Avatar universal

I'm trying to treat my Eczema but nothing is working

I'm going to Around 8 years ago I had a rash around my elbow creases, my knee pits, my armpits as well as my groin area. I eventually consulted a doctor about this and they subsequently diagnosed me with eczema and prescribed an ointment to treat it - It was quite some time ago so I can't remember what It would have been.

Prior to that, I had been really suffering - I could not shower, sleeping was difficult, etc - and I tried to narrow down the cause(s). The understanding from my parents was that It could be a milk allergy, and so I abstained from taking milk for a few months but not much progress was made.  After the consultation, It simply turned out that the primary allergen(s) was related to a chemical (or various chemicals) in the shower products I was using - notably NIVEA shower gel.

So once I substituted them for more dermatology-friendly soaps and consolidated those efforts using the ointment my doctor had prescribed, there was a significant reduction in the potency of my eczema, but the only places on my skin that served as a visual reminder of the condition were my elbow pits. I was 13 at the time, I only ever used that ointment once but that progress remained for 8 years with no problems. It was practically an afterthought - no itching, no inflammation, no stings while showering, etc. I was using basic moisturizers like Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula, NIVEA Creme, Vaseline Cocoa Butter alongside Pears soap.  

For some context, I'm a university student studying abroad as part of my course, and so far I've only been in this new country for 2 years but I often head back home at the start of every summer to see friends and family. As you can expect, this isn't an option during a pandemic, so I've extended my stay to the next university year.

It's been 2 years in which I've been eating the exact same food weekly, wearing the exact same clothes probably longer because I do not buy new clothes often), sleeping on the exact same bedsheets, showering and moisturizing with the exact same products, sleeping in the exact same position, but into that extension around mid-September I had my first and only flare-up after 8 years.

It mostly developed around my elbow pits, the left side of my neck, and my hands. Now I suspect the latter was caused by the Carex handwash I was using more of due to the pandemic, but I have a less precise reason for the former two results. I suspect that they were caused by the status of my pillows and the way I was sleeping - my pillows had collected a lot of dirt and i usually sleep by wrapping my arms around them and resting the left side of my neck on them.

I subsequently replaced them for completely new duck feather down pillows, but nothing. I then suspected that the flare-up might be a consequence of the detergent i was using, so i started washing them with non-bio fairy pods, but still nothing. I next considered tge fabric of my bedding. As it turns out they were made of a cotton blend that had a majority of polyester. I doubted this conclusion because I had been sleeping in these same blankets for over a year with no issues, but I replaced them pure cotton alternatives, and still nothing. I  bought an air filter to clear any potential dustmites, and still nothing.

Instead my eczema would always be much worse when I was in bed regardless of the fabric, detergent i was using. Blisters would form on my hands, my neck and elbow midway throughout the night but would almost entirely clear up once I took a shower.

So the next action I took was to get creams that could hopefully treat my condition. I started with off the counter stuff. I bought an Epaderm cream - did not work - then tried out Dermalex for Eczema - it helped but it was particularly expensive for such a small amount. I tried E45 Eczema Repair - and eventually ended up using Aveeno Dermexa cream as it was the most effective for its price.

However, it's progress started to plateau and short on money, i reverted back to using some Dermalex i had lying around. It's suggested that results will show up within 4 weeks of use and that's exactly what happened. I started notice white flecks on my skin, but the eczema was noticeably cleaning up.

However, the moisturizer I was using - Aveeno Skin Relief - started to be a lot more ineffective for my skin as I was constantly dry regardless of how much I applied. So i bought "La Roche Posay Baume AP+" that helped immensely, however It stung every time I applied It to my skin, so i substituted it for "Avene Xeraclam Cream" and used it alongside E45 Repair cream.

Whatever progress I made started to regress once I made this change as I my skin started to become more red. At this point sleep was near impossible as my skin was constantly irritated - i suspect it was infected too - so I returned to Dermalex, but It wasn't helping either. I tried various other moisturizers like Vanicream and Eucerin Ato Control that worked well on areas without eczema, but they were far too greasy or caused minor inflammation otherwise.

I finally consulted a GP and they prescribed me Dermol 500 lotion and Hydrocortisone 1%. I gave a 2 day period before I started using the Hydrocortisone but the Dermol lotion was by far the most effective moisturizer I was using and pretty much smoothed out my skin and reduced most of the blisters, however their was a single drawback - my body was still incredibly dry regardless of how much Dermol I applied. I tried ****** Moisturizing Cream but all it did was cause minor inflammation and so I've ended up finishing a 500 ml bottle in 3 days.

My dermatologist is not taking appointments currently, so MedHelp was the next place i considered for advice. I have not been able to get proper sleep in the last week. What could i do to treat the condition, and more importantly how can i locate the trigger.  
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Avatar universal
Hi there, I hope you are doing better and found a solution. If not I hope I can help. I've had full body eczema and it was so severe that I couldn't work anymore and my dermatologist said that 'he felt for me', but I just had to accept my  'chronic' condition. I was already very passionate about natural medicine by then and after I've tried the conventional treatment including oral steriods, antibiotics, topical steriods, washing with Dermol etc. and I bought so many different creams and supplements. I agree about Dermol by the way, that this was probably the most helpful to me out of everything they gave me. Eucerin cream with urea seemed to help as well, but it burned a lot and although it did help with the itching, it didn't heal my skin. Because they gave me oral steriods the eczema stopped, but then it started again and the doctors said there was nothing I could do. I had a massive flare up and I was tired of continueing with the steriod creams and the anti-histamine as I knew that my skin would get too used to it and it didn't heal my skin. I decided to go the natural route and stick with that.  I started to heal my gut first with foods and supplements as I've read a lot of medical science on this and there is a clear link with eczema. I started with a 3-day water fast first to reset my body, then going vegan and glutenfree, taking L-Glutamine supplement, smoothies and a blend of a gut healing powder with tumeric that I used in hot water with oat milk every night (I can find the product name), then made sure I took enough minerals and vitamins like omega 3's, vitamin D etc. A shower filter helped me too as I was also itchy in the shower (this filter was about £16 and had an extra cartridge which will last 6 months each), using gloves for doing the dishes, then cotton sheets for the night and raw coconut oil as a night moisturiser as it's light and non-sweaty. During the day I was wearing cotton shirts, used olive oil after the shower and I used an ointment from Balmonds (this completely replaced the cortizone creams and the vaseline I used), this ointment is amazing and the very best as it helps with the itching and heals the skin (I used this during the day whenever needed). It's not cheap, but H&B sells it too and they do discounts. After three months I slowly introduced fish again, then chicken into my diet. I'm still mainly glutenfree and dairy free and I feel amazing. My skin healed completely and I haven't had eczema since last year April (2020).  I know everyone is different, but see what you could try out. I hope you will find what works for you. I hope this gives you some hope. Take care and blessings!
Helpful - 0
973741 tn?1342342773
Hi there!  I developed ezcema in my 40's.  I've had a psoriasis diagnosis as well but that has been mild.  Ezcema is a major pain and the itching is intense for me.  I itch until the skin want to come off.  I'm going to tell you what works the best for me.  It's an OTC product and a 'balm' so very thick.  I use Aveeno Ezcema Therapy (anti itch balm).  I get it cheapest on Amazon.  I've tried many things and this does seem to tremendously calm the ezcema.  And it greatly if not completely reduces the itch.  Sometimes I use Am lactin lotion and then put the balm over it.  I've pretty much eliminated symptoms for myself for the last 3 years.  Do work with your doctor, a dermatologist is best.  Let me know how you are doing!
Helpful - 0
And using the thick balm for years has never caused any issues or repercussions, fyi.  And to not itch is wonderful.
Avatar universal
   My own experience comes from managing health food stores for many years, and while that doesn't give me any way of knowing what's going on with you, it did teach me that most of the time doctors don't have the answers to these kinds of problems.  While their prescriptions might help short term, if the problem does come back it's because the doctor didn't diagnose the cause, they just gave you medication to treat the symptoms.  In your case, you're looking for the cause to something that appears to be an allergy and finding what you're allergic to would involve a lot more than just looking at the external things around you.  It needs to focus on what you're putting inside you as well, meaning the food you're eating and the environmental toxins that might be getting inside your body and the effects of the medications and topicals you've been using as well as your mental state.  For example, it's hard to see how taking a drying hot shower can help with a drying condition like eczema, so do you really have eczema?  You do describe dry skin, but although most of use moisturizers they can just become addictive in the sense that without them the skin keeps drying out and so we apply more moisturizer.  We all do it, because it's easy to do.  But the drying can be coming from a lack of essential fatty acids in your diet, just as one example.  And I have to say, all the products you're using are drug store products that contain lots of artificial colors and lathering agents etc. that are not only not good for you but can be toxic.  The drugs can kill off the very beneficial organisms that protect us from getting this kind of thing in the first place.  A good health food store will have some products that are much "cleaner," in the sense they will have far fewer harmful chemicals added to them, but not no harmful chemicals.  I mean, never use anything from Vaseline, for example, as petroleum clogs the pores and will always make things worse for long-term use.  Just an example.  Also, are you sure your dermatologist isn't taking computer appointments if he's avoiding in person.  Or find a different one who is seeing patients.  Or go a different route and see a natural medicine practitioner.  In other words, when what you're doing isn't working, find a different approach or find better doctors.  Again, I have no idea what it is that's going on, but I do know that Eczema is often diagnosed but it isn't always what folks have, it's just an easy way for a doc to deal with a problem he can't diagnose.  Peace.
Helpful - 0
Thanks for the reply, It's very informative. I do believe the diagnosis is correct as all my siblings had Eczema as well, which probably suggests that It is hereditary. However, none of It was seemingly chronic and actually cleared up for all of us eventually - granted I was the only one who required a consultation with a doctor as well as prescribed medication.

I do remember the consultation in which my medical practitioner had refuted that It was my diet but rather the soaps I was using to shower with as the cause for my condition. Immediately I started using more skin-friendly shower products and while using the medication for about 2 months, my eczema became an afterthought from that point forward. Within those 8 years, I never had a flare-up but there was always a notable difference if I used the wrong shower products.

"For example, it's hard to see how taking a drying hot shower can help with a drying condition like eczema, so do you really have eczema?"

Narrowing down the cause(s) for my flare-up is/are has been immensely confusing as it contradicts a lot of what I was experiencing 8 years ago as well the practices I established to counter it. 8 years ago I could not take a shower without being in extreme pain, now It causes the opposite reaction whereby taking one is a lot more soothing and relaxing for my skin - I showered like 4 times yesterday, lol.  On the other hand, Sanex Hypollaregenic shower gel and Aveeno Skin Relief moisturizer were incredibly effective for a year and a half, but now my skin suddenly has an adverse reaction to them.  

"In your case, you're looking for the cause to something that appears to be an allergy and finding what you're allergic to would involve a lot more than just looking at the external things around you."

I do agree that the medication is only going to treat my symptoms but right now all I'm hoping for is a reduction in the inflammation and itching so I can get enough sleep to then be able to narrow down the cause(s).

I do share your concern about my dietary needs because admittedly it has shifted and now consists mostly of ready-meals from my local supermarket and this has led to the period in which I've gained the most weight. However, as bizarre as the following reasoning could also sound I did not consider It to be the possible cause of my flare-up for the same reason that I did not suspect my bedding to be of probable cause - I have been eating like this for over a year without issue, so why the sudden allergy?

I had not introduced anything new into my diet and have pretty much followed the same meal plan since autumn of last year, so it had to be something new that I added into my life - at the time I had bought new duvet covers and new pajamas, then i started showing symptoms (but that would not really explain the continued state of things after I changed everything).

However, I've been taking action to incorporate a more healthy diet, by only eating anti-inflammatory foods. Would you recommend anything in particular from a health food store?

"Also, are you sure your dermatologist isn't taking computer appointments if he's avoiding in person."

I did consult with a dermatologist and GP separately. The dermatologist suggested a topical steroid - Eumovate - but for fear of topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) I opted not to use it.  As for My GP they could only discuss potential approaches by mobile and subsequently prescribed me Dermol 500 and Hydrocoristone 1%, but I haven't used the latter much either for the same fears.  My skin is a lot more smooth, but the only hurdle left is the inflammation and itching.

I can't actually recommend anything, sorry.  I would need to know what it is, and my experience was, the people who came in over all those years who had been diagnosed with eczema didn't have it.  Often never found out what they had.  But it was almost never eczema, which is what docs tell us we have when we have dry itchy skin.  Now, psoriasis is a whole different animal, discussed below, as that is an arthritic condition.  I'm guess folks who actually had eczema didn't come in because they had the correct diagnosis.  The natural approach to everything is just different.  It basically assumes that there are things that are bad for us and while we usually don't notice it right away over time it gets us.  Treating it is a slow process as getting the problem was a slow process.  The most common food problems are dairy and wheat.  The next in line are soy, nuts, other legumes like peanuts, and corn.  Other problems are sugar and white flour and other overly processed foods because they lead to inflammation.  Other foods that can lead to inflammation are plants in the nightshade family, which are especially problematic for people with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.  This would include potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and basically your normal Italian meal in modern times as most of these foods came from the Americas. Interesting to note that the indigenous peoples of the Americas didn't eat these foods, it was the Europeans who started eating them.  The original English name for the tomato was the poison apple.  Only the Inca ate the potato, and they only did that when they moved high into the Andes and some believe this is a reason for their decline.  So eating a fair amount of such foods can lead to things like arthritis, the theory goes, because as we age the body can't fight it anymore and it gets us.  But just my saying this shows how difficult it is to treat things in a natural way, as it requires so much experimentation and wholesale changes in how we live and eat and most of us don't want to try that.  It's hard and takes a long time.  Aveeno, loaded with toxic substances, is faster and a lot easier and if it works for awhile is a lot easier than changing one's life.  And not everyone gets a problem from eating these foods.  My only recommendation remains, when what you're trying doesn't work, find better docs or try a different approach, but there are a lot of approaches out there.  I wish I could be more helpful but anything I might recommend I would have no idea if it would work or not.  I will say, Mom's approach is safer than using steroids for any length of time, because they like antibiotics kill off beneficial organisms that protect us from this sort of thing.  In fact, one way people get things like skin conditions and fungal infections is by taking antibiotics.  Cause and effect can be hard to find.  There are a million topical products out there sold in health food stores.  Some are very "clean" and some aren't so much.  You have to read the labels.  But cortisone does work fast.  So the best I can do is suggest ways of thinking about it.  Mom has the problem, and that puts her in a different category as I haven't personally had the problem, just saw a lot of people who did fix it by altering their diet and lifestyle.  And saw some who didn't.  Peace.
I would add though that foods to add might be fish oil, flax seed oil, hemp seed oil, chia seed oil all high in omega 3 fatty acids.  And historically, what people used a lot on the skin were fatty oils like sesame seed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, and the like to treat dry itchy skin.
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