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"The eczema solution" - it worked for me!

(60 Posts)
jamaisjedors Mon 21-Nov-11 19:23:54

I have had atopic eczema since I was born, and have had all the food allergy blood tests and the sensitivity prick tests (no food allergies, allergic to every type of pollen and dander and dust mite there is).

I have been seeing a dermatologist for more than 10 years and had UV treatments; every cream you can think of; given up alcohol; tried doing lots of exercise; giving up exercise all together; giving up chocolate, spicy foods, red foods, foods with histamine in; food supplements (zinc, omega oils, evening primrose etc.), and had several series of cortisone injections, the works.

Nothing has shifted it and to be honest I never expected anything to either because it's "atopic" so not just dry skin or a temporary reaction to something and I have never ever been without it somewhere on my body, and lately it has been all over my face and neck causing me to look (and feel) sunburnt.

Recently I read on a forum about the book "The Eczema Solution" here and thought I would try it as its general premise (stop scratching and your skin will get better) coincided with what I had already noticed myself, namely that a LOT of my scratching was learnt behaviour, and a habit, just like smoking, or thumb-sucking.

The book is great - the negative reviews are right actually, the premise/programme is really simple, but if you have atopic eczema you will really recognise where the author is coming from (she is atopic) and you end up convinced by it, to the point where you can carry it out properly and make it work.

I went for 4 hypnotherapy sessions to help me break the scratching habit (which actually we broke in one, the others were to teach me self-hypnosis) and some cortisone injections (which I have had several times before in the past to no avail) and my skin is totally clear now for the first time since I can remember. (both of these things - "proper" use of cortisone initially to let the skin heal, and stress relief are recommended in the programme in the book.)

Anyway I am starting to sound evangelical, but I have my fingers crossed that this will continue (it's been about 6 weeks now) and already my skin is stronger and less sensitive and has no red or eczema patches.

The book doesn't rule out the possibility of flare-ups in the future, which seems feasible, but once your skin is stronger it should be easier to deal with them quickly and I'm hoping the self-hypnosis will avoid or limit the stress-induced flare-ups;

I will probably lose this mega-post now! grin

allhailtheaubergine Mon 21-Nov-11 19:27:35

I am happy for you that you found something that worked.

My son's eczema is controlled by a dairy free diet - but tests show him as only very mildly allergic to dairy. It was just luck that I chose to try eliminating dairy anyway despite the dr saying it would make no difference. It changed his life. It changed our whole family's life. Eczema is bloody miserable and I understand you feeling evangelical about whatever works for you.

jamaisjedors Mon 21-Nov-11 19:32:36

Thanks. I have heard a lot about dairy-free diets in relation to eczema but seeing as my food allergy tests all came back negative that is one thing I never tried. I'm glad it has helped for your son.

What pushed me to try to eliminate the scratching was watching my 4 year old DS tearing at his skin when he was very cross or frustrated - I KNEW he had learnt that from me so it guilted me into trying to elminate that part of it, which has turned out to be a HUGE thing!

jasminerice Tue 22-Nov-11 12:21:44

Jamais, so happy for you that you've found something that works for you. Does the hypnotherapy stop you feeling itchy? Or does it stop you from scratching if you feel itchy? I've had eczema for years like you, never been completely free of it and have tried everything under the sun mostly to no avail.

Mine is definately stress related. It's as if my emotions cannot be processed in the normal way by my brain and instead are released via my skin and scratching. I have noticed that scratching seems to literally provide a 'release' for pent up emotion.

Have you learnt any techniques for managing your emotions?

Sorry to ramble on, but it's kind of exciting for me to find somebody else with this horrible condition. (But very sorry you have it too, it's the bane of my life and has affected so many aspects of my life).

Might PM you if that's ok.

letsblowthistacostand Tue 22-Nov-11 19:49:34

What do you do when it really itches like fuck? (sorry) Sometimes mine itches like it's on fire, it's hard to describe but the only thing that makes it stop is scratching til it bleeds. I can ignore it up to a certain point but...

pointydog Tue 22-Nov-11 19:55:09

It is another option, not the solution.

dd2 has had v bad eczema since she was a baby and it has never itched her. No itch. Almost unheard of.

