Living With Eczema

8 March 2017
Dermatitis or as it's more commonly known as Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin that affects 1 in 12 adults in the UK*, including myself. 
While my mother had mentioned that I suffered from Eczema as a baby I didn't really think much of it until last September when I started suffering from the condition again for the first time in 18 years. Now before I go on, I must make it clear that I'm not trying to be dramatic. Eczema is not particularly life threatening and mine is a lot less severe in comparison with others also suffering from the condition but that does not mean that it hasn't had a significant impact on my confidence and life in general.

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I first started to notice the change in my skin when I found the skin on my right ring finger becoming increasingly red compared to the rest of the skin on my hand. Thinking I'd had an allergic reaction to something, I went about my day thinking that in its own time the redness would disappear but as time went on my skin only got worse. The skin on my finger became redder, dryer and itchier and no matter how much I moisturised my hands, the skin on that one finger was always flakey. The longer I left it, the more the eczema started to affect other parts of my body; the skin on my chest and around my eyes (including my eyelids). 

With the itchiness becoming unbearable and the dry skin around my eyes making my makeup hard to apply, I took a trip to the doctors where I was prescribed some 1% Hydrocortisone Cream and told to apply it in the morning and evening for up to a week, moisturising heavily in between. "Finally!" I thought "my eczema will disappear" and while it did get a lot better, it returned less than 2 weeks later. Hydrocortisone Cream is great if used for a short period of time but if it's used for long periods it can thin the skin or cause acne and rosacea among other issues. With the skin around your eyes being thin and very sensitive (and this being one of the areas I needed to use it) I was very cautious to not over use the cream or use it for long periods of time, but if my eczema does flare up really bad I will occasionally use it.

A few weeks after my failed trip to the doctors, my eczema spread even further to patches on my shoulders and in the crooks of my arms. The more it spread the more noticeable it became. I felt self conscious wearing tops that showed my arms and chest as if my skin wasn't bright red, my fake tan has stuck to the dry skin and gone patchy. I found myself covering up more but there were still patches that I couldn't hide. People would ask "what's wrong with your finger?" gesturing to my inflamed red ring finger, to which I'd have to explain my eczema and brush it off like it was nothing when in reality I'd wake up in the night itching.

As for triggers my main suspicion is that my eczema is caused by mould and damp in our university house. My eczema started when we moved in and if I go away for the weekend, my eczema significantly improves while I'm away from the house, which I don't think is a coincidence. Unfortunately despite all of our best efforts to get rid of the mould we still have mould growing in the living room. The cause of the mould is being investigated by our housing company but until we can get rid of the mould there is not much else I can do.

Through the use of lots of Oilatum moisturiser, antihistamines and occasionally hydrocortisone cream I can manage my eczema but still some days are worse than others. I sometimes still feel self conscious when my eczema is at it's worst but with gorgeous and courageous women like Winnie Harlow raising awareness of skin conditions, I feel less alone knowing that it's okay for your skin to not be conventionally 'perfect'.

While my story does not have a completely perfect ending yet, I wanted to share my story so far, to let people going through the same thing know that you are not alone. Eventually it will get better even if you cannot completely get rid of your eczema, you will find ways to live with it. I'd love to hear your stories and if you have any product recommendations then leave them down below in the comments!

Eleanor xx
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