Friday, 26 October 2012

One size does not fit all

It's great to get information and experience about what other people are doing to help their eczema, however, it's really important not to become demotivated when a remedy or routine does not work for you.

I became very frustrated when I tried the latest oily pill or cream and found that it just did not work for my skin, I literally went through tons of things in attempt to help my skin, however, I never used it or continued with it long enough to find out if it actually worked!! Annoying! Not as annoying as wondering why on a particular product works for tons and tons of people and not you!! I will never stop my research into products and methods to help my eczema, but I've stopped the expectations. There is no miracle cure!! It's always a good idea to review your products every now and then, because they can occasionally start working, or worse, you can develop an allergy to them.

So keep an open mind and good luck.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Better late than never! - Updated back photo

Hello all, sorry it's been so long, too long.

Here is my updated back photo as of the end of May 2012.

Huge improvement in such a short space of time, so although my eczema is still giving me hell in all sorts of other ways, my major back flare up has gone and the skin is healing.

Below is my flare up at it's worse in February. All around the bra line and my neck. So I switched to racer back style bras. I will post some more pics of the front of my chest, but yeah, enough trauma for one day! I feel so exposed revealing these pics, but if it helps someone, then that's fine with me.

Close up of now.


Friday, 25 May 2012

Support Network Essentials!! Family and Friends can help you. Just ask them.

Firstly, who's loving the weather right now!!! Woohoo!! Sorry about that. Back to business!

In my personal opinion if you do not have the correct support from those closer to you, living with eczema can become a lot harder and more emotionally draining then it needs to be.

I've found that telling people around me, even my kids really helps me deal with the stress of flare ups. My kids offer to apply cream to my back and my daughter even discourages me from scratching!! It's just nice to know that when you're low and a bit miserable and snappy, they understand that it's not personal it's just something I'm going through and they support me through it. My husband has been my rock during this long long flare up. He's supported all my endless hours of talking about possible remedies, applying my creams and ensuring the room is well ventilated etc. I tell you, I don't know where I'd be without them!

Tell your support network about your eczema, when it flares they'll be more understanding and able to help and support you when you need it. :)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Photo: Back Flare up

As promised (albeit, a LONG time ago) here is a picture of my back flare up at it's worse. This flare up had been ongoing since September 2011 through to February 2012.

As you can see the flare is mostly situated around the entire bra strap line, and I have since moved on to seamless racer back bras.  The flare also spread to my neck and my collar bone, but not as bad as my back.

Although my concoction had started to make a small difference, it was only when I went to Turkey for a week and was subsequently put on a high dosage of Vitamin D3 that I started to see a massive improvement.

Later on today, or possibly tomorrow I will post a picture to show you how my back looks now.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 26 March 2012

The emotional toll of eczema

Hi all, I wanted to touch on something close to my heart, something that I don't find doctors can really help with and that is, the emotional toll eczema takes on a person.

The thing about eczema is, it's not just annoying, during a flare up it can be emotionally damaging. I can remember not wanting to leave the house during the summer as I always damage my skin so badly in the winter and the marks are there for everyone to see.  Just to pop to the local shop, I'd have to ensure I'm covered up, making me hot and uncomfortable, but the thought of members of the public looking at my skin in disgust just upsets me to the core. Mind you, this could all be in my head, but it feels very real to me. If I ventured out without a shrug or cardigan, I'd estimate the likelihood of someone being close enough to be scrutinising my imperfections, what were the odds? Was it worth taking the risk? As dramatic as it may seem, I know other sufferers who feel like this.

During a flare up, I tend to be very miserable and snappy, at my family, so support is very key, I'll post about that later. 'Gosh, aren't you hot in that long sleeved top' 'You must be boiling in that cardigan' Sound familiar? I wish people would mind their own business, but curiousity is part of our nature, you can't really blame them! I guess I do look odd in a long sleeved top or cardigan in the blazing August heat!  My confidence was so low that at one stage (When I had a flare up on my eye lids) I wouldn't look my husband directly in the face when he spoke to me, I just couldn't make eye contact.

The staring does get on my nerves though, I mean, you'd have thought I left the house and forgotten my head or something!!! Aaaaaah

But seriously though, that's why I love blogs and Twitter, because you can tap into people who feel the same. People who don't think you're over reactive or super sensitive, people who just GET it.

With all that said, I do have occasions where I just get up, get dressed and go about my daily business as if I had the silky smooth clear skin of a celebrity!! Besides, the sun helps to heal my skin, so it's a win win situation!

Friday, 23 March 2012

So far so good - Week 4 of Vitamin D supplements

Hi all! Well, my skin has done a total u-turn and I noticed this on the 2nd week of taking my Vitamin D supplements. My itching has reduced to once, maybe twice WEEKLY and my skin is clearing.

