Monday, June 23, 2014

My Struggles with Eczema

As much as I love Social Media – seriously, Instagram addict right here – I often feel like it gives the wrong impression about my life.

It’s not often that you take a selfie when you’re sad or mad or just having a really hard day. And honestly, with the right filter, even a bad day can seem not so gloomy.

rainy day 

So often on Instagram, I get comments about my skin. Flawless, Glowing, Smooth and while those sentiments are sweet, they aren’t always true. Due in part to genetics and in part to the gallons of water I drink in a day, I am blessed with mostly great skin….on my face. I get break outs like everyone else (and I make them worse by picking at them) but they are few and far between.

However, the rest of my body is pretty much a constant war zone of eczema.

photo (6) 

This past winter was definitely the worst battle yet. What started on my left shin, spread to my knees, my outer right quad – even my elbows. As soon as I would get one spot under control with a prescribed steroid cream, a new spot would crop up. Then a few weeks later, the original spot would be back! It seriously felt like a daily battle to get my skin under control, and I was losing.

Even today, the spot on my quad is still there. My knees and elbows have cleared, but my shin is threatening a flare up. And honestly, I have no idea why I never discuss this issue on the blog. Maybe because it makes me feel so negative to even think about it – who knows.

It is definitely tied to having Celiac Disease. Folks with Celiac are 3 times more likely to be affected by eczema, which by the way, affects close to 30 million Americans!

Most of my shin flare ups start with an instance where I get glutened. In fact, my most recent issues stemmed from my last bad experience in Vermont. I’m also greatly impacted by stress – my job isn’t exactly stress free – and I’m not the best at dealing with mounting pressure. My skin typically shows this pretty quickly.

How do I deal with eczema?

1. I try really hard not to scratch. Which is SO HARD because it’s SO ITCHY!!!! And it feels so good to scratch it – but scratching makes it worse. So. No scratching.

2. I make sure ALL of my bath and body products are gluten free. Shampoo, body wash, lotion – everything.

3. I switched to a vegetable based laundry detergent for sensitive skin. I really, really had high hopes for this switch making a big impact, but unfortunately I don’t think it has.

4. I keep my skin hydrated. In addition to drinking tons of water, I now make the time to lotion my entire body as soon as I get out of the shower.

5. Steroid Cream. It took my doctor and I a few times and tests to find a cream that works for me, and I’m only able to use it for a few days at a time, but when a flare is really bad, a steroid is the only thing that works for me.

I know that nothing can “cure” eczema, but I definitely feel like everything above has helped me get my flare ups in to a more manageable place.

And at the end of the day, while I do feel incredibly lucky and blessed by God daily in my life, I never want my social media accounts to portray an image of perfection.

What about you? Do you struggle with eczema? Do you have tips for keeping it under control?