Because write about stuff currently on my mind, I’m going to write a bit about eczema. Because I have it and it’s kind of causing sensory hell at the moment.
Eczema is an atopic condition related to allergies. Together with asthma and allergies, it forms the atopic triad. Like my asthma and allergies, I’ve been dealing with eczema pretty much my whole life, though some years are worse than others, and winters are usually worse than summers.
This winter is shaping up to be my worst in over a decade, if the past week is any sign of what’s to come. My arms and legs are covered in an itchy, red, bumpy and angry rash which itches so intensely it almost burns. The phrase “sensory hell” comes to mind. That said, I’m fortunate. Generally my eczema can be managed through OTC medication and regular moisturizing, with only occasionally needing a prescription-strength med if OTC stuff isn’t cutting it. Some people are not so lucky.
So I figured I’d make a post about my winter eczema routine where I’ll share what works for me and others can share what works for them.
- Cut showers down to once every two days. Daily showers make my eczema angry. Exception if I’m exercising regularly because I sweat too much not to shower after an exercise session.
- Make sure all showers are barely lukewarm. Hot and cold showers alike anger my eczema.
- Apply moisturizer every time I wash my hands.
- Eat healthy foods
- Cut down on junk food
- Cut out processed foods entirely (preservatives tend to set off my eczema, so if I’m having a flareup, I cut them out)
- Try to eat foods low in sulphites and nitrites (recommended by my allergist because for some people sulphites and nitrites aggravate eczema – nitrites don’t seem to bug me but sulphites definitely do)
- Drink lots of water.
- Immediately upon waking up or immediately after a shower if it’s a shower day: apply moisturizer cream. My favorite is glaxal base, because it is effective, unscented (scented moisturizers set off my eczema something fierce. Every few years I think I can get away with a cheaper, scented moisturizer and try it once and end up in tears because my skin feels like it’s on fire and chuck it out and vow never to do it again… onnnly to forget about it two or three years later and give it another go), and cheap as far as unscented moisturizers go. I can get a 700g tub at my local pharmacy for $20.
- Apply moisturizer for my face (glaxal base makes me get acne so I have a separate one I use for my face)
- About a half hour later: Apply hydrocortisone cream to bad spots.
- 20 minutes before leaving: apply sunscreen of SPF 60 (ever had an eczema flareup over a sunburn? NOT fun. Sunscreen is important on the skin cancer prevention front anyway, but even lacking that, sunburn and eczema don’t play nice)
- At morning break, reapply sunscreen
- Stop in a bathroom around noon and reapply moisturizer to hands, arms, and legs.
- Apply hydrocortizone cream to any bad spots.
- Reapply sunscreen at lunch, and again at around 2-3PM
- Before leaving work, reapply sunscreen
- Immediately on getting home/immediately before evening classes or evening work shift as applicable, reapply moisturizer to hands, arms and legs
- Apply hydrocortizone cream to bad spots
- Since my rash gets worse in evenings and night-time, if necessary apply lidocane cream to relieve itching. I usually only do this if it’s making me frantic, because the lidocaine irritates my skin a bit, but not applying it is sometimes not an option.
- If necessary, wrap really bad spots in gauze dressings so that I can’t damage them through scratching too much.
- Reapply moisturizer to hands, arms and legs. Moisturize face.
- Apply hydrocortizone cream to bad spots
- Re-apply lidocaine if needed.
- If needed, reapply gauze dressings
- If really bad, take a Benadryl to help to get to sleep.
If I’m really, really bad, I will also use topical Benadryl cream. If I’m doing okay, sometimes I don’t need the hydrocortizone at all.
All-told, taking care of eczema generally takes an hour or so out of my day. It’s annoying, but definitely worth it on the stress management front – there are few sensations I find worse than itching.