So, eczema! Oh, dear lord. Where can I start!? I was official diagnosed with eczema about two and a half years ago. Before then, I only had been having issues with my contact dermatitis on my hands. Which, long story short, is an allergic reaction to certain irritants. To be honest, I didn’t really take care of my skin. I took scalding hot showers, I never used lotion on my legs, arms or torso, and my diet could of been better. You can even say, I was asking for it but that would leave a little left to be desired. Just like a lot of my posts, I’d thought I’d share what it’s like living with eczema and how I deal with it. I still have a lot to learn and I’m constantly researching about it, but nevertheless I’d like you tell you how it all started! It was a sunny afternoon, as it typically is here in Southern California. I decided to go on a run and afterwards I went ahead and took a shower, washed up, nothing out of the norm; I didn’t have much shaving gel left so I did what I could and shaved my legs very hastily. After that I went about my day as per usual. What I didn’t know then, was I probably gave myself razor burn. My skin was not happy and it was telling me so after the days passed. Yet, I didn’t pay much attention to my skin as I really should of. That was my biggest mistake. I broke out in heavy patches of bumps and lesions, burning, bright red and itching like no other rash I’ve ever gotten in the past. My skin was angry, as if it had a mind of it’s own! I didn’t know what to do. I tried aloe vera, calamine lotion, every lotion I had at my disposal. Nothing worked. I scratched at my skin only getting temporary relief from my nails diggings into my dermis. It only got worse and taking showers became extremely painful. Thick, dark, black scabs started to form where the lesions were, my body somehow trying to heal itself. I was scared. I thought that was something direly wrong with me. My parents who are nurses were convinced it was chicken pox, even though I already had it once as a kid. Adult onset chicken pox they told me. I went to the ER twice. The first time they gave me antibiotics to kill whatever it was they thought it was. But, they were wrong. I went back a second time and they prompt me to see a dermatologist at once. Saw the dermatologist and he didn’t even what was wrong with me at first. They thought I could possible have PLEVA, which I researched beforehand. Never try to self-diagnose yourself, it’s soooo stressful and not worth worrying over something you probably don’t have. They did a biopsy on one of my many lesions to sent out to the lab, to see if what I feared is really true. Fortunately, for me it was not PLEVA! BTW, don’t look that up if you have a squeamish stomach!! My final diagnosis, was diploid eczema! Diploid, meaning the way the lesions form on the skin. Technically, it means coin-shaped. Honestly, I couldn’t of been more relieved.
So, had do I deal with my eczema daily? Boy, it’s not easy! I’m still trying to find way to deal. Especially at first, I had to change my habits quick, for my skin is no longer very forgiving. Moisturize! Moisturize!!! MOISTURIZE!!! I’m not kidding you, I have to, no matter what or I have to deal with angry red, dry, flaking bumps that can turn into those nasty lesions. After I shower most importantly, I need to re-moisturize my skin. I still love my scalding hot showers, but I shorten the amount of time my skin is under hot water. BTW, don’t use hot water! Use warm water. I just can’t give up my hot water! After about 15 minutes, I start making the water cooler and cooler, so my internal temperature drops back to normal. Heat really leeches the moisture from your skin, leaving it preamble to dry skin. How many times did I say moisturize in this paragraph? Lol, “moist” is such unpleasant sounding word to me. Anyone, else? Anyway, I digress. Very important to keep your skin hydrated (why, did’t I just use this word from the beginning?). My favorite HG moisturizer is the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, which happens to be made for people with eczema! I was recommended to use this product by my dermatologist! If you have any concerns, ask your dermatologist! Sounds like common sense, but I know it can be a pain to go to the doctors! Just go! ^^
*UPDATE – 01/22/2016
Changing up the products I use on my skin as been a life saver! I’ve to products that use natural fragrances such as peppermint oil or almond oil. Which is why I love, Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap, it uses ingredients such as organic coconut oil, olive oil, palm kernel oil, hemp oil and jojoba oil. It comes in peppermint, almond, lavender, hemp, citrus, eucalyptus, rose and other natural scents. I use it as a body cleanser, but you could use it for face, as a shampoo or even as a household cleaner.
Believe it or not, but your fashion choices can affect your eczema. I’m very much a leggings-type-of-wearing-girl. But, eczema plus tight fitting clothes, spells disaster for someone like, myself. Granted, I still wear leggings a lot of the days of the week. It tends to make my skin a tad itchy when I wear tight restraining clothes, basically it causes irritation. Especially if you are wearing itchy fabrics, such as, rayon, wool, etc. Speaking about restraining clothes, I love wearing yoga pants to the gym even though I’m not attending a yoga class. Don’t judge me! LOL. They are so comfortable! However, my eczema doesn’t cease to complain, so I kind of just live with it now. Kind of horrible, but it’s an on growing process. One tip: Make sure the detergent you use is safe for sensitive skin users! All those added fragrances could spell disaster for your sensitive skin! Everyone will react with a different severity, however. I use,
Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Liquid Laundry Detergent as well as Woolite. (UPDATE: Arm & Hammer has made a detergent that is safer for those with sensitive skin. However, the regular one, the one I listed in this post is actually very tough on clothes and on skin. My mother uses it to wash her nurse scrubs with it!!! I guess, I didn’t do enough research because I read it was good for those with sensitive skin. Maybe, I got confused because they do have a detergent specially made for those with sensitive skin. I apologize profusely!) Liquid detergents tend to rinse out much easier! I have no idea if those certain detergents are actually good for eczema users, but it doesn’t seem to bother my skin! You might not react the same as me though, so I’d do some research or maybe test it out somehow–spot test? O.o There are a lot of natural soap detergents in the market, you just have to do a little more searching to find them! Health food stores do carry some brands. I’d start there!