4madboys Tue 22-Nov-11 20:03:14

just marking my place, i am a long term eczema sufferer and mine is really bad at the moment, patches on my arms that look like i have been burnt/scolded as they are itchy and i have scratched/picked at it so much sad

its the itching that is the problem and its such a vicious circle, i shall have a look at the book as my consultant is at the point of wanting me to take meds that are usually used for transplant patients to suppress the immune system so that i dont react so much (dust, pollen, pet hair etc) all the usual triggers that are almost impossible to avoid.

jamaisjedors Tue 22-Nov-11 20:03:58

Hi there. Yes, that's exactly how I feel about my eczema, and my dermatologist recognises this too, he has said to me in the past, when I have called him in an emergency with a huge flare-up, "Who's been getting on your nerves?"

I am happy for you to PM or carry on on the thread - I really think that for the (huge) part of eczema which is linked to emotions, hypnotherapy is really useful.

It only took one session for me to break the scratching habit, it doesn't really stop the itching so much (although she did also work with "healing imagery" and the image of spreading a cooling and healing cream all over my skin), but it gave me the willpower and confidence to stop.

I also felt a lot calmer, which in itself stopped the itching.

Parallel to that, reading the book "The eczema solution" totally convinced that it was "worth" stopping scratching, which might sound strange, but to be honest when you've always had eczema you almost feel that it makes no difference if you scratch or not because your skin is so ugly and horrible and damaged that it will never get better anyway.

Reading the book convinced me that it was actually possible for someone like me to get rid of it apart from an occasional flare-up, and not live with the "chronic eczema" ie the patches that have been there for ever and never seem to go away.

The other 2 sessions I had with the hypnotherapist were to teach me "EFT" which is a way of releasing your emotions (presumably rather than releasing them through your skin) to deal with the pent up emotion , and self-hypnosis which is to be used 2-3 times weekly as a general "stress-buster".

Ask away if you have any questions.

jamaisjedors Tue 22-Nov-11 20:15:30

That's what I looked like 4madboys. My face was like I was burnt - someone asked me if I'd been skiing last year because it was red and swollen and burnt, and my hands were just permanantly red and raw and oozy to the point where sometimes it hurt to drive (changing gear/steering etc.)

letsblowthis - I absolutely know that feeling. I have often ripped bits of myself or even scalded them under the hot tap to alleviate it.

Actually that's how I came to see the hypnotherapist, because I was following the "programme" in the eczema solution and trying NOT to itch but I sometimes felt that it was just so unbearable NOT to touch it that it made me flare up even worse iyswim?

In the book you learn techniques to help you stop itching but I felt I needed some extra help with that and that's what the hynotherapy did for me. I also quickly learnt (or my body learnt) that actually the itch DOES pass, which it never felt like it would in the past, and for the first couple of weeks I had itches almost stabbing at me all over my body, but gradually I found it easier and easier to ignore them, and they went away more and more quickly.

pointydog - I am not saying its the solution at all, that's just the name of the book, hence the inverted commas/speech marks around the title. I totally get that there are many many types of eczema.

I was also born with it, so obviously it originally didn't come about from me scraching, I literally came out of my mother's stomach and she cried because I had eczema which her brother had been totally handicapped by as a child.

The book is not saying that. But it IS saying that a huge part of adult "chronic" persistant eczema is perpetuated by scratching, which I think lots of atopic adults recognise. They also realise that there will always be flare-ups, but by giving your skin a chance to heal and tackling those flare-ups quickly and efficiently and not letting them turn into chronic eczema, your skin will gradually get stronger and the flare-ups become less common.

4madboys Tue 22-Nov-11 20:33:13

i have had it since birth as well!

and yep hot water, itching with a comb etc it drives me mad, and people say 'dont itch it' when they dont ahve eczema themselves, like they have any idea how much it itches and how i woudl happily take sandpaper to my skin at times and yes no point not doing so because it always looks dry adn red and irritable and angry!

mine got worse with my pregnancies, with ds2 i literally had a total allergic reaction to being pregnant for the first three months i was covered, bright red, angry skin sad there have been times when i havent wanted to get out of bed or leave the house as its been so bad.

now i just get on with it, i have 5 kids what else can i do?! but its my face that gets red and angry looking, very blotchy or else my whole face just lookes red and 'puffy' my hands are also raw, it hurts to wash as they sting, and at times my fingers/knuckels get so dry and cracked that it hurts to bend my fingers, ihave had UV treatment for my hands and arms but it didnt help/

my hands are sore now and i kwow it will only get worse with the cold weather, my arms are sore and i even get eczema on my feet! at the moment my legs arent too bad but my chest/back/stomach are prone to flare ups, but generally they just get dry and rashy which i can cope wiht.

