Eczema is “a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed, with blisters that cause itching and bleeding, sometimes resulting from a reaction to irritation (eczematous dermatitis) but more typically having no obvious external cause,” according to The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English.
I really dislike the word “eczema” … and everything connected to it. Don’t we all?
There are other words I don’t particularly care for.
If you know what I’m talking about, then you know why we’re here, so let’s get the difficult part out of the way right off the bat. I promise I’m only going to say this once: “moist.”
There, I said it. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite word, but as victims of this hideous affliction, we are subjected to things that the rest of society should never and, hopefully, will never have to endure. So, those of you new to the exciting world of eczema, please accept my apology in advance as we take a look at some of the strange places and situations some of us deal with on a daily basis.
Although I received psoriasis diagnoses when I was as young as 13, I’ve been rather fortunate to have suffered mildly compared with others — years of “remission” until that day at work when I got so dizzy with vertigo. I thought it was food poisoning. I was barfing so much that my boss threatened to call an exorcist. My wife finally got me to the doctor’s office, and once they saw my blood pressure (BP) was 200/200, they sent me straight to the emergency room.
No worries — all is well, and my BP is now perfect, thanks to the meds. The meds … the calcium blockers that also ignited a psoriasis flare-up that then became eczema after I got the COVID-19 vaccines. I’m not saying they’re in any way connected, just reporting the medical history (also declaring my bona fides to those of you out there who know it’s a waste of time to read anything about our affliction written by “nonsuffering civilians”).
So here we are. Now, back to the M-word.
In the research that every one of us has probably been doing since the first day we were diagnosed, I noticed so many of the strange and specific differences between the “agony of eczema, seborrhea, and the heartbreak of psoriasis,” as the old TV ads used to proclaim.
But I had no idea that eczema was such a monster — a Hydra-headed mix of “atopic dermatitis” snakes running amok under our skin. Blisters, blood, and scabs … and the dead skin! So many flakes that it’s like living in a snow globe full of dead skin and — oh, did I mention the itching? Not only are the cracks and sores painful, but they’re also itching on an intensity level so deep, you’d happily hit bone with your digging fingernails just to stop it if only for a few seconds. Y’all know what I’m talking about.
And what’s with the eczema showing up in the M-word places? The “nether regions” … “down there.” It’s like getting a sexually transmitted disease without the fun part.
Even the elbows! At least my psoriasis had the good manners to stay on the outside of my elbows and knees and could easily be explained away as “sports injuries,” even though everyone knows I don’t play sports much. But now, eczema invades the inside of my arm with what looks, to the untrained eye, suspiciously like drug-needle tracks.
Believe me, scratching the inside of your arm during an interview — while the tie you’re wearing is searing a ring around your sweaty neck, head, and shoulders and dry, ashy skin — is not the ideal hiring situation.
Here’s the kicker: All the eczema cracks and sores are in skin that’s too dry. Even in the places they appear, the only relief comes from — you guessed it — the M-word.
Now I have to maintain a sheen of “moisture” (ew) that my skin just isn’t producing, on top of all the physical, social, emotional, and financial impacts of this affliction.
So please join me as an enemy of eczema and share your research, responses, and recommendations on my MyEczemaTeam. Quite honestly, it’s the best place on the web to find answers to questions we don’t even know how to ask.
Let’s write out some of those “disliked” words. Let’s learn something or at least have a place to start looking. The more research I do, the more questions I have, so let’s compare notes and save ourselves some time and maybe even some blood.
Because when you get down to it, we can do everything that has been suggested, recommended, prescribed, advised, yelled at us — all the ultraviolet B light therapy, injections, pills, diets, and lotions that clinical research studies tell us to do — but until we find a real cure, we’ll all have to stay … “M.”
On MyEczemaTeam, members discuss eczema from a specific point of view. Members’ articles don’t reflect the opinions of MyEczemaTeam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. Content on MyEczemaTeam isn’t intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.