Living With Eczema

14/01/2017



I've kept this draft in my blog for days and I was debating between publishing or deleting it. The thing is, this post might sound like nothing other than me going on a rant about my stressful life with eczema. I don't really like exposing myself too much on the internet, let alone my emotion but a part of me says whatever, I'm going to rant on my blog and nobody is going to forbid me for it and I guess that sassy little part of me won or else you won't be reading this right now.

A little backstory of my life (the longer version can be read here): I was born with psoriasis or at least, that's what my doctor told me. I grew up applying ointments and using medicated products and believe me when I tell you that medicated soap and shampoo smell horrible and left my hair feeling dry and frizzy and just blergh. Fast forward to me growing up, my psoriasis began to diminish and I thought yes, finally! I can have normal skin! but nooo, that dream is far beyond my reach because soon after, I experienced dry, red patches and rashes which turn out to be ecze-feckin-ma. Hooray for me and my stupid skin condition and bye bye to clean, smooth skin that can only happen in my dream.

Don't call me an arrogant poser


You see, not only is eczema frustrating because they are so goddamn itchy and make me scratch like a flea-infected cat, they also took an emotional toll on me. I felt disgusting and dirty, felt embarrassed to see myself in the mirror, felt like I could never tell anyone that I am such a high maintenance person who requires specific hygiene products and a crap ton of body lotions, creams and butters and corticosteroid ointments. The maintenance to an extremely dry, sensitive and eczema-prone skin is not cheap. The items we have to use are never cheap, at least not in where I live. For instance, a Cetaphil product can cost me $22-30 / each, no matter if it's the Cetaphil skin cleanser or the moisturizing cream. Another example is how difficult it is to find an all-natural ingredient product in the market, be it a body wash or shampoo or whatever and even if there's any, you can bet that it's not cheap. To make matter worse, people born with eczema experience flare-ups caused by different triggers. For me, it's most probably the sulfate in my body wash. No matter how moisturizing a commercial body wash is, if the product contains sulfate, I can bet that it's going to trigger my eczema. Believe it or not, the Johnson's baby milk + rice bath triggers my eczema because it contains sodium laureth sulfate, aha!

Growing up, I was advised by my mom to not tell anyone about my psoriasis or eczema. I was told that people are not going to accept me if I were to talk about my skin condition. The unfortunate thing is I believed in it. I never told anyone that I am a loyal subscriber of eczema, that I have dry patches on my body or my knees because I was embarrassed. It's like living in hiding and I grew up hating it. It felt like I was pretending to be normal when in fact, I'm not. It doesn't help that some people think I'm such an elite wanna-be poser because they see me being extremely picky about my products: "oh my god, why do you have to spend so much on a body wash? Why do you only use body butters from The Body Shop? Aren't they expensive? Why can't you use any body lotion from the drugstore? Why do you spend so much? You sure love to splurge, don't you? Blah blah blah..."

Okay, here's the thing: I cannot just use "any product" no matter how much I wanted to. I don't like spending $18 on a body butter all the freaking time. Sure, The Body Shop body butters smell amazing but I'm unemployed and I don't poop money so $18 for a body butter is not cheap. But you see, I refuse to be blamed for the product that my skin loves. I have tried a more budget-friendly Vaseline body lotion and guess what, it didn't work. Don't tell me to try out Cetaphil because like I said, that thing ain't cheap.

I'm not sure which one is worse: the fact that strangers think they know everything that is going on in my life or the fact that I suffer mental breakdowns from time to time because I feel like I'm one of the reasons my parents have to spend so much for my needs. The number of times I went from one dermatologist to the next was uncountable, let alone the list of products I have tried in my lifetime. For example, I remember trying out Sebamed and it doesn't feckin work even though it's supposedly good for dry, sensitive skin. I don't remember when was the last time I went to a dermatologist but I've stopped seeing one and now I'm doing my own research and testing out different products that might work for me.

One of the worse things...


...that I have to endure, other than how people who don't understand what it's like to live with eczema, is how my mother complains about how she has to spend so much for my needs. I remember her saying this, and I quote, "wow, you have so much needs and you keep buying stuff for your skin and it's expensive!" Alright, to some of you, I might sound like I'm overreacting but I'm not gonna lie and say her words did not stuck with me because they do and it makes me feel extremely guilty even though I have no control over this. I remember the day she said that to me and when I told my boyfriend about it, I burst into tears and I was so overwhelmed by guilt and hatred directed to myself. I still burst into tears and suffer mental breakdowns every now and then whenever I see new flare-ups but that's another story to tell.

