beauty

'I've struggled with eczema for my whole life. Here’s how I manage it'.

Eczema is fickle. The cause of it is unknown and unfortunately, there is no cure. Over time, experts have found a number of internal and external factors which could potentially contribute to eczema. 

Internally, a family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever, some foods and alcohol and, of course, stress are said to cause eczema. 

Externally, irritants such as tobacco smoke, chemicals, weather and air conditioning can play a part. Common day allergens such as house dust mites, mould, grass, plant pollens, certain foods, pets, as well as soaps, shampoos and washing detergents can also irritate the skin. 

Watch: Here are seven ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.


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Personally, I have seen a number of dermatologists over the years who give me various results. They mostly say that I am allergic to dust, grass, dog hair and nickel. 

However, eczema does run in my family, and most family members suffer from it, along with asthma. 

When I was a child, my eczema rashes were predominately on the backs of my knees, my legs and arms. 

I have early memories of being a child and my mum letting us soak in Pinetarsol in the bath, and then lathered in Sorbolene cream and dressed in thick, flannelette pyjamas to ensure all the moisture soaks into my skin.

These days, I experience eczema all over my hands, and occasionally my under eye area. Although it’s not a life-threatening illness, it is still extremely debilitating. 

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There are nights where I wake up so itchy and I’m unable to go back to sleep for hours until I rip my skin raw. Then, once the pain of feeling itchy has ended, the journey to healing the wounds I have just created begins. 

As we all know too, healing wounds itch. So, the healing process is just as itchy and frustrating as the initial outburst.

People often stare at my hands when I do simple things like make a purchase or having something to eat or drink at work. I don’t normally acknowledge the stares, because it is - of course - an insecurity for me.

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My friends even still occasionally comment on how painful my skin looks or offer suggestions on how to minimise symptoms

It’s nobody’s fault, people naturally observe and try to help, but it is hard. I have already exhausted every option of curing it and unfortunately it's just something I live with.

How I manage my eczema.

My very best friend is the Eczema Association Australasia. Their newsletters provide updates about medications and treatments which are really helpful. 

I also do my best to make sure that I buy from brands which are EAA supporters, as they tend to have a range of products which are specially formulated for eczema sufferers. 

Years of trial and error have taught me what my triggers are, and the things that I am unable to use or do. For instance, I am unable to get professional nail treatments.😭

No SNS, shellac, acrylics or even certain nail polishes for me, or I will wake up either in the middle of the night so itchy, or with rashes - and no memory of creating them. 

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Keeping my nails short and clean helps. When they’re short, they’re more blunt and aren’t as irritating. Occasionally, I also moisturise my hands at night and pop on cotton mitts or gloves whilst I sleep to keep moisture in. 

I mostly opt to wear 100 per cent cotton or other very soft fabrics and avoid scratchy fibres and tight clothing. I also always purchase 100 per cent cotton sheets, which helps to keep me at a comfortable temperature. 

If I get too hot, it can lead to skin irritation and ultimately scratching. Fabrics like linen, jersey and polyester can either irritate my skin or can make me feel like I'm boiling.

Most cleaning products are highly irritating, so using rubber gloves with cotton liners helps to stop any product from reaching my skin. 

The best products for eczema.

Speaking of products, I always use hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products - especially when it comes to washing powders, soap and moisturisers. 

These three products all come into regular contact with your skin, so it’s very important to use products specially formulated with skincare conditions in mind. 

The DermaVeen Daily Nourish Soap-Free Wash ($17.99) and the Aveeno Dermexa Daily Emollient Body Wash ($11.99) are both excellent body wash options. 

Hot water can increase inflammation in your skin, so taking lukewarm showers is my best option. After bathing, gently patting the skin dry as opposed to aggressively rubbing your skin, as this can cause irritation. 

Right after showering is the perfect time to moisturise, to lock in the moisture. My favourite moisturiser to use is the Aveeno Dermexa Daily Emollient ($15.69). It feels comfortable on the skin whilst providing long-lasting moisture. 

I also try to moisturise after each time I wash my hands (making COVID times super high maintenance for me). I have tubes of Aveeno Dermexa Fast & Long Lasting Balm ($9.39) in my handbag, my desk at work and home, one in the car and several in the beauty backup cupboard as it's compact and incredibly moisturising.

Stress is a massive trigger for me, so I speak with a psychologist every few weeks to manage stress and anxiety. I also do my best to do all the ‘that girl’ things to manage my stress - gratitude journals, meditation, exercise and walks when I can.

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All these tips are just advice as a result of learning about my own eczema triggers. 

Image: Supplied

If you’re reading this and you experience eczema too, my best tip is to try to learn your triggers. When I first tried starting to learn, I kept a journal. 

Anytime you experience an itchy outbreak, write down the date and what you were doing/eating.

Over time you’ll hopefully start to notice whether your symptoms are internal or external, which will help you manage your eczema in the long term.

For more from Melissa, follow her on Instagram.

Do you have eczema? What are some of your triggers? And how do you manage them? Share your tips with us in the comment section below.

Feature Image: Supplied/Melissa Henricks

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