Caring For The Skin You're In #OneTwoFreeYourSkin

Wednesday 19 September 2018

For as long as I can remember, I have felt at war with my skin. I have had eczema since I was a child, and I have spent years trying to cure myself of it to no avail. I remember taking baths in oat meal, using creams that dyed my skin yellow, the constant itch, being swathed in wet bandages, with dry ones over the top to soothe me, and even sleeping in cotton gloves that my Mum would tape to me so I couldn't claw my skin in my sleep. I remember clinging to what the doctors told me, that most people grow out of eczema in their teenage years, hoping so badly that I would be one of those people.

Thankfully these days my eczema is under a lot more control, but it has never gone away. I always have at least a patch somewhere on my body that needs attention. The places I tend to have it now are the tops of my feet, my scalp, and the backs of my knees. My feet are the really problematic area, and also the hardest to treat.

I moisturise any problem areas twice a day, I take extra care to make sure my tattoos are thoroughly moisturised as I don't want any damage to that caused by my eczema. Whenever possible I allow my skin to breathe; this means wearing sandals and having bare legs. Fabric can irritate my skin, and feet get warm in shoes, so whenever I can, I let them be free! Eczema on feet in particular is prone to infection, simply because of the area it is on. I've had more infections in the eczema on my feet that I care to count, so letting the skin breathe is key.

I also try to be aware of my desire to scratch my skin. Of course sometimes I absentmindedly itch, and occasionally I will admit that I just can't control myself and I have to scratch, but I really try my best not to. I keep my nails tidy, and if my skin is worse, I keep my nails short too. It sounds bizarre, but I'm prone to itching my feet with my toe nails in my sleep, so keeping toe nails short and tidy is key too, or else I can wake up with incredibly raw skin that I've scratched till it bled.

I also avoid tights, wool, and other fabrics that might be itchy, avoid socks as much as possible, and always remove my shoes and socks when I get home. For my feet, the other thing that also really exacerbates my condition is heating in cars, so I never use the foot warming aspect of the heating. My husband has the same problem in the winter too, so as tempting as toasty feet are, it's one to avoid for us.

For my scalp, I never really found any products worked for both my scalp and my hair. Anything that helped clear my scalp destroyed the condition of my hair, and anything that was fine for me hair, didn't improve my scalp or made it worse. That is until I discovered the Curly Girl Method. A few people online mentioned it helping their scalp condition and I didn't really expect much difference, but to my surprise, it not only improved my scalp, but my eczema has completely gone from my scalp, as has any residual dry skin I usually experienced in 'better' skin days. I think it's a combination of the scalp cleansing, and ensuring I use products that don't contain any sulphates, parabens and drying alcohols. Since I stopped using shampoo my scalp has been free and clear and so much happier! Even if you don't have curly hair, if you do have issues with your scalp, I recommend giving the method a go to see if it helps you.

I always get flares up in times of stress, but I know these will always come in peaks and troughs, so I try not to worry about them too much, and just keep an extra close eye on those areas that are prone to infections.

These days I know my skin isn't magically going to get better, but I do know that I can control it and make my life a lot more comfortable than it was as a child. No more cotton gloves and swathes of bandages, instead just regular care and attention, and trying not to bloody itch!

Much love,
Kitty xxx

This blog post is an entry into an Epaderm competition.