evening primrose

Living with Eczema

It’s just as much a physical as it is a mental ailment. Physically unsightly, but also mentally distressing. 

First thing to remember is that it’s not your fault. You don’t need to know why it happens every single time. Sometimes it’s just a culmination of events or circumstances beyond your control.

A bad flare up is emotionally draining. So first you must learn to go easy on yourself.

Out of sight out of mind – first things first – copious amounts of perfume less cream on the affected area (something like aqueous cream), don’t rub it in.

You can also use aqueous with pink calamine lotion.

Then we focus on the inside out. Litres of water – 2 – 3 litres. You’ve got to get the skin hydrated. In the summer you could also use a humidifier. 

Then you eliminate products that could irritate – perfume, make-up, hair creams and oils. Anything with lanolin.

Then look at clothing and bedding – switch to cottons or linen if it’s summer time. Sweatshirts rather than wool if it’s winter. Quilts rather than blankets.

I’ve struggled with eczema as far back as I can remember. Flare ups were always intermittent. There would be weeks even months of great skin then something would trigger a flare up. 

My mother tried everything  – the avoidance of dairy products and wheat, avoidance of woollen fabrics, too much time in the sun. Topical creams and finally steroid cream for a short space of time, which killed off the major problem areas but left the skin slightly darker than other areas – a constant reminder of what had been there.

My skin was so sensitive that I would have an allergic reaction if I was caught out in heavy rain – the the rain drops against by skin would cause an irritated reaction – small raised bumps. 

Being in contact with grass would cause the same effect.

Extreme temperatures – coming into the house after being out in the cold would cause a similar reaction.

The effect of the sun on my skin was another story. I would burn so easily, develop a rash and the skin would be slightly thick and swollen for days before the effects would subside. I always tried to take precautions – wearing a hat and long sleeves, but I’d always get caught out.

It was a horrible experience – holidays would be ruined, certain outings would be avoided just to prevent being laid up for days.

There was one period of time when my skin started flaring up without any real cause. It began on a trip to South East Asia. During the trip I woke up one morning and my eyes were swollen and puffy. My lips were also swollen and sore. I took Antihistamines for  3 days before the swelling went down and the dead skin just peeled off.

After this trip my skin wasn’t the same for nearly 3 years. Constant bouts of swollen eyes and lips, hot burning session just on my face, smarting, irritated eyes. I finally got relief after a complete change of climate and diet in Africa. 

Looking back there are a few things that have helped.

  • Perfume less body cream.
  • Evening Primrose cream.
  • Calendular cream
  • Vitamin E capsules, Evening primrose capsules.
  • Lots of water
  • Regular stools –  making sure my diet contains lots of seeds – sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, raisins, oats.
  • A good quality sunblock cream rather than lotion. If in doubt go for something in the baby range.
  • Sleep – a good nights sleep.
  • Reduction of stress, through meditation and exercise.
  • I never wear wool – I opt for sweatshirts rather than jumpers. Winter coats are of the puffer jacket variety, leather or fur.
  • Sore cracked lips have been eliminated by not using lip salves or vaseline. I just use a good quality lip stick every day and avoid using strong tooth pastes.





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