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Itch, scratch, bleed…..

The misery that is eczema

20 August 2019

The itch /scratch cycle of eczema is without a doubt a form of torture. Trust me, there is not much that I don’t know about this horrible cycle.

I have eczema and if you are a fellow sufferer of this affliction, to whatever degree, my heart truly goes out to you.

If however, you are fortunate enough to have never had it, take it from me, the itch of eczema is unbearable (think a million ants with burning hot pins as feet crawling over your skin) only to be quelled by continuous and often vicious scratching, that you absolutely have the urge to do, against your will and in the full and familiar knowledge that you shouldn’t be doing it and that the consequences of raw, painful and bleeding skin will almost certainly be the result. This is then followed by feelings of guilt and shame that you couldn’t and didn’t control the urge to scratch. This is then generally followed by the application of some cream or another to help soothe and heal the mess that is now your skin and then the upset of knowing that as soon as it has healed the cycle will more than likely repeat itself again and again at various and/or the same places on your poor embattled body. The effects are not just physical. Depending on the severity and the areas affected (especially if visible to others) they can also be soul destroying too.

Eczema (Greek for ‘to boil over’ according to The National Eczema Association) comes in various forms and as a former school immunization nurse I saw far too many children suffering with large red, angry, scaly, blistered, cracked and bloodied eczematous sites. As so often is the case, I assumed that undiscovered allergies were responsible for much of it. (Artificial perfume in personal products being a common one*)

Without going into a whole heap of detail here into all the different types of eczema, I have the Atopic kind, meaning that although the potential for it show itself at any time was innate to me, fortunately it didn’t rear its ugly head until I was in my 40’s. However, unfortunately, I now have multiple sensitivities to multiple products and ingredients including Hydrocortisone that is often the treatment of choice!

Again to cut a very long story short, in my forever and ongoing quest to either treat my eczema or keep it away, I have only recently found some very helpful information that I need to share with you. Nobody previously told me about these and as a result of adding these top 3 very simple tips to my regime I am almost in remission from months and months of suffering!

I am not offering instant cures or treatments but for some really helpful information I highly recommend that you read:

  • The Eczema Solution by Sue Armstrong-Brown
  • Eczema Detox by Karen Fischer

from where these tips came.

  1. Apply your body cream/emollient throughout the day so as not to let your skin become dry and therefore itchy…even if you don’t think you need it.
  2. When you apply it, just stroke it on gently once or twice. Don’t rub it in vigorously as that wakes up the nerve endings in your skin
  3. If you are on prescribed creams or ‘Over The Counter’ (OTC) corticosteroid creams I urge you to use them properly! Do not stop the minute it looks as if it is getting better (I know, I know…you don’t want to use more than you feel you should…I get that) but you must keep going until a few days after it has completely disappeared otherwise it is MORE likely to return.

You can be allergic to absolutely anything and that includes foods beyond the more usual allergens associated with eczema. (Dairy for example) there are many foods that can make you itchy.

It is, in my opinion, advisable to have proper allergy tests to help identify any triggers that you might have. For this you will need to talk to your GP for them to agree to and arrange.

*If something contains Perfume/Parfum, avoid it like the plague.

My dear friend and Consultant Dermatologist Dr D.S. (who has helped me so much over the years and to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude for his kindness, patience and support) advised me that unless something clearly states that it is Perfume/Parfum Free then assume it isn’t. He also said that if there are lots of ingredients in a product, the more the opportunity for exposure to a potential allergen.

 

So just like when you are buying foods, check the ingredients carefully and try and choose the ones with the fewest.

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