Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eczema Products

All this talk about eczema I’ve been doing this month has led me to look into some eczema products, or basically any kind of creams, lotions, medications, injections, alcoholic beverages (just kidding), whatever I can find that can possibly bring relief to this condition, or even at least seem to have potential of bringing relief for this troubling skin problem. One thing that has in the past made me hesitant to try and seek out any information on products that could cure or treat eczema is the common issue of side effects from synthetic chemicals and so forth, but the truth of the matter is when you’re seeking relief from such a harassing problem, you just want the solution as fast as possible. I can see why it can be frustrating; I myself experienced eczema skin problems, but was hesitant to get any kind of medication for it, because honestly, maybe it’s the conspiracy theorist in me or something, but I didn’t really trust the whole medicine market; it just seems like all they ever do is put a “band-aid” on problems, and basically treat symptoms without ever getting to the core or root cause of the issue. I guess they would go out of business if they completely cured people’s skin problems, so maybe there is a slight ulterior motive for them not being able to come up with enough “research” to find an absolute cure for eczema, psoriasis, and other skin problems like that. Anyway, as you can tell, I have those conspiracy theorist leanings that I really have to overcome (LOL). But as far as my personal experience with eczema goes and potential eczema treatments, I just tried to stay VERY hydrated, and focused on things that would produce skin health such as drinking lots of water every day and eating foods that are known for their contributions to skin health such as oatmeal. Also, I would make sure to take vitamins that promote overall skin healthiness such as Vitamin E and so forth. One of the main things I would do is to simply put a regular lotion on the affected areas, just to relieve some of the dryness. It didn’t really help at all as far as the itching goes, but it did at least keep the skin from getting too flaky. It would burn like crap when the sores were open, but the skin around them was so dry that I had to sacrifice and endure some pain for the greater good, so to speak.

Some of you may be wondering why I keep speaking about my own struggle with eczema in the past tense, as if I no longer deal with it. I can honestly say that I hardly deal with it at all nowadays, and it’s nowhere near the degree of severity it used to be. I want to talk about that in a future post, as far as my own journey with overcoming eczema and learning a little bit (and I do mean a LITTLE bit) about the things that were triggering it in my own life. I have a theory, and I don’t fully know if it’s true or not, but I have a theory or a sneaking suspicion that sleep deprivation can play a role in these types of skin disorders. Please don’t ask me to substantiate that with any kind of medical information, because truth be told, “I gots nothin’”, but one thing I can attest to is that the more sleep I got, the less I had to deal with eczema. Go figure…again, please don’t ask me for the full science behind this…it’s just something that I know, if you know what I mean. But anyway, back to the issue of finding eczema products, or any kind of cream or lotion or what have you that can possibly alleviate some of the major symptoms of eczema, especially the itching…which, by the way, is why I feel so sorry for babies and toddlers with eczema…they will simply scratch until they scratch the skin off. Okay, before I drift off again, let me say that there are several manufacturers of skin creams for eczema and so forth, and while I don’t have any personal experience with using any of the products, I can say that they are some of the foremost players and advertisers in the market right now. Products such as the Theraplex Emollient, the FreeDerm cream, Cetaphil, or the skin products offered by Dr. Li are all worth looking into. I don’t claim to be any kind of “consumer advocate” so I’m not going to be reviewing the products per se, but did want to expose everyone out there to some of the eczema products that are available on the market. Okay, over and out until next time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dyshidrotic Eczema Pictures

Based on my previous post about dyshidrotic eczema, also known as dyshidrosis, I thought it would be good to include some dyshidrotic eczema pictures for anyone that may be curious as to how it differs from the “garden-variety” eczema. Believe you me, neither condition is a “picnic”, but judging from the photos I have seen and collected from around the web, dyshidrosis is a mean mamma-jamma. Again, I have personally experienced the red bumps that can almost ache sometimes, and I have experienced the rash outbreaks that seem to literally spread like wildfire. Word to the wise—if it’s itching, do your best NOT to scratch it—it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire. I learned this the hard way. The only thing your mind is focused on during this time (usually) is how to stop the doggone itching, so you do the most natural thing, and that’s to scratch it, but let me tell you, all that will do is make other areas of your skin nearby all of a sudden start itching as well. Before you know it, areas that were perfectly fine are now being “inflamed”, and it’s literally a case where the more you scratch, the more you’ll find areas that need scratching. It’s truly a “Catch-22”, and it sucks to high heavens. But even then, I’m still only talking about the “regular” level of eczema (if there is such a thing). In terms of dyshidrotic eczema, there are so many cases that I found to be much worse than mine, in a weird way I feel grateful for having only experienced a still somewhat limited amount of the skin problem. At any rate, here are some pictures of the severity of dyshidrotic eczema:

dyshidrotic eczema

dyshidrotic hand eczema

dyshidrotic eczema pictures

Wow…notice the extreme peeling and cracking that come from dyshidrosis…this is truly some mean stuff. Some of those photos made me wince in pain just looking at them. It’s truly unfortunate that some people have had to go through this kind of skin condition…the worse part is that not too many experts have yet agreed upon the true origin of the problem. Again, I believe that one of the biggest areas to explore would be how stress such as anxiety, frustration, anguish, bitterness, etc. affects the physical body in such a serious manner. I have read many times over that people who internalized their stress can have more physical problems than people who “let it all out” and keep nothing held in. But, that’s a topic for possibly another post…I just wanted to post some of these photos so that you could match an image with a term…true indeed, these dyshidrotic eczema pictures are sobering and somewhat hard to look at, but it’s good to get a true picture of what some people are suffering through.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dyshidrotic Eczema

