29 Jan 2013

GUEST POST: Have You Tried This, Have You Tried That

I know people are trying to be helpful but it becomes tiresome to keep reiterating myself to various different people. That was also the idea behind creating this blog so that I could just let people read for themselves about my condition.

My favourite is when random strangers ask you if you've tried [insert name of over the counter medicines] and when you sigh and say yes the smug look they beheld vanishes. Often these same people will be the ones who go "I know what that is, it's eczema" and you're like "yes, well done! Have a pat on the back, matey!" As I say, I know they're just trying to be helpful but it really isn't helpful for me. It's comparable to telling a person missing a limb that they're missing said limb. 10/10 for observation ;)

From this, I thought I'd talk about some of the conditions I do have and how they can sometimes conflict one another.

OK, so as the name of the blog suggests, I suffer from eczema. But not just one type, oh no, that would just be too simple for my body. No. I have a whole host of dermatitis conditions. I suffer from atopic eczema which as it suggests means I in turn suffer from atopy in general. Everything from hay fever to asthma to rhinitis comes under this heading.

I also have urticaria which manifests itself when heat is involved. This means exercise is usually out of the question, as well as being too hot generally whereby that meaning having too many layers of clothing on, or even on a summers day, I will, and do, suffer. It means for me that hot countries are completely out of the question. I went to Spain with my Mother one July and spent the whole time in sheer agony, covered in hives and not being able to get cool. It was a nightmare. Similarly, going to the gym and even walking up steep hill in Lincoln is somewhat of a task for me, whether it's a winter or summer's day because the heat will get me.

Allergies are another one of my pitfalls. I am severely allergic to dust mites. So much in fact that a proper reading couldn't be given because it was so high. This means that I find even household cleaning a chore and was even given a certificate by my dermatologist to say that I'm not allowed to do any household cleaning for 1 year. Jealous much? My asthma worsens and I come out in a rash, which then turns into eczema because I scratch it so much. It has also meant that I have had to reassess my career choice. My plan was to become a textile conservator, where I would clean and prevent long term damage to historical objects... Yes. You can see where this is going...

Cats, dogs and in fact any fur bearing animals are also out of bounds with my allergies. Annoyingly enough, I grew up with cats and looking back I did have a constant runny nose but that was all. Now, if I were to go to my Mum's house I would end up in A&E with an all-over body rash, an asthma attack and swollen eyes. It usually weeps too. Yum.

Patch testing also revealed an allergy to chromate but I don't appear to have had any problems with sitting on leather couches or wearing a leather jacket so I'm a bit skeptical. But it would make sense in terms of being a green dye within textiles, as I suffered A LOT when making a dark green dress for my Foundation Art year. I'm bloody proud of my efforts though!

Modelled by my lovely friend

Seborrheic dermatitis is another one. A lovely flakey one. And more recently I've developed hand eczema also known as dyshidrotic eczema. Apart from the soles of my feet, there is not one place that hasn't been affected by eczema. I also have Neurodermatitis in which I scratch all the time just because it has become a habit.

And as you can see from some of these conflicting conditions, it can make it hard to treat. I have found that steroid creams and slathering white soft paraffin all over is my best concoction to date. It REALLY helps me. Also sleep helps me too oddly enough. Even if it's just napping.

I hope this gives you all some more insight into some of what I go through. I could talk about it all day so I'll be sure to post about my coping mechanisms at a later date :)

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