Baby, I was born this way. And, unlike a lot of people, I stayed this way, too. Eczema in babies and children is quite common, but it is thought that most people will grow out of acute or chronic eczema by the time they reach adulthood.
Apparently, my mother knew that I would be a scratcher because she was constantly itchy during her pregnancy. I’ve tried lots of lotions, potions and products since I was born with varying amounts of success. Prescription creams and bath oils made me feel greasy and dirty, but moisturising is the most important thing in managing the condition. Atopic dermatitis, as it is also known in the trade, is partially due to faster shedding skin, but also involves the skin reacting to allergens and other factors. Common allergens are dust and dairy. Eczema can often be exacerbated by over-washing or using perfumed products, or even hard water. But, one of my biggest triggers is stress – my skin is basically a big old drama queen. It likes to throw a hissy fit every time things are not going my way.
Living with eczema and anxiety side-by-side sometimes feels more like existing than living because it’s a non-stop cycle of stress causing flare-ups causing bad skin causing stress causing flare-ups and so on. It’s also an exhausting combination because both take their toll on self-confidence. Whilst anxiety is busy nibbling away at your brain telling you that you are ugly and worthless, eczema gives a helping hand by destroying your skin in a very visible way which gets reactions ranging from, ‘poor you’ to ‘is it contagious?’.
Here are a few ways I manage my eczema:
- Nailed it: Keep your nails cut short and filed down to help keep damage to a minimum.
- Move on: Don’t try and stick it out with a product that doesn’t do you any favours. It can be a total pain, especially if you’ve spent money on a new magic lotion and then it gives you hives.
- Keep it clean: Wash sheets on a high temperature to kill any dusty-mitey-itchy stuff. Also, use unscented, non-bio, sensitive washing liquid or powder.
- But not too clean: Over-washing and washing in water that is too hot can make the problem worse. Wash in warm, not scalding water and don’t sit in the bath for too long because that won’t do you any favours either.
- Food diary: Keep a track on what you’re letting into your body – there might be some allergy issues making your skin act up. I’m a recent convert to soya milk.
- Whatever you’re doing, stop it!: Stop scratching. Now. No, stop it. Seriously. Try patting, rubbing, gently slapping to stimulate your skin without drawing blood.
- Take it easy: Keeping your stress levels down is key because it’s one hell of a climb back up from the bottom of that cycle.
Body and mind as one! Be gentle to both 🙂