Very Important! Do Not Scratch! I’m so bad with it comes to this. Having an itch you can not scratch is the worst feeling ever, at least for me. But, if you don’t want to make the condition of your skin way worse, I advise you not scratch at those pesky bumps or they will turn into nasty lesions or worse, get infected! I even find myself scratching in the middle of the night subconsciously! To stop this, I’ve been cutting my nails very short, so I can’t do too much damage to my skin. But, I hate doing this because I love painting my nails! I prefer my nails shorter but not that short. It’s definitely a double-edge sword kind of fiasco, I’m battling with myself. Is that weird? LOL. Who am I kidding, I know the answer to that. People think I’m weird, it is what it is. Though, I prefer to be called quirky!! ^^
I’ve been told eczema is related to your diet, but I personally haven’t felt any different when I eat more of a certain food(s). Some of foods that you should probably avoid is: dairy, like cheese and milk, foods with high amounts of gluten, etc. But, honestly I rather inform you about foods that can help with your eczema such as:
1. Cold water fish like salmon, cod, and halibut are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce symptoms of eczema flare-ups.
2. Nuts and seeds, especially flax seeds, are also high in Omega 3s.
3. Buckwheat is rich in quercetin and is a great gluten-free alternative — gluten is believed to be a possible trigger for eczema.
4. Apples are rich in quercetin, which is also a key ingredient for fighting eczema. It’s an anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine agent. Also rich in quercetin are berries, citrus, and broccoli.
5. Eggs and oatmeal have something important in common: Zinc. The mineral helps fight off eczema.
6. Bananas are rich in histamine-lowering Magnesium and Vitamin C.
7. Chicken stock can help rebuild your skin.
How do I deal with hypo-pigmentation and hyper-pigmentation? This is probably the worse symptom of eczema, IMO. It’s really hard to look at your skin when it has all these imperfections! I mean, I know everyone has at least some, but it just makes me sad to look at my multicolored legs. I have patches of skin that are much darker than my actual skin tone and I have little patches of skin that are much lighter than my skin tone. So, honestly I don’t know to exactly get rid of them, at least not immediately. I’ve heard Shea and Cocoa Butter are essential in fading dark spots and evening the tone of your skin. This personally seems to be working on me. Also, at the time, around when I was finally diagnosed, I had my good friend’s wedding to attend, as a bridesmaid. ^^ I wanted my hyper-pigmentation gone right away because we would of course be taking pictures. So I bought Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula, because I’ve heard it works wonders and is extremely affordable. It works! At least it does on me. After going through like several bottles, I decided to try Carol’s Daughter’s Scar Butter and while the reviews on the internets have been positive, it doesn’t work for me. My pigmentation faded only slightly compared to Palmer’s. Plus, I found it extremely annoying that you had to apply it three times daily!! Like, c’mon! Who has time for that!? So, I went back to Palmer’s and I’m currently using the Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E: Fragrance Free, Hypoallergenic for Sensitive Skin. So much better!!! My pigmentation is fading much more quickly and hopefully will be almost gone, as I ironically, have another wedding to attend as, yup, a bridesmaid.
Another quick tip! As I mentioned above, supplements are extremely beneficial for those with eczema! I take these three supplements daily! I take Oil of Evening Primrose (1000mg), which has been used to treat eczema way back when! I also take a Vitamin D-3 (2000 IU) because I’m apparently deficient. It’s very common to have a deficiency in Vitamin D-3 nowadays. You can actually get your needed Vitamin D in foods like mushrooms and even going out into direct sunlight for about 15 minutes, be careful not to stay out too long. You should always wear sunscreen if you are going to be in sunlight for more than 15 minutes! Lastly, I take an Daily Omega-3-5-6-7-8-9-11 (1200 mg Fish Oil, 660 mg Total Omegas). I personally love the burp-free tablets! No yucky fish burps! Or you can use a trick my dear friend told me about: Freeze your fish oil tablets! This will prevent you from having that yucky fish burp! Also, try to find supplements that don’t have too much fillers! You don’t need that unnecessary stuff in your body.
I definitely do not have all the answers to “curing” my eczema, it’s still very much an everyday battle. If any if the readers and or random visitors have any tips for us, that would be like to share, that would be extremely helpful.
Until next time,