My Personal Experience With Healing Eczema
Unsightly Patches of Eczema
I have always suffered from Asthma ever since I was a small child, and as anybody knows, where there is asthma there is sometimes eczema. Some people are lucky enough to only get eczema in the summer months. This is usually caused by hay fever and other autoimmune allergies, and will be gone by the time the summer is in full swing.
That's what usually happens to me. Only this time it didn't go. I usually get eczema on my hands, normally between the fingers, and I scratch like hell. It drives me insane, but usually a bit of cortisone cream, or antiseptic spray will knock it on its head, and I can forget about it for another year.
For some reason it affected my legs last summer. I didn't notice it to start with. It just seemed to be itching slightly, and when I looked it was only tiny and slightly red. But then we had a heatwave, and night after night my legs became hotter and hotter, and the eczema got bigger and bigger. I just presumed it was getting irritated because of the heat, and would go away when the weather got colder. But it was not to be.
Nearly eight months later, I still have a large patch of eczema on my left leg. I have tried cortisone cream. I have also plastered on cream moisturiser, antiseptic and just about everything else too. But will it budge? No, it just doesn't want to go. Seems like me and my eczema are having a battle to see which one of us wins!
What Is Eczema?
The medical term for eczema is Atopic Dermatitis. It is a very common complaint, and can be caused by a number of reasons. In a sense, it's a skin allergy, but unlike hay fever or any allergy that makes you sneeze, eczema is much harder to clear up. It can also be hereditary, that's what Atopic means. So if another member of your family is prone to allergies, then you can pretty much count on the fact that you may well develop the symptoms too.
The word dermatitis actually means irritation of the skin. And does it irritate! It can drive you insane with its incessant itching. And the trouble is, the more you scratch the more it will tear the skin, bruise the bone and just make your legs or arms look and feel a complete mess.
Contact with a foreign substance such as Poison Ivy, or certain ingredients in creams and perfumes that your body reacts too, is called Allergic Contact Eczema. Once you have discovered the cause, your skin should return to normal in a few days. If your skin comes into contact with an irritant such as bleach or any other cleaning fluid, it can cause this type of eczema too. Obviously this is different from the normal eczema in that it is just a reaction to something that is corrosive on your skin.
Sometimes dermatitis or eczema will occur for no reason, leaving yellow or scaly patches anywhere on your body. It can feel oily or greasy. Most people know this as cradle cap. And is very common in babies and small children. The medical term is Soborrheic Eczema.
The most likely one that I have is called Nummular Eczema. With coin shaped patches of reddish skin, that can be itchy, scaly or just downright irritating! It definitely fits the description of my eczema..
There is another one called Stasis Dermatitis. It usually attacks the legs, and is caused by circulation problems. The pigmentation of the skin is darker, even purplish, and the whole lower leg can be irritated, causing the veins to swell. This can lead to Varicose veins.
Don't Let Your Doctor Give You This!
What My Doctor Advised.
I went to my Doctors surgery to see the nurse about my eczema problem, and she gave me a prescription for cortisone cream. I was told to rub this into the rash every night and morning for a week, and then repeat it for another week if it hadn't worked. So I tried this for the two weeks and nothing happened.
It did seem to go off slightly, then in the morning it was back again. When I bathed, I just irritated it more. So I tried showering to see if that made a difference. It didn't really work, so I changed soaps, shower gels and everything else, including washing my legs with hot water, then cold. Still there.
It suddenly occurred to me that the Nurse hadn't given me any idea of how to actually apply the cream. Should I cover my legs with bandages? Should I let the air get to it? What?
Eventually I asked my local Pharmacist! And she actually came up with a simple solution, one that the nurse should have told me! Make sure the eczema is really moisturised. Obviously use thick skin cream without any perfumes in it, and just smother the legs with it. So I tried this, and lo and behold it began to work! But of course it wasn't that easy.
The Doctor will give you Aqueous Cream for your Eczema. Don't take it!
Evidently studies have found that Aqueous Cream is made as an alternative to soap! Instead of moisturising your skin it will in fact, dry it. Doctors are only given two weeks training on skin problems! Yes, two weeks! Vaseline, or any other paraffin based product is best.
I have just started using nappy rash cream. The second I applied it to my eczema, it soothed it. At this moment I can't feel any itching. Nappy rash cream is perfect because it is a barrier cream. This means that it will hold moisture beneath the cream,and straight onto the body.
The Most Important Thing Is To Reduce Inflammation.
Eventually, having got completely fed up with the little bits of information that I had been given, I gave my Doctor a ring and this is what she suggested:
- Shower in cool water, at least twice a day, then while the leg is still damp, rub the medicated or Vaseline cream on top of the eczema. This will seal in the moisture.
- Steroids can be applied in a severe case. Luckily I don't need them at the moment, but if it gets worse then I will have to use them. You either rub the steroids on the skin, or if the eczema is really bad, take it in tablet form.
- If there is infection, then antibiotics will be given.
- Sunlight or Photo therapy is said to be beneficial. Unfortunately the sunlight is not an option at the moment as its still Winter, but when it gets warmer, get out and about with bare legs.
The trouble with eczema, is that it is a recurring disease. So the best thing, is to try to stop it in its tracks by doing the following:
- Make sure you moisturise your skin. This may sound obvious, but I must admit to ignoring the lower parts of my leg in winter!
- Try to make the bath or shower cool. I know, we all want a boiling hot lovely soak, but its not doing your skin any good.
- Do not soap your legs if that's where the eczema is. Or anywhere else on your body where the eczema keeps occurring.
- Always put the cream straight on your skin after the bath. This way it will lock in moisture.
- Always make sure that your house has a good air flow. There's nothing worse than a dry atmosphere for causing eczema.
My Eczema Is Getting Better!
So this is where I am right now. Moisturising, taking antibiotics and bathing in cool water. We will have to wait and see. Hopefully this should do it, and with Winter on the way out, and Spring just around the corner, hopefully I will be able to get some air to my legs and make them soft and beautiful again.
Always check with your Doctor in case you need steroids or antibiotics.