application so there are no rebound flares from stopping the steroid abruptly or the staph coming back.

Here is a clip of him on a South African TV show:

(For even more information about Dr. Aron, including his site where new patients can register, more patient blogs, and a link to the Telegraph article featuring him and his patients, go here.)

The only catch was that we had to get our pediatrician on board to rewrite the prescription for us since the pharmacy will only take a prescription from a US doctor. The process is different depending on which country the patient is in, but he works with people all over the world.  From what I read on the FB group, some doctors are very resistant to the idea and some are perfectly fine with it. 

The idea of having this conversation with our pediatrician made me really nervous, so I kept putting off the idea of consulting Dr. Aron.  My only regret, as so many of his patients have said, is that I didn't do it sooner.

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