My eczema story....
What is eczema?
For those who don’t know what eczema is,eczema is caused by an overactive response by the body's immune system to an irritant which causes red itchy patches of skin that look like a dry, red, scaly rash.
I have suffered with eczema all my life. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to go long stints of time without a single break out, and other times I have constant stubborn patches for months on end.
I get it all over my arms, my shoulders, my neck, behind my ears and sometimes in other random spots of my body, but the worst spot of all is when I get it on my face, around my eyes and around my lips. It’s been so bad around my face and mouth before that it has actually hurt to smile or laugh because the skin would crack and bleed. Its made me so self-conscious to the point that I feel awkward going to social events because I'm worried people are staring at it.
Every single time I would go to the doctors, I was told that my eczema was caused by something I was putting on my body (lotions etc) or that it was from something my body was coming into contact with. They would recommend the use of a steroid cream. My eczema would get better for a period of time, but whenever I would stop using the steroid cream it would get so much worse. It got to the point that I was needing a stronger steroid cream each time I would go to the doctors. I would find myself endlessly researching remedies to ease the pain of my burning red rash that seemed to never go away. Every time I would go off steroid creams to try something else, my skin would get soo much worse. I didn’t realise that “steroid cream withdrawals” was an actual thing.
Using steroid creams thins the skin out, weakening it, which makes it more prone to an eczema break out! On the steroid cream packet, which most of you would probably throw out (I know I always did!) it literally says “discontinue use after 2 weeks”… my doctor didn't tell me that, and every time I would go back I was prescribed another tube. When I started to come off using steroid creams, my eczema would get unbelievably inflamed, sore and itchy! This was due to steroid withdrawal.
It wasn’t until I was about 16 years old that I had made changes in my life which completely changed my skin. This was the age I really started my health and fitness journey. I started working at a gym down the road and started training about 3-4 times a week. As soon as I got into a routine of training, it really motivated me to start cleaning up my diet.
Now this was the turning point for me. As soon as I started incorporating regular exercise and started eating healthy, wholesome foods, my eczema started clearing up. I couldn’t believe it!! After all the money I had wasted on different products, which claimed to completely get rid of eczema, the one thing that really made the difference for me was actually exercising and watching what I was eating.
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I hardly struggled with eczema from that point onwards. I went for a good 7-8 years without really experiencing a break out at all! It wasn’t until recent times when me and my partner of 6 years had split (don’t worry, we are back together now! I went on a downward spiral, stopped caring for my health, and my diet went COMPLETELY out the window. Now my eczema is the worst it has ever been. It really goes to show how important keeping on top of your diet is! At the time of my most recent eczema break out, I started using steroid creams again... MISTAKE #2. I had heaps of events coming up, so I was just using my steroid cream as a quick fix. I continued using it for a few weeks, even though I knew this would have a worse effect in the long run. I have now completely stopped using my steroid cream, and as expected, my eczema has flared up, it has spread, and is sore and itchy what feels like 24/7. It just goes to show how important keeping on top of your diet is, and not using steroid creams as a “quick fix”.
Things I do when im experiencing an eczema break out;
· DO NOT STRESS! Stress can be another cause of eczema, so make sure to be patient. Your body can do amazing things, so just make sure to trust in its healing powers!
· SWITCH TO OILS switch from moisturizers to oils, this will be extra hydrating for your skin. If I do use any moisturizer, I make sure its free from artificial dyes, fragrances or colours and free of parabens/preservatives. Most things I use say for “sensitive skin”.
· GO SOAP FREE switch to body wash that is soap-free, fragrance free & preservative free
· CUT DAIRY Dairy products are known to cause flare ups of eczema, I try to steer away from any dairy products if I have stubborn patches of eczema that aren't going away
· FRAGRANCE FREE I make sure not to use any perfume, body sprays or anything that has perfumes/fragrance in it. I use a sensitive deodorant roll on, but that’s it!
· HYDRATE I make sure im drinking LOTS of water. At least 2 Litres a day.
· EAT CLEAN During this point, its extremely important to be looking after your gut health! After all, most problems to your skin stem from your gut health. I try to make sure I'm not eating high sugar foods & i cut down on dairy products.
· CLOTHING I always make sure my clothes are being washed with a sensitive protect washing liquid! This is super important because your clothes are rubbing on your skin all day.
· NO NEW PRODUCTS My skin is super sensitive around break out times, so I always make sure to never introduce new products at this time to avoid potential new breakouts!
· SAY BYE BYE PETS! Just kidding... I could never avoid my babys! But I always notice when I cuddle them more often or spend a lot of time with them I will get a flare up. So I make sure to still show love, but not too much. This is due to the fibers in their hair. It has a similar affect to dust, so I always make sure to steer clear of dusty places!
The main thing I try to remember is that my eczema does not define me! I am still me, it just means I have to be extra careful with what I am putting in, and on my body! These tips above also help me with my PCOS, which is a story for another blog post!
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At the end of the day, keeping on top of your health is super important. It certainly show's me when im not taking care of myself! Even more reason to make sure im staying on top of things. So I guess you could say everytime I have a breakout, its my body’s friendly (or not so friendly!) reminder to pull my head in and stay on top of my health!