Ever get a paper cut on your finger? Better yet, ever get a paper cut in the groove of your finger? Ouch! Imagine that pain and add itching, burning, and stinging. That’s life with eczema on your thumb.
I know — weird place to have eczema, but it’s true. I have itchy, peeling, raw, blistering skin on my thumb. It has even affected my thumbnail. The eczema has spread underneath my nail and affected that nail bed. The result: a vertically split fingernail. The split started at the base of my nail, and I watched it gradually move up as my nail grew.
“Big deal,” l you say. “It’s just your thumb,” you say.
Well, let me give you a little bit of backstory.
I’m a single woman of a certain age. I could be classified as what some would call a diva. I have caramel-colored skin, shoulder-length dark brown hair, and an hourglass figure (OK, maybe pear-shaped, but definitely curvy) some woman would die to have. I had help, thanks to gastric bypass and plastic surgery, but it was my diva mentality that insisted I get healthy and happy.
Problem is, I developed a very nasty bout of eczema. I’ve always had sensitive skin, but my surgeries exacerbated the problem. My allergist says that this is my body’s reaction to physical trauma. Both the gastric bypass and the plastic surgery put my entire body into defense mode.
My eczema is well controlled thanks to a biologic, but this blasted thumb just won’t cooperate. The skin is blistered and peeling. In essence, the diva has an ugly thumb.
In all seriousness, I use humor to make sense of it. My eczema couldn’t be in a worse place. Most medicinal remedies are greasy. Band-Aids can be uncomfortable, plus the adhesive aggravates the rash. This battle is four years in the making, and I have learned a few things along the way.
My favorite type is the hexagonal waterproof kind. These bandages are comfortable and last all day. They’re also flexible, so you can wrap them around the most inconvenient of places — aka my thumb.
The medications that heal contain steroids in most cases. They’re also slippery from the petroleum additives. I spend my days typing or writing, so petroleum-based products aren’t an option because transference is a reality. Greasy computer keys are no fun.
I like bacitracin-based products, but again — greasy. Pure aloe vera is very messy. Gooey is more like it. However, I did discover silver-based products. I really love them. They’re gel-based, so they not only have advanced healing properties, but they also cool the burning and stinging. Colloidal silver is a natural antibacterial. This stuff hits a home run, and it works very well with the waterproof Band-Aids.
My third lesson from experiential learning is this very simple concept. Your body will tell you everything you need to know if you pay attention to the smallest of things. Believe it or not, there’s a direct correlation between stress and eczema. Research shows that stress and anxiety cause inflammation. As a sufferer of anxiety, I have recurring flare-ups — remember, ugly thumb!
My flare-ups are my red flag. I immediately know that my body is responding to stress or trauma. I have high blood pressure as well. The increased stress raises my blood pressure. High blood pressure is a silent illness, but — eczema to the rescue. My eczema is a visual reminder that I need to relax and release. The result: I exercise regularly. I learned to knit. I love puzzles. I reacquainted myself with all those things that make me happy.
The moral of this story: Learn to take care of your whole self, not just your eczema. Find time to do the things that make you happy. Don’t retreat because your eczema is painful or embarrassing. And finally, pray you never get eczema on your thumb.
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