When I was very young, I had eczema over a lot of my body, and I remember back to the days when my mum would bathe me using a big plastic tub of white cream instead of soap.
As I got older, the eczema got less noticable, and less frequent – and I went on to use normal soap again all the time I was in Primary school. I remember a boy in my class – lets call him Karl, who had very dry, cracked hands and a red, sore, sometimes raw face and neck. And I knew what it was. Our peers thought he had the plague, or something, and would avoid getting paired with him in Country Dancing so they wouldn’t have to hold his hand. I don’t remember ever speaking to him about the eczema, but I knew what it was – and I knew that he wasn’t contagious. So people used to point and laugh at me too, because I didn’t mind being his partner for country dancing, so I was obviously a weirdo too.
But every now and again, the backs of my knees and elbows would get dry and itchy and sore the eczema would be back. I had to stop using anything on my skin that contained any kind of perfume, in order to keep the sores at bay – but all the while, I remember now, I was thinking – at least I’m not as bad as Karl. Despite the flakiness and the itchiness, my skin never cracked or bled, and I was grateful for it. I never had any patches on my face of neck – I could always hide my sores away while I treated them with tubes of cream from the chemist.
As I left Junior School and went up to my High School, I had cut out almost everything from my washing regime. No perfumes, no colours – as natural as possible, and preferably hypoallergenic soap and shower gel and bubblebath. I was eczema free for perhaps a year or two. Maybe. And only because I was very very careful.
And then, random patches of eczema would suddenly appear.
I never got them in my joint creases again – just small, dry patches on my tummy and my back. Occasionally on my arm or leg, but mainly on my torso. Even if I hadn’t come into contact with anything perfumy – I’d still get them.
Dabs of cream here and there would help to stop them lasting, but I managed to get away without making too many changes to my routine. Then, as my hormones had run their course through puberty, I found that I couldn’t wash my face every single day with soap or facewash because my skin would dry out too much and get flaky, and then it would over-compensate and produce lots of grease. Yuk. I was the only girl I knew with dry, greasy skin!!
So, I never got away from the eczema. I still have it off and on – no matter what I do. As I’m getting older, my need for big tubs of white emollient cream is becoming greater, and the range of products I can get away with using on my skin is diminishing. Its becoming more sensitive as time goes on.
These days, if those make-up conter people spray me with perfume in a department store, its like I’ve been covered in acid. I’ve had to put signs on my desk at work to stop the cleaners using their furniture polish on it, because when I lean my arms on the polished desk in the morning to type my emails, it attacks my skin, and I’m bright red and itchy all day.
Even my metal name badge can give me problems if it rests against my chest for too long!
There’s no way I can wear cheap jewellery, either. My skin won’t put up with it for more than about an hour. Gold or Silver are the only metals I can happily wear. (oh what a shame!).
So, at the moment I’ve got a small, but very irritating 5p -sized patch of eczema on my tummy, and I’ve had it more than 6 months. It just won’t go away, despite resisting scratching the bloody thing, and all the cream I put on it.
Hmm. I wonder how Karl is doing these days……..??
Hell. Who am I trying to kid? I’ve got nothing to compain about!