I understand why my parents think like that, though. A part of me wants to understand but another part of me feels angry about it. It angers me so much when people judge us who are born with chronic eczema, call us posers for being extremely picky about even the most basic needs. This may sound selfish but hey, if you don't understand what it's like to experience itchy flare-ups and painful blisters and permanent skin hyperpigmentation, you don't get to dictate us who have to endure everything. It's not only the economical aspect that frustrates some of us, it's also the emotional toll that destroys our confidence from within so please, before you judge someone for their spending, you might as well ask politely the reason why. In fact, it's a good lesson in general to not judge people based on their spending.


What I have learned...


I have learned that I'm not the only one who has to go through my life living with constant, chronic eczema. I have learned that other people might in fact have worse eczema than me (because mine is definitely mild and not the worst even though it's chronic). I have learned that other people get eczema patches on their face, which luckily is something that has never happened to me before. I have learned that it's okay to have eczema (or psoriasis, even) and it's okay to be open about it. So what if I can only use certain products? I don't care if people are going to be a biatch about it and call me an arrogant poser because they don't understand the itch and pain and the embarrassment that comes along with it.

Now, I'm not saying that I have fully gain my confidence because let's face it, insecurity is a self-growing virus inside our mind and it will always find a way to destroy us from inside out. As I'm typing this, I'm still on a learning path to accept my skin for what it is. It still annoys me from time to time and I'm still an embarrassed ugly duckling every time I see my naked reflection but I'm willing to learn and be more accepting. In fact, my best friend and boyfriend don't give a damn if I have eczema because to them, it's me they want to hang out with, regardless of my skin condition.

20 comments

  1. I can't sort of relate in a way since I have that flaky thing in my elbow which is either eczema or psoriasis (never went to the dermatologist, hehe) and I can relate with the frustration with those very smelly but ineffective creams and what nots. I even tried a medicated steroid but it made it worse. (Only hydrocortisone works relatively well, but they should not be used constantly)

    By stroke of luck, I discovered that coconut oil performed the best in "regulating" the condition. It wasn't intentional, but I bought coconut oil supposedly for my hair, then decided to try it on my elbows and it worked! Have you tried using it? I still get some flakes when I do not apply it regularly, but not to the extent of itchiness and excessive pealing.

    But you do not owe anyone any explanation for your condition. You don't need to apologize to anyone for your consideration. Humanity is littered with "genetic quirks", I doubt anyone is immune to that. :)

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  2. Sorry for the typo, but I mean "I CAN sort of relate".

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  3. hi tammy! it amaze me how you're always so fast at commenting lol

    i'm not sure if you're aware but i did write a post about using oils to maintain and hydrate my skin (which you can read here) and i've been using borage, hemp seed and rosehip oils now. so far, i love borage oil and rosehip oil most. hemp seed smells weird, smells like fish oil. i'm planning to try out other oils too :D

    i've never tried coconut oil though. glad it works out for you because i've read somewhere that coconut oil may not work on some people (for some reason i have forgotten) i guess not everything works for everyone and we always have to do trials and errors.

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  4. I follow your blog through Wordpress Jetpack! So I see new entries right away from blogs I follow/added. :)

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  5. Oh my god I just wanna give you a big hug right now ;o;

    How your mom complained about spending a lot of money on your skin products is.. so wrong :/ You know this already but I'm going to remind you again that eczema is not your fault, whatsoever. Don't let her words get to you. Like goddamn, it's already hard to deal with your emotional turmoils caused by the skin condition, you really don't need that extra negativity from someone else, especially from such a close family member. It seems like your boyfriend is very accepting so I'm glad to hear that though :')

    *sends a big virtual hug* I'm sorry you have to endure through so many things you mentioned all because of eczema. :c Please stay strong. <3

    musingful.com

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  6. I think it's extremely rude for people to go up to you and say “oh my god, why do you have to spend so much on a body wash? etc etc" I always get a little irritated when people ask me this question. I'm choosing to spend it on products that make me happy, so why are they questioning on how I choose to spend my money? And in your case, you're actually spending it on products that you need. It's also like you said, they're already making assumptions on you based on what products you're spending your money on.

