A FAMILY face a daily struggle looking after their son who is allergic to some foods, certain materials – and even dust.
Charlie Walker lives in agony because of his allergies, which would leave him in hospital if he didn’t wear a special suit.
His mum Cheryl had to order the outfit, with fitted mittens and feet, to keep him cool and protect him from dust around the house.
The four-year-old, of East Boldon, also suffers from asthma and eczema, which his mum says leaves him “miserable, irritable and sleepy”.
He has ended up in hospital because of breathing problems brought on by his allergies, and although he goes to nursery, he often has to leave because he is so distressed by being so itchy that he has scratches until he bleeds.
Teaching assistant Cheryl, 35, and husband Christopher, 44, a police officer, first realised something was wrong when Charlie developed hives, swollen lips and breathing problems after touching particular foods.
So far, they have discovered nuts, kiwi fruit, chickpeas, sesame seeds, eggs and prawns are among the foods he reacts to.
Other triggers include swimming, wet sand, dressing-up outfits and perfumed products.
Cheryl and Christopher, also parents to Amber, seven, cannot leave him alone in case he causes damage to his skin.
Cheryl said: “He is suffering. It is really hard because we’ve got to keep on top of everything in the house to try and help him.
“We have had to remove all of the carpets and put hard floors in and take the curtains down. Anything that can attract dust will affect him.
“His skin is contantly inflamed, and he wears the suit we bought from America to try and protect him, but even that doesn’t work at night, because he still burns up and his skin inflames, meaning he hardly sleeps at all.
“It is such a shame because he is a happy boy, full of energy, but he’s suffering and it makes him miserable, irritable and sleepy.”
Despite his allergies, Charlie enjoys visiting West Boldon Lodge, where he wears a full waterproof suit for protection.
He has become friends with Ellen Crossley, who volunteers at the education centre, and will take part in her first Great North Run in September in aid of Allergy UK.
The 55-year-old, of Boldon Colliery, has three grandsons who suffer from a combination of eczema, asthma or allergies.
Her son James McLeod, 33, is dad to Corran, four, who has eczema and asthma and is allergic to eggs, and her daughter Tanith McLeod, 31, is mum to Tobias, three, who is dairy-intolerant and has eczema, and her eldest child, Sebastian, four, has eczema.
Ellen’s mother-in-law Kay Crossley, 70, has also recently developed a fruit allergy.
“For the last few years, James has done the Great North Run, and so this year I thought I’m 55, that’s a good age to go for it,” said retired nurse Ellen, married to Jim, 48.
“It’s quite a small charity, but everybody knows somebody who has an allergy.
“Charlie is lovely, so pleasant, and his skin is just riven because of all these things.”