I feel like this is a good place to start as this is my main motivation for starting a blog. So I’ll start from the beginning. I’ve had eczema my whole life, since birth, and I am now 21 going on 22 on the 5th of June. It’s been very up and down since the start, I’ll go through really good stages where my skin will be 99% clear and then I’ll go through hell! I also have asthma, which with everything going on at the moment is a slight worry but I manage this very well with my inhalers. I might go into this more in a future post.
As a child it was a mind field for my parents. I obviously couldn’t do a lot so my parents took it upon themselves to try every cream and wrap and supplement under the sun. I have vivid memories of being chased around the garden with a spoon full of cod liver oil, that never went down well; and running away from tubifast dressings and greasy paraffin cream (its like putting vaseline all over your body) which also wasn’t warmly welcomed. At school there were times when I’d have to be creamed by teachers half way through the day and monthly dermatologist appointments were the norm.
It got to a point in my childhood where it was out of control and the dermatologist admitted me to hospital for 10 or so days which felt like a lifetime as I was only 10 years old. I have photos of my entire body covered in an itchy, red rash. After this admission I came out like a new person, my skin was clear and soft and my routine was perfect! I don’t remember much of my skin after this so I can only assume it continued to stay good for a while.
All through secondary school my eczema was there but it was manageable with double base and steroid creams so it was never much bother. I’d have the odd flare up and my face would suffer for a few days but it never lasted too long. Then through to college years and just before uni it wasn’t really something I worried about, steroid creams here and there would clear me up and I’d be good to go. And if I ever flared I would just take it on the chin and not think twice about it. I was a gymnast right through my childhood and it never stopped me, even when it was bad I’d just carry on!
Now doctors always said, oh you’ll grow out of it and for a lot of people that’s true. I’ve had friends through school who suffered as well and now they don’t seem to have it. So my eczema has gone from child’s eczema to adult and as far as I’m aware it’s a little different in the way it affects you. The areas of my body that I get it haven’t really changed but I’ve noticed and increase in flare ups from around 19 upwards (so three years).
My problem areas are the backs of my knees, face and neck, arm creases and ankles. They have always caused me jip but I seem to notice it more now and it bothers me a little more than it used to. This could be because I’ve grown up and I care more about the way I look and I’m more aware of people looking at me but I still have the mentality of being able to forget its there and carry on (unless its causing me pain).
In the last year I’ve noticed a dip in my eczema and a lot more flare ups. There are a few factors in my life which might be why but I still don’t actually know what exactly triggers it, it’s all a guessing game. So I’ve been at university studying photography which I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, I’ve lived in student houses that have been mouldy and dusty and I had a job as a housekeeper last summer which was sweaty work! So I can see why my skin has hated me but I could never get it under control.
I never got full control over my skin before I went back to university last September to start my last year so I started the year off at the doctors asking for help. They gave me some eumovate steroid for my body and hydrocortisone for my face, this gave me some relief but not for long and I was back. (Just want to add here that the steroid cream I had been using my whole life was elecon). This time I was given betnovate steroid and a course of antibiotics for a skin infection, again, some relief but never fully got rid. [I now know about topical steroid addiction which I can only assume this is what I was going through]
By the time October came round my skin had a meltdown and I was in a world of physical and mental pain. I missed uni, cried at the sight of myself in the mirror, was on the phone to 111, hoovered my bed every morning because of the skin I’d scratch off, it was awful! My boyfriend even found an audio book about healing eczema which we spent the weekend listening to and that’s when I went on an alkaline diet. I won’t go into detail as this is a whole other story but it wasn’t very nice and I lost a lot of weight!
At this point I stopped the steroids as well because I wanted a total detox and I didn’t know about topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). But after 5 weeks I couldn’t hack it and was given dermovate, a very high potency steroid cream to apply to my body and eumovate was given to my face.
After having this flare I discovered the instagram eczema community whilst I was looking for answers and it changed everything, my eyes were opened to the kindness and support it had to offer! I started my instagram page, @lowrieczemadiaries, in December separate to my personal account. I have now gained SO much knowledge and I am able to both gain and give advice. The best thing about it is I get to talk to like minded people every day who know exactly what I’m going through so I feel very lucky to be a apart of the community despite the not so nice reasons for being there.
Fast forward to march this year, a lot of steroid creams later, I was sent to the dermatologist up at the hospital and we started tackling my skin. I was given another month of steroid ointments to try, I assume they have to start with the ‘easy way out’ first which did work but I was reluctant. After 2 appointments with them, I have now weaned off the steroids which I have now been off for 32 days!!! My skin doesn’t seem to need them so this has been the perfect opportunity to try and cut them out. I’ve started protopic for my face, which I hope to wean off after my next appointment which at the end of June.
My skin is the best it’s been in a very long time and I am loving it! The sun is a big help and my skincare routine is getting better and better. I’ve found some holy grail products that work for me but I’ll save that for another post. For the first time in a long time I can say eczema doesn’t have me and I simply have eczema and I hope it stays that way.
There was no other way to do this post as my story is a long one (21 years of it to be precise) but I look forward to go into detail about my the condition and how I go about my day to day life.
I hope I can help other people out there looking for some reassurance because I sure do sometimes.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog post.