an ‘eczemanation’ of body-being & healing

 Monday, November 26, 2018 @ 18:32 

disclaimer: i am not a doctor, dermatologist, or skin-care specialist. the contents and information within this post should neither be construed as medical advice, nor are they a substitute for medical care or treatment. what has worked for me, will not necessarily work for you. this is also, not a sponsored post. many of the remedies i mention cost between S$15-$50 (which i find very expensive).

i tried itemising key events that happened in the last eight months to write about, but the task proved cumbersome. in my previous entry, i wrote about how i had grown up with eczema1, how it has recently come back in full force (at least since my worst experience with it, which was in 2009 or 2010). i might have still been in university. i don’t remember the specific trigger2, but my eczema became so unmanageable that i found myself at a dermatologist’s office and getting steroid injections jabbed onto each patch of inflamed skin. i shudder from the recollection, because i’m not a big fan of injections. i remember clutching onto my mom and my then-boyfriend’s hands as the needle poked through the ten or twenty welts on my neck.

london-cat

happy and healing. august, 2018.

i vowed to avoid another bad flare up (and by extension, injections), so in spite of some difficulty, i acquired the habit of having lotions or creams within reach to slather onto the irritated parts of my skin, instead of intensely digging at them. i also steered clear from steroid creams (i’ve always been wary of synthetic medicine). my skin was radiant and healthy again for such a long time that i almost forgot that eczema and the one i suffer from in particular, is a lifetime disease with no known cure.

however, sometime in january this year, that nagging irritation bubbled from my bones and made a comeback. it’s very easy for outsiders to dismiss the futility of someone with eczema to refrain from touching our skin, but you cannot begin to imagine how the compulsion hijacks your brain: the animal takes over. this recent bout was so bad, my nails dug so deeply into my flesh, that at some point it looked like i could have been attacked by a small, but vicious, feline.

i’m currently reading, lionel shriver’s ‘we need to talk about kevin’ and coincidentally, there’s a part where the protagonist, eva khatchadourian writes to her husband about their son’s classmate, a girl, who suffers from eczema:

as far as i could tell, she had clawed herself open without any help. it itched and she’d given in, and i dare say that finally scraping her fingernails into that hideous red crust must have felt delicious. i even sensed a trace of vengefulness in the extent in the damage, or perhaps a misguided medical conviction that with sufficiently surgical application she might exfoliate the scaly bane of her existence once and for all.

having made meditation a part of my life since 2014, it’s contributed so much to my overall wellness. it taught me to be mindful of every tiny discomfort i feel within my body, including itchiness. i’ve learned to locate it and let it pass. i’ve also encountered many useful tips over the years that have helped.

the thing is, you also need to make time and space for healing. i had been really close to “immaculate” skin again in may, but because i’d been traveling and had started to feel increasing amounts of stress at work, it hadn’t felt like i was in the physical or mental space for recovery. something had to give and i decided what that was. i finally left my job that i enjoyed (with no plan), because i realised that i had allowed it to wear me down to the point of mental and physical exhaustion.

at this moment, the worst of the rash, is a patch on the left side of my neck, right beneath my ear:

if i were still my teenage self, i’d be hiding myself in scarves or oversized hoodies (yes — even in this weather), but i’m a thirty-year old who could care less: i wear garments that expose my neck so that anything i’ve slathered on it can ‘breathe’. it is what it is. to moisturise the patch, i alternate between argan oil, natural baby lotions and this life-saving balm made out of kombucha that i recently discovered. here are some of the creams in my collection (i feel like the little mermaid’s ariel, writing that):

2018-11-26 02.10.13

from left to right and top to bottom: Suu Balm Kids Moisturiser, Physiogel‘s Relief Cream, DermAid, Rosken’s Sensitive Skin Cream, SkinPure‘s Organic Wonder Cream, E45 Cream, Craft & Culture’s Kombucha Balm, Sudocrem, Cherub Rubs’ Skin Soothe, Cherub Rubs‘ Skin Balm, Human + Kind‘s Family Remedy Cream and Ania‘s Pure Argan Oil.

i have one week left till my new job, and aside from meditating, sleeping and resting, the bulk of energy and time i have, i have chosen to spend it devouring as many books, television shows and films that i can. it’s been a lovely staycation, spent mostly in yishun.

the lessons i’ve learned from all this is:

i.   nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is worth more than your physical or mental health.
ii.   an unshakeable faith or trust in the universe goes hand in hand with trust in yourself.
iii.   if all the creams in the world aren’t helping your skin anymore, it’s probably time to try something new that you’d been reluctant to do: that plant-based / eczema diet, perhaps?3
iv.   sometimes, it may seem impossible to make difficult life choices, but ultimately, when you find yourself exhausted or in a negative feedback loop, take a moment to acknowledge it, accept it and move forward — you will thank yourself soon enough.


  1. atopic dermatitis to be exact, and also keratosis pilaris

  2. read Top 10 Eczema Triggers 

  3. although, i’m aware that there has been little research done on elimination diets in adults. 

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