It struck me the other day that what one person thinks of as eczema can differ from another. The many skin deteriorations of eczema can be challenging and not what you might expect.
I’m including here also the things Topical Steroid Withdrawal does to skin because let’s face it, most people think it’s eczema anyway. And it’s all part of the skin situation we are all dealing with!
There’s actually LOADS of different things your skin can do as it progresses through the many stages of eczema, TSW and healing. Here’s some I can think of:
- Mild rash – Slight redness, irritation and itchy skin. I’d suggest always trying to treat this naturally and holistically. Don’t just leap to steroids. Look for what is causing your skin irritation first.
- Thinned skin – One of the only side effects anyone is ever warned about with topical steroids. Skin can become paper thin after extensive use.
- Thickened skin – This can happen when skin is rubbed, scratched or succumbs to eczema for an extended period of time. It can be hard to shift but should heal if you find out the root cause of your eczema and treat naturally.
- Oozing skin – This means your body is struggling to eliminate toxins. This can be a clear liquid which comes from the lymph glands or plasma. It’s nothing to worry about as it means the skin is doing what it can to eliminate waste. If this persists you need to work out what support your body needs to help adrenals, lungs, lymph system, digestive and other organs to work effectively.
- Crusty skin – Often follows on from the oozy skin, this can then become covered in a thick, overly scabby crust that builds up as the skin oozes and heals underneath. It looks a bit like cradle cap but on adults with TSW.
- Broken skin and open wounds – all normal with eczema. Keep the skin clean and covered of very badly effected.
- Skin damaged by excessive scratching – The more we scratch, the more damage we do and more the skin itches, It can be very hard to break that itch and scratch cycle. If you can identify your triggers and when you itch most, you can begin to reduce the itching and scratching. It could be anxiety, stress, hot water, cold weather, central heating, your dog or cat, certain foods, mould, alcohol. Become your own detective and start to work out what is irritating your skin.
- Eczema herpeticum – itchy painful blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus. Broken eczema skin can become infected with this virus and can spread so needs careful attention.
- Infected eczema – if skin is very hot to touch, throbbing and very angry and red for more than a few days with no sign of any change this could signify infection. During TSW my skin has done this as part of the cycle of healing but goes through excessive shedding in between being inflamed and red. It’s important to recognise signs of skin going through detoxification and TSW healing and potential infection. If you are in any doubt, get it checked out. I treat mine with aloe vera gel 99% with tea tea extract. Apple cider vinegar can also work well. And finally, warm epsom salt baths can really help reduce inflammation and redness.
- Dry skin – dry, sand papery skin that needs extra moisture. Many people can get dry skin, sometimes in later life is skin ages. Stay hydrated and work out what triggers your skin to be dry. Find a natural emollient that helps keep your skin from getting too dry. Dry skin can be itchy so it can really help to get on top of this and find solutions that help your skin.
- Hives – Seems very popular during TSW and also caused by allergies, heat and irritation. Small itchy lumps that come come and disappear quickly and can be very itchy.
- Chapped skin – often affects the lips, where skin can become cracked open which can be very painful. Find a natural solution like beeswax, shea butter, or natural oils. Emollients can also work better than cream based solutions. Try to protect skin so if this is affecting your hands, use gloves where possible to limit dehydration and irritation.
- Flaking skin – Don’t need to say much about this. All skin falls off but with atopic dermatitis it can form larger flakes that struggle to fall off and appear to cover skin rather than shedding naturally as dust!
- Excessive shedding (usually TSW) – Like flaking but on a crazy level, just snow globe, epic flake proportions. It’s usually a sign of healing and follows on from inflammation, redness and oozing typical in TSW.
- Normal atopic skin – Can be healed but also susceptible to triggers that can cause flare ups, skin rashes and irritation. Some people will always have atopic dermatitis but it can be managed naturally.
- Pigmentation damage – Many people notice that their natural skin tone is damaged by steroid use. This is particularly visible on darker skin tones. It can repair over time but can often be permanent.
- Scarring – any wound or damage to skin can cause scarring. There are many oils that can help to improve and aid healing of scars. I use Rosehip oil from Balmonds.
- Nodular Prurigo – This is one I’ve had before. Basically very itchy lumps that when broken, bleed like Vesuvius! Mine is triggered by processed foods, alcohol and stress, but strangely has disappeared since starting TSW.
- Elephant skin – This happens in TSW where the skin loses collagen and become loose, causing rolls of skin to form, like an elephant. It can also be dry and thickened. It will heal in time.
- Nerve Damaged skin – my favourite! I get this now on my face but it affected most of my body at some point during TSW. The nerves deep down in the skin layers become damaged and it can be very painful as they begin to heal and send new messages to the top layer of the skin.
- Sensitive skin – people with eczema can have sensitive skin that reacts to detergents, perfumes, pet hair, dander, allergens, wool, cosmetics
- Allergic skin – Any triggers or allergens can trigger an eczema reaction from food to contact allergens like dust, mould and latex.
- Inflamed skin – Swollen, hot and angry inflamed skin! (Thanks to Louise Quadrelli for reminding me of one of my current favourites!)
Have I missed any? Just thought it was interesting to look at all the many things skin can have happen to in the name of eczema. No two people have the exact same symptoms and when you have all this going on at the same time, it’s a lot to deal with!
What are you worst ones? Least favourite? and what do I need to add to the list?