Ok, everybody... I got an email from somebody telling me about a boy out there in the world.... a boy who has parents who are...how shall I put it... less than empathetic toward their son. It made me really sad :-(
This is about a boy in junior high school.
He has severe eczema and also has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). He has had eczema since at least kindergarten from what I know. He's been in the nurse's office every day because the poor kid is suffering terribly from his eczema and complains of being itchy and finding it hard to concentrate. His parents response? Toughen up. Because of this, he needs our words of support. Below is my letter to this boy.
Please fill out the email form at the end of this post and send your support to him. HE DESERVES THIS!
When I got word about you, my heart broke. And then, frankly, I got pissed. I want to give this issue the attention it deserves by posting this open letter to you and giving all of the other eczema sufferers out there a chance to reach out to you as well.
I can relate to what you're dealing with and the most important thing I have to tell you is this: keep your eye on the prize of turning 18 when you will get to make your OWN decisions when it comes to doctors and your medical condition. I'm just going to say what I hope you already know: you will be ok. You didn't ask for this and you don't need to toughen up. You need to properly deal with your medical condition. Your parents are supposed to be there to support you, help you through the struggles of life and do everything in their power to try and set you up for success in the future. It makes me sad to think about how you must feel. Just know that how you are being treated regarding your eczema is not right.
I was told that in addition to your eczema, you also have OCD. I wonder if it developed as a result of your eczema? Or vice versa? I can certainly understand how that could happen. I also have eczema - two types: allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. As you could probably have guessed, the first type is from me coming into contact with my allergens (of which there are 24) and the second type is pretty much "just because". I have certain spots where eczema occurs for no real reason at all other than my faulty immune system. I'm also vitamin D deficient and lactose intolerant. Both of which can contribute to eczema.
I developed these issues seemingly out of nowhere (doctors think it was stress) in 2009 and the first year was absolute hell. Trying to get my skin under control was tough, but I've done it through finding out what I'm allergic to, avoiding my allergens and listening to my skin. How do I listen to my skin? I have to watch EVERYTHING I do to it. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have figured out the link between my propylene glycol allergy and polyester which explains why I react to laminate counter tops. We really do have to be our own advocates.
So, I have some tips for you and I hope this helps. Here it goes:
- Opt for room temperature or cool showers. I'm sorry. I know that sucks, but weirdly enough... you do adjust to the cooler temps. I promise. Why cooler water? Because hot water irritates the skin causing inflammation and more itching.
- Stay away from synthetic fabrics if possible. They don't allow your skin to breathe as much as it should. People with eczema and sensitive skin tend to do better with 100% cotton.
- Eat as little dairy and gluten as possible. I'm lactose intolerant and I'm definitely starting to realize the connection between dairy and my skin getting worse. I've also heard many stories about people who cut out dairy or gluten and have seen their eczema completely go away.
- After every shower, moisturize your skin. This must only be done with a body cream (Not lotion and especially not a highly fragranced lotion. Lotion is too thin and absorbs right into your skin. Cream creates a barrier.). I use Cerave. Make sure to not put cream on any open sores if you have any (I usually do). Those need to dry out.
- Wash your hands but, you know... don't do it every 10 minutes or anything like that. You don't want to strip your skin of moisture completely. That would be bad. My train of thought with this is in case you have skin allergies. Let me explain: Let's say you're allergic to nickel. If you touch nickel and then touch your face... bam. The allergen is now on your face. I never knew you could transfer a solid with your fingers like that, but it's true. My doctor told me about it.
- Meditate. I know. It sounds crazy, but it isn't. It's part of the philosophy of yoga which, by the way, was originally created for men. Women weren't even allowed to practice yoga way back when. And get this: it's been scientifically documented that experienced yogis can raise the temperature of their palms simply just by sitting calmly, focusing and using their minds. Google tips on meditation. I tend to do 5 or 10 minutes at a time. It can really help you train your mind to calm down and it is SO useful. Stress is a known irritant for skin and health issues, so controlling your stress is important. Do you have a bike? I do and I love long bike rides. It's definitely a form of meditation. Plus, it will get you out of the house and allow you to get some vitamin D into your skin which would be good for you. Obviously, be careful to not get burned.
- If you can avoid chemicals, do it. For anybody who has sensitive skin, you're more likely to react to chemicals. There are ohh.... only a zillion of them in the world, so your best bet is to just try to stay away. You don't have to be militant about it. Just try taking small steps with this at first and you can take it further over time.
- The same goes for processed foods. I know this is really hard when you're a kid and aren't in control of what ends up in your fridge or kitchen cabinets. But, you know... just use your logic. If you have the option between a plate of vegetables or a Big Mac... you know which one to choose.
- Drink a lot of water. It helps to purify the body. Both you and I need to do that, that's for sure!
- Wear 100% cotton gloves at night. It's pretty impossible to keep yourself from scratching but what you can do is wear gloves so there's no damage. They may slip off once through the night, but they make a big difference. I bet if you talk to the school nurse, she could hook you up with some of these ;-)
- Keep a log of what you eat and the activities you take part in. Get a planner and record these in it every day along with a rating from one to five for the type of shape your skin is in that day. This will allow you to look back and pick up on trends.
- If you've been excercising and get sweaty, make sure to shower shortly after. You don't want sweat sitting on your skin for hours and hours. It's really good to sweat and get those toxins out! It's also really important to keep your skin clean.
- Express your emotions. This will help your stress level. I wouldn't advise keeping a journal (paper or online), but I do recommend this: open a word document and type it all out... all of your frustrations, anger, and everything. Do it in privacy if possible and when you're done? Just don't save it. That way, there's no record of it for people to get their hands on.
I wish I could wrap you up in my arms and take care of you myself. You deserve all the love in the world and I'm here any time you need to talk. My email is at the bottom of my "My Story" page. If you ever want to talk, just let me know. I don't want you to feel alone in this. YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. And remember: keep your eye on that prize.
Sincerely your friend,
Ok, readers!! I'm calling out to you! PLEASE HELP support him!!
You can pass along a message to him below in the contact form. He needs our words of support and if you have any tips to share with him, please do!
[contact-form firstname.lastname@example.org' subject='Letter for Alex'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]