How To Live With Eczema

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes dry, itchy and irritated skin that can affect any part of the body, and is one of the most common skin conditions among children and adults. I’ve had it since I was a baby and it sucks. I’ve dealt with it all my life; everything from sensitive skin irritations to full on red, blotchy flare ups. But here are some things I’ve learned from multiple dermatologist visits and personal experience that I hope can help someone out there who’s suffering from the same thing.

1. Stay away from anything that smells nice.

I know, smelling like the tropical hand soap section at Bath and Body Works is every girl’s dream, and it probably doesn't help that all your friends have fruity or floral hand creams in their backpacks. But fight the urge! Over 20% of the population that suffers from eczema has negative reactions with fragrant toiletries (yes, this includes body and face washes as well). Try to stick to products that have “for sensitive skin” on the label, and things that are fragrant free. A brand that has personally worked well for me is Cetaphil, and they have anything from lotions, body washes, and face washes. I’ve been venturing into lightly scented products, and I really recommend the lotion from the Vaseline brand called Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Lotion (but I’d steer clear of it if your skin is extra sensitive).

Image via Redefined Mom ​

2. Steamy showers are actually your worst enemy.

This one was really hard for me to adjust to, especially since after a long day all I want is a steamy, relaxing shower. But hot showers will dry your skin of its natural oils, which will make your skin feel extra dry and irritated right after, even after moisturizing. If you shower at night, what helped me break my old habits was remembering that the faster you shower, the faster you can jump into bed and scroll through Twitter (or eat that bag of chips that’s been waiting for you). So cut your Grammy award-winning performance short, and trust me, your skin will thank you later.

Image via Shower Journal

3. Know what your skin hates.

There are foods that can trigger your eczema. Some common ones include certain meats, dairy, and eggs, but there are some random foods that can affect different people. Pineapple and spicy foods are a personal trigger for me. Another huge trigger is the outside environment. In the winter, your skin is more dry and can feel even more itchy and tight. Grass and pollen are also very common triggers, so if you’re going somewhere where you might be sitting in the grass, wear long pants! And, as crazy as it sounds, your own sweat is also a common trigger, so after a good workout take a quick shower and chill out. Let both you and your skin rest!

Image via Lowe's

4. Wearing short sleeves isn’t the end of the world!

I know the winter and fall seasons can seem like a blessing in disguise. Sure, our skin gets even more sensitive when it’s cold outside, and we can hide it from the rest of the world by bundling up in layers of sweaters and jackets. But in the summer, when it seems like the asphalt is melting the bottoms of your shoes, it’s okay to wear short sleeves! Yes, it’s scary, and sometimes there will be stares, but don’t let that stop you from living life to the fullest. Make the most of it and go out with people who love and accept every part of you. Chances are, the people around you probably aren’t thinking about your skin the same way you think about it, and strangers will forget they ever saw you ten seconds after first glance. Go to the beach and rock that swimsuit you really like! Don’t let your skin define you. I’ve spent so many years hiding under long sleeves and jeans in 90 degree heat, and it gets so exhausting (and sweaty) after a while. But after you do it once, you’ll do it again and again. Each time will add to your confidence, and eventually you’ll learn to love yourself in your own skin.

Image via The Molly Fletcher Company

Remember: You are beautiful no matter how your skin looks. Whether you have acne, eczema, psoriasis, or stretch marks and wrinkles, you are perfect the way you are!