Summer of 2015 started out like any normal summer would. Oh how suddenly that changed.A few weeks into the summer, I started to develop a tiny bump on my toe. It didn’t itch, hurt, or burn and it was red so I didn’t worry too much but I did continue to keep an eye on it. As the days went on it started to look like a little blister so I was being more aware of the shoes I was wearing. Since I was doing a lot of walking, I figured something might have been rubbing against my foot. One little blister seemed to have made a baby and then there were two… and then there were three in a little cluster. Still, I didn’t think much of it but I was a little more intrigued. I did try to do things like make sure my feet were completely dry after showers, I washed the dirt off of them frequently (since I was wearing sandals and walking NYC streets), moisturized.
Over the next week or so, the bumps seem to be appearing in other parts of my foot. Commence the freakout. Every night I went to sleep and woke up to two or three more spots. The breakout quickly spread to my hands and started getting super itchy. This is when I began seeking medial attention.
I went to my first appointment and instantly the doctors told me I had scabies. I was so disgusted because scabies; ew! I took some of the meds that they prescribed. One was a cream that I was supposed to slather all over once a day for three days and the other was a crazy antibiotic that was supposed to wipe my immune system clean. The latter I refused to take because that did not sound safe to me. I was riding public transportation for 2 hours a day and sharing common areas with my coworkers for 8 hours a day. Germs everywhere.
After the three days of applying the cream and losing 3 days of pay, I returned to the doctor for a follow up. In the meantime, I had called a dermatologist and got the earliest appointment, which was two weeks away. By now I had already been dealing with this for about two weeks and was at my whit’s end. I was itchy and embarrassed because I had bumps everywhere. “Hmm, well, I don’t think that’s scabies”, he said. Now I’m pissed and a little scared because if not that, than what? I suggested maybe it was eczema (after doing my own “research”) and he assured me that eczema would have formed in the creases of my elbows, knees, necks, and armpits. He literally told me there was nothing he could do. The scabies cream had some kind of effect on the breakout but ultimately all it did was dry my skin out so now I’m peeling.
Fast forward to the dermatologist appointment. I showed him my hands and pictures that I had been taking throughout the weeks and he says with no doubt in his voice, “oh, that’s eczema.” I burst into tears. Dramatic, yes, but after 3+ weeks of breaking out, falsely being diagnosed, itching, and peeling I was so pissed that the previous doctor didn’t recognize that it was eczema even after I suggested it. I was prescribed a steroid cream, recommended to use Aquaphor to moisturize, and was told to keep my showers short, the water cool, and use hand sanitizer instead of washing constantly. I also was given some hydrocortisone cream for in between use of the prescribed cream to reduce itching. A few week or so later my skin was on the mend and the peeling was easily disguised with constant moisture and Aquaphor.
For those who are unaware, eczema is defined as rash-like inflammation of the skin that is super itchy, like a mosquito bite on steroids. In my case, I had no idea what caused my flare up but some people are triggered by heat, dairy, perfumed lotions or soaps and more. Eczema can be hereditary (atopic) and sometimes it isn’t. Before my breakout, I didn’t even know anyone in my family had eczema (thanks, Pop). Symptoms are different for everyone and can range from itchy dry patches to painful blisters.
It was since then that I started paying very close attention to the products that I use on my skin. I never want to break out like that again. I never had before. I didn’t even know I had eczema or that it could be developed; it can.
Today, for my body wash/soap I use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap in peppermint, almond or rose, I use Tom’s aluminum free deodorant in lavender, and for moisturizer, I whip together my DIY shea butter made from shea butter, coconut, vitamin E and almond oils. It’s thick enough to keep my skin moisturized (especially during the winter), and I know exactly what’s in it.
Long story long: Take care of your body from the inside out. I always took my health for granted until I experience my body reacting to whatever it was reacting to and I did not like it. I now am as aware as I can be with what I feed my body and put onto my skin because it really is important to do so. You’ll feel amazing! I’m not a hardcore all-natural-farm-raised-vegan-local-organic-everything person, but I will make sure what I’m using is as good as possible for my skin. You should too.