Growing up, I've always been self-conscious about my skin. I was diagnosed with eczema at a very young age and tried so many different remedies to cure my eczema. Time after time, I struggled with those annoying rashes and had to find ways to deal with it. I would literally dread summer because of how hot it was and how it would immediately make my skin flare. And since summer meant shorts and tank tops, I became really embarrassed about showing off my arms and legs for fear that my friends would see the eczema flares all over. It was just plain awful, and I grew extremely frustrated.
At one point, it got so bad that it was affecting my hands and eyelids. I tend to wash my hands a lot and would rub my eyes, too, which only made it worse. By then, I became restless. I tried everything from steroid cream, to fancy skin products, to constant visits to the doctor, but nothing seemed to work.
So then I started to think that if nothing was giving me immediate and useful relief, maybe there were some other lifestyle changes or habits I could work on that could help with my eczema. I was too focused on quickly getting rid of my skin flares, that I didn't realize that perhaps my skin was reacting to the aggressive creams and treatments I was using on my body. Realizing this changed my life and skin forever.
If you experience eczema and both it's mental and physical effects on your body, these 6 easy steps might just help. I'm no doctor, but from personal experience, it could be useful to consider these tips.
1. Change your diet/food
This might be obvious, but changing your diet might be one of the best things for your body. I remember during these flare-ups, I'd try to notice what I ate and how it affected my skin. I cut out a lot of super salty, high sugar, and high cholesterol foods and as a result, my eczema didn't seem to be as bad as it was when I was eating those foods. If I ate tons of dairy products, I'd notice that my eczema would become worse a couple of days after. So now, I try to keep it at minimum and not go over board with the milkshakes and cheese. Even though we all know cheese is life.
2. Change your skin products
I try to almost always use skin products that DON'T have any fragrance or are unscented. Using ones that did would always make my skin worse. For my facewash, I love using Neutrogena or Cetaphil products. For lotion, my go-to product for my skin would be Eucerin Eczema Relief Instant Therapy Creme. It works super well for my hands and arms. It also doesn't burn when you apply it to the skin cracks that eczema causes. A real life-saver.
3. Avoid steroid creams
OK, so I know that whenever you go to the doctor or dermatologist, they almost always prescribe hydrocortisone for eczema. I learned that every time I used it, my symptoms would go away for a couple of weeks, but it would always come back stronger and more profusely. I'd have to keep applying this ointment over and over again. So I looked at the ingredients and found out that the cream was not so good for me after all. The reason? According to Examiner.com, "continued use of topical steroid creams containing hydrocortisone can cause the skin to develop a resistance (called tachyplaxis) to the medication. As a result, in order to have the desired medical effect, a stronger and more potent steroid may be needed, which may cause even more potential side effects." Sure, hydrocortisone can give you a quick fix, but in the end, it might not be best to continue using it.
4. Drink lots of water
Personally, I feel like drinking lots of water helped my eczema so much. It would literally flush out all the toxins in my body. I hardly drank enough water before and noticed that when I made an effort to drink water it affected my skin entirely. And even though there is much debate on whether or not water affects our skin, it obviously worked for this woman and seriously makes me feel great too. In general, it's probably a good idea to just drink plenty of water, period.
5. Don't stress and get lots of sleep
I noticed that when I was in super stressful moods, my eczema would flare up as well. If I didn't get enough sleep, it would only make my eczema worse. And the fact that I wasn't sleeping enough and stressing out would just make my rashes terrible to deal with. If you don't take my word for it, Donald V. Belsito, MD, who teaches clinical dermatology in Columbia University states, "During times of stress, the inflammation in the skin increases, as a way to protect the skin from harm. So if you already have inflammation in your skin, as with eczema, stress will worsen your condition." So sleep, sleep, sleep and try not to stress too much.
6. Last but not least: DON'T SCRATCH
This is probably the hardest to follow through with, but I'll say it over and over again to myself: Don't scratch. Just don't do it. I know it's difficult and painful, but scratching will only make it worse. Diane Whitaker-Worth, MD who teaches University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington says, "Some people can pat the skin or blow on the itchy areas to prevent digging and scratching." If you feel the urge to scratch, try damping your skin with a cold compress and try these tips.
I know it might be hard to actually follow these tips, but one of them could actually pay off in the long run. Hopefully, my tips work with your skin and body type and you'll be able to manage your eczema like I did.