My Personal Experience With Healing Eczema
How to Treat Unsightly Patches of Eczema
I have always suffered from asthma ever since I was a small child, and as anybody knows, where there is asthma, there is sometimes eczema. Some people are lucky enough to only get eczema in the summer months. Seasonal eczema is usually caused by hay fever and other autoimmune allergies, and generally disappears by the time summer is in full swing.
I get eczema on my hands between the fingers, and I scratch it like hell. It drives me insane, but usually, a bit of cortisone cream or antiseptic spray will knock it on its head. For some reason, it affected my legs last summer. I didn't notice at first, and it just seemed to be slightly itchy and red. Then we had a heatwave, and night after night, my eczema became inflamed and spread. I presumed it was getting irritated because of the heat and that it would go away when the weather got colder. This was not the case.
Nearly eight months later, I still have a large patch of eczema on my left leg. I have tried cortisone cream, moisturizer, antiseptics, and just about everything else. It just doesn't want to go away.
Eczema Quick Reference
Allergic Contact Eczema
Irritation at the site of contact with the trigger
Resolves in a few days after removing irritating foreign substance.
Oily, greasy, scaly patches on the scalp
May resolve with treatment regimen.
Coin-shaped patches of scaly skin
Often occurs after skin injury. Cool baths and moisturizer are recommended. No harsh chemicals or soap.
Purple, dark pigmentation often on the legs
Compression stockings and prescription creams help lessen severity; diagnosis of underlying issue is recommended.
What Is Eczema?
The medical term for eczema is atopic dermatitis. The word dermatitis actually means irritation of the skin, and trust me, the incessant itching can drive you insane! It is a very common condition and can be triggered by a number of things. It's like a common skin allergy, but it is much harder to clear. It can also be hereditary, so if a family member of yours is prone to allergies, you may develop the symptoms.
Types of Eczema
- Allergic Contact Eczema: Contact with a foreign substance such as poison ivy, certain ingredients in creams and perfumes, bleach, or harsh cleaning fluids can trigger this condition. Once you have discovered the cause, your skin should return to normal in a few days. Obviously, this is different from normal eczema in that it is just a reaction to something that is corrosive on your skin.
- Seborrheic Eczema: Occurs spontaneously and leaves greasy yellow or scaly patches anywhere on the body. Most people know seborrheic eczema as cradle cap, and it is very common in babies and small children.
- Nummular Eczema: The most common form of eczema is nummular. This appears as coin-shaped patches of reddish skin that can be itchy, scaly, or just downright irritating.
- Stasis Dermatitis: Stasis dermatitis usually attacks the legs, and is caused by circulation problems. The pigmentation of the affected skin is darker, even purplish. Irritation of the lower legs can cause the veins to swell, leading to varicose veins.
Doctor's Advice and Personal Experience Treating Eczema
I went to my doctor's nurse to be seen about my eczema problem, and she gave me a prescription for cortisone cream. I was told to rub it into the rash twice daily for a week, and then repeat it for another week if it hadn't worked. I tried this for two weeks and nothing happened.
When I bathed, I just irritated my symptoms more. I even tried showering to see if that made a difference. It didn't really work, so I changed soaps, shower gels, and everything else, including washing my legs with hot water, and then cold. No luck.
It suddenly occurred to me that the nurse hadn't given me any idea of how to actually apply the cream. Eventually, I asked my local pharmacist. She advised me to make sure the eczema was moisturised and to use thick skin cream without any perfumes in it, and to smother my legs. I tried this, and lo and behold, it began to work!
Don't Use Aqueous Cream for Your Eczema
Evidently, aqueous cream is made as an alternative to soap! Instead of moisturizing your skin, it will dry it out. Vaseline, or any other paraffin-based product is best.
I have just started using nappy rash cream. The second I applied it to my eczema, it soothed it. At this moment, I can't feel any itching. Nappy rash cream is perfect because it is a barrier cream. This means that it will hold moisture beneath the cream.
Try to Reduce Inflammation
Eventually, after being fed up with the little bits of information that I had been given, I gave my doctor a ring and this is what she suggested:
- Shower in cool water at least twice a day, and while the legs are still damp, rub the medicated or Vaseline cream on top of the eczema. This will seal in the moisture.
- Steroids can be applied in severe cases. Luckily, I don't need steroids at the moment. If the eczema is really bad, you might be advised to take steroids in tablet form.
- If there is an infection, then antibiotics will be prescribed.
- Sunlight or phototherapy is said to be beneficial. Unfortunately, sunlight is not always an option when it is winter. When it gets warmer, it is advised to get out and about with bare legs.
The trouble with eczema is that it is a recurring disease. You can try to stop it in its tracks by doing the following:
- Make sure you moisturise your skin. This may sound obvious, but I must admit to ignoring the lower parts of my legs in the winter!
- Take cool baths or showers. I know, we all want a boiling hot, lovely soak, but it's not doing your skin any good.
- Do not apply soap to the affected area.
- Always put cream on your skin right after a bath to lock in moisture.
- Always make sure that your house has good air flow. Dry atmospheres trigger eczema.
Update: May 2017—My Eczema Is Getting Better!
My eczema cleared up for a long time, but recently, it came back in full force. All of my old techniques helped a bit, but then I hit the jackpot! Instead of using the steroid creams, I changed to Sudocrem (UK) or Desitin (US). The good news is that you can buy it over-the-counter.
My Treatment Routine
I cover my legs with Sudocrem and put a moisuriser on top. I also cover the affected area with stretch bandages. I was advised to simultaneously take zinc and vitamin C tablets daily. Last but not least, I also take an antihistamine tablet.
Guess what? It's working! So, good luck with this, and let me know in the comments section below if it works for you!
Never pursue a new mode of treatment before consulting with a medical professional.
Information on Eczema
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Did your eczema on lower legs ever bleed, weep or skin peel?
Yes they used to peel a lot. At the moment my legs are Eczema free. Please use the cream, but do not touch your skin with your hands at any other point. Bath or shower, leave water on your skin and then soaked them in moisturizer.Helpful 8
© 2012 Nell Rose