My eczema journey
I suffered from dry skin as a child and used aqueous cream and soap. It became a much bigger problem as I approached my teens. Suddenly, I had patches behind my knees, my elbows and under my armpits.
Things went completely out of control in 2006. What had started as a small patch on my right foot spread up to my knees on both legs. I began to feel self-conscious about what other people would think of me. This included men so became uncomfortable to go on dates or even think about relationships. From this point, I stopped wearing any clothing which showed my lower legs. All of these factors and thoughts reduced my confidence. I wished that I did not have eczema and felt abnormal.
I was referred by the GP to a dermatologist who referred me for UVB light treatment in 2007 which had no improvement. I was then prescribed a steroid tablet which I cannot remember the name of (Probably either Methotrexate or Ciclosporin). Unfortunately, I only lasted one week on this medication due to severe dizziness and nausea.
In 2012, just after my graduation. I started using wet wraps and steroid cream (possibly Betnovate) which settled things down and wore skirts briefly as eczema on the lower legs began to fade. I had small marks around the ankle which I did not mind showing.
In 2015/16 I went through a very stressful period where it came back again and spread all over my arms, hands and neck. I was discharged from dermatology as things were going well so had to visit the GP again for another referral. While waiting I was prescribed Prediscone for 5 days and then things cleared up. Then approximately 2 weeks later, I went through a brief period when I was covered in flakes from head to toe. My skin had also become darker and a lost about 1 ½ stone in weight (I don’t know if this was stress related or a side effect from the medicine)
I was very embarrassed during this time as flakes were everywhere. The bedroom, bathroom, my car and around the house. I had to be careful taking off my clothes as flakes used to just fly everywhere and had to always look back to double check there was none lying around. I also had to vacuum daily.
To this day, I still have eczema but it is now under control. On a brilliant note, I get many comments to remark how much I’ve improved without even myself even noticing. Lately, I have been advised my dermatologist to try UVB light treatment again. So I have started this again after 11 years.
Wintertime definitely has a negative effect on my eczema. Although I can get flare-ups during the summer (if I get too hot and distressed) winter time is far worse. During these months I need to use thicker creams and also moisturise more often. This time of year, I’m also more likely to have flaky and weeping skin, need steroid creams and have to take antibiotics. My skin is also more prone to split and crack due to the cold weather. My hands, knees and feet are the worst places for cracking as it can affect walking and doing daily tasks. Another issue is central heating and air conditioning as this dries out the skin. In the summer I can get away with a thinner cream twice a day apart from the badly affected areas which may need to be applied 3 or 4 times a day.
Other things that affect me are clothing and materials. I stay away from nylon, wool and anything that rough that will make me hot and irritable. I do wear some lace, mainly bras but I try to avoid that also. I try and stick to cotton and linen as much as possible.
I was diagnosed with food allergies and intolerances in 2016 so since then I have slowly reduced and avoided certain foods, Primarily wheat as this is harmful of my allergies. I also consume very limited dairy. I try to avoid sugar too (but because I have a sweet tooth, I’m not there yet!).
Another thing that affects me are certain environments. I intend to cover this more in another blog but anywhere with mould, damp, dust or dry air agitates eczema.
I’ve reacted to cream ingredients in the past. Both 50:50 ointment and Epaderm ointment both led to increased flaky skin. I then realised that both contain paraffin which I think may have been the ingredient I reacted to.
What treatments I’ve had
All sorts of things! Everything on the planet LOL!
Of course, I am exaggerating here. It just feels a lot like it since eczema involves trying a lot of experimenting with products.
Things I have tried include:
- Moisturisers such as: aqueous cream (as a child), diprobase, cetraben, doublebase, dermol lotion, aveeno cream, balleum cream, child farm, 50:50 ointment, epaderm
- Steroid creams – trimovate, betnovate, hydrocortisone, eumovate
- UVB light treatment – this did not lead to 100% improvement in 2007. I have now started this treatment again in December 2018 but it’s still early days to comment on any improvements.
- Steroid tablet (prediscone which did not go to well)
- Wet wraps and bandages – this did work back in 2012 but it simply suppressed the condition and so soon flared up again
- Raw black soap – made my skin drier
- Raw shea butter (I reacted to this, unfortunately)
- Dead sea salt (this did help slightly)
- Apple cider vinegar (orally not placed directly on the skin) – I only did this for about a month and no improvement
- Manuka honey (again orally not directly on the skin)
- Oat baths (this is using oats in cheesecloth and then using it to soak on the skin) – this is help with itching and keeping moist but can be quite messy to clean!
- Bicarbonate soda in shower and baths – this did not work very well
- Bathing in camomile tea bags – this did reduce itching