Appearance Health

Why my skin doesn’t define who I am

Our writer Amy shares her experience with Eczema and give her tips on how to deal with it.

Amy- excezma skincare The Growing Up Guide

I‘ve grown up with my eczema, becoming used to the unpredictability of not knowing when it will flare up, and what will cause it.

I have a vivid memory of being in France on holiday as a child, screaming in agony as my mum applied my creams to the back of my legs.

In my teen years while all my friends were discovering makeup, and perfume, I was too scared to apply anything other than mascara for fear that I’d flare up.

Come my early twenties everything seemed under control and my eczema was kept at bay with steroid creams and moisturisers. I had the odd flare up, but it was mild and cleared in a couple of days.

2017 – The year it all changed

Something happened 12 months ago, and I don’t know what it was or why it happened but I started a cycle, of flaring every couple of weeks.

My skin was raw, and weeping and quite frankly the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. Most days I woke with my eyes so swollen I could barely see, and when I could see I would just cry at the state of how I looked.

I cancelled plans with friends, my dating life was a total flop as nobody could handle me being bed bound, and crying through the night.

Towards the end of 2017 I began to wonder if that was what the rest of my life was going to be like, people don’t always think about the mental health side of a skin condition and how every day tasks like just taking a shower can become one of the hardest things.

I honestly thought I was never going to get better and be able to live a normal life.

I tried stronger and stronger steroid creams, then gave the steroid creams up after reading about Topical Steroid Addiction and Withdrawal, I then tried oral steroids, diet changes, literally anything I could think of to help my skin heal.

I even tried bathing in porridge oats to see if that helped soothe my skin.

Where am I now?

After finally convincing my GP that I needed to see a dermatologist I got referred and after blood tests I’ve been given a course of methotrexate.

It’s a drug not given lightly, and is used to suppress the immune system, as my immunoglobulin levels were too high.  So far the treatment is working, I’m seeing huge differences in my skin, and just being able to sleep for more than two hours at a time is a blessing.

But the biggest difference?

My confidence. I used to hide away and not want to see the world, but in the last few months I’ve learnt to embrace my skin, and love myself for who I am, eczema or not.

I’m not scared to show it, or talk about it, it’s part of me, but it certainly doesn’t define who I am.

The treatment I’m on is perhaps a short-term solution, I’m aware of that.

Even if the flare ups do return I’m going to continue enjoying life and embracing it, I’m not going to have a little Amy pity party and refuse to leave the house for days on end. Yes I may need a break, fighting this condition makes you so, so tired, so I will need to rest more, but mentally i’m going to be stronger and happier and live my life to the full.

Staying positive

I guess what I’m trying to say is that your skin doesn’t define who you are, whether it’s eczema, acne, psoriasis or whatever.

You, be you and don’t let anything get you down.

Yes it can be hard, so so hard and some days you want to give up entirely and make a little bed fort when you can hide from the world. And by all means, have those days, just make sure that afterwards you stand up, brush yourself off and move forward.

Enjoy life, eat that cake, smile, laugh, take photos, make memories. You are amazing, bad skin or good skin!

Not sure where to turn?

I’ll admit there isn’t a lot out there for people living with eczema, well not that I’ve been able to find anyway.

There’s a lot for acne, psoriasis or vitiligo  but eczema, it still seems is pretty limited. And what some people don’t always realise is that eczema is painful, it’s not just a little rash, and more needs to be done to help people suffering with it.

If your eczema is starting to get out of control get to the doctors as soon as possible, try to avoid being prescribed steroid creams as realistically they are a short-term solution.

Get allergy tests, cut down on sugar and caffeine, (they’re big triggers for me), and stock up on your vitamins and veggies!

One thing to remember is that eczema is a really individual condition and what might work for one person might not for you, so try to not compare your progress with others, which is hard I know!

The British Skin Foundation is a great place to find some more information too, and there are online forums where you can chat to people who are going through the same thing, remember you aren’t alone!

I hope that’s given you an insight into what it’s like, as an adult, to live day-to-day with eczema. No two days are the same, but I’m going in the right direction, and I hope any other sufferers out there find their path to healing too.

You can follow Amy’s Eczema journey on Instagram where she shares advice and tips.

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