12 Feb 2013

GUEST POST: Living With Eczema: Part 2

The thing that people don't seem to realise with eczema is that it really can be so severe that it is classed as a disability.

In my individual case, my skin gets so sore and weepy that I can't put clothing on because it just makes it all the more worse, in both the sense of heat, and also because it irritates and dries out my skin further. When the skin weeps it often dries with fibres stuck inside it, which is not exactly helpful to the wounds to have a foreign body lodged within them. So I find my best way to deal with a bad flare is to just spend the day being naked. This itself causes a whole array of problems with health and safety and the fact that I cannot leave the house, or generally carry out day-to-day activities. Walking about can also be difficult if it is bad on the backs of my knees and bending down and such is even worse.

It isn't just because of the fact that I need to remain naked that it causes problems. When I am in such a bad state (you must have seen videos of little children on Youtube crying because of the itching and pain) I am going through the exact same thing. I am in torment because of the itching and pain as at the time there is just no escape, once it has you in its grips, it has you good. It means I am unable to summon the will or the physical ability to do anything because it has such a hold over me. Now for many people who simply say, just don't scratch, or whatever... it just isn't that simple at all.

From what I can assume, and from how others have described how they think it is, a lot of people have the belief that it must be similar to a rash, or insect bite where you can't stop scratching it. In a way yes, it is like this, but at the same time it's so much more complex. Firstly, the itch isn't confined to just one area, it spreads like wildfire all over your body. Secondly, their scratching usually won't cause deep gouges, scratch marks, weeping skin or scabs; it will just remain as a red rash.

The other thing people, friends, acquaintances, even close friends, do not realise is how long it will actually take for me to get up and ready. I know I touched on this briefly in Part 1 but I didn't go into its full extent as much as I intended to. A day where I know I will have work, for example a 5pm-9pm shift, will have me waking up at around 8am, showering and spending the entire day slathering myself in moisturiser just so I know I can be comfortable in my clothing. That is an entire day completely wasted because of my extremely necessary routines which is incredibly scary to think about.

Coming home from work is no different. As soon as I walk through the door I'm in the shower, spending a large amount of time just laying in the bath tub trying to relax myself. I then cover myself in moisturiser for the rest of the evening and turn in for bed. The next day is either usually spent carrying out the exact same routine, or as a recovery day, where I will spend the day trying to preen my skin to a comfortable state for work the following day.

It ain't a good way to live, but it's how I have to live unfortunately. The days where I have to quickly carry out my routine are the days where I definitely pay for it later on. I generally end up spending days and days trying to recover again.

So there you have it. Those who don't have eczema or a chronic illness may consider yourselves so lucky that you are able to work a full time job and balance your busy social and family life. I know that I took it all for granted at the times when I was well enough.


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