Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Newest Ailment: Eczema

I know I admitted to having hypochondria earlier in the week, so I might seem a little like the boy who cried wolf.

But I cleared up my constipation (by eating a high fiber breakfast in the form of cereal or oatmeal) and am now ready to move onto a new ailment: eczema.

I never had eczema until I moved to Denver. The dry air really did a number on my hands, as well as two patches of really dry skin on my belly. A doctor confirmed that the dry patches were eczema and prescribed medication.

Since I'm always skeptical of medication (so often it covers the symptoms but doesn't get at the root cause), I avoided using it. The doctor said I could also use regular lotion; it would just take a lot longer to heal.

When we moved back to Houston, I thought my dry-skin troubles would be over. But here I am again with those two incredibly dry patches on my belly. Let me consult my Prescription for Nutritional Healing book to see what it says:

Okay, nothing really there. Let me see what I can find on the trusty internet:

  1. "Controlling stress, nervousness, anxiety, and depression can help in some cases." I definitely have stress. I'm working on it...
  2. I definitely need to stop scratching it. That will only make the skin more leathery. I am definitely guilty of scratching it.
I wasn't able to uncover much else. I think I should just start ensuring that I apply lotion religiously, both morning and night. It's not a severe case, so I'm optimistic that it will get better.

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Laura said...

A friend's dermatologist told her to slather Crisco on her eczema. Hers was pretty severe, and she said it worked like a charm. (Plus it's cheaper than most lotions) Not something you'd want to eat, but I can't see why topically applied transfats would do you harm.

Paige said...

I absolutely agree that controlling stress helps. I've seen doctors in the past for eczema, teeth grinding, and anemia. They always give me medication of some sort, but once I control my stress (or eliminate specific stresses) all my symptoms for each thing go away.

HannahKey said...

Hey! I was diagnosed with eczema last summer, right after my wedding. My doctor said that mine was stress related (based on when it first appeared... wedding planning... ha!)

He prescribed me some cream, but like you, I am skeptical of meds. I asked him what else I could do to keep it at bay and here were some suggestions:

-but on lotion daily
-try not to wear wool
-use body soaps that don't have odor (I was sad about this one, but the fragrances can serve as a skin irritant)
-when showering, scrub very gently as harsh rubbing will make it worse
-don't shower in really hot water b/c it dries out the skin
-and, number ONE, try to not stress! So hard.

I hope this helps. My husband and I just moved to Houston after we got married and I thought the humidity would help, but it doesn't!

Anyway, let me know if you come up with anything that works for you!



Jessica said...

Try switching to unscented moisturizing soap (Dove or store-brand Dove is the best for this) or a non-soap like Cetaphil. Take warm, not hot, baths/showers and pat dry after. Then slather yourself in your moisturizer of choice (unscented, un-colored is a must) immediately after so you seal in that little bit of extra moisture. Eucerin, Aquaphor, Lubriderm, Vaseline intensive care (or store-brand equivalent of any of these) are good options. Keeping your skin consistently moisturized will help a lot and if it is mild eczema, could help you avoid topical steroids all together.

Some people also need to change to dye-free, fragrance-free laundry detergent as well to get it under control.

Humid climates like Houston can actually be as much of an eczema trigger as the dry parts of the country because the sweat/humidity can be an irritant too.

Good luck!

*Note: Be sure it is really an unscented product. Some of them are advertized as "scentless" but actually have fragrance added to cover the smell of the unscented lotion itself. You should be able to tell by checking the label.

Anonymous said...

Another good cream option to try is CeraVe (the cream not the lotion, in my opinion).

Elisabeth said...

Wow we have so much in common it's weird. (Last week I, too, began to suspect I am not ovulating! I'm loving your posts!)
My Mom has suffered from extremely severe eczema for 30 years. And when I hit 18, I started to get it, too. After years itching, I discovered I am allergic to pretty much everything (even plain chapstick gives me lip eczema- gross!). I have switched to all-natural or organic everything: soaps, lotions, detergents, and even cleaners. I have been eczema free for the last year, except for one time when I took a bath in regular liquid soap someone gave me. Bad Idea! Eczema all over my legs!
But one thing that does help it go away pretty quickly for me is over the counter hydrocortizone cream. A drug I know, but just a couple applications might get rid of it.

