Curing your eczema blues in the winter

Friday, December 1, 2017

My skin is pretty sensitive.  I have a skin allergy which NHS doctors say manifests as eczema.   I get little clear blisters that are itchy and eventually weep.  Over the last 10 years, I have used topical steroids on and off to help keep the symptoms under control.  At its worst, my hands are severely covered with open wounds and possible staph infections.   My skin is more sensitive when seasons change too so it is important that I take proper care of my hands when autumn turns to winter.

Last year, I had an eye doctor appointment to renew my drivers licence that diagnosed me with cataracts.  Everyone was surprised with the news as I am not even 40 years old.  My mom spoke to a few of her colleagues from the hospital and discovered that long term steroid use can potentially cause cataracts.  Since only the strongest topical steroid (Dermovate) heals my flare ups (along with special soaps, lotions, shampoos,  to avoid the ingredients I am allergic to), I am keen to find alternatives to help me manage the condition.  In fact, my current episode started over a year ago, and still persists.

Current state my hands

A few weeks ago, I as sent some samples of Dermalex Eczema.  It is meant to treat eczema by replenishing the moisture and healing the skin's natural barrier.  I was keen to try it out.  Since receiving the samples, I used the steroid cream in the evening before I go to bed as it will maximise the contact time.  When I leave the house in the morning, I apply the Dermalex.  It is very thick and doesn't have a fragrance.  It rubs into my skin easily without leaving a greasy or oily feel.  With the combo, my skin has been really good without any new flare ups larger than a 5p coin (stress sometimes exacerbates the condition).  There is another sample in my bag for application during the day.

Other tips to keep your hands healthy as winter arrives:
  • Avoid an ethanol-based hand sanitizer as this will dry out your skin.  So will hot tap water when washing your hands.  Opt for warm water instead.
  • If you need to wash your hands, apply a moisturiser afterwards to keep the skin hydrated.  Keep travel sized lotions handy wherever you might wash your hands.  My Dermalex is only 30g.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  In the summer, we get hot and water seems more necessary.  We still need to drink it in the winter!
  • Protect to your hands from the cold by wearing mittens or gloves when you are outside.  The cold wind can dry them out and cause them to be chapped, which is a break in your skin's natural barrier.
  • If your house is very dry, invest in a humidifier to keep moisture in the air.  Or keep a ceramic or metal pan of water on the radiator (please be careful not to use anything flammable!)
Any cuts or cracks in the skin are not only painful, but also allow a place for infectious materials to enter the body.  When my hands were at their most severe, I found it really embarrassing to shake hands with people or to offer to cook food.  I was also scratching my hands a lot, which looked a bit mad!  Now that I have the knowledge and tools I need for proper hand health, I can be confident that a big flare up will not occur.  I think Dermalex will be a key part of this plan too.

One of my more severe flare ups last year

Thanks to Dermalex for giving me a sample to try.  All opinions are honest and my own.

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