Does any one else with skin conditions ever feel ignored by the NHS and other health professionals? Because I can imagine it's a huge percentage of us! Our skin is the largest organ in our body. Skin conditions are not just cosmetic! Yes, eczema along with other skin conditions are not life threatening most of the time, but it is certainly life consuming. I have found that communities can be an absolute life line, so let me share my story.
I've had eczema since I was a baby, all over my chest! Doctors said 'oh it's just baby eczema it'll go away' and it did!
Until my late teens...
This is when it got bad, life consuming bad. These pictures are hard for me to share, but here they are! I'm uploading these for the people in a similar situation, with swollen eyes, dry flaky skin, unable to go outside without make up on, unable to wear make up, in pain, itchy and just about ready to give up. This is for you, to show you there are several routes to go down to change your skin, do not give up because there is something out there that will help, you just have to find out what your body needs!
One point I want to make clear before I start listing what did and didn't work is everybody is different. One thing that worked for me might not be your answer!
First avenue I tried was my GP, I think this is probably everyone's first go-to! The thing about eczema is there is no cure... So, understandably doctors don't have many options! This is where I first got introduced to steroids. Oh, what a slippery slope that was! Doctor after doctor, I finally got referred to dermatology and guess what they gave me... stronger steroids!
I was determined to find the root of the problem. I tried, but I wasn't able to do this on my own so I asked for a test. Below is a photo of said patch test, I had to have this on for 3/4 days! Very uncomfortable and not very helpful... Basically the results were pretty much inconclusive. The doctor said 'mmm maybe a little reaction to fragrance but nothing alarming' I mean at this point I could barley open my eyes, so it was kinda alarming...
I decided to cut out all fragrance from my life. Literally everything I could possibly think of that had some sort of fragrance in it I got rid, even natural essential oils. But, still nothing. I was at my wits end. The NHS had nothing else to offer me so I decided to go private and see what that would bring. I realise I am very privileged to do so, but it was a glorified GP appointment with nicer chairs and carpet... and guess what, they gave me even stronger steroids! £340 down and reliant on steroids.
At this point I was willing to try anything, so I decided the herbal route was the next road to go down.
I visited my local herbalist Nicola (the nicest, most knowledgeable woman). She mixed a medicine using her various herbs according to the problems I was having. It was a rocky journey, with a lot of downs. Turns out, I am incredibly sensitive and even the smallest dosages of herbs was making me flare up. But, like I said earlier just because this approach didn't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for you! Even she got frustrated as she'd never experienced it making the eczema worse before!
Fast forward to 6 months ago...
At this point my skin care routine was quite extensive, I was using every moisturiser possible to try and hydrate my skin, I was exfoliating like crazy to try and 'rub off' my skin problem (I do not recommend this AT ALL, this was kind of a breaking point for me. Mental health wise I was not okay.)
It was time to strip back, repair my skin barrier and let my skin BREATHHHHEEE...
Nicola, my herbalist said most skin problems come from your gut, which makes total sense that it comes from within! Skin conditions are basically your body telling you something isn't right and when you actually start to listen, you start to feel more in control.
I can't put it down to one thing that helped me manage my Eczema but here are a few things I know have made an impact, big or small. Firstly, I went on a low histamine diet. I cut everything out of my diet that had a high histamine level. I followed this amazing book throughout my journey 'The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan: Becky Campbell'. I had a very simple skin care routine that I did in the morning and in the evening; this included a sensitive skin cleanser, soothing toner (absolute life saver when my skin was itchy and burning), Vitamin E cream, and a thick oat based balm emollient. I started using a Gua Sha which reduces inflammation, drains lymphoid's, and circulates blood flow. I believe this made a huge impact to the healing of my skin barrier! Shop our Tiger's Eye Gua Sha (shameless plug I know...) I also drank A LOT of water and took Omega 3-6-9 to rehydrate my skin from the inside!
I don't want to go into huge detail in what products helped me, because it's so different for everyone and I know I was very influenced by people saying 'This cleared my eczema' and ended up spending £1000's on products that didn't work for my skin. So, honestly it is a bit of a trial and error, which I understand is the most annoying thing to hear, but you will learn what your body needs and you will gain back control.
So now here we are... a couple of weeks before the launch of our skincare and I can't quite believe where my eczema journey has brought me. I’m glad it wasn’t just a ‘thing’ that happened to me and that something actually came from it, it sort of makes it all worth it.
Do not allow your skin condition to define you. You HAVE a skin condition; YOU are not A skin condition.