Eczema: A Day in the Life
Disclaimer: Don't feel bad or pity me. I live a great life, but some times this Eczema gets on my last nerve, so I thought I'd write it out.
To start talking about a day with eczema, I need to start with the nighttime routine. The nighttime routine sets the tone for the day.
So it's finally time to get ready for bed, or at the very least wind down for the day. I begin to slather on whatever I think will work for my skin, even it won't even last half the night. More on that later. Lately, it's been a mixture of oils (coconut, almond, jojoba, tea tree, lavender, etc.). All the good stuff, right? You'd think that'd be enough, but oh no, I must put something on top of that oil to seal the moisture in. I've tried it all, and in the last few weeks, even started making some homemade salves. As of late, the one that works is Waxelene, a non-petroleum jelly (Vaseline) alternative.
The scene is set, I am so greasy, you could probably use me to fry chicken I put on some loungewear or pajamas. However, what kind. If my skin is too exposed during the night, I wake up looking like Frosty the Snowman. If I'm too covered up, I run the risk of getting hot and waking up ferociously clawing at my sweating skin. Oh, you didn't know, sweat and eczema don't mix. That said, I think I may have solved this dilemma. I noticed when I put long-sleeve cotton shirts on, my skin really likes that. I just bought a pair of cotton thermals/pajamas. They feel pretty comfy, so I'll see how I fare in the morning.
Okay, so I'm in bed on my lightweight sheets. I don't know if it's turning 40 or what, but me and warm sheets are just not friends anymore, and anyone who knows me, knows I love a good pair of t-shirt or flannel sheets. My cousin turned me on to Costco's Charisma microfiber sheets. I was a little skeptical at first, because the microfiber sheets I already own, are uncomfortably hot. The Charisma sheets are fantastic, especially at only $15. I start the night out with socks on because I'm trying to keep all that moisture via the oils and salves I've put on. Uh oh, at about 0200 I wake up feeling hot. Hmm, what should I do? I take my socks off, hoping that will work. It works for a little bit, but then I get hotter and struggle with exposing my skin to more air or removing some of the covers. If I remove some of the covers, I'm cold and it will be harder to fall asleep. If I expose my skin to more air, who knows what I may way up to, and I still may wake up scratching because the air dried my skin out. Kind of a lose/lose situation.
As far as this air thing, let me explain that a little more. Me and central heating/air just don't mix. All that forced air does is dry my skin out. I bought a manual humidity monitor, and it says my house is at the appropriate level. LIES. Well, probably not, but it's a lie for me. Apparently, my body must require like 100% humidity or something, because I could apply moisturizer to my body, and my skin is dry in what seems like minutes. I have multiple humidifiers throughout the house, but keeping it real, I don't always use them. I don't know why, but I have always felt like maintaining and running the humidifier is just one more chore for the day, that I don't feel like doing, even though I know my skin is marginally better when I do use it.
Alright, so it's morning time, "God willing and the creek don't rise." as my father says. I look in the mirror, and Frosty the Snowman is looking back at me. Mostly my face and arms, because that's what's most exposed. I'm a side sleeper, so normally the cheek that's pressed against my pillow has a little bit of moisture left. Everything else, dry, dry, dry.
It's time to take a shower. Now lots of people think the more water the better. WRONG. At least for me anyway. Water is not my friend. Dries my skin out. I steel myself to get in the shower. Steel, you say? Yes, steel myself. I feel pretty confident in saying someone with severe eczema, ALWAYS has some type of scratch or cut on them, that frankly, doesn't feel good when it gets wet. You get in, and if it's an especially bad day, you might hold back a scream. Baths are preferable when it's like that, but who has time for that in the morning. Speaking of baths, apple cider vinegar baths do tend to help for a bit.
The torturous shower is over, so now I attempt to moisturize. I say attempt, because I know I'll have to replenish the moisturizer 5011 times today. Time to get dressed. It's summertime when the living is easy. So they say. Anyway, I don't want to be hot, but I know when I go out to run errands, I'll end up in some freezing cold air-conditioned building. Remember what I said about air conditioning, it's not my friend. I compromise, maybe jeans and a short-sleeve top, so only part of me is exposed.
I finally go out and get the day started. My uncovered arms are a magnet to central air, and I rub them a little bit. Okay, let's be honest, I may scratch them. Bad Crafty Mixtress. All that moisturizer I just put on, makes my fingernails look dirty, so I am constantly inspecting and cleaning them.
Well-meaning people may say something about my eczema. I'm like "yeah, eczema sucks." I generally have a strong constitution and am pretty self-assured, so I’m alright, but I’ve noticed more and more people saying something to me about the eczema they can see on me.
I come in from running errands and such and start thinking about dinner. But first, let me use the restroom. Seems innocent enough, but then my skin is unexpectedly exposed to air. DISLIKE. Need to do a mid-day moisturizing session. I finish the mid-day session and proceed to cook dinner, using gloves for as much as the process as possible to protect my hands from too much water.
Dinner's done, my husband is home, so now it's time to go walk the dog on a local trail we like. We like it, because despite it being hot as Hades outside, because the trail has so many trees, it's actually fairly cool. Fairly cool, doesn't mean it's not still hot, and that you don't sweat. Sweat for the average person is no big deal. Sweat for someone with eczema can be a problem. Sweat irritates my skin.
We come home from the walk, I do a quick wash-up, and then we eat dinner. After dinner, I watch tv, do crafts, look on the internet, etc., until it's time to start this process all over again, hoping for a decent night's sleep and tolerable skin in the morning.
This, my friends, is my life with eczema. Again, no pity is wanted or needed. Just sharing. Hopefully, some diet and medicine changes will provide some relief.