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This post is all about how to get eczema under control.
If you or someone you know suffers from severe eczema, you know it can be extremely hard to manage. While there is no *cure* to eczema, there are definitely things you can do to get it under control.
My personal history with getting my eczema under control
After struggling with severe eczema for the better part of two consecutive years, I had finally reached my breaking point. It was mentally, as well as physically, taking a toll on me. My daily routine at that point in time consisted of:
- Wake up
- Have an itch attack during my morning shower
- Dowse my skin in moisturizer before dragging myself to work
- Uncomfortably make it through my 9-5 office job while doing my best to hide my face and dodging curious looks from coworkers
It felt like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from.
Once I got off work, I spent the majority of my nights laid up in my apartment researching eczema cures and alternating ice packs on my itchy skin.
The itch always seemed to get worse at night.
Other evenings I would go over to my boyfriend’s home and cry to him about how I just wanted this to end.
With the way things were going, I knew I had to get some relief and figure out how to get my eczema under control.
It was then that I started formulating a plan that would allow for me to (hopefully) heal my skin once and for all. I knew it wasn’t going to be just one single thing that would magically heal me. I had to implement a combination of things to finally see and feel the results I was hoping for.
I can’t say which of these things had the largest impact on my eczema healing. But I can confidently say that after 60 days of implementing the following tips, my eczema healed.
How to Get Eczema Under Control
Let’s get into it! This is a list of both mental and physical things you can do in order to heal from severe eczema.
Sometimes doing everything by the book physically doesn’t always lead to relief of eczema symptoms. This proved true in my case. I knew that stress exacerbated my skin problems and if I was going to get real results I needed to address this trigger as well.
1. Take Time Off Work (If You Can)
If I was being honest with myself, I knew the only time I was actually going to be able to get my eczema fully under control was when I was able to be all in. For this reason, I waited until I had reached eligibility for FMLA and Short Term Disability through my employer.
I then took the first step to healing by filing for a leave of absence so I could eliminate the stress of having to go into work everyday with my condition. Actually, my single biggest stressor during that time was having to work through the discomfort of severe eczema.
When I went out on leave I had no idea how long it would be for, but I just knew in my gut it was something I needed to do.
If taking time completely off isn’t an option for you but you know your job is making your skin worse, it might be time to put your feelers out there and explore other options.
2. Cut Out The Toxic
This could be any person, place, or thing. For me, surrounding myself with positive, uplifting family and friends during my time of healing was extremely helpful.
If you find yourself in a toxic friendship or relationship that is adding to your stress, try distancing yourself and see for self the positive effects it can have on your mental and physical health.
3. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
I know, I know. Easier said than done, right? But this is so important during your time of healing. The more I looked at pictures of girls with perfect skin, the more irritated and disgusted with my own skin I became.
Try disconnecting from social media for a bit, or at the very least reducing your consumption. Trust me on this, it will work wonders!
4. Distract Yourself
When you are struggling with a skin condition, it is so easy to become hyper-focused on it and before you realize it –your whole life revolves around figuring out how to fix it. As much as you want to do this, sometimes it’s better to just take a step back.
You might think I’m contradicting myself since I just said I took time off work. For many, work might be a good distraction; but it my case it wasn’t. The key is to distract yourself with something you actually enjoy. (Yep, you guessed it – I hated my job!)
Some healthy distractions might include:
- working out
- starting a new class on a topic you’re interested in
- decorating a room in your house
- implementing the tips included in my post on improving your mental health
- play/take care of your children or pets
Sometimes, just taking a step back and focusing your attention on something other than your skin can work wonders.
5. Get Patch Testing Done
While I was off of work, I knew this would be a good time to have further diagnostic tests done to find out the root of my skin issues. After doing biopsy my dermatologist suggested patch testing as a next step. I previously had standard allergy testing done but during my time researching eczema, patch testing was a common suggested test.
This delayed-reaction, week-long test is able to measure your skins reactivity over an extended period of time to common contact allergens found in many skincare products.
To be honest, I was extremely skeptical and was almost certain no answers would come of it. But nonetheless, I made the 2.5 hour journey to my dermatologist in Chicago multiple times that week to complete this test.
To my surprise, I got answers. From this test I learned I was reacting to anything containing the ingredients Propylene Glycol and Methylchloroisothiazolinone. I even discovered that my most used skincare product (Eucerin Intensive Healing Cream) contained Propylene Glycol.
Basically, something I thought was helping my skin all along was actually contributing to my continuous cycle of flares. I would highly suggest having this testing done if you have eczema and haven’t already.
