Images courtesy of Amy-Louise James.
When you hear the word ‘eczema’, you probably envision small patches of scaly, itchy skin that flare up occasionally when the weather changes. For some people living with the skin condition, that might well be the reality — but eczema can also be so severe it impacts on someone’s day to day life.
Amy-Louise James knows this feeling. The 25-year-old developed eczema when she was just three-years-old, and by the time she hit her mid-teens it affected her entire body with the exception of her feet.
“I had to change my bed every day because there would be so much skin and my eczema wept so much the sheets got all sticky. I itched constantly and there would be blood on the sheets too. It was just permanently painful,” James tells the Daily Mail.
James also recalls feeling compelled to apologise to strangers in public, as her raw, scratched skin would sometimes flake off and cause a "snowstorm" as she walked.
These issues continued when James finished high school and went to college; on some days she was so self-conscious about her skin she wouldn't leave her room.
When light treatment, herbal remedies, creams and other medications failed to combat her eczema, James turned to steroid cream. Although the cream was effective when she first applied it, her eczema flare-ups became more severe each time they returned.
Eventually, on her doctor's recommendation and after learning they were linked to worsening eczema, James ceased using the topical steroids. Now, she's documenting her withdrawal experiences — and her life with severe eczema more generally — on her blog 'Did someone say cheese?'.
"Sometimes it takes a fellow eczema sufferer to truly understand. So, that’s what I’m here for — I’m here for those 2am scratching fests and those tears before having to venture out in public or go to work," she tells her fellow 'eczema warriors'.
"It’s hard enough for someone with beautiful skin to accept their appearance so it’s 10 times worse for us scabby, weepy, bloody, patchy, itchy lot to be happy with the way that we look."