Understanding eczema from a sufferer
For many Eczema sufferers out there, they have to endure tremendous pressure from outsiders look. “I have to ignore the looks from strangers and even have to withstand direct questions from uncle and aunties in polyclinics”, said one Eczema Sufferer.
Eczema is the top skin condition seen at the National Skin Centre. In 2017, it saw more than 18,000 cases.
It is estimated that about one in 10 adults in Singapore suffer from atopic dermatitis. In up to a quarter of the cases, the adults have a moderate-to-severe form of the condition, which severely impacts their quality of life.
This number also means that a majority of Eczema cases went undetected and this number is growing every year.
Eczema is not contagious however anyone with or without a family history of Eczema can develop it anytime in their lifetime, largely due to stress in their adult life. While genes play a role in the development of this chronic inflammatory skin disease, external factors as environment, food, pollution, chemical irritants, allergens such as house dust mites may trigger symptoms in people predisposed to the disease. However one should take note that mental stress and mental health play a big part in triggering the symptoms or making the condition worse.
It can be very difficult to find out your triggers as there are too many factors however one of the main environmental triggers is Singapore’s hot and humid weather that aggravates the Eczema.
A study here published in the British Journal of Dermatology last year showed patients reporting that hot weather, exposure to a dusty environment, and physical exercise are the major reasons for flare-ups.
Any drastic change in the temperature can also trigger a flare-up so don’t be too happy when Singapore’s temperature drop. It can be a season for flare-ups.
The key to combating Eczema is to understand it and most importantly understand your own skin together with your immune system. Most of the time, if you are born with Eczema, you need to look at a variety of factors that may have contributed to your flare-ups such as a dirty washing machine, dust mites, and food.
My personal major allergic attacks are dust, nuts and dairy products. I did not know what caused those flare-ups until I made an elimination from my food intake. I noticed dairy products triggers me largely and caused stomach upsets with a bloated stomach most of the time. Once i eliminate dairy from my food intake, my Eczema heals up faster and I did not have any flare-ups. It is not easy, in fact, it is a pretty hard hit on my lifestyle as this also means no more milk tea and no more coffee latte.
What I also found out is that you may not be allergic to a certain food but you may be non-tolerant to a certain food such as peanut. I can still have a little peanut and have no flare-ups.
Once you know what you are allergic to, you are one step closer to understanding your body. Once you are in control, you are one step closer to a more complete recovery and one step away from steroids.
There are little reasons to give in to steroids if you understand your body a little better and reduce unnecessary flare-ups. There are risks associated with long term or inappropriate use of steroidal medication. Eczema is basically inflammation of the skin however they come and go. If you understand your condition better and eliminate allergens, you can be in control. However, once you become old friends with steroids in any form, you will be much more busy with Eczema and Topical Steroid Withdrawal that is 100 times worst than Eczema.
So friends, if you are just having Eczema, it is not the end of the world, many people got it and its not something to be ashamed of. Most of them outgrow it while some have occasional flare-ups but its not something that should affect your life.
For friends with TSW, I am sorry you are in this stage but please do not give up. The journey to recovery is slow and painful however every minute spent with TSW is another minute nearer to better skin. TSW will blow over and every flare-up recovery without steroids will be less serious than the previous.
Most importantly, remember not to neglect the 4 pillars of Eczema treatment.
- Repair and moisturise
- Control itch
- Avoid Triggers
- Heal the skin naturally
You can achieve a state of well-being and be functional as long as you stick to this 4 "mantra". Good luck and be safe!