its the bright red angry, weepy skin that is also dry and itchy on my arms and hands and neck etc that is the problem.

i find it affects my sleep as i get so itchy at night that i toss and turn and cant sleep, sounds familiar?

and yes stress can affect mine as well.

that and pets and i have some charming inlaws who when they visit insist on bring their dog! that i am ALLERGIC to and once it triggers my eczema i am screwed fora good month or two. but the inlaw thinks allergies are a 'trendy fad... and that i should take a tablet to stop the reaction...' cos its that simple.

i regularly take antihistimens, up to 3 times a day depending on the time of year and how itchy my skin is and moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. plus eumovate cream and other steroids to help keep it at bay and then stronger treatments from the hospital.

sorry am going on a bit. shall def look up the book and it would be great if you continued to tell us how you are getting on smile

*goes of to amazon to look for book...

4madboys Tue 22-Nov-11 20:33:35

obviously i mean OFF

tardisjumper Tue 22-Nov-11 20:39:41

I started trying to give up scratching a few days ago but it is soo hard. I have been waking up at night with the itching which I don't normally do since I stopped scratching.

I also find scratching is a stress release. Even if I am not stressed I feel so relaxed when I do it. What is this book people are speaking of?

jamaisjedors Tue 22-Nov-11 20:59:13

I linked to it in my first post tardis - it's called the eczema solution. I ordered it second-hand - don't forget to buy a tally counter to go with it. (also on amazon).

I totally agree about the scratching as a stress relief. I noticed when doing "The Eczema Solution" (book) programme, the first week you just tally when you scratch.

I scratched like mad in my office after classes, and on the sofa or in bed in the evenings I think when the stress has built up and you need to get it out. My hypnotherapist compared this to what smokers do or thumbsuckers, which is why it IS possible to kick that habit.

btw tardis that also happened to me when I tried to stop scratching, I literally didn't sleep all night because of battling not to scratch.

This is when I decided to see a hypnotherapist.

jamaisjedors Tue 22-Nov-11 21:02:07

4madboys - all that is SO familiar.

I am usually on anti-histamines all year round and can take 2 different ones when it's at its worst.

Last month I was moisturising every HOUR at work just to stop my whole face flaking off.

Now I just do it morning and night but I am being very vigilant with my hands and religiously moisturing them with dermaguard or whatever I have to hand - I have creams by each sink in the house and some at work in my cupboard.

jasminerice Wed 23-Nov-11 11:25:48

I can relate to not wanting to leave the house because of the eczema on my face. But I had to because of the DC's. It was a total nightmare, am sure it played a big part in leading to my complete mental breakdown last year.

I also find I itch most at night and think it is due to the build up of unprocessed emotions during the day. But I can't seem to learn how to process my emotions as and when they arise. I am really curious as to how hypnotherapy can help with this. It's worth a try.

I'd like to recommend a book I've found very useful and enlightening wrt the emotional trigger aspect. It's by an american psychodermatologist called Dr Ted Grossbart, titled 'Skin Deep'. Reading that book, along with Toxic Parents, was for me, a lightbulb moment. I realised my huge flare up after having DC's was due to a huge suitcase of tightly packed emotions from childhood being flung open and all trying to get out at once.

jasminerice Wed 23-Nov-11 11:33:20

I'm also on anti histamines all year round. Jamais, I didn't know you could take more than one at a time, which ones do you take? I feel I need something stronger than loratadine which is what I take at the moment.

I sometimes go to an eczema support group and a lady there is on cyclosporin (sp?) which she says is the only thing that works having also tried everything else. I would be very worried about suppressing my immune system but she's been on it for a few years and doesn't seem to be having any problems. Apart from the fact that all her hair has fallen out, but I think that is unrelated to the drug/eczema.

jamaisjedors Wed 23-Nov-11 19:53:58

Hi again,
The dermatologist told me I could take more than one a day for short periods if in a bad environment, also in the summer he prescribed me two different types so I could take one in the morning and one at night - they were different molecules apparantly.

The hypnotherapy kind of helps you gain confidence in yourself - well it did for me - and she working on "calming my nerves" so I haven't felt extremely emotional since then really.

The self-hypnosis reinforces this (you can use it to work on anything you like, ie visualising yourself as calmer in day to day situations - it seems to be working for me!).

