How I deal with my Eczema

*This article does not contain disgusting pictures of my eczema*

So, you have eczema too? I feel your pain.

Watermelon is good for eczema — picture taken from Pexels

Not to worry, I have tried and tested different ways and approaches to ease these triggers of mine and, with hand on heart, I hope that this article will help you to ease your suffering with that nasty 6 letter word of doom.

My lifestyle before.

I performed full-time at night and teach the guitar during the day. In regards to my sleep, It was either a 3–5 hours sleep or I don’t sleep at all. I don’t exercise much and, my diet was all over the place. I have to entertain my customers during my regular performances and since I don’t drink alcohol, I smoked a lot instead. Drinking 3 to 6 glasses of coca-cola was also a regular habit for me to keep me awake — sugar rush! After performing, I will head home and practice, smoke even more and played video games throughout the night. Boom, I have been doing this for almost a decade now.

My symptoms. The skin on my fingers, hands, elbows and back were all broken up. I had blood stains on my shirt and transparent liquid oozing out of my affected area constantly. It was super painful and itchy especially the hand’s portion as I had to play the guitar every day.

Then came COVID. Thanks!
During the lockdown, my eczema mutated and became worse.

I spent most of my days doing nothing and drinking tons of sugary drinks to cheer myself up as I was stressed out with the whole “staying at home” issue. I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and, my room smelt like a pub. Painful Boils with green discharge started to grow all over my body and my eczema turned into stubborn wounds that won’t heal. Showering hurts like hell and I will spend a good 10 mins each night sweeping away heaps of dead skin all over my apartment. It was hell.

What I did during these painful events:
I was put under the steroid-anti-biotic medical treatment to calm the affected area down and I even tried showering with dead sea salt, medicated body wash specially formulated for eczema-prone skin and applying after shower products like essential oils, moisturiser and coconut oil but, nothing worked.

Today:
My skin healed completely. Sometimes they are itchy and chalky and sometimes they appeared red and inflamed. But, it is much easier to manage now as compared to last time because they no longer bleed. If I scratch my affected area, the skin turns slightly red with no visible open wound.

Here’s what I did to narrow down my triggers and countermeasures.

Identifying the type of eczema you have.

This is one of the most important steps to heal your eczema. You need to learn and identify what type of eczema you are diagnosed with. https://www.healthline.com/health/types-of-eczema
Most often, we mistake eczema for rash or other minor skin issues. Initially, I assumed mine was atopic dermatitis — Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. It usually starts in childhood, and often gets milder or goes away by adulthood but, I started having eczema only when I was 18 and genetically speaking, none of my family members had it so I assumed atopic dermatitis was out of the picture.

Then, I ventured into contact dermatitis and rash — I was right.

Diet and eating clean.

One of the most prominent signs of my recovery was eating clean and cutting out all my sugary intake. For a month or so, I only ate boiled chicken breast with broccoli and drank sugarless tea. I ate watermelon after each meal and down 4 to 6 tablets of fish oil in the morning and night time.

The affected area on my skin feels calmer with this new diet in motion. Even though the skin still bleeds and leak liquid, I could feel that it is more stabilised — the skin feels stronger even after a massive scratch party.

The first point of contact.

Many moons ago, my guitar taught me something incredible. In order to gain good tone, we need to narrow it down to the first point of contact. We assumed that to sound good, we need to have the best gear. Oddly, the first point of contact to produce the perfect tone is your guitar pick. Hence, the first point of contact of your eczema-prone skin is your attire and the laundry detergent you use to wash it. But, here’s the thing. I have been using the same laundry detergent for many years without having any issues, why now?

My theory.

My unhealthy lifestyle of not sleeping, smoking, drinking sugary drinks and eating junk caused my skin to deteriorate throughout the years. Once the skin weakens, it allows all the nasty shit around us to attack. Maybe back then, my skin was strong enough to protect me from the contains of the laundry detergent but due to my negligence, it no longer can. Hence, I am now super sensitive to anything my skin touches.

I changed my laundry detergent to something non-scented and safe for the skin.

Keeping your skin clean.

In my opinion, one of the most effective ways to calm your skin is to take a shower. However, my skin dries up immediately after a shower, causing it to be extremely itchy and flaky — you’ve got the best of both worlds here.

What I did:

I kept my showers short set the temperature slightly towards the colder side. Showering with warm water will feel good but it might bruise your affected areas — especially if your eczema is already wounded. I use baby body wash or anything safe for eczema.

Then, I soaped up my armpits and groin area and leave the affected area soap-free. I try not to soap up the affected area and only use water to clean them. Once I dry myself, I apply an anti-inflammatory cream over the affected area, rest for a bit, apply a thin layer of moisturiser over it. Lastly, I put on a clean shirt to protect my skin from any environmental pollutants.