Pics to come on next post, promise. I have my follow up docs appointment next week and I'll make sure to request another blood test to see how well my body is absorbing the Vitamin D.  I want to know his thoughts on maintaining a 5,000IU daily amount forever, rather than 1,000 as I'm more prone to a deficiency due to my skin colour.

Any fellow eczema sufferers out there who notice their skin improves in the summer, I urge you to get tested. It may just be that you need supplements in the winter.

As for my other items I'm using, I use the skin relief with a few drops of tea tree oil and I use piriton in the evening. It doesn't help with itching, but helps me sleep.  As hayfever season is upon us I'm having very runny and itchy eyes so I've had to start taking cetirizen in the day as my eyes were becoming aggravated (If it's not one thing it's another!) Arrrgggh!! Anyhoo, positive thinking and all that :)

Speak soon. xx

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Starflower (Borage) oil - Month 1 review

Hi all :) Let me give you some info on the brand and dosage of Starflower oil I'm currently using:

500mg Staflower oil, 104mg GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid), 10.0mg Vitamin E per capsule. I take 2 per day to ensure I get enough GLA, however, I am thinking of upping this to three per day.

The brand I'm currently using is Tesco's own brand.

Starflower oil capsules are one of those things you're not sure is/isn't working as it's an internal process. What I will say is that I believe they are working to help my skin retain moisture. My skin has also been quite smooth lately, but again, this could be attributed to other things I'm doing, but I believe it's partly the starflower oil at work.

I have another three bottles of this which will take me up to June, so I'll definitely keep taking them at least till June. The sun is shining lately, so maybe this could be part of my winter regime to help my skin cope. I may take this oil from October to April. If I feel my skin reacts badly to it's withdrawal I'll surely add it again!

Oh, and by the way, I also pierce and add 1 to 2 capsules into the concoction I make.

Let me know your thoughts and experiences with Starflower oil! Please include dosage and GLA level.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Aveeno Skin relief - 3 Week review

Well, I can definitely tell the difference from my usual Aveeno cream and the Skin relief.

Currently, the Skin relief is moisturising my skin a bit better and doesn't just sink in and disappear, it leaves a sort of protective layer which I really like. At the moment, I'm using this in conjunction with tea tree oil if I'm itchy and on its own if I'm not. So far so good.

I'm still using my regular Aveeno cream with 0.5% hydrocortosine on my face once a day.

Marks out of ten thus far? 7/10.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Coconut Oil review

Well, I will try anything once and I am very much into natural products so thought I'd give Coconut oil a try for my eczema.

Unfortunately for me (I purchased three tubs!) My skin does not like this. Its way too greasy on its own and made my concoction greasy, so I won't be buying it again in a hurry, I had to admit, I only used it about three times on it's own, but that was enough for me. It's great on my feet for.

I use it for both my and my kids hair and use it alongside shea butter for my sons skin, so all is not wasted.

If you want to give it a try its called coconoil and cost around £22 for the three tubs from Amazon :)

Monday, 5 March 2012

Telephone Consultation - Vitamin D deficiency update

Well, although short and sweet, my doctor concluded that my severe Vitamin D deficiency was the root cause of my skin woes.

He is convinced I will see improvement once I get started on treatment. He recommended I start an immediate 8 week course of 60,000IU once a week, look into my diet for any triggers, take in the sunshine when I can and take 2000 units thereafter forever.

I am so glad he is on board with me and our focus is in tune.

I had a follow up appointment booked for the 8th March which I'll cancel until the end of the month. At this appointment I'll feed back how my new items are working or not working (Aveeno Skin Relief, Eucerin face cream etc). I will review those individually over the course of next week. I'll also ask for another blood form to retest in 8 weeks time to ensure my body has absorbed the Vitamin D properly.

So, I have taken my weekly dosage this morning. Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading :) xx

Thursday, 23 February 2012

** A week in the sun and blood test results! **

Hello all, I hope you're all well! I've just returned from a week in the Sun, the glorious country of Turkey!

My skin cleared up a treat while I was away, as I knew it would. Now, when I say cleared up, that doesn't mean the scarring has gone, I mean that there were no raised itchy bumps or welts and my skin was very smooth to touch. My lips have also returned to their normal colour!! Imagine, they've been very very dark brown since September. The sun is amazing stuff.

Unfortunately, since I've been back and it's only been two days, the itching has returned. Bah humbug!