The more I have delved into my research regarding the topic of eczema, the more I have realized that although I did have my struggles with it, I count myself fortunate to have not experienced the more severe forms of this skin condition, one of those forms being dyshidrotic eczema. When I started doing the research on this particular “flavor” of eczema, it caught my eye, mainly just because of the weirdness of the word itself…for some reason it reminds me of hydraulics…go figure. The actual condition is defined by small, red bump-like blisters that are filled with fluid appearing in a cluster form on the body, primarily in the extremeties such as the hands and feet. I have seen some seriously disturbing pictures of what dyshidrotic eczema looks like, and it can do some serious damage to the skin. It normally appears in stages, and at its worst the skin looks completely ravaged with excessive peeling and cracking. Dyshidrotic eczema is also termed dyshidrosis, dyshidrotic dermatitis, or pompholyx. Another term for the condition as it specifically relates to the hands is acute vesiculobullous hand eczema. An interesting side note is that the word “dyshidrotic” refers to the condition known as excessive sweating, which actually was one of the factors that people used to associate as a potential cause of this type of eczema, but further medical research has proven that the two are not directly interlinked; there is actually no conclusive evidence available that directly proves that excessive sweating leads to dyshidrotic eczema. As for the actual cause of this skin problem, it has not yet been conclusively proven, but most experts weighing in on the topic have stated that one of the primary contributing factors is most likely stress, especially frustration and anguish. Again, the link between stress and eczema is being recognized, and as I can personally attest, this link does have some legitimacy, because as I mentioned in a previous post, the eczema I experienced (while not as severe as dyshidrosis) first appeared during a very stressful period of my employment, and it worsened as my stress on the job worsened.

It’s amazing how those two things correlate; it seems to me that the ramifications of anxiety, stress, frustration, anguish, and other inward stressors should be much further studied in light of their effects on the physical body. It seems like, with this criteria, dyshidrosis could potentially be related to more extreme stressors, since it is a more extreme version of eczema, but this could be a somewhat exaggerated assumption. Some of the other proposed causes are allergens such as certain types of soaps, particularly those with heavy fragrances, foods containing nickel such as cocoa, nuts, and chocolate, and alcohol, due to its astringent qualities. Ingesting alcohol on a heavier basis can actually dry out the skin due to its dehydrating effect on the body; this can greatly aggravate the skin. Again, one of the main symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema is the blistering that can take place; the blisters may start off very small and tightly clustered, but can actually “merge” to become larger blisters. The blisters can become filled with fluid (also called “serum”), and are usually termed vesicles when this occurs. These blisters can bust and then crust over, and after that can lead to cracking, which can basically ravage the skin and become an eyesore to the sufferer. The itching from this condition can become unbearable, and many people are forced to wear gloves or other protective clothing to keep the condition from worsening. Dyshidrotic eczema can take weeks to heal given the proper treatment (another topic for another time), but let me tell you, it doesn’t look like any kind of picnic for anyone that has had to suffer with it. My heart truly goes out to them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What Does Eczema Look Like?

A common question that many people ask who suspect that they might have eczema is “What does eczema look like?”. Eczema can take on many different forms, and show up on many different parts of the body. There really isn’t one specific locale for this skin problem; it can appear on hands, feet, faces, fingers, thighs, backs, practically any area of the body where there’s skin there can also be eczema. Exact causes of eczema are still speculative, as some people believe it is due to external factors such as possible food allergies, skin irritants such as certain types of detergents, or environmental conditions (climate changes or harsh, dry weather, etc.), while others believe it is due to solely internal factors such as stress, or a malfunction in the nervous system and the way that it perceives and responds to environmental threats such as allergens and so forth. Also known as dermatitis, eczema is basically a skin disorder that causes inflammation of the epidermis (a.k.a. the outermost layer of the skin), and appears on the skin as a rash with dryness and/or raised bumps that are painful and sensitive to the touch. When I was dealing very heavily with eczema, mine mainly showed up on my inner thighs, hips, and stomach below the belly button. One time when the rashes got really intense, they literally extended from the bottom of my butt cheek (sorry for being so graphic) all the way down the back of my thigh, and to the top of my calf muscle. That completely sucked. I have never dealt with eczema above the waist level, but I have seen other people with hand and face eczema. As an example, one of my good friend’s sons (about 3 years old) had a pretty bad case of eczema on his face; his cheeks were completely “eaten up” with harsh rashes that looked dark red and patchy. I truly felt sorry for him; thankfully, as he grew older, the eczema cleared up. I learned later that eczema is actually not that uncommon in babies and toddlers, as their brand new skin is still adjusting to this brand new environment outside of the womb. At any rate, here are some photos to give you a good picture of what eczema looks like:

So there you have it—a visual representation of what eczema looks like. I feel sorry for every single person in these photos, because I have experienced first-hand the pain, the skin rashes, and the aggravation of having sensitive skin due to eczema. One thing that I found to be quite odd is how sometimes the areas of the skin that have been affected by eczema seem to lose their “suppleness” and begin to take on an almost leather-like feel. I have dealt with this before, and still have traces of it a little bit on my inner thighs and hips. Sometimes when the weather is extremely dry or cold outside, those same areas can get really dry and start flaking, almost like dandruff. I know all of this sounds gross, and part of me is embarrassed about putting myself out there like that for all to read, but at this point, I don’t give a crap. I hope that some of what I’ve learned and come to experience as far as my being able to (for the most part) whip eczema could be an encouragement to others who may be struggling with this same skin problem. But long story short, in answer to the question “what does eczema look like”, I hope this post has been helpful.