A Day in the Life With Eczema

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Red bumps, flaky skin, and a constant struggle not to scratch and rip my skin. When my eczema flares up, it impacts everything-- my outfit, my daily activities, and my mood. But if I can manage my triggers and symptoms, my day looks like you might imagine-- waking up on a warm Saturday morning. There are a lot of ways to treat eczema, but I found what works for me.

I start my day with a shower. Long, hot showers can sometimes dry out my skin, so I choose a warm shower with a little bit of cold water at the end, which relieves itching and redness. I use unscented moisturizers because fragrances can trigger eczema flare-ups. My doctor also gave me a skin steroid. If I have a flare-up, I use that as prescribed after moisturizing.

Tight clothes absorb the lotion instead of your skin, so it's important to wear loose clothes after moisturizing. That's why I stay in my robe for a while after moisturizing. It allows the lotion to really soak into my skin. While we hydrate our skin from the outside in, let's also hydrate from the inside out. Drinking water is a huge part of having healthy skin and avoiding flare-ups.

[LIGHT MUSIC] I learned, especially as a single mom, how important it is that I find little ways to take care of myself. One of my favorite ways to do that is by wearing makeup and clothes that make me feel confident every day. When I first started experimenting with makeup, I found I needed to be really careful what products I use. Most traditional cosmetics are loaded with fragrances, glitter, and preservatives, which really irritate my skin and often leave painful, red eczema patches behind.

I always start my makeup routine by creating a barrier between my skin and the makeup. I use either Vaseline or a hypoallergenic serum. I follow that up with other skin-friendly products. I always apply my makeup as gently as possible to avoid unnecessary friction on my skin.

If I'm in the middle of a flare-up, I focus on moisturizing that area, but otherwise avoid putting makeup on it to let it heal. That's my routine. Eczema or not, here I come, full of confidence and ready to take on the day.

[INSPIRING MUSIC] As his mom, it's my job to make sure he's as comfortable as possible. That's why I tried to prevent and plan for his eczema flare-ups before they happen. Overheating can trigger a flare-up, so I always put him in loose-fitting layers made from breathable materials. Eczema flares are itchy and uncomfortable, but scratching can damage the skin. So I have to make sure his nails stay short.

Sometimes, when his flare-ups get bad, I'll put him to bed wearing gloves to keep him from scratching. Sugary snacks, citrus, and dairy can all irritate eczema and lead to flare-ups. I make sure he eats balanced meals full of inflammation-fighting foods. We also work with his pediatrician to identify any potential allergies. People with eczema are more prone to food sensitivities, which could lead to worse flare-ups.

We all know the benefits of exercise for our physical and mental health, but when you have eczema, like me, exercising can be stressful and may even make eczema worse. Luckily, I have a few tips that help me avoid itchy flare-ups. I wear light, breathable fabrics while I'm exercising. Even moisture-wicking fabrics can rub and irritate my skin.

Intense workouts raise your body temperature, which can bring on painful eczema flares. Taking breaks, working out in cooler areas, and swapping HIIT for low-impact exercises leave me with happier skin. The salt and acid in sweat can irritate and stink skin, so I always make sure to change out of sweaty clothes, rinse off, and remoisturize right after I work out. I used to think I couldn't exercise without irritating my eczema, but now I don't have to let it stop me.

On hot summer days, we love spending time at the pool but need to take precautions to keep the sun and chemicals from triggering an eczema flare-up. Eczema flares can be caused by overheating and are made worse with sunburn, so we try to stay out of the sun, bring an umbrella for shade, and wear sunscreen suitable for sensitive skin. It's important to reapply after swimming, and as often as recommended on the label to be sure your skin is protected.

When toweling off, make sure there's no debris in your towel, and be sure to pat your skin dry. Don't rub it. Gentle does it. After spending time in the water, it's important to immediately rinse off. Then you can reapply moisturizing cream and follow your typical skin-care routine.

[GENTLE MUSIC] Allergies are common for people with eczema, so I took my son to his pediatrician to test for common eczema triggers so we'd know what to avoid. We also try to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. We avoid sugar and eat a lot of vegetables and grass-fed proteins. I'm also careful with the cleaning supplies and soaps we use. Chemicals irritate the skin, so we avoid air fresheners, perfumes, and other products made with artificial fragrances.

Dating as a single mom is never easy, but worrying about what my date will think about my eczema adds even another layer of complication to things.

[LIGHT ACOUSTIC MUSIC] Eczema is a skin condition characterized by itchy red patches. But did you know that 80% of adults with eczema also complained of sleep trouble? Since I'm on the go all day long, I can't let eczema flare-ups and sleepless nights slow me down. Before bed, I apply unscented cream. But if I wake up at night, I often put on more to relieve the itching. I always sleep with clean cotton or linen sheets that are easy to wash. I avoid wool blankets and down pillows because both are common irritants for eczema.

If I'm having trouble sleeping, I lower the temperature in my room. The cool room helps manage my eczema and keeps me from itching.

[INSPIRING MUSIC] I still get occasional eczema flare-ups but not nearly as often as I used to. Learning more about my eczema and how to treat it empowers me to live more fully and to show up in new ways for my son. I feel like I have my life back.