I know what living with eczema is like. I don’t suffer from it anymore but my story is important and how I overcame it is even more important. Here you will read my story. The next post is what I did to cure my eczema!
Medical professionals agree that eczema (atopic dermatitis) is an incurable autoimmune disease. Fellow blogger (and possibly my long, lost sister) Meghan Telpner will argue till she’s blue in the face that diseases that are labeled “incurable” are often very curable if we just take the right approach. I brag to anyone who will listen about how I cured my own case of eczema. I no longer suffer the symptoms and do not take medication so I say I’m cured and there’s nothing you can do to convince me otherwise. Now, if you have atopic dermatitis or someone you love suffers from this debilitating and embarrassing condition, please continue reading. If you get to the end and still have questions, ask away!
I suffered from eczema throughout childhood. I was on several rounds of steroids on top of topical steroid creams for years and years. I vividly remember how bad those creams burned my feet. My poor, poor feet. As a kid, the flareups of Eczema were in the crooks of my arms, armpits, crotch, backs of my legs (especially backs of my knees), and my feet. My feet would not only get dry and itchy but they would crack and bleed. I can still see my father putting cream on my feet at night before bed, it stinging so bad I’d cry and bury my face in my pillow while he blew on my little piggies to cool and soothe the inflammation. As a mom, I cannot imagine how painful it was for my parents to see my red, bumpy, bleeding skin, hearing my cries and listening to my complaints about how ugly I felt on top of being itchy and uncomfortable every.single.day.
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The creams and steroid treatments would control the symptoms of the eczema temporarily. The rashes would be “under control,” not bothering me too much, for a month or two before another flare up would come along and I’d be miserable again. The cycle was horrible. Doctors would have little to no answers and would often tell me that many people grow out of it so I might not have it as an adult. I was pretty miserable most of the time on top of being self-conscious and just plain ITCHY!
In high school, I tanned for vanity. I noticed that when I was tanning (in a tanning bed) regularly, my eczema seemed better. I was on to something. Now, doctors often recommend UVB therapy (basically tanning bed lights) to reduce the symptoms of eczema. So I was treating myself without even knowing it. After high school came college. I remember my knuckles cracking so badly that I could not take notes during classes. I literally could not hold a writing utensil in my hand! I smeared triple antibiotic ointment on my knuckles every day and put band aides on every.single.finger. Yeah, embarrassing and inhibiting like you wouldn’t believe. I went through the same cycles in college with steroid creams to control things until they came back worse and on and on and on…
Then, I discovered a passion for yoga. I danced throughout childhood, taking ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance classes every day after school. I found Vinyasa Yoga which flowed like a dance and I was hooked. Each class felt like a creative outlet and a meditative experience all at the same time. I found my stress levels went down just thinking about going to yoga and my skin got a little bit better. Stress is a huge contributor to eczema flareups so being able to manage my stress was very helpful in curing my disease.
Later, I learned to run. I meditated when I ran which helped my stress level go down further, but the sweat and my sports bra rubbing my back created rashes! I got eczema on my back for the first time. It quickly grew from a little spot on one shoulder to covering my entire back, spreading onto my stomach and reaching down my thighs. Before I knew it, I had eczema covering over 85% of my body (according to the dermatologist I saw). I needed help. I went to yet another dermatologist. At this point, I felt helpless and hopeless. I lived a healthy lifestyle and had been managing my stress so well, why was my skin eating me alive?
The dermatologist told me I had little infections all over me (from scratching my rashes) and needed antibiotics… And bleach baths… I’m sorry, WHAT?!?!
Yeah, sounds crazy but every night for 10 days, I took a cool bath in water treated with a cup of Clorox. Ick. Bleach is scary and I don’t recommend anyone do this without a doctor’s order. Obviously, I was in danger of infections spreading and growing all over my body and the safest, fastest way of getting rid of them was to kill the bacteria on the skin… With bleach. I must say it worked. I’m symptom-free and have been for YEARS. So yes, there is hope! Stay tuned for my next post on how I managed to do this.