    I also think it's completely understandable for you to get upset over what your mom said to you. It hurts more, I feel like, when those words are coming from people that should know better. My mom says hurtful words to me (i.e. comparing me to my sister, asking me why I'm still in school, etc) and it hurts more coming from her than it would anyone else.

    And your best friend and boyfriend sound like amazing people to have by your side. Sometimes it helps to have people you know you can rely on. I may not know what it feels like to go through life with eczema but I think you sound like an amazingly strong person to try and look past your insecurities, because looking past those are really hard *hugs*

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  7. I know a girl with ichthyosis and it’s a very serious skin condition where her skin is always red, peeling and itchy. Her name is Carly Findlay and she’s even had her photo posted on Reddit and mocked by trolls, people tagging it with “WTF” and “ugliest thing I’ve ever seen”. She’s probably someone to look up to and give you a little strength because she stands strong and fights back and educates people about her skin condition and how she deals with it every day. I look up to her because she stands up to people who stare her down.

    People will always judge, but to not have the support of your parents is very upsetting. I’m sorry to hear that you’re upset and your mum is pretty cruel to give you that kind of treatment because of something you can’t really avoid. (I know all too well about parents being like this.) But if your mum isn’t going to be any more supportive, then her comments are something that you should move past. You should own the fact that you have eczema and not be afraid of talking about. You be the next person to inspire other people to feel good in their own skin despite the conditions they have. If your mum is going to (excuse me) be a bitch about it, then you spend all the money you need to, in order to make your condition more bearable, and remember you are actually loving and taking care of yourself. If you can spend your own money on it and not have to borrow from your parents, even better.

    I thoroughly agree with your last point, if people can’t look past something like a skin condition then they are superficial, and will never get to know the real you if that’s what they are judging you on. In closing I should let you know that Carly was one of those people you may think “wow, will anyone ever truly love her for the person that she is” – but she’s happily married to someone who loves her and doesn’t find her shedding skin to be gross, instead sees it as her “leaving her love everywhere”. I would really like to hear more about products that work for your eczema and if you write about it in future I would be happy to see a more positive outlook (:

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story. I know a few people who suffer with eczema. People will be judgmental, but never let that get to you. You're much stronger than that and again, thank you for sharing your powerful story. It's inspirational. Amazing post. :)

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  9. aw, thanks nana. you're so sweet :'3

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  10. That's really shitty of someone to make you feel guilty about spending money on skincare. Even if you did spend $18 on body butters and you didn't suffer from a skin condition, it's nobody else's business that you spent those $18! As long as you're financially able, it's ridiculous for someone to shame you for that. I'm sorry that your mom said that to you :( I hope your boyfriend was able to support you and make you realize you shouldn't feel guilty :0 Also it's totally okay to discuss it. It opens up the conversation and helps to remove the stigma around various skin conditions. I used to suffer from really bad eczema behind my knees when I was younger. It got to the point where I was too ashamed to wear shorts in the summer time. Of course that lead to me wearing pants which lead to me becoming hot and itchier which lead to me scratching and making my eczema worse. It was a terrible cycle :( I'm not sure if you've tried the Eucerin lotions but that's what ultimately got rid of my eczema. Good luck with it all and remember, your eczema does not define you!

    Mili | Sharmtoaster

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  11. You brave girl! All love <33

    Tienne — foregathers.life/blog

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  12. I hadn't realised until this post how much it bothered you and now I know why. It really sucks that some people, including actual family members, are causing you to feel guilty and bad for having it. I understand how you feel especially with lack of support from family sometimes. I've had a previous experience like that with my family before but they have been pretty understanding since. Especially with skin conditions. I remember begging my mom to buy me acne products to help and she'd not understand my reason that it made me feel depressed. Sure acne isn't as bad as your condition but still I get it.

    I'm really shocked with how judgemental some people are. I wouldn't question if you shopped at Body Shop with or without your skin condition. Not just body shop or just splurging in general?