Anyhoo, I picked up my blood test results from the doctors and whilst most of the items were normal, my Vitamin D results stated severe deficiency (14 nmol/L). Mind you, I had these done on the 13th, returned on the 21st and haven't had a call from my doctors, even though it says 'Contact patient' So I've set up a telephone consult with my doctor, but he isn't free till next Friday, how annoying!! In any case I'm happy this has shone some light on my situation!

More blog posts coming up very soon to include some pictures of my recent/current flare up. I've also managed to hunt down some results from previous tests which I'll also share.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Excited! : A positive doctors appointment

Well, I had my doctors appointment on Friday and I'm feeling much better gaining more control over my eczema with the support and monitoring of my GP.

Lets start off by listing what I wanted to discuss in the appointment.

  • Vitamin D3 and Starflower oil capsules
  • Aveeno Skin relief
  • Eucerin Cream/Lotion/Bath oil
  • 0.5% Hydrocortosine
  • Topical Immunomodulators
  • Allergy Blood test and dermatologist referral
  • Eczema on my lips
  • Different Breastfeeding safe antihistamines 
Firstly, my doctor knows I'm not a fan of steroids and am trying to wean off them, so this helped with the consultation and heading us off to a good start.

In no particular order, my doctor was fine with me moving down to 0.5% hydrocortisone for my face, as I need to wean asap. My plan with this will be to do one day 1%, one day 0.5%, then the next week drop it to 0.5% daily, then every other day etc etc.

Aveeno Skin relief (contains Shea butter) I explained that my Aveeno cream wasn't very effective at the moment, and this is a common theme throughout the winter, so he was happy to prescribe this for me to try. He mentioned Epaderm, but my skin is not a fan of sticky emollients 

Eucerin, he said it's better to stick to one body cream at a time, so he prescribed Eucerin replenishing face cream 5% urea.  I will try this when I return from my holiday, incorporating the hydrocortosine, as the last thing I need is a flare up due to changing of products on holiday!

Eucerin Bath and Shower Therapy, 20% Omega.  He said I should try switching more to baths rather than showers. It's not that the Aveeno intense body wash isn't good, but I tend to be incredibly itchy intermittently when using it, so I want to give something else a try.

He prescribed me with Piriton (Chlorphenamine) to take a night to help with my relentless night time itch.

Vitamin D3 and Starflower capsules. He said anything is worth a try, but be sensible about dosages. I have been reading A LOT lately about supplements, and I didn't see much of a change with Emu oil or flaxseed, so I'm moving on to Starflower now, however, I may need to wait until I've stopped nursing to introduce Vitamin D3, but more on that later.

My doctor said he didn't see the point in allergy tests and that unless it's contact dermatitis it's not worth the hassle. I'm going to see if I can locate my 2008/2009 results from both a skin prick and blood test.

Similarly, he explained that he was a specialist in the field of eczema and as far as he can see I have mild to moderate eczema, so a referral to a dermatologist at this point is not necessary.

I ran of of time to discuss Topical Immunomodulators.

My doctor wanted a blood test ordered to check my iron and Vitamin D stores. I'm excited about this, as at least I can get started on the Vitamin D if I am very low on them, so I'll be going to the hospital today so the results will be here when I return from holiday.

My doctor recommended I try Blisteze (now called blistex relief cream) for the eczema on my lips. He says numerous patients rave about it.

He also wanted me to purchase some Minadex. It is usually for kids but he said it's a great tonic and some patients have seen positive results.

Lastly, he told me to purchase some tea tree oil to put in the bath if I become very itchy.  He asked me to take a picture of my back in particular so we can compare results in a months time.

I'm really happy about this. His parting words were 'We'll get control of this, we will manage your skin'  I'm so excited about the new products! I'm still using my neem oil at night, and my skin is still relatively smooth I just get bad itchy sessions and it's so disheartening at time, but I must march on and I will!!

I will post the picture of my back (not for the faint hearted) a bit later, or I may just add it to this post later.

I hope this post helps someone and I look forward to seeing how I'm getting on in a months time.

Char. xx

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

My Concoction: WEEK ONE REVIEW - Neem oil, Coconut Oil, Hemp Oil and Shea Butter

Ok, so I've been using my skin moisturising concoction for a little over a week now and I'm pretty impressed thus far! I have had some itchy sessions, but overall the look and feel of my skin has improved, no red or inflammed areas (provided I haven't been scratching!) so I can ditch the hydrocortosine for now.

When i made up this concoction again I think I may have got the amounts a little muddled as it wasn't as moisturising as the first, plus I added vitamin e, so I added more shea butter which seemed to solve the problem, as the cream wouldn't 'set' properly either after I'd microwaved it!! What I will note though is that today, I put some Cetaphil on my skin FIRST, then used the concoction afterwards and I had immediate silky smooth, soft skin, so I'll be moisturising in this order from now on! I may have to make a bigger amount of the moisturiser as this little jar means having to redo it every week.  And lastly, I'll be adding 1 opened capsule of starflower oil to my new cream when needed.

