Wednesday, 1 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | Living with a skin condition (My Experience, Tips & Tricks)

Hello my Leaves, how are you today?

Welcome to the first post of October Soul, Mind & Body! Today I wanted to focus on your body (oh aye) and skin imperfections. It is highly unlikely that your skin is completely flawless and it doesn't mean that these imperfections detract from your perceived beauty. I am a strong believer of inner beauty being reflected as a beauty 'glow'.

Personally, I have Eczema that has more recently become Dermatitis. I wanted to share my experiences with you today so that you realise that, no matter what the condition, you shouldn't let your mood or confidence be dampened. Every imperfection is what makes you unique and it's your own self-confidence that is more visible to yourself and others.

When I was younger my eczema was a lot more sensitive than it is today. I was the one who was allergic to the products that are supposed to help, not hinder, the condition (E45, I'm looking at you). My mum had the joy of trying to make a balanced diet for a toddler who was allergic to pretty much anything that wasn't 'dry'. This meant that things such as crisps, tomatoes and eggs were out from an early age. On top of that I was also allergic to dander (skin flakes, ew) which is found on animals. Luckily for me, my mum chose to re-home the cat and dog instead of me!

Going through school was another challenge. On top of food and animal allergies, I discovered that I also reacted to dry grass (no more playing on the school field in summer for me) and carpet cleaner (it sounds strange to highlight but imagine having to sit on a chair whilst all your classmates played on the carpet!).

Once I'd reached High School I'd begun to learn a few little cheats so that I could enjoy food that I normally couldn't eat, simply because I couldn't touch it. Disposable gloves became my friend (I'm allergic to the ones powdered with cornflour...) and I quickly learnt that I could bake as long as I didn't crack the eggs and make contact with the innards. For crisps, I could pour them out onto a kitchen roll and that would absorb a lot of the grease and also remove the need to cover my hand by not needing to reach into a bag.

One thing that is required (read: not negotiable) when learning to live in some form of harmony with a skin condition is PATIENCE! Every time I introduce something to my diet and lifestyle I have to do it a little at a time. It's much easier to monitor if you only have one variable! Also, make sure you're up to date on any ingredient changes, one day I could use fabric softener and by the next purchase I couldn't :(. I've been able to slowly reintroduce things into my life but I just have to be careful how much I use them.

Not everything can be gotten around however, and there are still lots of things that I want to have but can't without being head to foot in eczema again. What I would give for a day that I could wear and remove make up and have a bubble bath and face masks without having to look at ingredients and test them bit by bit to see if there's any reaction!

I have gradually built up a little bundle of things over time that help me live a fairly uncomplicated life and I want to wrap up this post by sharing them with you.

Layers are your best friend. Especially with eczema I find that I have fewer problems in season changes as long as I have layers to help regulate the temperature change. I try to avoid using air conditioning and heating as that aggravates my skin a lot more than adding or removing a layer does. If I know I'm going to be out at night or early morning I ensure I have some cotton-lined gloves so my hands don't feel the temperature changes as much. It may make me look silly sometimes, but at least I can flex my fingers and joints without any eczema pain!

By monitoring what makes me stress I can take precautionary steps for my eczema. If I know I have an event approaching that will make me stressed I put some cream on at night a few days before the event, so that when my eczema flares, there isn't as much damage to repair. I also try visualising techniques to reduce the feeling of stress in the first place but I feel that you will always have at least some stress in your life so don't aim to completely eliminate it!

I can always tell from my skin when I've had a streak of unhealthy days! Instead of breaking out in spots like some people, my eczema will flare and irritate. I try my best to keep hydrated and eat lots of vegetables to give my skin and immune system a helping hand.

If I use something too often, I will eventually react. I currently use doublebase moisturiser (available over the counter), cutiyate cream (non-steroid, prescribed) and I'm testing Simple's Bath cream. So far there hasn't been a reaction but these have been days where I'm behaving both food and stress wise :).

I've craved a bath with bubbles for so many years,
here's hoping that I don't react!
I'm not saying that any of the products will work for you if you have a skin condition. Everyone's skin is different! I hope this post hasn't come across as demonising ailments but that, instead, it has helped to reassure you that there are things you can do to feel human and that you just need a little a lot of patience and perseverance.

If you have any hints and tips or products that you use then please let me know in the comments or twitter (@chezautumn) and I can give them a go!

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x

I apologise for the length of this post! I got a tad carried away ^^