Eczema symptoms differ from person to person based on severity — you can have mild, moderate, or severe eczema. I didn’t learn this until much later in life, while reading a magazine article. The degree of treatment needed is based on the severity of one’s symptoms, disease, or illness. Doctors may differ in their recommendations for treating and reducing severe eczema symptoms, such as redness, itchiness, and flaking skin. I witnessed this firsthand because like me, my neighbor — who is also a friend — has eczema.
My friend’s mother was African American, and her father was Hispanic. Although we both grew up with eczema, my symptoms differed from hers. My eczema affected only my forearms, my elbows, and sometimes my back. My eczema was dry, grayish looking, and mostly itchy at its worst. I treated it with hydrocortisone cream prescribed by my doctor.
On the other hand, my friend had eczema on her wrists, the fingers of both hands, and her toes and ankles. She always seemed to be in pain. Her rashes would be pinkish gray, crack, and bleed all over. I used to be alarmed by this. I seemed to mostly itch, and I never really bled unless I scratched my rashes, my skin was extremely dry, or I used a product that didn’t agree with my skin. Most times it would happen on my hands when I washed them often in wintertime. I used to worry about and feel sorry for her because although we had the same disorder, she exhibited more severe symptoms.
I didn’t know or learn about home remedies as cures or treatments for skin or eczema until 2006. I had always relied on doctors and medical intervention for my eczema. However, after turning 18 and losing my medical coverage, I had to pay to treat my eczema symptoms myself and use the right products consistently to prevent breakouts and rashes.
During this time, I became intentional about caring for my skin and found some effective products for people with eczema, such as Curel Itch Defense lotion. In 2015, my journey with natural remedies began when a co-worker questioned me about the skin around my neck because it was darker than the skin on my face and shoulder blades. I had noticed this myself, but due to all the responsibilities of life, I had ignored it and didn’t investigate the possible causes of this phenomenon. After she brought it to my attention, I did some research online and found that the darker skin around my neck was from dead blood skin cells. A recipe using baking soda and water, lemon juice, or apple cider was recommended for treatment.
After combining the ingredients, I placed the paste on my neck and let it set for 10 minutes, then rinsed it off. After I did this treatment two or three times, the skin around my neck cleared and returned to its original color. I also was able to find other natural products to help with eczema, like apple cider vinegar bath, olive oil, and vitamin E oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
I also learned about commercial soaps versus natural soaps. I later found out that natural soaps are more beneficial and differ from commercial soaps like Irish Spring, which had been my favorite. I hadn’t previously known anything about natural soap, but I’ve discovered that peppermint soap can be a great way to help manage eczema if tolerated safely.
In my experience, home remedies aren’t something we naturally know about. We learn about home remedies by being educated, and in most cultures they’re passed down from one generation to another through word of mouth and recipes from elders. It’s often said that many of our ancestors lived and swore by home remedies when medical intervention wasn’t available. I’m grateful that the internet has allowed me to have access to information about natural remedies that otherwise would have remained unknown and inaccessible to me.
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