I was very cynical on my first visit to his clinic expecting him to recoil from the severity of my condition. He looked at my sad tragic state and without hesitation told me that he would reduce the red inflammation to a mild pink within 14 days and then eradicate the entire thing within 6 weeks using only natural products. I burst into a flood of tears – it felt like I was being offered a miracle
My Skin Story—Eczema
As far back as my memories of primary school I recall noticing with embarrassment the backs of my hands as they rested on my desk – all raw and weeping from scratching. I remember my arms and knee joints had itchy eczema patches coming and going constantly. Whilst still in primary school mum took me to a dermatologist who prescribed cortisone cream (called ‘Betnovate’) and sure enough this worked like magic to relieve most of the symptoms of eczema. So began a long relationship with cortisone ointments that continued well into my adulthood.
At high school I remember always having a tube of ‘Betnovate’ on hand and it must have been very effective as I could wear bathing suits and shorts and sunbaked – tanning like other teenage girls. Mum tried at various intervals to take me to the dermatologist in case there’d been any breakthroughs in the treatment of eczema only to be told that cortisone cream was the only effective way of controlling it.
When a young adult at university I first heard about alternative medicines and the warnings about over use of cortisone and its potential side effects. I visited a naturopath and followed his advice about various diets that excluded certain food groups. This had no effect whatsoever on my eczema and the frequency of its outbreaks.
As I began working life in my 20’s I tried every manner of natural cream or internal supplement that was ever suggested to ease it. I visited dermatologists through the years on an eternal quest for a cure or – at least – a natural treatment. Occasionally a dermatologist with a holistic outlook would make a very plausible analysis of the reasons for my condition and at one stage I underwent extensive allergy testing “scratch tests”. However, these just showed me as allergic to almost everything, which made my eczema feel even more entrenched as being the result of severe over-sensitivity to my environment. Similarly, suggestions linking it to stress gave me no relief as I never felt particularly stressed in the way I understood the term.
As I reached my late 20’s itching and scratching were just an accepted part of life for me – my husband recalls that on our first date I was putting cortisone cream on my legs before we went out. Into my 30’s he recalls I was “always scratching somewhere”. He tried to help by reminding me not to scratch when I was doing so unconsciously. By now my skin was noticeably dry – my lips seemed to be constantly flaking and peeling. My flight attendant job in a dehydrating atmosphere certainly added to this condition. My hands were prematurely wrinkled – the fingers always chequered with eczema patches, as were my wrists. The strain of performing at work under almost constant discomfort was something I just accepted as my lot.
At age 29 I first experienced a serious blow out in my condition after sunburn on my face whilst ski-ing. For this I was diagnosed a course of prednisolone – oral cortisone tablets. These effectively relieved my inflamed swollen face and infected eyes. From this time on any slight sunburn would trigger eczema.
Through my 30’s I avoided sun exposure by covering up or using high spectrum sunscreen when my skin had to be exposed. Although I didn’t focus on it, my eczema was occurring more often and with more severity. I was on a permanent ‘bulk prescription’ for ‘Elocon’ cream, which I was now also using regularly on my face even though I was seriously recommended against doing so. The alternate would have been frequent periods of sick leave and disablement that was just not practicable. At age 39 after a particularly intense bout of scratching my arm immediately came out in a deep red welt that scared me. This was explained to me by the doctor as a ‘thinning of the skin – even the skin of my veins and arteries’. The medical practitioners couldn’t say if the eczema or the cortisone cream was responsible for this bleeding under the skin. By now my skin looked ‘thin’ – it was dry and papery. My work stockings would always come off with a sprinkle of skin flakes (as would my skin upon rubbing if I didn’t use layers of moisturiser).
In my 40’s I reduced my flying to part-time but took up intensive home renovations in the spare time I now had which exposed me to chemicals and toxic dust. I then found I needed to sleep in a coating of cortisone cream after every flying duty to recover from extensive eczema on my torso, arms and legs. By age 46 I found the extent of the eczema (especially when also on my face) was often too extreme for cortisone cream to work promptly. I started using Prednisolone tablets in the most minimum way I could to control it.
At the age of 46- after horse riding with my sister- her shocked reaction to the purple bruising along my calves (from the mere pressure of the stirrups) convinced me that my condition was unacceptable. Even though I didn’t have any idea of a way of curing it I became determined to research and try to find a way to improve it and stop it deteriorating even further as it clearly would have.
