The challenges of living with eczema

I started my day without coffee today.

I had a tea, instead. With the tiniest amount of milk.

It’s just about the worst day to cut coffee from your diet: it’s February in Canada, it’s grey and raining (not even snowing), it’s cold, it’s miserably…I look forward to my coffee every day.

But.

I cannot get rid of this eczema that is bothering my wrists, my hands, and now moving up along the arms.

hand and wrist eczema

Eczema is a skin rash that is very itchy and annoying. It’s not contagious, but it is very hard to treat. There are many suggestions on the web and with medical professionals as what to do, or not do, and ultimately each has to be tried and tested by the individual.

I’ve followed all the non-diet related recommendations made by a variety of medical professionals, and finally got my appointment at the dermatologist back in November. (I had to wait four months with a referral from my doctor.)

She said to use cortisone for two weeks, then switch to a non-steroid ointment. She said it won’t cure it but it’ll help with the itch.

Well sure, it did stop the itch here and there, but it always came back. Then the skin started peeling, making it more itchy. Then the skin started developing a tougher epidermis and the vicious cycle was born.

Annoying.

I did discover something neat though: while researching on the internet I noticed a lot of questions pertained to baby diaper rashes. I went to the drug store and found a natural diaper rash cream with zinc oxide, and promptly bought it. (It was Aveeno, on sale. I actually wanted to get a Penaten but it wasn’t on sale.) Both my kids had some rashes occasionally, and the heavy white cream always seemed to soothe their tender tushies. I applied some to my wrists and within 24 hours noticed a visible difference.

So if you know me personally and see me around, the white stains all over my clothes are from the diaper cream, even though I haven’t seen a diaper in this house in about six years. Ha.

But again, this is just a temporary, topical solution to treat the skin discomfort. It doesn’t treat the source of the problem.

I knew then what I know now. Skin issues are symptomatic and must be treated at the source, which I know is in the gut.

So nourishment and digestion has to be tackled. I have to do this now because I’m at my wits’ end.

So, off the list is:

  • coffee with half and half cream
  • dairy (cheese, cream, yogurt, but I do allow a tiny bit of milk in my tea)
  • wheat (bread, associated baked products, couscous)
  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • all processed foods (crackers)

I’m ok with giving up most of the above. I’ll miss coffee the most, cheese next. I do love couscous salads, I mix it with protein, but I can switch to something non wheat (quinoa, maybe).

Theoretically I should be on the Paleo diet which also eliminates pretty much all grain, or agricultural products.

But I have a family to run. I have kids in hockey, in playoff season. I need energy, protein. I need something to sustain me. I’m going to allow myself quinoa and chickpeas, beans and lentils, as well as the nightshade family of vegetables (in small doses) like tomatoes, eggplants. (Nightshade is another culprit they say.)

I can’t see myself quit eggs either, which they say may flare up the eczema, because I can’t stomach meat first thing in the morning and I need something to hold me over….

Sigh.

To supplement, I take apple cider vinegar twice a day. I also use it in cooking (soups, etc). I purchased a bottle of raw, organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and I’m hoping it will do its thing (reduce acidity in body, release digestive enzymes).

I also take omegas (flax oil, fish oil), zinc (100 mg per day) and a calcium/magnesium supplement most nights. And a human-strain probiotic (not a dairy one, like most of the over the counter types are).

What’s still missing is a B complex, and maybe vitamin E.

In the meantime, I wear gloves whenever I go out to prevent too much hand-washing, only use warm water without soap when I do need to wash, or a soap-less soap (pine bark has properties that seem to soothe my skin, as does oatmeal), and distract myself from scratching when I get itchy.

This of course is easier said than done…and it takes will-power and mindfulness.

Sigh.

Have you ever experienced eczema at the hands? What worked for you?

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3 thoughts on “The challenges of living with eczema

  1. I’ve never had to deal with it, but have seen many suffer! Good luck, let us know what works!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The wheat free seems to be working. I’m going on two weeks and have had significant improvements with the diet, as well as the diaper cream. Who would have thought….not me! I should have thought of it earlier. 🙂

      Thank you for your comment!

      Like

  2. Our middle daughter has bad eczema so I feel your pain. It’s definitely made worse when she eats foods that she’s allergic too, but I’m not sure if other foods also cause flare ups – we will have to try cutting some stuff out and see what happens.

    For now she’s a topical treater, too – i have to say we probably rely on over the counter hydrocortizone creams more than we should. I’ll have to look into the diaper cream – I wonder if we could get her to wear it!

    Liked by 1 person

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