MedWatch Today: How to Live with Severe Eczema

Med Watch Today

Eczema is a condition that can make your skin itchy and red. For some, the eczema goes beyond the surface and can be a life long health issue that needs to be managed daily.

Julia Holman and dermatologist Dr. Leslie Storey of the Valley Skin Institute go way back. Julia’s been her patient for more than half her life about 15 years. Julia has moderate to severe eczema.

“My eczema is actually due to my food allergies. So both go hand and hand… My eczema’s also related to like, stress, so if i’m stressed, you’re gonna see more scratch marks on me,” said Julia.

She’s had it since she was a baby.

“When I was younger, it was most severe inside my arms and behind my legs. And as I got older, the eczema got worse in different areas, so like on top of my feet and my scalp,” Julia stated.

Dr. Storey commented, “Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin. It’s kinda a catch all term, some people will use it for just a rash, some people will use it for something called atopic dermatitis, and it’s inflammation of the skin from various things that can make it inflamed… Anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the population will have eczema; a lot of kids will have it under the age of five and they actually can outgrow it.”

Dr. Storey said every patient’s experience with eczema varies.

“Eczema’s a rollercoaster. You do not cure it by any stretch, and you have times where you are super flared and then you have times when you’re doing okay and sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason,” said Dr. Storey.

She said petroleum jelly is best for dry skin, followed by a lotion or cream.

Dr. Storey continued, “Your bread and butter, your daily routine with your skin is going to be moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. And you have to find what works in your life, and then you have this kind of middle ground where, are you gonna flare, are you coming off of a flare, so we’ll do a lighter steroid or a non-steroid prescription and when you’re flared, we’ll pound it with a steroid.”

But for some like Julia, moisturizing her skin is only the beginning.

“I just feel like I want to scratch my skin off, and just take my skin off, and so especially on really hot days like today, the first thing I’ll do when I go home is take a cold shower. It calms my skin down, and so my skin is wet, so then I hydrate after my shower,” said Julia.

Julia has found that a topical steroid plus an injectable medication every two weeks has helped manage her eczema. She’s grateful for healthcare providers like Dr. Storey who go above and beyond to care for their patients.

“My favorite thing about Dr. Storey, and I’m not kidding when I say, she’s my life coach. She would treat me and hear what’s working and what’s not working, and care for me medically, and then ask how I’m doing, and my personal life and academically,” ended Julia.

Dr. Story concluded, “More than ever we have a lot of treatment options. And so I would say, don’t give up by any stretch. With that being said, there’s no magic bullet. It takes a lot of work on the patient’s behalf and the patient’s family and on their doctor, or their provider that they’re seeing.”

Symptoms of eczema include:
-dry or itchy skin
-red to brownish-gray patches
-small raised bumps
-thickened, cracked, scaly skin
-areas of swelling

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