Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Eczema, My Story.

Im sat at my desk wondering what on earth to review or write about for you guys. Ive only just started to use my new skin care products so I cant really talk about my skin care regime yet. I havnt really been testing out any makeup or wearing any lately.
The only thing staring me in the face is the cream for my eczema.

When I started my new job I loved it, however the one problem has been the changes its made to my skin, being in a stockroom surrounded by dirt, and dust has given me hell for my skin. Im finally on track with my face and the break outs are under control, but my eczema has gotten ALOT worse. It came back on my inside elbow and my legs have suffered aswell.

So Im going to tell you a little about my eczema.

Im not exactly sure when I first got my eczema, it may possibly have been something Ive had all my life, but my first proper memories of it being bad, and I use the term bad very loosely as some doctors call it a severe case, was probably around 10 years ago. I first noticed it on the insides of my calfs and my elbows. It had gotten red/sore/very itchy after a recent school trip. Doctors assumed it was due to allergies that caused it to suddenly get worse.  Which is completely understandable as I am allergic to some washing powders (what a hassle that is when you split your time between your home and your partners home!)

But I was put straight away on a Hydrocortisone cream and told to apply it around 3 times a day for as long as it takes to recover. I assume it went away for a while or was 'under control' because I don't really recall going back to the doctors for a while.

The next memory I have is of myself lying on my bed having cream slathered all over the backs of my legs, behind my knees and my dad saying that it looked much worse then his eczema. My dads is that typical red/dry flaky skin associated with eczema. However I started to suffer from terrible itching and would scratch so much that I tore chunks of skin out of my legs. At around 15 thats difficult to deal with. I hated the way my legs were looking. So off we went to the doctors again, and once more I was given hydrocortisone cream but at a much stronger strength. Thankfully this stronger cream got rid of the eczema in my arm, the same sadly can not be said for my legs. I then remember going to the doctors every month or so and all the time being given stronger creams to deal with the condition my legs were in. This went onto an even stronger cream called Betnovate and an even stronger one called Dermovate, one of the strongest creams used to treat eczema. Around 17/18 I began to notice a few changes in my skin. The eczema was getting no better, and when I did scratch, even the smallest amount, I was leaving deep gashes in my skin. What I had never been told is that these creams all are a steroid based cream. My directions for them were always apply as much needed as often as needed. All I can say is how wrong that is. I look at my legs now and I feel a mixture of feelings. Sometimes I feel disgust because I have to look at them day in day out, and there are days where Ive scratched so badly huge chunks are missing, theres scaring all over from where parts have healed. I feel embarrassed if anyone else looks at them, but mostly I feel sad because my legs are now in a state that I just dont think can ever be fixed. While Im slowly begining to accept my legs, im still saddened by the fact that these steroid creams have made my situation worse.
Using the steroid creams for such a pro-longed period of time has had these side effects for me:
  • Thinning of the skin. Especially in my legs, one accidentle catch of my finger nail of my skin for example while putting on tights will rip my skin open and bleed, almost like Ive cut myself shaving.
  • Permanent Striae. This is pretty much marks on the skin that look very similar to stretch marks but they can not be got rid of. 
  • Discolouration. My legs are now pretty much a reddish/purple tone. It is more visable when wet but it is there enough for people to notice. Which puts me down, somehow this discolouration just worsens the overall effect of the eczema it makes it look about 10x worse.
Not to mention the effect it has had on my self-esteem. I can not wear dresses or shorts without a pair of leggins or thick tights under.  I can only wear skin coloured tights if Im having a 'good day' I personally can not shave my legs as much as I would want to and often have to tell my partner to ignore my fuzzy-ness. All of this slightly begins to change how 'pretty' you feel you are. However lately I have come over leaps and bounds in my feelings towards my eczema. It doesnt stop me feeling pretty anymore and Im over the insecurites it once gave me. I now accept that I pretty much will have this the rest of my life, and while I have days I just want to chop my legs off through irritation, it is a part of me and I accept that now. Im never getting rid of this and yes I feel sad about it, but I just cope and get on with it, because it doesnt change who I am as a person.

After I noticed the damage it was doing to my skin at 18 I stopped using creams and turned to moisturisers instead, a good one I reccomend is Garnier Hydralock.

Right now Im back on a hydrocortisone cream. BUT I have a new knowledge of how to apply this and it has worked wonders for me in two days using it like this.
First of the exact cream I have is 'Eurax Hc Cream. Which contains Hydrocortisone(0.25%) & Crotamiton  Heres a picture.
I got this prescribed to me by my doctor but you can pick it up in most pharmacies over the counter. (You can see here it cost me £3.79 rather then the £7odd I pay for prescriptions!)
Onto the usage!!
Only use for a maximum of 7 days.
Apply an aqueous cream or moisturiser first and let it sink in for 20 minutes.
Then apply the hydrocortisone cream using a FTU (finger tip unit) guidance. A fingertip counts as from the tip of your index finger to the first crease. One FTU will cover an area twice the size of the palm of your hand. So to do the inside on my leg I would take one FTU. You can find out more about FTU's here (for adults and children).

After two days of using creams in this way the inside elbow of my arm has calmed down a huge amound its now just a slightly red slighty dry area of skin, my legs are still far from perfect but the crotamiton in the cream certainly eases the itching. Because I am worried any further effect this cream with have on my legs I will only use it every other day for a week and continue to moisturise. For now Im just hoping I can get an improvement in my eczema, I would love for it to calm down enough to enable me to wear a dress without thick black tights on my 23rd birthday in June. Wish me luck guys :)
And if any of you suffer eczema I would love to know your story and how you deal with it.