The Mayo Clinic’s definition of atopic eczema states that it is a condition that leads to red and itchy skin. Although common with children, it can actually occur at any age and can be long-lasting (defined as chronic), flares up periodically, and may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever. Needless to say, it is a condition that can be quite detrimental to daily life. Petra Lohse knows first-hand about living and dealing with atopic eczema and her story is one of hope for all sufferers.
I have had atopic eczema for as long as I can remember. As a small child I had itchy patches on the backs of my knees, in the creases of my elbows and around my mouth. Most children do grow out of this kind of eczema but mine just moved to other parts of my body as I grew older. During puberty, blister-like bubbles appeared under the skin of my hands and these were extremely itchy. The blisters would burst causing my skin to peel; and due to this happening constantly, my skin got very thin. The eczema around my mouth receded to the corners and upper lip.
I tried everything to figure out what the cause of the eczema could be – blood tests for allergies, prick tests for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 40 different substances at once. All the tests were inconclusive and the doctors prescribed what they thought would work best, putting me in different strengths of cortisone cream and steroid pills. I have been using some form of cortisone since the age of four.
The eczema on my hands and the corners of my mouth never went away completely. The question was never when will it go away, but rather how bad it was going to get and would I need to take steroid pills.
It was during my mid-twenties that I began my search for alternatives. I tried them all – homeopathy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture – nothing worked. I even tried meditation and stress management, but there was no change. During this trying time, I would try to go without my cortisone cream, but it never lasted more than a week before I gave in.
So here I am today able to share what I have learned so far. Here’s what helped me to feel better about myself and continue my life feeling lighter and happier than before.
Once I stopped using my cortisone cream for two weeks and the skin around my mouth started weeping and resembled an open wound. I couldn’t sleep, was uncomfortable and self-conscious, and it got to a point when I actually went to the ER on a Sunday to get steroid pills. I got so dependant on my cream that if I travelled for more that a day without it, I would get anxious and stressed. That little tube was my security blanket, and without it, I became a wreck. And, to make matters worse, doctors would tell me that it needed to get worse to get better.
In 2016 I tried homeopathy again. I stayed off the cortisone cream for three months, which was the longest I had ever managed to. What made it more tolerable was the fact that the corners of my mouth didn’t get as bad as it they used to. Unfortunately, there was no change for my hands.
This is what my hands looked like after a month without cream.
The skin on my hands got so thin, tearing and bleeding easily. Even touching water was painful, once again I gave up and resorted to using cream on a daily basis.
But the battle wasn’t over yet. Continue here My Battle With Eczema Part II.