That same year after extensive Internet searching I found one inspirational website from a woman who had cured her eczema by abstaining from the use of cortisone altogether and following a careful health diet. I had a 2 month period off work in which I attempted to do the same. I stopped using any cortisone for the first time in over 30 years. My skin exploded into a fiery red itchy state. I consulted a dermatologist at the time whose opinion I respected. He recommended oatmeal powder baths as a natural option (to cortisone) to soothe and relieve the symptoms. He believed I would always have a certain level of eczema, as I was ‘prone to it’ but that its severity may reduce once I’d weaned my skin off cortisone.
The oatmeal baths did work in a small degree to cool down the inflammation but day by day the severity and extent of the burning rash worsened. Upon trying to explain this (and my distress) to him I received the condescending response that I must not have followed his instructions closely enough and that I was probably just unable to handle the challenge I was attempting. This lack of support distressed me even further to the point were my sister insisted I visit the hospital immediately to get emergency relief. This resulted in yet another (stronger) dose of prednisolone tablets that successfully cleared the inflammation and eczema. However I was left at the same place I’d started with an eczema condition that required regular use of prednisolone tablets and continual cortisone ointment in between. The fragility of my skin was becoming more obvious and more and more debilitating. It suffered immediately from any sun exposure and not only bruised under the skin but actually broke now and bled from the mildest bump.
But this initial attempt had not dampened my determination to discover a natural path to a cure. My next opportunity came at the start of the following year (2008) when I managed to arrange up to 6 months off work with the help of a sympathetic doctor. Again I stopped cortisone altogether and again my skin exploded in a burning itchy rash that spread over 90% of my body. It was intense and furious causing my skin to burn red and itch simultaneously and then peel off in layers. This cycle then repeated itself time and again but with increasing intensity. Although this reaction was anticipated this time it was no less distressing. But I persevered knowing I had the benefit of free time and also the physical support of my sister to run errands for me, as I could not go outside without a thick sheet covering me.
My psyche was strong as I believed (as in the website story) that my skin’s reaction was part of a process of exorcising the cortisone from my system.
However after 5 weeks of sleeping up to 16 hours a day just to cope with the extreme discomfort and still seeing no improvement I was beginning to despair.
Then an extraordinary alignment of events bought me in contact with the Practitioner at the Psoriasis clinic in Murwillumbah. I had walked past this clinic in the street and glanced over its ads in the local paper for years (as by now I had tried every type of treatment that I’d known to exist). But a very close friend whom I trusted greatly had been very impressed by the newspaper ad and convinced me to give it a try.
I was, nonetheless, very cynical on my first visit to his clinic expecting him to recoil from the severity of my condition. He looked at my sad tragic state and without hesitation told me that he would reduce the red inflammation to a mild pink within 14 days and then eradicate the entire thing within 6 weeks using only natural products.
I burst into a flood of tears – it felt like I was being offered a miracle.
Upon taking his cream home and using it for 3 days the hot red swelling on my face soothed to a milder calmer pink. I was ecstatic – it was a moment of revelation – the miracle was manifesting.
Using an effective, entirely natural, anti-inflammatory was a dream that I had long since given up.
From this point I persevered with the Practitioner as he tested for all possible allergies and adjusted the mix of ointments for me. The eczema that covered my entire body now started to recede – slowly – from the face and midriff and out to the limbs.
Today I live ECZEMA AND ITCH free. I can hardly recall the constant stress of fighting the intense urge to scratch whilst continually protecting my skin (which is supposed to be protecting me). This is not to say that I do not still get eczema but now it is something I am controlling (rather than it controlling me). I now know the causes for my outbreaks and how to manage them.
Not only that – but the condition of my skin has improved dramatically. Within weeks of not using cortisone its “thinness” began to lessen and its strength and health to improve. I was thrilled to see that it did not appear to bruise and break as easily as it had and I tested it with vigorous scratching to find that red welts no longer appeared!!.
My skin is now visibly different to how it looked over the last 8 years or so and I believe it is still repairing – a year after ending cortisone.
I hope that this article reaches others who still suffer from this cruel condition and I hope it will give them hope that recovery IS possible just as I was inspired to begin this path by someone who posted her story for others to read.