For as long as I can remember I have suffered with eczema. In fact, when I was a small child, my mother would slather my skin with whatever cream/ointment/salve the doctor prescribed, then wrap my arms and legs in plastic wrap so I couldn’t scratch my skin, and to give the stuff time to work and not wipe off on my sheets.
When I was 14 it was SO BAD on my legs I refused to wear shorts all summer.
I didn’t have eczema all the time though. But I always had dry skin. So I was constantly moisturizing and using sensitive soap products. Gentle. Fragrance free. Or at least I thought I was.
Roughly three years ago, I had the WORST bout of eczema of my life. Woke me up every night. I was constantly scratching. Bleeding, even. I could not deal with it anymore. So I went to a dermatologist.
This doctor said that I was suffering from “Nummular Eczema” which is a chronic condition that causes coin-shaped spots to develop on the skin. These spots are often itchy and well-defined.
Below are some pictures of my arms and legs:
I know there are a lot of pictures and they are gross to look at, but I wanted to PROVE to you that I was SUFFERING. I’m not just writing this because some product asked me to and I am faking having eczema. No, bitch, I was living the eczema life.
This derma doc gave me some advice (and some meds since it was on my eyelids as well) in regards to what I should use on my skin. This made me take pause and think a lot about what she said: Any product (like soap or body wash) that says “Fragrance Free” is truly not free of fragrance. In fact, they have to PUT MORE CHEMICALS in the product to make it NOT smell. Otherwise it would just smell like something, but not flowery or feminine you know. So, don’t believe them when they say fragrance free. There’s still stuff in there. That is not good for my skin.
The second things was, just because it says For Sensitive Skin (I’m looking at you Dove) doesn’t mean it’s any good.
Here come the first two products that SAVED my skin – good old plain petroleum jelly (NOT Baby kind, that has fragrance. And I LOVE that smell, but remember, NO FRAGRANCE OF ANY KIND) and Cetaphil.
Say goodbye to soap: bar, body wash, gel, etc. I have one of these Cetaphil bottles IN my shower and ON my bathroom sink. I wash my body, face, hands, etc with this one product. Period. End of sentence. I’m sure it confuses my guests because who the hell has this as a hand washing soap in their bathroom? ME! That’s who! Suck it up.
I used to have some go to body lotions that actually (kinda) worked on my dry skin and wouldn’t aggravate the big E. And there were definitely lotions I could not use, as they would make my E flare up.
Well, throw those all away.
After bathing/showering, you must moisturize and it’s with good old plain Vaseline.
Yes, you will be greasy for a bit, and it will get on your clothes. Suck it up.
I was using these two products ONLY for about six months when I was hospitalized for a completely unrelated issue. My skin was still looking rough, regardless of these two products. So while I was in the hospital, a group of dermatologists were brought to my room to take a look.
They were all very unhelpful. No tests. Not a lot of questions. Instead, they added the third and final piece of my skin puzzle:
For the record, I do not suffer from allergies, meaning that pollen, ragweed, animals, eh. Nothing bugs me. So I never thought I should take any sort of allergy relief.
The doctors put me on Allegra, TWICE a day. So yeah, taking two 24 hour tablets in one day. One at 8am and one at 8pm.
Luckily, all of these products have GENERIC brands which I use. It’s also helpful if your doctor can prescribe the Allegra since you are taking a shit ton.
I used Allegra for about 18 months. During that time, I would be very aware of my itchiness if I didn’t take the second one of the day. But after while, I could skip one, and only take one a day. And then, once my skin looked good and felt good, I stopped taking it all together. Definitely nervous that my eczema would come roaring back, but nope. My skin looked and felt good and I was comfortable not taking the Allegra anymore.
I continue to use Cetaphil and Vaseline daily. I will probably never stop using them, to be honest. Do I still get itchy? Yes, but it’s mostly NORMAL itchiness and I can scratch it and it goes away. My skin is still a little discolored from the old patches. But overall, I’m pretty happy!
The only reason why I wrote this was to tell the others out there suffering, that I am a real person with a real affliction and through trial and error (and luck) was able to figure out a REAL solution.
Of course I’m afraid that it’ll all come back. I’ve been really lucky for a while now.
I want to stress that it takes a long time to see any difference in your skin. It takes a while for your body’s largest organ to rejuvenate itself. Stick with it. It can’t hurt. And hopefully after reading this, you can help yourself or your children with their battle with eczema. Three simple products you can buy at Target or Walmart. Who knew?? Hallelujah!
Here are the after pictures:
Here’s to healthy skin,