Kristy said...

I've had eczema for sixteen years and honestly it drives me insane. I used to just slather myself in Hydrocortizone cream and wait it out. But a few months ago I remembered somethings my Grandma taught me and one of them was that sunlight heals almost anything. I had a huge flare up this past weekend and almost tore my face and neck up with scratching. This past Monday while I was doing my best not to scratch my face, I heard her in my head saying "You fool, go out and sit in the sun for a bit". I sat outside Monday morning for five minuets and Tuesday for fifteen minuets and I am thankful that the flare up died Tuesday afternoon. I don't know if that helps you, but it might.

Katie said...

My brother-in-law's trick for his chronic eczema is to angle the shower head so that the water doesn't hit him directly. He's also had a lot of success with hemp based lotions.

mich from melbourne said...


Can you get Lucas's PawPaw ointment in the states? It's a product that uses the natural enzymes in the pawpaw (... is it the same thing as a papaya?) which are amazing for EVERYTHING... Perhaps if it's not available, you could buy it easily online - they sell it just about everywhere in Australia.

The other natural thing they say is fabulous for healing is preservative free honey...

You'll smell delicious!

Sharpiegirl said...

you might try extra vigin olive oil and tea tree oil. Both have been shown to work. You might need to try a different detergent too.

Jennifer said...

Have you tried coconut oil as skin lotion? It is not irritating, organic and chemical free and very moisturizing. You can find it in most health food stores, we use it for cooking too! Also, check out my fiance's blog post about how to prevent dry skin, he recommends take omega-3 supplements:

Anonymous said...

I once undertook some pretty severe diet changes along with taking Chinese medicine herbal teas concocted by a professional. I stopped eating sugar, alcohol, wheat, caffeine, potatoes and tomatoes and really ramped up my protein. I was trying to cure endometriosis, which didn't happen, but my ezcema and a secondary skin condition called dyshydrosis disappeared until I went off the diet and herbs - then they came back. My point is that you are right to think that the root of the problem is an imbalance somewhere deep in your system. Try sunshine, nutrition, and eliminating anything you might be allergic to. Good luck!

christina said...

the Prescription for Nutritional Healing didn't say anything about food allergies??

about 10 years ago, i developed eczema, and my derm kept telling me there was "no cure." but i read a lot and found that allergies to dairy, eggs & tomatoes triggered eczema. so i cut all three out of my diet...the eggs & dairy definitely trigger it, but tomatoes are ok...

so, i've been dairy & egg free & eczema free ever since! {sometimes i "cheat" knowing that i'll have to deal with an outbreak...but hell, i had to have cheese in paris!!}

good luck!

christina said...

{obvs, if you are already dairy and egg free, my previous comment is a mute point!!}

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ christina: It definitely might be an allergy to dairy and/or eggs--that would be my biggest fear! As a vegetarian, I get a lot of my protein from dairy (and our backyard chickens just started laying eggs!). Now that the weather is warming up and getting more humid (and I've been better at applying lotion religiously), it seems to be subsiding. I will come back to all of this advice when/if it flares up again. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Another possible help here : a cream with zinc. I use Arbonne Diaper Rash cream on my eczema & psoriasis (they are just mild flare ups) and it works WAY better than any of the $100 creams I got from the dermatologist previously. I only use Arbonne because it doesn't have petroleum products in it, I'm sure any similar diaper rash cream would likely be fine.

Teresa Vue said...

Well, I also have researched on tried and tested oils such as high quality emu oil it is proved to be very hypo-allergenic and to have an extremely high purity level. Emu Oil was found to be a safe product with no known harmful side effects. Emu Oil is a modern alternative method for helping relieve the discomfort of pain and inflammation caused by injured tissues and joints.

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