To be honest, I had a bad scratching session last night which I feel has set me back a bit, but I must march on. I have a doctors appointment on Friday and will post about that shortly.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

My latest concoction: Neem oil, Coconut Oil, Shea butter and Hemp oil

The items used
The final product

Hi all, so, I spoke earlier about a new skin regime. I'm still finding my feet with it, and I literally started a few days ago.

My moisturising and healing concoction is made up of: Neem oil (about half a tea spoon) Coconut oil (about a tea spoon), shea butter (1 teaspoon) and half a tea spoon of hemp oil.

I zapped this all in the microwave for about 20 seconds and left it near the window to reset.  Let me tell you, the scent of the Neem oil is not for the faint hearted! What a pong. However, on application it didn't sting. Which was a plus. I've made this concoction in an empty cream jar, it's very small though, so I'll have to make it quite often. For the first batch a used a tip of peppermint oil to help tame the smell, but I was concerned it might hinder rather than help, so I opted out for the second batch as seen above.  

The hemp oil was also a need addition for the second batch and I noticed a difference in the consistency of the cream, it's much more oily than without it, although I only used a tad. Either way it sinks into my skin nicely. I'm currently using this twice a day across my back and inside of my elbows, which are all in the process of a flare up.  I've been trying to reduce my hydrocortosine to every other day and my skin doesn't like it, which causes a rebound flare, however, I haven't used my hydrocortosine since Saturday as I've been using this mixture instead, and although my skin still gets itchy now and then, the texture is not inflamed at all, in fact its smooth.

I just need to work out how I'll incorporate either Aveeno or Cetaphil throughout the day into my new regime and see how I go. But so far, thumbs up for this blend of oils and butter!

Friday, 27 January 2012

What products am I currently using to manage my eczema?

Some of my many products!

Well, firstly, I've been using Aveeno cream for 10 years and it worked really well. I found out about it through researching the internet. I hadn't touched steroids in over 15 years and wanted a new moisturiser. I haven't looked back, ALTHOUGH, it's not the best cream for the winter time, but I'll save that for another post.

1% Hydrocortosine: I use this mixed with Aveeno cream and Vitamin E oil once per day, never on it's own. After using Elocon (high strength steroid) for three years I really don't want to use this directly. I've used this since September 2011 when I tried to wean off Elocon cold turkey (big mistake!!)

Vitamin E oil, I purchased this from Holland and Barratt. It's pure, sticky and again I hate it on it's own so mix it with the two above.

I use Cetraben which I was prescribed in September on my inner thighs, back of my legs and quite frankly, my feet! It's really thick and I don't particularly like it, I don't know that it actually penetrates the skin. I won't get this again.

I use 99.9% Aloe Vera gel when my skin is very inflammed and itchy, it really soothes my skin.

Organic Aloe Vera Lotion is a new lotion of mine and it penetrates the skin quite well. I only use it on my boobs at the moment as I'm getting a new eczema patch on them as well (Fun times!!)

I've also recently purchased Shea and coconut butter lotion from Superdrug after reading reviews. I don't know if it's the winter, but this isn't doing anything special to my skin (I only use on my lower legs) but at the same time it doesn't irritate it, so I'll finish the bottle.

I occasionally use St Ives. Soothing Oatmeal and Shea butter lotion. Another one that claims to do wonderous things, but this is just average!

I was using Allercalm last year, but have switched back to Cetirizen as I'm still breastfeeding and didn't want to use it for an extended period of time. I take this once in the morning and once at night.

I'm soon to embark on a totally different regime as currently, I'm having a flare on my shoulders and really need to get it under control. My next post will go through some capsules I'm using and some more products I'm using! I know it seems like a lot but I know fellow eczema sufferers can relate!!

Just to clarify, I stick to Aveeno for the top of my body and thighs, and can use whatever I want on my lower legs, as some posts coming you'll see various creams but these are for lower legs only which tend to get dry but don't really flare a lot.

Catch you all soon!

Hello and welcome to my blog!

Hi to anyone reading.

I've decided to create a blog regarding my eczema. My aims are to share with you my daily battles against this irritating (pardon the pun) skin disease I have been living with since childhood.

I'll be sharing some tried and tested products, skin regimes that have once worked, what works for the moment and ones to try in the future.

I will also share with you some never posted on the web before eczema photos from very severe flare ups over the years (be warned, some are pretty gruesome)

So sit tight, I have plenty to say, as eczema dominates my life when I'm in a flare up battle, which, would you believe I'm in right now! Speak soon.