Vaping and Smoking.

I smoked a lot of cigarettes during the day. We know that cigarettes are bad for our skin. But, why do all of my friends who smoke are eczema free? Most probably, like what I mentioned above, my skin is dead… hence, it fails to protect me from all of the pollutants around. Have you heard of the term “third-hand smoke?” If someone smokes and you inhale it, you are taking in second-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke occurs when the smoke from the cigarette are trapped in your clothing. Even if you take an hour to walk around in hopes to get rid of the smell or mask yourself with cologne, the third-hand smoke devil is already in motion. This will be an issue if you have a non-smoking family or children at home — you are a walking ball of pollutants. Over the years, it will build up all over everything you touch get close to unless you do a complete wipe down. I have encountered this problem when I started to smoke in my room during the COVID lockdown period. The smoke will stain the walls, furniture or anything it touches. All in all, the residue left behind on my clothing after smoking is one of the main culprits.

Vaping is one of the main causes of my itchy-inflamed skin today. To prove that vaping was the bane of my skin, I did a small experiment. Vaping dries out my skin fairly quickly. After a night of vaping in my room with my door and windows closed, my skin will feel irritated in the morning. I will feel comfortable only after airing my room. However, the condition of my skin got worse hence I went back to smoking. As you can see by now, I am the cause of my eczema — I aggravate it by going back and forth. I cleared my skin by setting aside 2 sets of clothings. After a smoke, I will change into something clean which helped my skin. Then, I started to vape again for a day and my skin became inflamed and itchy. Therefore, narrowed down that vaping is one of the culprit.

I chanced upon this article and compared her skin condition to mine and it was similar. https://www.foxnews.com/health/woman-claims-allergic-reaction-to-vape-caused-painful-rash-required-hospital-visit

picture taken from https://www.foxnews.com/health/woman-claims-allergic-reaction-to-vape-caused-painful-rash-required-hospital-visit

Those little lumps on her lower back were very similar to mine.

There is nothing wrong about vaping or smoking. It is more about what triggers your eczema and sadly, these are my two main culprits. If you vape and you have eczema, you might want to check the contains of the juice. I know that the PG (Propylene Glycol) contain in it is one of the main culprit. But honestly speaking, we do not know what the real contains are in a bottle of vape juice. The ingredients might be altered or mixed with other foreign chemicals and we won’t know. However, for cigarettes, it is what it is.

Sleeping and Shutting down.

Here’s the thing about sleeping — it is very important. But, most of the time I still failed to have a good night of rest.

Researchers have also found that mitosis — the process by which cells divide and repair — occurs roughly between 11 p.m. and midnight, whether you’re asleep or awake. However, catching some Zs while mitosis is at its peak means that your skin will reap more of the benefits.

Most of the time, I sleep after 3 in the morning. I noticed that my skin gets itchier at night. Sleeping is the best way to shut it down and prevent you from further scratching and bruising your skin. But my creativity usually starts to kick in late at night. To keep me calm and scratch-free, I take an over-the-counter antihistamine pill and keep myself hydrated with fruits and water. However, please get more sleep before midnight to speed up the recovery process.

Restart and try again.

Sometimes, we need help If it gets too painful or tiring. Even If you start to eat clean and watch your diet, it might take a while to recover and during this period, it might affect your day — itchy sleepless nights, too painful to touch, etc. I suggest getting an injection from your general clinic. Please do not get the steroid shots. Instead, get the anti-histamine shots or something similar. Even though these are temporary reliefs, they can help to ease your suffering and give you a restart. After an anti-histamine shot, my skin will be completely cleared. This is best time for me to watch my diet, keep my skin clean, exercise and take good care of it. Even if your eczema returns after a few months, it won’t be as bad as the previous time before the shot. This is one of the method I used to slowly rejuvenate and heal my skin.

I hope my article helps you.
In summary, you need to identify what type of eczema you’re diagnosed with and start to eliminate the triggers. The general best way to do this is to keep yourself healthy from the inside and let the body heal on its own. Sometimes, you have to moisturise and hydrate your body too. I tried moisturising my body but my eczema were open wounds and it hurt like hell so I stopped and allowed my body heal on it’s own. Sometimes, you have tried everything in the book but the eczema still persists. Take a step back and look at the smaller picture instead — is it something you ate? something it touches? We need to do our part first before anything else.

I know that it will be a long and tiresome journey — I had my fair share of suffering for 20 years. But, it is still possible to calm your condition and get on your day with a smile. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions, I will try my best to help you! helloalfredtwj@gmail.com

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