6. Drink Celery Juice
I was fascinated by Medical Medium teachings during this time. A recurring trend I was seeing in this community was people consuming celery juice daily for liver detox.
According to Medical Medium teachings, the cause of eczema stems from the liver. I had nothing to lose at this point so I committed to drinking celery juice every single morning on an empty stomach which is said to aid in liver repair.
Juicing the celery daily wasn’t a quick process and it didn’t taste great, but I soon became accustomed to it and loved how much better it made me feel.
The book shown above is his newest release “Cleanse to Heal.”
7. Start Tanning
This was another great physical tool that helped me heal my skin. During this time I started going every day or at least every other day to the tanning salon.
I only went for about 10-15 minutes and I made sure the beds I used contained higher concentration of UVB light. UVB rays are used in medicinal doses in prescription light therapy.
Disclaimer: I know most dermatologists would warn against tanning due to the risk of skin cancer. But simply put, my quality of life at this point in time was lacking tremendously and I was desperate for relief. I was willing to take the risk if it meant getting some relief from the itch. I also have a complexion that doesn’t burn easily which made me feel a little better about it.
All in all, I found major relief from the UV rays. Specifically it helped take away the itch of eczema and dry it up.
8. Move Your Body
For the first time in a long time, I started incorporating a light workout into my daily routine.
For the longest time I didn’t work out because the first drop of sweat would send me into a full blown itch attack. Not only that, movement and sweating was painful to my open scratch wounds.
During this period of healing, however, I decided to get moving anyways.
I started jogging on the trail by my apartment and I even ventured back into the gym. Getting back into fitness gave me a sense of structure and discipline to my day since I wasn’t working during this time.
It also worked wonders for my mental health.
9. Ice Therapy
Throughout my eczema healing journey I relied heavily on ice packs to cool down the inflammation of my skin.
As my skin started to get better it wasn’t as necessary. However, it became such a soothing behavior for me that I continued doing it long after my eczema became manageable.
It’s super handy if you have facial eczema because it secures behind your ears comfortably with a strap. This way you don’t freeze your fingers trying to hold it in place.
10. Get Acrylic Nails
This is a tip that I hardly ever hear anyone talk about and it’s something that had a huge impact on my healing.
Here’s the thing. Your real nails are sharp. It doesn’t matter how short you file them down, even just having a tiny bit of real nail hanging over and you can do some real damage to your skin in a matter of seconds when the itch strikes.
Acrylic gel nails are a game changer because they are thick and dull (make sure you have them round the corners for extra precaution).
But basically even when I itched as hard as I could with acrylic nails on, the damage left was small bruising. They make it nearly impossible to break the skin which allows your skin to heal over.
11. Steroids in Moderation
I debated whether I should include this in my tips or not. But if I’m being honest, there were some periods where I used topical steroids in moderation under the supervision of my dermatologist. The key term here is moderately and it’s so important not to overuse them.
Topical Steroid Withdrawal (or TSW) is a real phenomenon and it’s so easy to become reliant on steroid creams and ointments for relief from inflammation. The kicker is that 9 times out of 10 when you begin to discontinue use, your skin gets even angrier than it was when you first started using them. Which leads to overuse for long periods of time.
I only used my prescription steroid ointment for a short period of time during the worst periods and slowly decreased usage over a long span.
For instance, if I was applying it twice a day for 2 weeks, on the 3rd week I began applying only once a week. Then, after a couple weeks of using it once daily I transitioned to every other day for a few weeks, and so on. This way my skin never experienced an abrupt lack of steroids and was able to adjust.
So, use steroids at your own risk but if you do choose to do so, be sure to be mindful of your usage.
What should you expect as a timeline for getting eczema under control?
After just a couple of weeks (maybe two or three) of incorporating the above, I started noticing my rashes drying up and feeling overall less itchy.
Then, after about 60 days, my skin was 80-90% healed of eczema!
Today, I am 100% clear of eczema. I only flare up when the seasons change, when I foolishly try a new product with a hidden allergen, or when I’m overly stressed.
Takeaways For How To Get Eczema Under Control
If you are really struggling with getting your eczema under control, I highly recommend you incorporate the above tips, or tweak them based on your own known triggers.
I used the knowledge of my triggers in combination with research I had done on what worked for others.
Remember to keep in mind that my healing journey may not be identical to yours. Also know that the process of healing anything is hardly ever linear.
Even now, I can do all of the right things and still have a random flare up here and there.
The difference is that now I know it will pass and I have the ability to heal.
These posts contain more valuable eczema-related tips: