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My Life With Atopic Eczema & What Ease the Flare-Ups

Eczema line art

This article is created for everybody who suffers from atopic eczema/dermatitis and is searching for summed-up information that will help to go through the worst. I will tell you my story and share with you the main points of knowledge gathered by many visits of doctors, naturopaths, Chinese medicine experts, and my experience as an atopic. See below all 15 remedies that will ease your life already today!

And what is the article about? Take a look at the topics:

1)    My Story and How Eczema Affects Your Life

2)    What is Atopic Eczema?

3)    Eczema Treatment and Remedies

4)    Eczema Diet – Triggers in Diet

My story and How Atopic Eczema Affects Your Life

When I was a kid, I suffered from atopic dermatitis for a lot of years. After years and years of a combination of dry skin, blood, scratching, crying, stress, and hard work of my parents, by the age of 11, I was „clean“. Boom! The battle ended, now I am free to live, I thought.

But atopic dermatitis is a disease that never actually disappears. It’s there with you whether you like it or not. So, one day, right after moving to the capital, I started a new exciting life of a real adult. As a consequence, eczema started to appear again. Slowly but surely.

And because this moment happened almost 4 years ago, I can say that atopic eczema started to be part of my life again. And thus, I already gained a lot of experience to talk about it and write an article.

First, I would like to mention that in this article, I mention my experience and my opinion. Causes of eczema are different for every single person. Every single person should first talk to a specialist if some skin problems appear.

When I was a kid, the atopic dermatitis was severe and appeared in the typical places for kids, which means knees, shoulders, hands, wrists, neck, face. Places where kids sweat the most. I suffered from it for about seven years.

Atopic eczema disappeared for the next 16 years.

When I moved to the capital after the university, my whole life changed. I got my first full-time job, new flat, new city, found a life partner. All these changes, even they can sound nice (and they were amazing, do not take me wrong!) still brought intern stress into my body. I did not realize. I was enjoying the start of my adult life.

But then, after a few weeks of this exciting beginning, I started to have dry patches on my elbows and knees. My dermatologist told me it is psoriasis and gave me some cream. In another few weeks, I started to have dry skin flakes on my cheeks. This slow coming had a big pompous arrival of the next chapter. My cheeks changed in a few days into open bleeding spaces. They were swollen and producing a yellow liquid, which dried on my face. This showed the inflammation.

Atopic eczema on hand, neck, cheeks, shoulder
Face, neck, hand, shoulder – the most common places affected by eczema

Spots on the cheeks expanded on the whole face. I lived on antibiotics for another half a year. Inflammation appeared but eczema did not and stayed on my face from then on. For the next few months, it had expanded even more on my neck and hands. I had eczema on my eyelids, shoulders, knees, ears, back of my head, even mouth, under the nose, top of the nose. It was quite bad.

I suffered from this severe eczema from 2019 to 2021, almost two years. One long flare-up. Sleepless nights, a lot of tears, bloody sheets in the mornings, all-time thoughts about itching… And I’m not even mentioning how much it affected my psyche. During that period, I spent a lot of money on my health. Including doctor’s appointments, consultations with the Chinese medicine experts, medicines, creams, aids.

“Short story long”: atopic eczema is not a disease that would adjust to you. It’s you who needs to adjust your lifestyle to feel better.

What is Atopic Eczema?

Atopic eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic autoimmune skin disease. As a result of the disruption of the lipid skin barrier, water is reduced and skin dryness is increased. Due to this dryness, the skin and the body as a whole, become more susceptible to allergies, infections, and inflammation.

Atopic eczema is associated with liver, kidney, and colon problems. Unfortunately, it is not curable. Only its manifestations can be suppressed to such an extent that they do not have to manifest themselves all the time since the flare-up.

Eczema skin
Eczema skin

Everyone is different and the causes of atopic eczema are still not completely clear.

But it is important that anyone who develops eczema searches for its cause. In some, it can be caused by stress, in others allergens, in others by climate and weather. But it always develops in people who have a genetic predisposition to it.

Please do not confuse other types of eczema, which appear on the skin. For example as an allergic reaction, but disappear in a while. This article only deals with atopic eczema.

It is important to always find the cause and at the same time focus on a healthy, stress-free lifestyle. Because the psyche plays a significant role in overcoming eczema.

Is eczema curable?

Unfortunately, eczema cannot be cured.

It’s genetically encoded in our body and it’s up to us whether we let the eczema flare-up or not. Life with this disease is thus divided between a quiet period and a flare-up.

Eczema Treatment and Remedies

What can you start doing already today for feeling better?

Atopic eczema remedies and treatments infographic
Eczema Remedies

1) Water softener and filter

I found out that my eczema reacts differently in different places. I observed that the hardness of water that I shower with is crucial for my skin and wanted to know more. This article explains that pretty well. Hard water can damage the skin barrier and it leads to dryness that leads to itchiness and open wounds. Circle of eczema.

That’s the reason why the water softeners and filters are recommended to use on the daily basis.

In my own experience, I must admit that I do not have a good experience with shower filters. I have never experienced any difference in how my skin reacts or feels. A few times, I even did a test of the water hardness with pH strips made for this. The tests showed that the shower filter I did have purchased doesn’t do any difference. So instead, when I have a flare-up, I use distilled or at least boiled water and the difference is very visible! Skin doesn’t get that dry (you literally don’t feel like dry apricot). And because of the very acid pH of the distilled water, I had a feeling that even some wounds closed up a little bit.

For washing my hair, I use boiled water with 1-2 spoons of apple cider vinegar. 

These acid liquids (distilled water and apple cider vinegar) keep balancing the pH of the atopic skin that is more alkaline. That’s why they are very very good friends to atopic people 🙂

2) Avoiding hot water showers and baths

Talking about water, I can not mention, that the water temperature in the shower or bath should not be super warm. It’s said that it causes more itching and dryness of the skin. On the other hand, taking a hot relaxing bath from time to time is not a big deal!

3) Oat and salt baths

Yep! A relaxing bath that is packed with Epsom Salt will help to relax your body, muscles. And you will see that the itchiness will appear for some time! During the worst flare-ups last year, I literally couldn’t take a normal shower, as the water was very calcium-packed.

Instead, I would only take a bath every fourth day. Most of the water was boiled (cleaned from calcium and chlorine) and with big four spoons of the Epsom Salt. I always added two drops of tea tree oil and two handfuls of oats or oat water. And I swear this combination worked for calming my skin very well already after the first try.

Relaxing baths are recommended. But again, should not be too hot and you might not want to stay there long.

My favorite combination for the perfect bath is Epsom salt, oats, and 2 drops of tea tree oil!

Oat bath
Oat baths are calming and softening your skin!

4) Drinking a lot of water

Not only a phrase. Water is important, especially if you suffer from eczema. Your skin is very dry and needs your support in this. An average person should drink 1,5-2 liters per day. I, during the flare-ups, would drink even more. The atopic eczema is in particular connected with a problematic liver. All the toxins of everyday life settle in the liver. Thus, it’s necessary to support them in detoxifying our bodies by drinking enough water.

5) Moisturizing

Moisturizing the skin is not only the most important point of care for atopic skin. But creams become something irreplaceable at the time of a flare-up. The tube of cream lasts one to two weeks only. The skin of the atopic is so dry that you wake up at night because you feel your dry face shrink. Or your whole body as soon as you stop the faucet in the shower. Your skin is so dry that just a light insertion of the nail, for example on the forehead, will create a bloody wound.

So, skin hydration is the most important and necessary thing you can (and must!) do for your atopic skin.

Here are some creams I use on my body and face as an atopic.

My skin is very sensitive and especially during the flare-up, it has bad reactions on most of the cosmetics I put on. Every skin is different. But I was surprised how creams from brands like Bioderma, Avene, Eucerin, made for soothing and calming the flare-up, did not help. On the contrary, they caused redness, itchiness, and feel of burning. It is also not advised to use creams based on natural ingredients during the flare-up. It sounds weird and wrong, right? I am all for natural products and gifts from nature in my life. But following my experience, when the skin is open, broken, and sensitive, natural creams with the essential oils or plant and herbs extracts can harm you even more. It’s like pouring oil on a fire.

So, after a lot of experiments on my skin, these are a few creams that suit my skin and do not cause an allergic reaction, like most creams on the market made for treating eczema:

Cerave

I cannot say how happy I was after I tried this cream for the first time. The cream is very hydrating but is rapidly absorbing. Does not leave that oily-film feeling on your skin but you still feel like your skin is hydrated for a long time. One very important thing – does not clog pores. This is necessary for atopics who put a cream on their faces countless times a day. Cerave is a pharmaceutical brand that focuses on problematic skin conditions.  Among their products, you can find also helpers for diabetic skin, psoriasis, acne products…Amazing! Thank you, Cerave!

Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion
Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion
Cerave Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
Cerave Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

Lipobase

This cream is a lifesaver for the times of the worst flare-ups. It’s an oil-based cream, very clean on ingredients, simple, old recipe. After application, it stays on the skin for a long time because it acts as fat protection for atopic open skin. Atopic skin is like a sponge, so it needs special care and oil-based creams. After application, the cream creates a greasy shiny surface on the skin which is slowly absorbed. This can be a disadvantage for some. But honestly, at the time of flare-up, an ordinary fast-absorbing cream is not enough for you. At that time, your skin is incredibly dry and shriveled. You would have to apply the usual cream every five minutes (I experienced it). Love this one. Effective, cheap, unscented, non-irritating.

Lipobase cream
Lipobase cream

There are some alternatives available in Europe:

6)    Eating healthy with fats, vitamin D and E

Include a lot of healthy fats, vitamin E and D, in your diet.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats are omega-3 fats.

“Omega-3 fats exert anti-inflammatory effects. Diets with lower amounts of omega-3 fats result in less production of prostaglandins, substances that turn up inflammation. The best omega-3 sources are fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and tuna as well as fish-oil supplements. Other omega-3 contributors include ground flax, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and, to a limited degree, green leafy vegetables. Dietary monounsaturated fats (olive oil and canola oil) also dampen inflammation.”

National Eczema Association

Omega-3 Essential fatty acids foods are flaxseeds, navy beans, walnuts, kidney beans, cold-pressed olive oils, cold-water fish, avocado, seaweed, coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and so on. I learned to use a tone of seeds in my daily-life diet. Nuts are a great source of healthy fats as well. But did you know that it’s not recommended to eat more than one small hand of nuts per day because they include strong allergens? My naturopath gave me even advice to avoid nuts because they often contain mold that supports the inflammation.

It is important to restrict the omega-6 fats in your diet (you can find them in red meat, eggs, dairy). They are pro-inflammatory.

Vitamin E

The scientific research found out that a daily dosage of up to 600 IU of vitamin E is safe and leads to improvements in skin conditions!

Vitamin D

Studies show that people with eczema have lower vitamin D levels. And this vitamin is especially needed for fighting inflammation, infections, and UV irradiation. Where we can find vitamin D? Cold-water fish like salmon or mackerel, egg yolk, mushrooms, tuna, or sun😊

Sources of vitamin D
Sources of vitamin D

My advice to you: take all vitamins in liquid form for better absorbability.

7) Long sleep

Proper sleep is important for complete relaxation and recharge of body and mind. Atopics should think about this and not neglect sleep. Lack of sleep can cause more stress and anxiety in the body. But you might not need to be aware of this fact and this can cause worsening of eczema and immune system.

8) Mental health – laugh

There is a link between atopic eczema and mental health. Our emotions play a crucial role in developing eczema and its flares. Stress can trigger eczema and eczema back can cause stress, and it’s the circle from which is hard to escape.

Being happy and laughing a lot.

In my experience, this is very important for the condition of the health of the skin and health of the body overall. My skin condition got so much better during a happy and successful time of my life. Once triggers like stress and changes in life came, the eczema cycle of stress-eczema-eczema-stress began.

9) Living without mold and dust

Having mold at home can lead to a serious health problem and one of them is also eczema. Together with dust, these two are big eczema triggers. So, assure yourself that you are not co-living with either of these two!

10) Clothes

When you are atopic, you have to be more aware of what kind of fabric to wear for your fragile skin. Your skin simply does not accept everything.

So, what fabric can we consider eczema-friendly?

Bio cotton clothes
It’s worth it to invest in bio-cotton clothes, trust me!

In my experience, the least unpleasant fabric for my skin is, during the flare-up, a bio-cotton. Skin can breathe under the cotton layer, which is not “itchy” but is soft and comfortable.

The worst fabrics you can wear are the synthetic ones (i.e. polyester) because they do not breathe through. And trust me, you do not want to do this to your skin.

11) Change the cosmetics products

Cosmetics can be a big trigger to eczema flare-ups. Consider completely changing what you use in the shower, make-up, for washing hands, creams, etc. Natural cosmetics can be also a trigger. It’s recommended to use only the cosmetics made for sensitive skin, the best for atopic skin.

Couvrance cosmetic is recommended for very sensitive skin. I use the foundation from them and cannot be happier!

12) Rinsing with the black tea

One of my dermatologists recommended, during one of my worst states, to rinse open eczema wounds with black tea.

And it worked! The black tea helped me with healing the biggest wounds thanks to its antibacterial and drying effects.

13) Stop scratching

I know it sounds almost impossible. But try to perceive the itching consciously and overcome the feeling.

What helps? Long sleeves, cold showers, going outdoors and having short nails.

14) Ventilate and change sheets frequently

This avoids excessive contact with dust and mites.

15) Do not use fabric softener

It’s not gentle on the skin nor the environment.

Eczema Triggers in Diet

Everybody is different and you might not even notice any change when eating a different kind of food. Some have food allergies, some do not. But generally speaking, these are the biggest eczema triggers in diet:

  • dairy
  • eggs
  • spices
  • soy
  • sugar
  • corn
  • white flour
  • nuts
  • tomatoes

I hope this article was useful to you!

Everything you just read is tested by me as a lifelong atopic. Remember, atopic eczema will be with you forever. It’s up to you how you learn to live with it and suppress it (even in such a form that it does not manifest at all).

This s article contains the experience that I gathered from years of suffering from atopic eczema, and information from countless visits of doctors, Chinese medicine therapists, naturopaths, and reading academic papers and articles.

These sources helped me with writing this article, and I recommend checking them out for everybody who suffers from this disease:
https://nationaleczema.org/
https ://www.celostnimedicina.cz/

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