Here is a googled definition of the word eczema:
'a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed with blisters which cause itching and bleeding'
Here is my definition of the word eczema:
'a medical condition in which patches of skin (inner elbows, wrists, back, chest, eye lids and neck) become dry and itchy which cause ten seconds of orgasmic itching later followed by intense crying due to indescribable pain and bleeding'
I have diagnosed wide spread eczema and have had this continuously for nearly the past two years. I had it briefly when I was a baby however the condition didn't develop fully until I was 18, having a major flare up in February 2012. My mum and her partner were splitting up, it was exam period at college and I had deep scratches all over my arms resulting in me wearing the same bloody-torn shirt for a week. I was prescribed steroid creams and after two weeks the eczema disappeared and didn't come back.
About 7 months later in September 2012, I had finished my two years at sixth form college and applied for a job working in retail in order to boost my low self confidence and get talking to people. I got the job and in October I met my first, and still current boyfriend, Adam, with a months worth of confidence on my shoulders. After a couple of weeks of meeting Adam, again, I had a major flare up. It developed on my wrists assumedly from cuff bracelets I had been wearing, however the eczema soon start to spread into my inner elbows (a common place for the condition) and I itched constantly throughout the winter months. I had 5cm long bloody scratch marks all down my arms and they oozed and sweated constantly, particularly in bed. I used steroid cream briefly however was cautious due to the side effects of the cream and unfortunately let it get worse due to this worry.
When my eczema first developed, I assumed it was either food or stress related. However due to the random flare ups it was difficult to connect the two. Presumably, it was a 'winter condition' and it was the harsh weather affecting my skin however when the condition started to develop onto other parts of my body during the Summer months in 2013 I took a visit to a dermatologist who diagnosed me with 'wide spread eczema'. It appears Doctors are determined to prescribe you with steroid creams however fail to mention the after effects of the product. Luckily, I didn't become addicted to the steroid creams as I only used them briefly after being advised to do so from the internet ('use as much as you can in as little time as possible').
The dermatologist prescribed me with 'Balneum Oil', a bath oil containing mainly soya which helps rehydrate skin and retain moisture. The bath oil has a very silky effect and I have been using it for over a year now about 5 times a week. Despite still having wide spread eczema, I use balneum as a skin relaxant rather than an actual treatment. Trying to calm your skin down without the previously mentioned, ten seconds of orgasmic scratching is difficult. I try to stick to a routine before bed in order to stop scratching:
- a ten minute lukewarm (brrr) bath with 3 capsful of balneum bath oil
- cover myself in e45 cream (only use steroids when skin is crazy itchy)
- an oversized white cotton shirt
- a fan on high power all night
- arm stroking from a fantastic boyfriend (optional)
After suffering from the condition for two years, I've gotten used to being itchy lobster lookalike almost every day. However it's upsetting when I am unable to wear short sleeved shirts when my arms look like this (a month ago):
Although this may not be the worst eczema you've seen, it certainly feels it. The cause of inner elbow eczema is due to the skin not forming properly (you're constantly moving your arms) and for me, a common place for sweating. The hotter you are, the more likely you sweat, meaning the likeliness of feeling itchy. Similar with eczema sufferers who have this problem developed at the backs of their knees.
Whilst politely advised by loved ones to 'STOP FUCKING SCRATCHING' the only option is to attempt to distract me or hold my arms down. Cutting my fingernails won't work because rubbing incessantly does the trick. Trust me, if a thousand ants were crawling across your skin you would brush those fuckers of in a second.
This year has been a better year for me in the way of scratching. When I first developed the condition, it was purely dry skin which kept bleeding due to itching. However, this year, my body has become more of a giant rash than a giant flake (to put it nicely). Here is a picture of my back taken today:
This rash developed about two months ago. It becomes more inflamed the more hotter and bothered I am.
Just over two weeks ago I developed a widespread rash on my arms like I'd never seen before:
I was laying in bed with Adam watching TV when I burst into tears at the sight of my arms and thought it was best to go to the walk in centre. I hadn't been itchy that day, as you can see the skin was unbroken... it was just ridiculously inflamed. It didn't appear to be eczema however when I saw the doctor he advised me it was some sort of allergic reaction and prescribed me with steroid.. tablets! I took 6 a day for 5 days straight and my eczema was non existent for a whole week:
This was probably the happiest week of my life in regards to my appearance. I felt sexy and literally felt like I could do anything.
After coming off the tablets just over a week ago, the itchiness and a slight rash came back however I've been trying extremely hard not to let myself get carried away. Whilst my back looks like I've been laying in stinging nettles, there are no current scratch marks on there. My arms are slightly inflamed and my wrists are a little chewed up (night time scratching), however I am determined not to let myself get too carried away. Scabs do heal quickly, however the wish to scratch before the skin is healed is deadly.
I don't know how long this condition is going to last but knowing how to control it is vital. Whilst I may not be the calmest person in the world, I have managed to spend over an hour writing this piece scratching the back of my neck just twice.
I hope you have enjoyed my piece and have found interest in learning about my skin condition. :-)