11 Mar, 2019

Why it's ok to feel down about my skin

A mum and counselor, Laura talks about what it’s like to live with Eczema all her life.

Laura, tell us a bit about yourself

I’m 38 years old and used to be a counselor supporting individuals who have experienced a suicide. I’m now a stay at home Mum to a beautiful 9-month-old daughter, Thea, who as yet has not shown any signs of eczema. I also have two small dogs!

Can you tell us a little about your experience with eczema?

I’ve had eczema since I was a few months old. The health visitor told my mum it was just dry skin. It persisted and developed into full-blown body eczema. My skin flares when I’m stressed and has been particularly bad since my pregnancy started. I’ve had different types of treatment including light therapy, wet wrapping, steroid creams etc. Currently on the waiting list for immunity- therapy. I think the worst symptom that affects me is the itch- I just can’t help but scratch. Also, my skin is totally lichenified on my hands from years of steroid creams. I was bullied at school as kids used to call me ‘granny hands.

What made you want to share your story?

I think the more people we can educate the better, it’s so misunderstood. Also, I think letting others suffering know that they aren’t alone is crucial- it can feel so lonely dealing with a chronic illness ☹️

How does having eczema affect your everyday life?

Oh lord! So, I have to shower almost as soon as I get up as I feel dry and sore. I can’t use any perfumed shower gels or anything. Before showering I have to moisturise my whole body otherwise I feel dry and uncomfortable. The cream gets on my clothes and makes everything I touch greasy! I can’t wear black or navy due to skin flaking (wearing a school uniform was hell on toast!). Nowadays if I’m really sore I’ll wear comfy-fast bandages to keep the cream on and prevent scratching damage. It is frustrating as it’s hard to concentrate on looking after my daughter when I’m itchy. If I’m in a really bad state I use a brush to scratch with. Everywhere I go I take a small pot of cream with me.

Do you believe there will be a cure for eczema in the next 25 years?

God- I hope so!!!! I think it’s only just becoming apparent in the wider community how having chronic skin conditions can impact everyday life. When I glaze it, it makes me depressed. Discussing the psychological impact is so important.

Having this condition is like constant torture- that fluctuates constantly. If a cure was found my life (and I hope others) would be drastically altered.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about living with eczema?

How has it impacted your life? Not really advice, but I’ve been told that’s it’s okay that it affects my mental health- that it’s okay to feel down about my skin- it’s so much more than ‘just an itch’.

If there were one thing you’d want every eczema patient to know, what would that be?

That they are not alone……

What organisations and support groups have you found helpful?

The Reddit community have been fairly helpful.

Do you have an eczema or psoriasis story you’d like to share? Feature in our Beating the Itch series by getting involved here.

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