When it comes to my eczema... I've come a LONG way. Check it out:
Before I had a handle on how to handle my two types of eczema, I had a lot of itchy, sleepless nights... as you can probably guess from the photo. Two types of eczema, you ask? There are several different kinds, but I have:
- atopic dermatitis
- allergic contact dermatitis
Atopic is a reoccurring type of eczema that, for lack of better words, happens "just because" (as my doctor put it). Atopic eczema tends to occur in the same places and can be terribly annoying as all you can do for it is treat it. There's not much you can do in the way of prevention.
Allergic contact dermatitis is exactly what it sounds like: your skin has an allergic reaction upon contact with your allergen. With this type of eczema, you can prevent it by avoiding your allergens (or by taking steroids for the rest of your life, which I refuse to do). Avoiding certain allergens can be life changing. Personally, I have 24 allergens and avoid everything from certain soap to metal to synthetic fabrics and food. It has been 100% life changing for me.
Along the way, there are a lot of different things I've had to do in order to create an environment where I'm healthy and as eczema free as I can be WITHOUT having to be on Prednisone (the steroid I was referring to).
Here are the methods I've found useful in combating my eczema:
- Keep nails short to prevent scratching while sleeping
- Cool or lukewarm showers to reduce inflammation and itching
- No dairy! I'm lactose intolerant and usually causes my skin to flare up
- No coffee! Aside from the fact that the ingredients are rarely listed, the caffeine spikes and lows aren't good for your body. My skin starts to flare up (breaks out in bubbles, gets red & itchy) if I'm drinking a lot of coffee.
- Reducing stress. If I have eczema on my skin and I end up getting stressed out, it causes my existing eczema to get worse. Researching and practicing meditation taught my how to keep myself calm (most of the time, ha).
- Like I said before, avoiding my allergens. It's of the utmost importance. This means that I've:
- purchased back scratchers so that I can pet our cat without touching him
- had my desks at work covered in glass so my arms don't react to the polyester resin in the laminate tops
- switched over to a 100% cotton wardrobe
- avoided a lot of preservatives/processed food
- been carrying around a bandanna with me to touch things in public that I may be allergic to such as doorknobs
- had to say no to most of the food people bring into work to share with everybody like donuts, pizza, etc.
- Taking extra time to plan out my vacations. I have to think ahead and plan well so that I'm prepared for whatever it is that I may have to come into contact with
- Purchased an air purifier for every room of the house. Airborne allergens can settle on your skin, especially if there's a lot of it such as with a cat, so this is definitely something to think about if you haven't done it yet.
- Installed a shower head with a built-in filter. We have one from gaiam.com. There's all sorts of stuff in your pipes and possibly your water. Since you're in the shower once, maybe twice a day, this is a good idea for sure.
- Only moisturize with cream, not lotion. Cream creates a barrier between your skin and the world. Lotion soaks right in (and probably has a lot of weird fragrances and chemicals in it).
- Calendula cream. This is an interesting one. I bought it from from The Eczema Company and it seemed to help calm my skin down. Unfortunately, the kind they carried began adding propylene glycol to their cream, so they pulled it from their shop. Calendula is a flower, so I intend on checking out some other calendula options.
- I'm still in the air about oil pulling. I tried it once and it seemed like it worked, but I'd like to try it again to see if that's really the case!
- Reading every ingredient label. And remembering that there are hidden ingredients. I keep out a keen eye for my allergens and if something is making me sick, it's time to investigate for any hidden ingredients. This happened to me with propylene glycol being hidden in my vitamins in the form of modified food starch. Yeah. Crazy.