    Thanks for opening up, this must've been hard to share <3 *big hugs*

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  13. I feel like Frozen is very similar to your story with eczema. Elsa is told by her parents to hide her powers, because they are afraid of how other people will regard her. They want the best for her, but in doing this, they make her ashamed and scared of herself, which is the most damaging of all. It's so important to the care of yourself, and it sucks that not everyone understands that, but it is wonderful that you have people who love you and support you the whole way! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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  14. thank you for taking the time to write this, georgie and thank you for informing me about carly.

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  15. Thank you so much for sharing your story and experience. I find it so freaking awful that anyone can blame you, like it's your fault or choice that you have the problem. What the actual f. That just makes no sense to me at all. Especially from the people that you would look to for support. You should not feel ashamed or like it's your fault. :( Grr. Things like that make me annoyed, because you don't deserve it. If you require certain products and you can't find a cheaper alternative, then there should be no shame in that.

    Although not the same as you, I recently went through a experience that is a little similar. I had red marks on my face and nose and the skin was constantly peeling. I had this for around two years and I thought it was my own fault, because I would pick at it sometimes. I saw a number of doctors, nurses and chemists and they just kept saying 'use moisturizers' I kept doing it, but it was staying exactly the same. I finally had a think about it, did some research online and thought, wow, that sounds like a form of dermatitis and not my skin lacking moisture. I decided to try a cream that was for skin conditions and it literally healed it within 7 days. I was completely shocked because I never thought it would go away. I was really embarrassed because it was on my face and it made me feel so self conscious. It also made me realise, that I wasn't picking at it because of anxiety or anything else, I was doing it because it was really itchy and I didn't even realise because I was so used to it. At least I know now!

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  16. I feel like I have some experience with this as my brother was born with eczema. He's 20 now, but still gets the occasional serious flareup when he's under stress, and since he also has eczema on his face, I can understand how he believes he is perceived by the public. Pretty much all of his life he's gotten "recommendations" for long term solutions--I'm sick of all these people commenting on my brother's appearance and offering suggestions (though I guess they come from a place of care) when they know little of the condition and how much my parents have spent on hydrocortisones, steroid creams, lotions, and traditional chinese medication (look, idek man--like this elk antler is going to solve anything??).

    Anyways, not sure how having a genetic (and uncontagious) skin condition suddenly makes someone undesirable, but fuq all y'all basic selves, lmaoooooo. Hugs to you, Elisa.

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  17. Elk antler!? Omg. I never heard of it being a cure for eczema but that's ....amazing. I personally wouldn't try elk antler though because i pity the elk more than myself lmao. Growing up, my mother likes feeding me traditional chinese meds and herbs too and i obey simply because i don't wanna get bitch at. I personally don't see the extraordinary benefits from chinese herbal meds though, pfft. I'm skeptical bout them.

    Hahaha yeaaah fuq dem all basic bitches ;)
    Gotta love your sass, Vanessa.

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  18. I have some eczema patches popping up here and there. The recent ones that stayed are a couple of patches on my hands and they do not look good at all. Scratching them makes it worse and more noticeable. If people like you to begin with, eczema will not be an issue they will pick at. If they don't really like you, they will pick at it and say some horrible stuff. I had one on my neck that looked like a love bite (there's a difference between a patch and a bruise). Some n00b said some horrible stuff about that specific patch.

    Vaseline does not work!!! I've tried it and it doesn't do any good besides making the patch look shiny @__@. It's worth the investment but you gotta make do with what you have sometimes. Hope there's a budget friendly product out there!

    It's not your fault that you need to spend on skincare products. You're trying to help yourself out. I'm not sure why people would use "Poser" to describe those with eczema. They're trying to work something out.

    It is okay to speak up about yourself. Those who say negative things about you have low self-esteem about themselves-FACT.

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  19. aww, i find it hilarious because my name is just an alphabet extra from Elsa. Elisa and Elsa haha :P

    thank you, audrey!

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  20. dude, vaseline doesn't work for me too. it sucks. i wouldn't recommend using petroleum jelly, tbh. some people say vaseline works for them but i don't wanna slather myself with petroleum jelly. i think i did try it once on a dry patch and it didn't do shit. i suggest trying out oils instead though; like jojoba oil, for instance. i've been using borage oil and it does maintain my skin and keep it hydrated.

    thanks though, nance :D

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