Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eczema Rash

Man, am I ever familiar with the good ol’ eczema rash. What am I talking about? Well, I can only speak for myself on this one, although I do believe my experience is not an uncommon or rare one. Let me tell you a little bit about how it all got started: I was about 25 years old (I’m 34 now) and I was working a very stressful job with a boss who was basically the source of most of the stress. He was the kind of boss that had a very explosive temper, and would basically accuse you of things you didn’t do, as well as cuss you out in the process. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most functional work environment. Well, the stress of being in this position PLUS the stress of inadequate money to pay my month-to-month bills or advance financially really began to weigh on me. But, since I was not a very vocal person at the time (man, how things have changed), I would internalize a lot of the anger, frustration, anxiety, and even desperation that I felt while working there. One day I started noticing that I was breaking out with some type of rash on my inner thighs, right near the groin area (sorry for the graphic description). I had never had any type of skin problems before, so this was definitely a mystery to me. Not only did I start breaking out there, but the rash seemed to “spread” to my hip flexors and then my lower abdomen, right at belly-button level. The rashes were not all connected, so it wasn’t like one big rash, but they all started popping up at about the same time. I started running through my mental checklist of possible causes for the rash. I thought that it might be my undergarments, because I had just recently changed laundry detergents, so I thought that maybe my skin was reacting to the new detergent. So, I went back to the old detergent, but nothing really changed at that point. Same old itchy rash. I started to get real concerned, because again, I had never dealt with anything like this all through growing up. The rashes were reddish in color, with tons of tiny red bumps, and they would itch like doggone CRAZY. I would have to take frequent restroom breaks just to sit in there and scratch myself like a dog with fleas or something. This wasn’t the kind of itch you could just ignore; it felt like as if I was going to physically start twitching or bending or jerking or just doing something to stop the itching, if I didn’t directly scratch it. It got to the point where I was scratching it through my clothes, and by direct contact, so eventually I was scratching so much that I started breaking the skin.

Once this started happening, I would sit there and go “Okay, maybe I need to stop scratching so much.” This was pretty much a futile effort, and man I paid for it in the shower. It does NOT feel good when you have several open spots of raw skin being hit by hot water and soap. But, I really didn’t know of any lasting way to deal with it. So, I turned to lotion, which helped me a little bit, and I would make sure to apply the lotion as soon as I got out of the shower, to lock in some of the skin’s moisture. If I waited too long, my skin (especially in those areas) would dry out so bad that it would flake and be extremely irritating. But, I was working with what I could for the time being. After a good while, I started realizing that the stress I was going through was (in my mind, anyway) the main culprit to this skin problem I was dealing with. I mean, think about it: I never had these issues before, and all of a sudden they pop up when I’m stressed to the max? Coincidence? I think not! (LOL) I realized as time went on that my passive behavior was really at the root of my stress; I simply internalized everything and gave my frustration no outward expression, which resulted in my own body absorbing the “impact” of all that stress. Now I’m not advocating expressing every single negative emotion that you have, because that could end you up in jail for “going postal”, so to speak. But I learned that if I don’t allow some kind of outlet for my stress, and just suppress it or “bottle it up” inside of me, the stress doesn’t go away; it basically causes the body to “turn on itself”, so to speak, and begin “punishing” itself for the stress it’s feeling. This may sound a little on the verge of “psycho-babble”, but you know, I’m okay with that. This stuff really helped me when I learned it. I found that if you don’t give some kind of outlet to your stress, whether it means you go into another room and beat the crap out of a pillow (which I’ve done), or you go into a private place (i.e., closet or something) and just talk it out with yourself (even if it means you have to yell it out), you’ll develop a very unhealthy habit of allowing stress and the hormones that stress produces to simply coarse through your body like a raging river. This stress is real, and it produces real, physical effects on your body. Again, if you don’t vent your frustrations to some degree, even if it’s only to yourself or to God, the stress from those frustrations doesn’t go away; it’s simply contained within your own body but it’s still seeking some form of expression or outlet; and sometimes the “outlet” that it finds is some sort of physical ailment or…dare I say…a skin condition. No matter what the official name of the condition is—be it skin dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, or you-name-it, I’m almost positive that a large percentage of the cases are stress-related, dare I say more than any other factor. Hopefully this post about my experience with the ol’ eczema rash has shed at least a little light on the topic that maybe some of you haven’t considered before. Until next time…

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't really heard much about eczema before today. It doesn't sound like a very pleasant thing to deal with. Is it something that you will always have to deal with, or are there things that you can do to get rid of it?
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