How I Finally Learned to Manage My Eczema
You don't appreciate having healthy, beautiful skin until it's taken away from you. All my life I never had allergies or ever experienced rashes or hives, for that matter . . . until my senior year in college. I was going to school in Philadelphia but traveling back and forth to New York City for a biweekly beauty internship at Cosmopolitan magazine. I like to attribute it to the stress of the commute that made my skin freak out, but to this day I still don't know what happened.
First, it started out as a rash on my stomach, and then it just started popping up on my legs and arms. Eventually, it made its way to my face, on my eyelids, and around my lips. It was red, scaly, and burning with a scratch-me-right-now kind of itch. I tried Benadryl, Claritin, and, of course, over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams. It helped, but I definitely felt I was losing control over the situation and needed the expertise of a doctor. I found a dermatologist, did an allergy test, and even had a skin biopsy done, but she could not determine the cause. Especially considering I don't have any allergies nor have I ever had eczema as a kid, it made my newfound recurring rash all the more puzzling.
She determined it was atopic dermatitis, a fancy name for eczema. And the worst part was it meant there was no known cause for my red, dry, itchy skin. I used prescription oral steroids and topical steroid creams to bring my skin back to normal, but you can only use it for up to two consecutive weeks at a time. And besides, who wants ingest or slather on steroids? I considered it my last resort and still use them now when it's absolutely necessary.
After what felt like a dependency on steroids for a couple years, I wanted to figure out a way to manage my skin without having to resort to such extreme measures. After lots of trial and error, I have found what works for my skin. I now have the occasional outbreak, often between seasons and during the Winter, but it's manageable and doesn't feel like it's taking over my skin anymore. Here's what I discovered works for me.