Reporter: Sally Obermeder
Imagine being a new mother and not being able to hold your own baby because of a fear that your severe skin condition could harm her.
That's exactly what confronted Caroline Monet, who's hands were so blistered and sore from dermatitis and eczema the most normal day-to-day activities were beyond her.
Despite trying hundreds of treatments, nothing worked for Monet, until she came up with her own solution.
Now the cream she developed in her kitchen is bringing relief to thousands around the country."The cream can be used for eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, dry skin, and people with sensitive skin," Monet explained.
Ask anyone with severe skin conditions about their struggle, and the first thing they'll mention is the pain.
"When you have a bad flare up basically (it's like if you'd) hold your hand on a hot plate and keep it there for probably about three or four minutes. That's the intensity of the heat for an extreme case, that's what it was like on my face," sufferer Jenni Lorne said.
The other aspect to the disorder is of course how it looks.
"People see your hands and they'd go 'oh my god look at your hands', or you'd go into a chemist to go and get something and they would just shriek, and you'd get depressed," fellow sufferer Corina Tucker said.
Severe skin disorders can also get in the way of day to day life.
"Just putting your hands in dishwashing liquids and trying to wash the dishes was painful, as was peeling potatoes, peeling vegies, anything that you did," Tucker said. "I'd stick cotton gloves on with plastic gloves over the top just so I could prepare my kids something to eat for dinner that night. It was just so hard."
Monet finally decided to do something about her suffering, and turned to her kitchen.
"I felt like a mad professor really because I had all these oils and herbs around me, and all these books everywhere," she said. "It was really exciting, but I had no idea I was going to make something that was going to have this sort of effect on skin conditions."
To say Monet's cream is a success is just scratching the surface. From its beginnings as a kitchen remedy being given to family and friends, it's now produced and distributed around the country, bringing blessed relief to plenty of sufferers.
"It's just amazing. It's our miracle cream, it really is," Lorne said.Lorne has suffered on and off throughout her life. The hideous eczema outbreaks had her living like a recluse, but even harder to cope with was her son, James', suffering. "My son was born with eczema basically from top to toe. The heartbreaking part was him screaming and crying." Thankfully this is now a distant, dark memory, and there's no masking her gratitude.
Tucker's story is much the same, with countless visits to doctors and pharmacists, and thousands of dollars spent on creams, ointments and drugs.
"First you get frustrated, then you get angry, and then you sort of find yourself crying sometimes about the condition, because you just can't do anything to fix it," she said. "You've tried so many products, you've tried just about everything - gone into chemists, gone into doctors, and been on antibiotics, but the condition has never got any better."
An estimated 3 million Australians suffer from eczema, and most suffer in silence. But the quiet word of mouth about Caroline's Cream has quickly turned into a roar. "The feedback I started to get from people was nothing short of extraordinary, and I said to my husband 'I think I need to do something with this, I need to be able to share this'," Monet said. She now gets daily messages of thanks for a cream that's all natural, and uses the wisdom of the ages.
"I just knew that a lot of the ingredients that I had chosen had been used in age-old remedies for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years to treat various skin problems," she said.
Dermatologist Dr Stephen Shumack agrees."These are conditions which are lifelong, so if you've got eczema or psoriasis you are genetically determined to have those conditions, and those conditions usually mean you have sensitive skin. So these conditions are usually able to be controlled by moisturisers such as this one," he said. "Using this product, or any product like this, will tend to keep you good for quite a long time."
"I always wanted to do something with a purpose, something to make a difference, and I really feel like I've been given a gift," Monet concluded.