17 March 2013

On a(nother) personal note..

As you've read (or can read) from my bio on the top right, I suffer from atopic eczema, and it has greatly limited the things I can wear or slap onto my skin. I know how difficult it can be to feel and look pretty with this condition, I myself am scarred all over my body except on my face.. To my surprise, I've found in the past few years that it isn't uncommon as I thought it was, so I'm going to share what has helped me cope with it, in hope that someone can learn from my experience. You must bear in mind though, not everything works for everyone; the tricky bit about eczema is that our eczema can be triggered by a vast variety of things, so what I'm allergic to may not affect you.

1) Drink lots of water and eat lots of fruits & vegetables.
Drinking water helps the body flush out all the toxins, while vegetables are well, just good for you in general. I used to hate drinking water, especially at room temperature, but after forcing myself, it's more of a habit now than a chore. I'm a big fan of meat, but I love my veggies as well, so eating vegetables isn't an issue for me. Fruits however are not something I eat unless offered to me, so I make it a point to eat them with my partner. You can do the same with your family, friends, whoever; just share a whole bunch with them and you won't even cringe.

2) Showering in cold/room temperature water (after soaping).
I hate to admit this, but I love bathing in almost-scalding-hot water, even if just for a few blissfully itch-free minutes.. I don't think a lot of people do this, but quite a few eczema-sufferers that I've met have also admitted to doing this, despite knowing it dries our skin terribly and gives us this a sort of "chicken-skin". I've been taking cold showers, and after awhile the coldness just numbs the itch, plus my skin has thankfully returned to it's normal texture. This doesn't mean you can't wash yourself in warm water though, you need to get rid of all the grease & dirt after all.. just do it real quick before soaping yourself.

3) Moisturize diligently!
Is your skin feeling dry? Chances are it is, so keep moisturizing until it doesn't! Make sure you find one that is safe for your skin (fragrance-free, suitable pH, dermatologically-tested, you know the drill). Same goes for everything else you put on your skin.

4) Wear nothing but cotton (or Tencel, if you can find it!).
I'm not sure if this applies to everyone, but synthetic materials are terrible for me. I once ended up with a really bad itchy rash all over my legs after wearing polyester pants to work; I learnt it the hard way and haven't repeated that mistake since! It may be difficult to find 100% cotton clothing at first, but once you've done enough research, you'll figure out which stores/brands carry them.

Local-wise, I personally favor Uniqlo for their printed tees, & Zara for their organic cotton tees, whereas online you can find American Apparel, which also uses cotton quite frequently in their designs, and, if you can afford it, People Tree is famous for their organic cotton clothing too, plus they do very pretty dresses suitable for work. Denim also usually has a high very content of cotton, sometimes even 100%, so denim brands like Levis, Wrangler, Lee Cooper, etc. would be a good option too. If you're lucky enough to find Tencel (I got my first Tencel-cotton-mix dress from Uniqlo!), which can be pretty pricey, good for you! I've read that they're better for us even though they're "man-made", as for why click here, it's a PDF file (don't worry it's in point-form!) for you to read! And if you still don't know why cotton is good for us, please go Google it. 

5) Try your darnest not to take steroids.
I took them once, gained almost 10kg (I've no self-control) but my skin had never been that amazing in years. Once I weaned off them (two months later I think?), the itch came back feeling worse than it was before, so all I could do was the above, so really, it's only a short-term measure.. not much help if you ask me.

7) Get a humidifier, especially if you sleep with the air-con on.
It keeps my skin less dry. Want more info? Google it.

8) The most important of all: Keep trying everything & be very observant!
Like I said in the beginning of this post, everyone is different. Your triggers may be chemically-related, food-related, stress-related, basically anything in your environment! So don't give up, just keep experimenting; if you notice your flare-ups get worse when you eat seafood, cut it out for a month, and see if you get better! If you do, congratulations, that's one point you can cross off your list! Who knows, maybe you won't even have to try all of the above tips!

I really hope the above helps you guys somehow. In my next post, I'll write a little about my allergies, and more on what skincare I've used in the past three years (ie. what helped and what didn't). And if you know any brands that use cotton often, please let me know!

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