I have Chronic Atopic Dermatitis.
OMG – what’s that? Is it contagious?
Relax—while the name sounds horrible and has too many syllables it just means I have eczema.
And unlike most people and internet articles about those with eczema, not only have I had this for 29 years (my whole life) but I also have it on 90% of my skin.
JUST A SCRATCH IN LIFE
I have photos of my toddler self with gloves on to prevent my nails from digging into skin (instead I’d rub the glove’s cloth on my face). My dad even wrapped cardboard into tubes into which I’d insert my arms. This prevented my arms from bending… therefore no scratching.
One of my sisters was also in a similar situation. Between us it seems we’ve tried every lotion known to mankind – Cerave, Prutopic, Vaseline, Eucerin, etc.
But as I grew older my skin actually calmed down on its own. My ‘war zones’ centralized around my neck, upper lip, inner and outer elbows, and all my legs. When high school hit I came to a place in my eczema career where I just wanted to be comfy. I mostly used Curel as my lotion and would dilute some Mometasone in it during some flare ups. I wore shorts and tanks and didn’t care if my legs or arms looked dry. Sure I’d be jealous of girl classmates with their smooth skin but my self-consciousness never wavered. I knew I had a lot going for me—youth group leader, dance group, good grades, boyfriends—confidence was and still is key.
OL’ ECZEMA OL’ BUDDY
From high school on I never did more for my eczema. I shrugged at it because it wasn’t a life or death matter. Especially when compared to my sister—I was fine. Meanwhile she had it worse bouncing from allergist to dermatologist and baffling them all. She went through diets, light therapy, skin tests, and medicine after medicine.
In early 2014 I noticed any cuts left after scratching remained a bright red. Normally my itchy areas just looked like faded red bruises mixed with lots of dry skin. Suddenly I was experiencing itching in totally new places such as my front and back torso, eyelids, and behind my ears. In October 2014 I finally saw a dermatologist.
Was my skin heading this direction or was it because of changes my doctor made? Either way, my eczema has taken a nose dive.
SO NOW I’M WRITING OF THIS EXPERIENCE
Since October I’ve started using the steroid cream Desoximetasone in cycles: two weeks twice a day followed by two weeks of no use at all.
During my ‘on’ period it feels like my skin is back to where it was two years ago. But a couple days into my ‘off’ cycle and my whole body flares up. My skin gets poofy and insanely itchy. Since October I’ve also made personal changes regarding diets, changing my bathing routines, and natural skin care. Four months later and no changes. Ideally I want to have more natural solutions but for now my skin care list reads like the back of a soda can. Someday I hope my skin gets back to where I used to be or better.
My derm has realized I need more help. Soon I’ll meet with a food allergist and in a month I’ll have a patch test to see if any items I touch cause the flare ups.
So for anyone in a similar situation—follow me as I begin my journey. Teach me or learn from me. I’m still experimenting with what calms or flares my skin.
To all my cool eczema people. To the fighters and the succeed-ers… I’d love to hear from you and see what you’ve done.