Sunday, 23 October 2011


  You probably know the feeling, you might be in the kitchen, the garden, sleeping, at school, and suddenly you notice this persistent, annoying itchy feeling. You start scratching without even realizing you're doing it and then you look down at your arm/neck/hand, where ever you a prone to getting it and you just think 'oh no, not again!' 

I like many people around the world suffer from the skin condition, eczema. The word eczema is an umbrella term for many different skin conditions, mostly associated with dry, flaky, inflamed skin. Lovely. I have always had eczema, but it has never really been that severe, until about a year ago. I had a serious outbreak of eczema, which was unusual because it hasn't been that bad since I was practically a baby. It was horrible, I had a kind of ring of it around my neck, which one lovely person commented on saying it looked like I'd tried to hang myself. It wasn't just on my neck though, it was on my face, behind my ears, on my arms and hands. I have never felt so self-conscious. I received extremely helpful treatment, a heavy-duty moisturizer and an array of steroid creams. Within about a month and a bit it had all cleared up. Thank bejeebus. 

Steroid creams and moisturisation does help get rid of the eczema, but it is always going to be a part of my life, I'm just lucky I don't normally have a serious form. But because of this, and because of the fact it's getting on winter, which means my eczema is getting a little worse, I thought I would post some ideas on what may cause eczema flair up.

Well, first off, diet can be one of the key factors, things such as citrus fruits can set eczema off, i.e. oranges, lemons, tomatoes, and of course things like chocolate and sweets are bound to do it. Sometimes eczema can start up because you're allergic to certain food types, like dairy or perhaps gluten in bread. Mine was set up because of my minor allergy to almonds, which I have since grown out of. So try cutting things from your diet, I went on this crazy diet thing where I cut out gluten, lactose and attempted to eat less citrus fruits which is hard when you love oranges. Mmmm. Because of that I realised that gluten and lactose didn't affect me in anyway, though too many oranges was doing my skin in bit by bit. 

The next thing to look at is your environment. Believe it or not, dust, dust mites, dry weather, and pollen can all set off eczema as well as asthma. So its best to hover, dust and change your bed sheets more regularly, and perhaps consider investing in a humidifier. The use of heaters also has an effect as it dries out the air within the house, which is why a lot of cases come up in winter when heaters are being put on more regularly. There isn't really much you can do about the pollen part as pollen can be blown all over the place, even if it isn't wind dispersed. My advice is to make sure you have no plants in your garden which you know can upset your skin, and make sure when someone wants to buy you flowers, they know which kind to get! 

You can also set off your skin through contact with certain things, most commonly metals used in cheap jewellery, so watch out for things in high street fashion shops. Health issues can sometimes cause eczema. Really there are a whole set of things that can set your skin off, so it's best to inquire at your GP at getting your eczema diagnosed. I went for patch testing, because I insisted that they didn't need to take any blood (I hate needles!)  The tests concluded Dahlias and a few other things irritate my skin, but there wasn’t really anything concluding which is often the way with conditions like eczema. By that time my eczema had calmed down anyway. 

I hope this information will be useful to anyone who may read it. I just want to say that mostly diagnoses of specific causes can be sketchy with patch testing as I think that mainly diagnoses contact reaction. If you want more conclusive results and are somewhat braver than I am, get your blood tested. 

Thanks for reading! 
Miss B xxxx 

Pesky Dahlias!

Mmmm oranges :)