Eczema is a condition that is common, more so amongst children than adults. There’s so much more to having eczema than someone who doesn’t have it might realise. It’s one of the conditions that I have that is most annoying, and that’s why its first in this series.
It is a genetic condition and it produces red patches of skin that are thick, dry, and itchy. As well as these patches, eczema produces spots, they look like tiny pimples but are extremely itchy. Once scratched, they spread, cause dry patches and can cause skin infection.
People sympathise with parents when they are told their child has eczema, because it affects their ability to be a child and play without a care in the world, but what about adults suffering with eczema? When I tell someone I have eczema, I can guarantee they only think of it as “a bit of dry skin”. It’s generally not as bad in adults as it is in children, but it can be just as annoying and debilitating when it flares up.
Unlike a lot of people, I can’t wear make up everyday, not even eyeshadow. It makes my skin red and sore around my eyes mostly. and face make up just generally makes my face hurt! The only way I can describe how it makes my skin feels to non-sufferers is to imagine you have a face mask on, one that dries solid and will crack if you move your face. Now imagine your skin feeling like that, you can’t ease it and you can’t just peel it off like you can with a mask. It’s awful.
Here are some pictures I took yesterday (1st April 2014) about ten minutes after I had got out of the shower. You can click the images to enlarge them so you can see just how bad it is. It affects me most on my forehead and around the sides of my face, but my nose is always pretty flaky (eurgh, right?). I also get it on the top of my back, my chest and the top of my arms, so I never want to wear clothes where my arms back or chest might be on show. Shopping can sometimes be a nightmare.
Over the years I’ve used so many different treatments, and there is no cure. There are a few types of creams and lotions prescribed by the doctor, including ointments, steroid creams, shower gels, bath oils, and moisturisers specifically made for eczema. I’ve tried them all and my skin still looks like this after 21 years of living with the condition.
I currently use two treatments, the first being Diprobase, a moisturiser which is so gentle it can be used on babies. I have to apply this twice a day and after I shower, or my skin becomes itchy and I increase the risk of a skin infection. Skin infections are caused by the skin being scratched and any germs that you might have on your hands gets into the skin and then voila, it’s nasty.
The second I use at the moment is Eumovate, which is a steroid cream and it’s really thick. Steroid creams are really good, they clear up little patches (like the one you can see on my right cheek) and stop the itching. Steroid creams can increase the risk of skin infection, just like itching can. They thin the skin so they can only be used temporarily, useful during flare ups but not so good for the long-term annoyance of it.
During Summer I don’t suffer so badly with the itching because I have to take antihistamines daily to keep my hay fever under control. They take away the itchiness of eczema and a bit of sun usually helps the case.
This is what I live with on a daily basis, and not everyone has seen my eczema when it’s like this, even though most people know I suffer with it, it’s not always so visible because creams take the dryness out of it.
If you enjoyed reading the first in my series, keep an eye out for more about similar daily conditions.
If you suffer with eczema and want to talk about it, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me @bigsocietygirl