It all started when little Oscar Langham was born with a red rash on his back and spots scattered around his body. Different kinds of skin conditions are quite common for newborns, who often suffer from what’s known as “baby acne.”As his mom, Steph Webster, said to the Daily Telegraph, “at first we didn’t realize there was anything wrong, we thought it was just something normal like a neonatal rash—but a midwife saw him and realized there might be a problem.”But as the weeks went on, Oscar’s spots didn’t go anywhere. They just stayed with no signs of dissipating. That’s when his parents realized that there was something else much more serious going on.
It turned out that Oscar was born with a condition that affects only 50 of the 750,000 or so children who are born in the United Kingdom each year that’s a 1-in-15,000 chance or 1 in every 100,000 in the world as per US National Library of Medicine. This rare disease is called histiocytosis, and doctors still know very little about what causes it, although they do know that Oscar has a good chance of survival. The doctor helping treat Oscar, Sarah Thompson of the Royal Stoke University Hospital, explained, per the Daily Mail, that “in essence, Oscar’s immune system is over responding to a skin condition. Oscar has been treated with a combination of chemotherapy and steroids, but unfortunately, his condition has remained.”For Oscar’s parents, the condition is obviously terrifying to deal with, particularly because there is so little information available about it. As Steph Webster said, “he’s got spots all over his body even on his tongue and his eyeballs which makes me worry about what’s going on inside.”
Just as difficult as Oscar’s condition itself and the worries his parents have about what could happen were the ways others responded to his skin condition. The most common thing they have heard is people thinking that he has chickenpox or some other contagious disease and wanting to keep away from him. As Steph Webster said,, “they often stare at him and point him out in the street people don’t want to come near him because they think they might catch it.” The saddest moment was when she took Oscar to see Santa at a local shopping mall and was initially turned away because of fear of Oscar’s spots spreading to other children. Webster was finally able to explain that he had a completely non-communicable condition. As his mother explained, the way other people look and point at him “does sometimes upset me, but if you let every little thing upset you you’d never leave the house, so we just get on with it.” Oscar’s parents want most of all for him to get the best treatment possible. As Webster said,, “as long as he’s happy and healthy, we don’t care about how he looks on the outside.”
As the years have gone on, Oscar Langham has not only survived but thrived. Despite his spots, he has a happy childhood with loving parents and even started school this past year. Doctors have managed to control and reduce the spots, though not get rid of them altogether. When it comes to histiocytosis, research continues to find causes and solutions for this baffling, rare condition. In the meantime, Oscar’s mom has two pieces of advice for other parents in their situation. As she said, The Daily Express, “if anyone else ever had a child that has something which takes so long to diagnose you will get an answer. To people that stare at you in the street or say negative things, think twice because it could be them in that situation.”