By Mya Salawu
I cannot remember a time of life where my skin did not itch. Or dry out. Or hurt. That’s the worst one: when your skin hurts. As a kid with atopic dermatitis, you would think having weird, scaly skin on your arms and face would be hard. Having skin on your face that was always dry and painful was hard. On top of that was feeling left out.
I remember in grade 5 when my hands, arms and face were peak flare-zone. Winter with eczema is no joke. I would sleep with wraps and layers-on-layers of Vaseline. It was not enough. Much of the time I could barely hold a pencil because it hurt too much to bend my fingers. As I type this I am having some trouble. Imagine playing in the snow. Oh boy. All I wanted was to build forts and make snowballs. Imagine the pain of near frostbite on your cheeks. Now make it 10x worst. That is what I feel every winter almost as soon as I step outside. I love wearing a facemask – exactly what I needed as a kid.
As I type this, I’m looking at my big tub of lotion that is cannot live without. I got it a month ago and it is already half empty. I get as excited for getting new lotion as I do when a new season of my favourite show comes out. #obsessed. If you have a friend with eczema, it is guaranteed that they would love the gift of a lotion refill. Winter is coming, time to stock up.
Variety of therapies
You might be wondering, there should be a cure by now, right? Not just yet. There are, however, a variety of therapies, I should know, I have tried loads. When I was younger, I focused more on a pharmacological approach: from prescription creams, ointments, even for a while I would use a special shampoo because my scalp would be so dry it would bleed. Some worked, some didn’t. The hardest part is when something amazing stops working after having built a tolerance to it. I have a collection of half empty tubes of various ointments that I had to stop using since they either stopped being effective or started to make my skin worse. Worse! It can be frustrating at times.
Avoiding trigger foods
Now, I am trying out a medicine cabinet-free approach. Recently, I have changed my diet. So far that has helped. I avoid trigger foods like dairy, anything heavily processed and started eating more foods like fruits and nuts that help fight inflammation. I am in no way a healthcare professional, but this has helped me a bit. Moisturizing any time after contact with water as well. I have my tub of lotion anytime I shower, swim or go to a waterpark as well. Nothing I have done has gotten rid of my eczema 100%, but it has become more manageable. Now, I can go to bed without getting distracted by my arms being really itchy. Even now I occasionally wake up due to itchiness, but I am learning to manage that. Right now I don’t really need to wrap my arms while I sleep, but winter is coming, so I am need prepare for that. Time to get my Rocky playlist going, it’s training season!
Though I have had eczema for much of my life, there is still quite a bit for me to learn. Yourself as well. Atopic Dermatitis is a fairly common condition. Sure, there’s no cure, but that will not stop me from doing… anything really! Like many chronic conditions, I make adjustments as I go through life one jar of lotion at a time.
Clinical Trial Hero would like to thank Mya for taking the time to share her story.
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