This post is not of interest to regular readers. If you're curious, here's the score.
I'm trying to do some "white hat SEO." That is, I want to steer desperate patients and parents away from scam websites and steer them towards helpful information.
My skin is a diaster. I've always had mild eczema, but about four months ago, I had a severe flare.
People who have had a patch of dry skin have no idea what real eczema is like.
Imagine putting your hand on a hot skillet. You take your hand away. You look down, seeing a red welt.
That red welt will be with you for perhaps a few hours, or perhaps several weeks.
That welt will appear all over your body. If you're lucky, you'll have some on your back, making it hard to sleep.
You may even have some of those welts on your neck. That seems like no big deal, except when you imagine driving a car. You need to change lanes. Look left. Ouch.
Also, the welt is also going to itch. Have you ever had a bad sun burn or an infection? Remember that feeling? That's how much of an eczema sufferer's body feels.
If you scratch it, it will become a huge red ball of messiness. It may get infected.
I had to quit training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because of five (5) staph infections, including one bout of MRSA.
You won't scratch yourself, because of your iron will? The itchiness is not like that of a scab. The itchiness is so great that not itching will send your entire body into convulsions. Watch a video of someone freaking out over a drug overdose. Or The Exorcist. That'll be your body.
Even if you don't scratch yourself, you're in trouble. I had to cut going to the gym down to 2-3 times per week. I had to cease all cardio. The water from the sweat burned my skin, causing it to itch worse.
I can't take hot showers.
When I got sick, I slept in a sweatshirt to break the fever. The fever broke, but I must've sweat too much in my sleep, because congratulations to me, here is what my body looked like:
Does sleeping on an ice pack sound restful? Well, if your eczema is so inflammed that your body feels on fire, the ice pack actually works.
Eczema is also very expensive. Even with gold-plated health insurance, I paid $500 for my last dose of drugs. I'll have spent around $1,500 this year on eczema-related stuff (allergen detergents, air filters, extra trips to laundry mat, etc.).
That's just out-of-pocket, cash money. That doesn't include days where I slept less than two hours, and am in so much pain that even driving is difficult.
It also doesn't factor in the 30-45 minutes it takes me just to apply my creams. I have to apply creams, wait for the creams to absorb, then apply moisturizers.
The moisturizers are thick. Vanicream works the best for me. Vanicream is basically Vasoline. Imagine putting that all over your body.
Wait for it to absorb. Then get dressed.
Oh, make sure your clothes are loose fitting, or else they'll stick. Then you get ingrown hairs.
When the air is really dry, an eczema sufferer has to apply Vanicream during the afternoon. If you ever walk into the bathroom and see a guy putting lotion over his shirtless body, he's not doing anything creepy. (Or is he?)
As you can see from the pics, I'm not a small guy. I lift weights regularly, following the "no pain, no gain" philosophy. I've had my nose broken, knuckles broken, a broken foot, two concussions, 2-3 degree separated shoulder (and recurrances of said shoulder separation) and when my eye was split open, requiring stitches...I skipped the stiches.
I've never taken pain medication of any kind. When my shoulder was separated, I dealt with the pain. When I get sick or get a head ache, I don't take pain relievers.
I think it's good to keep in touch with your pain, to talk to it.
The eczema is the second worst pain I've ever felt in my life. (Sun poisoning is the worst.) A set of heavy squats has nothing on eczema. Nothing I've felt has anything on eczema.
If there were a "pain killer" for eczema, I'd probably take it.
For kids, eczema must be the worst. When there are red sores on my body, it doesn't impact my self-image. I have a sense of self, and laugh when guys at the gym give me weird looks as I apply Vanicream to my inflammed body.
For a child developing his self image, it must be hell. Kids are also really mean, and I got in a few fights in grade school when other kids called me "herpes face."
I've spent over 100 hours on PubMed and other sites researching treatment options. (When you wake up itching yourself bloody, you may as well read something, too.)
I just found a presentation that summarized everything that I found. I found it after I did my research, so I know it's legit.
Anyhow, here's an excellent presentation on treatment options for moderate to severa eczema.