Working towards your 20% with eczema (atopic dermatitis)

November is National Eczema Month! Anyone else noticed their skin is get­ting a little drier every day?

The skin is a pretty import­ant organ, and espe­cially when you feel restric­ted by it when it is not healthy. As an indi­vidu­al who has sens­it­ive skin, I actu­ally do under­stand the frus­tra­tion of try­ing to get bet­ter but noth­ing works (or appears to work).

Living with atopic dermatitis or eczema

Hydrocortisone creams thin and dry your skin and mak­ing it tem­por­ar­ily bet­ter but much, much worse in the long-term. Using immun­osup­press­ants like tac­rolimus give some relief but the nasty side-effects fol­low­ing (increased sus­cept­ib­il­ity to infec­tion, burn­ing hot skin after applic­a­tion) can feel counter-pro­duct­ive. Not feel­ing like you can stay over at any­one’s house or out of your reg­u­lar envir­on­ment in fear of people see­ing how much your skin flakes or cracks and how dif­fi­cult it is to stop scratching.

Improving your eczema by 20%

I became a natur­o­path­ic doc­tor with an interest in sup­port­ing skin con­di­tions because of my per­son­al exper­i­ence in work­ing towards my 20% with my skin health. What is that you ask? The idea that you are not work­ing towards get­ting com­pletely bet­ter overnight, but that tak­ing many small steps towards feel­ing 20% bet­ter. In our mod­ern world of quick fixes, eczema or atop­ic dermatit­is requires that kind of think­ing. Firstly, because atop­ic dermatit­is involves an aspect of the immune sys­tem called the innate immune sys­tem that is con­nec­ted to sev­er­al areas of immunity that affect the entire body. How can we expect one thing (ie. a mois­tur­izer as an example) to have the abil­ity to “cure” an entire con­di­tion? It does not make sense.

talkeczema: share with others

Earlier on talkeczema I had the priv­ilege of read­ing a post by a gen­tle­man who believes that a hol­ist­ic (phys­ic­al, men­tal, emo­tion­al) approach to eczema is the right way to go. He is right on track, and it was refresh­ing to read. In prac­tice, I spend a lot of time edu­cat­ing my patients with eczema and skin con­di­tions in gen­er­al about the need to con­sider all facets of their lives in get­ting them­selves to bet­ter health. So often when we feel unwell we are absorbed and con­sumed in our phys­ic­al selves, and what we are or are not achiev­ing. Physically, we may have to take 5 – 10 major changes in our life­style to assist our eczema to improve. As this gen­tle­man men­tions, what are we doing men­tally and emo­tion­ally? Are we con­sid­er­ing the stress trig­gers that we uniquely have? Do we have someone we can talk to about improv­ing our self-esteem and build­ing up what makes us feel good, because we are not just our skin, one organ, but a whole per­son worthy of love and self-acceptance.

On achiev­ing your 20%, you will need to think of your­self as a whole per­son with phys­ic­al, men­tal, and emo­tion­al needs or body, mind, and soul require­ments. Physically is where many indi­vidu­als seek my help with brain­storm­ing mois­tur­izer choices, redu­cing chron­ic inflam­ma­tion in a gentle way, identi­fy­ing pos­sible trig­gers (often food aller­gies, undia­gnosed), increas­ing hydra­tion of the skin, redu­cing the stress response and man­aging hor­mone bal­ance. Mental and emo­tion­al sup­port how­ever can be a stretch — our skin demands so much of our time and energy, how can we sup­port ourselves men­tally and emo­tion­ally? Food for thought.

Individual treatment gets better results

Getting towards and sur­pass­ing that 20% to even 30% or 40% improve­ment will involve a more indi­vidu­al­ist­ic way of look­ing at your eczema, to involve your emo­tion­al and men­tal habits and well-being. You may need a pro­fes­sion­al to help with this trans­ition, or you may be able to sit down and give it the atten­tion your­self. Regardless, aware­ness to the oth­er aspects of your­self are the key to pro­pelling your­self for­ward to the relief you deserve.

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