My Eczema Journey: How I manage my eczema

I now have smooth, clear skin. Beautiful skin that most people take for granted, but which I appreciate because it didn’t always use to be this way as I used to have eczema, people who know me now are surprised when I tell them how bad it was. It’s been a long journey and I’m not even exactly sure how it got here, but the points below are some things that helped my skin get better and will hopefully help yours too.

I should also say though, that I think my skin has got better by itself to an extent and I finally “outgrew” my eczema in my early-mid 20’s, as the doctor’s had been hopefully promising for years.

  • PROTOPIC

When I was about 15 I was referred to a dermatolagist because I was having flare-ups where my skin felt like it was on fire, the dermatologist prescribed Protopic, an immunosuppressant, for my facial eczema, to be honest I don’t really remember much except that it worked, I think I used it for about two years to contol the eczema and

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Make up free

haven’t had to use it again since. It didn’t cure everything, my skin would still get very dry, sometimes feeling tight with flaky patches and the occassional small flare up.  I have noticed that my skin gets more irritated when it’s dry but it’s also quite reactive to products and my forehead and tops of cheeks can flare-up in response so finding effective moisturiers can be hard. I’ll talk more about that below.

  • MOISTURISER

Anyone with eczema knows that hydrating the skin is key, but some moisturisers are more effective than others. I’ve had eczema ever since I can remember and my elder two children were diagnosed at 6 weeks and 4 weeks old. Over time we’ve been prescribed Diprobase, Epaderm, Doublebase, 50/50 and probably some others I’ve forgotten. By the time my daughter was 2 her body was almost covered in that thickened super-dry skin, broken in places where she had been scratching. The doctor was suggesting wet wrapping 4 times a day to try and get more moisture into her skin, I’m sure it works for some but I didn’t feel the Epaderm was particulary helping her and with two children under three I found the prospect daunting so I took to the internet to try and find something that would help her and be more practical and less time consuming for me. I came across a thread on the National Eczema Society website discussing Aveeno moisturiser so I bought some for her and within a week her skin was clear and smooth again with only stubborn patches on her wrists, inside elbows, inside thighs and backs of knee’s remaining. I felt like it was a miracle!

Oddly I found Aveeno didn’t seem to make much difference on my skin but Garnier Body Repair and Neutrogena Deep Moisture body lotion did. I would moisturise twice a day and although my skin would still itch it wouldn’t break as easily. I now only have to moisturise after a bath/shower or every other day, possibly longer but I don’t leave it longer than that between washing and I always use moisturisers aimed at dry/very dry skin.

  • BETNOVATE

Using Betnovate was a turning point for me, for years previously I’d only been prescribed 1% Hydrocortisone or had GP’s tell me to try to stop scratching! As if I was doing it because I wanted to!

20180421_180631I had to use the Hydrocortisone constantly, the minute I stopped my skin would itch like crazy and erupt in those angry red rashes, not just in a couple of places but 32 irritated patches of skin (if I even remember them all). One day, I saw one of the nurses at the surgery and she suggested Betnovate.

People can be scared of using strong steriod creams on the skin and it isn’t for everyone but I was so tired of the battle that for me it was the right thing and it turned out to be the light at the end of the tunnel. I used Betnovate until my skin was calm and then stopped. And I didn’t get a single flare up for over a year! . It seemed like the Hydrocortisone could only keep the irritation at bay but the Betnovate actually got rid of it.

I had a big tube so it lasted for ages, I went so long between episodes that the Betnovate20180421_180518 fell off my prescription!

Every now and then I still get an eczema flare-up, I went to Spain last summer and after a week the salt water started to irritate my skin, a red bumpy rash appeared on the inside of my thighs and I use Betnovate so little now that I hadn’t remembered to bring it, which just goes to show because previously I never would have forgotten Hydrocortisone, it was an essential! Luckily, in Spain you don’t need a prescription for Betnovate so it was easily sorted and now over 6 months later the little 50g tube is still over half-full.

  • BIOLOGICAL WASHING POWDER

20180421_180451When I was growing up my mum aways used non-bio liquid laundry detergent to wash the clothes as she had been advised, believing our skin couldn’t handle anything else. I’m not sure exactly what prompted me to try switching to powder, it may have been the hope of saving some money but I experimented by washing some clothes with it and hoped my skin wouldn’t react as it had been known to when trialing a different laundry detergent. It didn’t, so I cautiously made the switch and started using it for the children’s clothing too. I later learned that a lot of countries don’t even sell non-biological washing powder and some believe that bio is better for eczema prone skin because it washes the clothes better removing more dirt and irritants such as skin flakes.

If you’re going to make the switch, I’d recommend only washing some of your clothes with the bio to start with, say light colours only, that way you will still have “safe” clothes washed in your normal laundry detergent to fall back on if your skin reacts. Make  bedding the last thing you switch only when you’re completely sure it’s okay, you spend a lot of time with your skin, especially facial skin, pressed into your bedding.

  • EFFECTIVE SKINCARE PRODUCTS

As I said, my skin is more irritated when it’s dry so keeping it well moisturised is the key but I think my skin is normal/dehydrated but prone to dryness as well. I say ‘I think’ because it can be hard to tell the difference but there are a few things that make me 20180421_183408think that. Understanding your skin is important because it will tell you what your skin needs, esstentially dry skin lacks oil and dehydrated skin lacks water.

When I wash my face I use a creamy, milk or balm cleanser, you need to avoid anything that foams as the SLS strips the skin of moisture. I then use a hyaluronic acid, and a hydrating moisturiser followed by a 20180421_183340_001nourishing moisturiser twice daily and a glycolic acid twice a week to exfoliate the skin, I personally prefer a chemical exfoliant to a physical one, and my skin is great. It has been a process to get to this stage though and I don’t think I would have been able to use either of the acids without a reaction before and if my skin is irritated by some other product then it can sting a little when I use the hyaluronic acid.

 

 

  • HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY SKIN NOW

I am no longer self-conscious about my skin and am free from that constant itch which is worth its weight in gold and even better, apart from a couple of dry patches on the eldest, my children are free from the distressing experience of having such difficult skin. However it’s definitely a case of managing my skin rather than curing it, I still get eczema flare ups sometimes but they are rare now and easy to get rid of. Now clear, smooth skin is my “normal” instead of the constant flare ups.

Eczema is not considered a serious condition (apart from those very severe cases) but it can have severe consequences on self-esteem, mental wellbeing and of course the physical effects, itching and burning that can make you feel like you want to scrape your skin off so I hope my experience can be of some use to you and I wish you well on your journey to clear, smooth and comfortable skin.

With love, Megumi x