She also taught me eft which is technique for releasing excess emotion, but to be honest I haven't felt I have needed it yet but I can see it being really useful for those "AAAAAAAGGGGHHH" moments when I have felt overcome by emotion in the past and it has come out through my skin.

jamaisjedors Wed 23-Nov-11 19:55:12

for anti-histamines, I was on something called Kestinlyo for a while and now he has prescribed me cetirizine which I think is like Zyrtec, I had Aerius for a while too.

dubhsge Wed 23-Nov-11 20:00:55

I use nettle soap and find that it works really well!
a wee article on nettles and their properties.
I bought nettle soap on etsy - a vegetable soap base and I have found that it stops the itching and seems to help break the vicious circle -

jamaisjedors Thu 24-Nov-11 09:41:23

YEs to not wanting to leave the house. Unfortunately I teach so that is not an option but I feel hideously self conscious about it, on my face, and especially my hands when I go round and look at students work. I have cancelled social occasions though because of my face.

Glad to hear the nettle soap works for you dubhsge, I was at the stage where nothing seemed to make any difference and my skin would just flare-up anyway and the habit of scratching was so ingrained that I didn't even know whether I was itchy or not, in fact I hardly knew whether I was scratching or not.

jasminerice Thu 24-Nov-11 10:35:48

Yes, I avoided many social events, weddings, parties, that I would have loved to have attended, because my face and hands were so bad. I would get kids staring at me on the school run, people giving me second looks on the street. I'm not able to work at the moment due to my eczema, I just cannot cope with the stares and strange looks any longer, after having put up with it for years and years.

As well as the stares, I find it really upsetting to see most other women I meet who have lovely normal, smooth, unblemished skin. It's so not fair. Just stepping outside my house is an ordeal for me. I don't wish this on anyone else, I just wish I didn't have it.

jasminerice Thu 24-Nov-11 10:38:27

Jamais, I am in awe of you being able to do such a 'public' job with this condition. I couldn't do it. I hide at home as much as possible. Only go out if I really have to.

jamaisjedors Thu 24-Nov-11 13:37:26

That's awful Jasmine. When I started teaching it was mostly on my hands and on more "hidden" parts of my body, like my arms, but I was really ashamed of it and wore long-sleeved tops all the time.

Recently it's been on my face which is hideous, and my neck, which often looks like the neck of an eighty-year old so I have bought lots of scarves (but they have to be silk otherwise they irritate me).

I am hoping to be able to wear necklaces again soon because I haven't been able to for about 3 years now because they irritated my neck (not an allergy, just sensitivity).

jasminerice Thu 24-Nov-11 17:39:46

Yes, it's hideous when it's on my face. The worst thing is that I have had many years when I've been fairly free of it and especially a completely clear face. So it was awful for me when it flared up really badly on my face after DD was born.

And yes to the 80 year old neck, and in my case, face and hands too. I never look in the mirror. Don't have mirrors in the house.

Tbh the last few years have been the absolute worst. I'm sure that my severe depression was a lot to do with my skin, it wasn't purely PND.

I also have something else alongside the eczema called lichenification. When the skin gets really rough and thickened (sorry tmi) due to scratching. I have found that even when a flare up has subsided and the redness has gone, my skin is very dry and lined and thickened. It's so so horrible and makes me feel so horrible and ugly and unattractive.

And I'm sure I've overused the steroid creams and caused damage due to that.

I'm glad you started this thread, I've never really talked about any of this before and not to people who will have some real understanding about how this condition affects me so much.

jamaisjedors Thu 24-Nov-11 19:15:41

God yes, mirrors. At work there are mirrors in the toilets, I try to use the "gent's" when there's no-one around because there are no mirrors over the sinks in there.

I have read about lichenification and it sounds really hard to deal with.

Actually one of the things in the "Eczema Solution" book that really made sense to me too was that even when the flare-up has subsided and the surface eczema healed, we tend to stop using the steriods then (because we are really worried about over-use of steriods) and then actually the skin hasn't healed underneath and remains sensitive and flares-up at the slightest thing.

She recommends (based on the dermatologist's programme at a hospital in London) using the steriods for LONGER initially, which ultimately cuts down long-term on the usage because your skin heals properly.

I really can't recommend the book enough -if you have found it therapeutic talking on her about it, you will totally "get" what she says in the book, because she was "like us" and has actually managed to get eczema-free which I honestly believed was impossible.

So sorry to hear about your depression.

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