Pediatric pyogenic granulomas are defined here on eMedicine by Brian Keene, DO, as benign vascular lesions on the face.
My son was 22 months at the first sign of this growth under his left eye, just to the side of the bridge of his nose. It started as a red mark, kind of like a freckle. At first, I attributed it to a scratch he may have gotten while playing outside in the backyard and didn't do much more than put a bit of shea butter or calendula cream on it to help heal. It continued to grow beyond the skin like a bright red pimple. At a late night doctor visit in July for a persistent fever, the doctor quickly identified it as a pyogenic granuloma and said he would need to see a dermatologist to cut it off. My instinct always is to start with simple and natural solutions to support the body's already capable and amazing immunity and design. This is when the search began. I spent a solid 4 weeks trying to find as much information about the causes, related illnesses, potential treatments and their side effects. Everything I read pointed to surgically removing it and cauterizing the wound to prevent it from growing back. I also read in multiple places that these growths more than likely return and need a second or possibly third procedure.
|August 1, 2017|
On the eve of his second birthday, my husband and I decorated his doorway with balloons and streamers and went to bed late. After falling asleep, I heard Max cry out to me. By the time, I got out of bed, he was standing calmly in his doorway with a face full of blood. The pyogenic granuloma had grown so big that it was now larger than the size of a pencil eraser and full of blood. He had somehow ruptured it while sleeping and now we stood in the bathroom with rolls of toilet paper and turmeric powder trying to create a clot to stop the constant flow. It was a bummer that he had to discover his awesome birthday balloon doorway in the middle of the night, all sleepy and confused.
It took a few weeks for us to find and then get an appointment with a pediatric dermatologist that was covered by my insurance. I have a vivid memory of being on the plane (I work as a flight attendant and was on call the day of the appointment) on the phone with the nurse at the dermatologist office trying to discuss alternatives from what they told by husband was the only way to go, slice and burn. The nurse argued with me until she knew I was unrelenting. Once the doctor was on the phone, I told him of a study I had found that recommended a topical application of Timolol gel. I sent him a copy and he agreed we could try it. He prescribed Timolol in a eyedrop application. I asked about it, and so did the pharmacy, but he insisted that is what he wanted to prescribe. So, we gave it a go and it kept growing and breaking and bleeding and growing and breaking and bleeding...till I felt so heartbroken for this strong, patient little boy who stood still while I put the drops on with fresh Cars bandaids.
The first surgical procedure was in September. My son acted like all of it was no big deal, didn't shed a single tear and watched Elmo's World the whole time. The adults in the room were far more worked up than him. It bled so much that the doctor had a hard time cauterizing it. After the surgery, we kept it covered in Neosporin, following the doctor's suggestion. It started to grow back after a few weeks. My heart sunk realizing that this growth was not going away. At the follow up appointment, doctor had us a schedule a second surgical procedure. So, in November we went back. This time we were armed with Elmo's World and a blanket from home. My husband and I were still nervous, though not very much. We thought it would be easy and simpler because it was smaller. On the contrary, Max was vividly aware of every step of the procedure and put up an intensely raw struggle. I had to hold him still with my arms, legs, and body. I remember looking at the wall because I couldn't bear to look into his eyes, holding him with the arms I protect him with, feeling like I betrayed him. Once it was over, he was okay. I was not. I knew that this was not the answer.
And, then, yes, it grew back a third time. Even after applying Imiquimod topically for weeks. When I followed up with the doctor and asked him what alternatives he had, he took out his phone and looked it up, reading out a variety of additional invasive procedures from a list he found. Please know, this whole time, I'm still searching for answers in online forums, Facebook groups, and medical journals. I felt that I was more informed than him, or that at least I was actively trying to find a better solution while he was methodically applying the same old.
This next part is the important part for you, the human, who is looking for a better answer. I remembered that I had choices and I listened to my gut. This is a tough step. It's so simple, it's hard.
Some of my sweet friends recommended applying frankincense oil and I started keeping it consistently covered, six to eight times a day. Thanks to a recommendation from a fellow mom on the Las Vegas Very Natural Mamas Facebook group, I contacted Dr. Angela Stueber at True Health Acupuncture. She admitted that she had never dealt with a pyogenic granuloma and wanted to research and contact her mentor. Yes! She got back to me within the week and agreed to work with us. At this time, the PG was the size of a chia seed and the scar from the second cauterization was raw and had never properly healed because of the Imiquimod treatment. Six weeks later, the PG is gone and his scar is healing beautifully. I won't be naive enough to assume this is the end. I keep a watchful eye on it every day and continue to apply frankincense and helichrysum oils to it directly.
I hope this story helps you.
Infinite gratitude to my first born for being a teacher in strength and patience. It was scary it times, but you always kept calm and trusted me to take care of you. I have no choice but to live up to your trust. You are so loved.