What living with eczema is like

by Clara
(U.S.A.)

Enjoying myself in Japan - I was on oral steroids, hence the clear skin

Enjoying myself in Japan - I was on oral steroids, hence the clear skin

My Sensitive Skin Care has written many great tips about minimizing eczema, so I would like to write about the emotional side of it.


Living with eczema has many challenges. At the least, the constant itching and scratching can disrupt the daily routine. Although the level of severity can differ among individuals, there is no doubt that eczema can induce some serious physical, mental, and emotional problems.

The three biggest problems I have identified in myself, as someone with eczema since birth, are the lack of sleep, confidence, and support.

The lack of sleep is an extension of the physical aspect of eczema. Sleep is hard to get because at night, there is nothing fighting for my attention, so it is very difficult to not focus on my itchiness. This inevitably leads to scratching, commonly known as "the itch-scratch cycle." This can go on for hours into the night and by the time I finally do fall asleep, I only end up with 3-4 hours of sleep. This is not enough to function normally during the day, which causes stress.

While stress doesn't directly lead to my skin being itchy, I do have the tendency to scratch more. Because of my incessant scratching, my skin never seems to have a chance to heal. It is truly an endless cycle.

The lack of confidence comes from eczema on my face being more pronounced. I am certain many acne-prone teenagers would agree with me. I feel that our society gives us mixed messages about cultivating our "inner beauty" versus always having to look pretty and flawless, especially for women.

Having facial eczema poses limitations when it comes to what cosmetics I can use, or if I even want to wear makeup at all. While I don't mind not wearing makeup, I think there are many women with the same problem who are frustrated with their skin.

It's not just facial eczema that makes me self-conscious. When my arms are severely scratched up, I am afraid to wear short-sleeves. Although some would say, "Who cares, just go for it," I wonder how many would openly wear short-sleeves and skirts when their skin is all raw and scratched up.

The lack of support comes from people who don't really understand what eczema is about. I can't really blame the kids who used to tease me for always scratching myself, since kids tend to be ignorant. But it irritates me (no pun intended) when the adults reprimand me for scratching, usually by saying "Stop scratching!" or worse yet, "Stop itching," as if the latter is something I can help.

At the end of it all though, I do realize that I could have it a lot worse. I mean to neither trivialize the condition nor play victim by whining about how hard I have it. It is what it is, and the best I can do is stick to a routine that makes my skin healthier and less prone to itchiness, such as the one described on this website.

If anything, I feel that living with eczema has taught me not to judge people by their appearance.

Comments for What living with eczema is like

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 06, 2013
I know
by: Marie

Thankyou so much for making me feel like I'm not alone. I love nice clothes and can never wear them. I hate when people say to take off your jumper too. I can't swim, and I have a red rash on my upper lip that looks like a moustache. try coconut oil massage if your skin is not infected, and turmeric paste if it is infected.

May 25, 2012
..
by: Anonymous

I just want to say, thank you or posting this, i too have facial eczema, and have since birth.I'ts all over my body though so im constantly in full length tops and trousers :(.It also annoys me when people say "stop scratching then" when they have no idea how it feels.
My eczema also makes me feel isolated as people i know don't understand it, especially the emotional side.But ater seeing this i realise i am not totally alone. So thank you :)

Sep 20, 2011
Getting reprimanded
by: Anonymous

I know what you mean by adults scolding you. Sometimes I'll get another flare-up and my dad's girlfriend will be all like, "What are you doing to your skin?" as if I'm causing it. |: "Stop petting the dog," "Stop itching," "Stop scratching," it's gonna be there either way, stupid, and I'm not gonna stop loving my dog either way. |D She loves being ignorant though. She also tells me not to exercise on my period, she believes that if you sit at the table once everyone else has finished then you're gonna be a loner for the rest of your life (and told my brother this when he sat down at the table). I don't know if her ignorance is her own fault though, so I don't say anything. e__e; Pretty much everyone in my house downplays my eczema, except for her, who just makes it harder to deal with.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Eczema.