Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to put up with eczema, or any other unsightly skin rash that has left you feeling ugly.
It’s so frustrating. Every time it goes away, it comes back with a vengeance. Well, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone. Chronic skin conditions are common for people of all ages, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There isn’t anything you could have done to prevent it, but luckily, there are ways to treat it. There are a variety of chronic skin conditions like Psoriasis and Rosacea, but the most “popular” (and by popular I mean most suffered-from!) is Eczema.
I have had patches of Eczema set up shop on my body for the last 15 years. They usually show up around my elbows and on the back of my thighs (yuck), but about a year ago, it reared it’s ugly head on two fingers on my right hand. I took the photo above after not treating it for about a week, just to show you what it looks like (dedication, I know.)
What Is Eczema?
Eczema shows up as very dry, rough and thick red scales and scaly patches. It’s often associated with allergies and asthma, so if you got either of those, chances are you are susceptible to Eczema too. Many newborns are born with Eczema but will outgrow it by their tenth birthday, while it still affects 3% of children and adults.
What Causes Eczema?
Dermatologists I have spoken to say that eczema can be caused by factors such as stress, environment and even allergies. My eczema flared up in my teens when I lived in Las Vegas, a dry desert. And probably because I was taking all honors-level classes and was at school with student council duties from the crack of dawn to midnight. When I moved back to humid Los Angeles in my twenties, my skin cleared up for a while. Oh, the joy of soft, clear skin! But last year, between being laid off from my full time job and planning a wedding, my stress levels went through the roof. And being a long-time allergy- sufferer didn’t help.
1) See Your Doctor: If you think you may have patches of Eczema, make an appointment with your dermatologist first to go over your options. There are many topical creams ranging from steroid to immunomodulators that your doctor can prescribe to fight the condition. Another reason to see your doctor first- you may think you have Eczema but it could be another type of skin condition, like Psoriasis. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic treatment to fight off infection-causing bacteria caused at the scene of the crime (the scales).
2) Over The Counter Relief: Hydrocortisone 1% is often prescribed over the counter by dermatologists to treat your eczema during and in-between flare-ups. If my eczema shows any signs of returning, I immediately start a hydrocortisone treatment to shut that thing down. If your Eczema is like mine and on your fingers, apply your ointment then cover the affected area with a vinyl glove. Do NOT use latex-it eats away the medication and many people are allergic to the material. I wear disposable vinyl gloves I got from Rite Aid every night with my hydrocortisone 1% cream.
Neosporin also carries a special hydrocortisone version of their ointment specifically for Eczema that works well.
Last but not least, Aquaphor is every Eczema patients’ best friend. I blend the hydrocortisone cream with the Aquaphor then wear the vinyl glove. If your Eczema is somewhere other than your hands you can cover the affected area with plastic wrap or even a tissue to keep the ointments in place. Aquaphor does have a greasy texture, but you will wake up with the softest hands/skin ever! So worth it.
1) Moisturize Often- I’m talking 3-4 times a day on the affected area. Keeping the skin hydrated with fragrance-free and unscented lotions. Aveeno Eczema Therapy is my favorite- it’s steroid and fragrance-free and made with colloidal oatmeal- a skin protectant. I carry this around in my purse all day.
2) Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them- to get rid of chemicals that can irritate your skin. I use Tide Free and Gentle– it’s dermatologist- tested and free of any dyes and scents.
3) Keep the showers short and warm (not hot) Use a gentle body wash instead of harsh soap and avoid any abrasive scrubbers. Pat your skin dry with a towel, don’t rub. And apply moisturizer all over within three minutes to help lock in water. I’ve been switching between this one by Aveeno and Dove’s Sensitive Skin Body Wash.
I know this seems like a lot of products and information, but the good news is ALL of these items can be purchased with coupons from any drug store. And in my experience, the creams and antibiotics prescribed by dermatologists were all pretty affordable ($8-10 for a tube of ointment) but of course this also depends on your insurance coverage.
I hope that these tips help you find a way to live with and treat your Eczema. No one knows better than me how irritating it can be! If you have any Eczema-related questions, I’m always open to chat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Let’s band together and be good to our skin!