Count yourself very fortunate if you never ever had eczema before – whether as a child or an adult. Some women have been known to develop eczema during pregnancy or after child-birth. It is quite difficult to diagnose the cause of eczema unless you go through an extensive series of tests with your dermatologist.
When I was diagnosed in 2001, the good doctor could only classify it as atopic eczema. She said if I were to know what was the source, I would have to go through a series of tests. Even then, she could not guarantee that the results will be conclusive. Many times it is difficult to identify the exact trigger that causes a flare-up.I decided against it as there was no real cure for eczema.
Since then, my skin will flare up periodically. It was very depressing and agonizing as the itch was excruciatingly unbearable. The more I scratched, the more the affected area hurt and itched. The more it hurt and itched, the more I wanted to hit, scratch or even claw at my skin. At times when I couldn’t tolerate it any more, I put a cloth over the affected area to scratch or claw with my fingers. The cloth reduced the risk of my skin breaking. The nights were worse. I would be gripping my hair at the temple, screaming silently as the burning sensation and itch kept me pacing up and down.
What does eczema look and feel like?
Although eczema may look different from person to person, it is most often characterized by dry, red, extremely itchy patches on the skin. Eczema is sometimes referred to as “the itch that rashes,” since the itch, when scratched, results in the appearance of the rash. Most sufferers will hide that part of body from sight. I was wearing pants and ankle long skirt for almost 2 years because my legs, from thigh to ankle, were usually red and sometimes even weepy. The legs were dry, leathery and scared even when the red patches subside. This is known as skin thickening or lichenification.
What makes patients with eczema itch?
The trigger will be different for different sufferers. For some, it could be rough or coarse fabrics that come into contact with the skin. For others, the hot weather caused them to perspire and would lead to an outbreak. While some would find that certain soaps, detergents, disinfectants, contact with juices from fresh fruits and meats, dust mites, and even animal saliva could trigger itching. Upper respiratory infections and stress can also sometimes worsen an existing flare-up.
How common is eczema?
The National Institutes of Health estimated that 15 million people in the United States have some form of eczema. About 10-20 percent of all infants have eczema. Fortunately, 50% of them will show very little symptom between 5 and 15 years old. Others will have some form of the disease throughout their lives.
What did I do?
I tried everything I deemed safe. I got the dermatologist’s prescription of oral medicine and ointment including steroids, urea cream, hydrocortizone, moisturizer, etc. I sought holistic treatments like aromatherapy and essential oils; I used blended concoction of vitamin E oil and patchuli. I consulted a dietitian to work out a diet plan. Recently I started sprouting and started to eat raw sprouts to boost my immunity and enzyme levels. I also bought e-courses to make sure that eczema stay away as long as possible. The reason for trying out alternative and holistic approaches is because of the side effects (including skin thinning) for prolonged usage of oral and external medicine.
Frustrating as it is, life still goes on. Read fellow sufferer, Rachel Anderson, sharing her experience and cure at Eczema Free Forever
- Eczema Free Forever by Rachel Anderson