Growing up with eczema and not knowing the root cause of my flares was probably one of the most confusing and annoying things that I have dealt with. I grew up with severe allergies -- peanuts and fish products to be exact. I knew that I had to avoid those things to prevent myself from going into anaphylactic shock. I wish that the things that trigger my eczema were more pronounced so that I would know to avoid those things as well.
Eventually, I went to an allergist who tested me for everything under the sun -- grass and trees included. Would you believe me if I said I had a reaction to everything on the list? Even down to oranges and tomatoes. Try telling a kid who loves spaghetti and ketchup that they can’t eat those things anymore. In today’s times, there’s an alternative for everything now; back then, not so much. While I had a reaction to those things, they weren’t severe enough to cause me a reaction compared to when I ate nuts or fish. I was told that in moderation, I would be OK.
I find that as I’m getting older, I notice that when I eat certain things, my favorite foods, I began to feel a little itch here and there. As annoying as it is, I know that I must be extremely careful and pay attention to my body because it tells me when something is triggering my skin condition. Sometimes, I take Benadryl just to calm down my flares. The downside to this is that it causes you to become extremely drowsy.
When I was in college, I realized that stress became the number one trigger for my flares. How do you tell a college student, in the middle of finals exams and personal problems, to simply “relax?” This was actual advice given to me, “Have you ever tried to just not stress?” I wish you could see my face.
Stress is something that I’ve been constantly battling with because what happens is a cycle. Something stresses me out, my skin then starts to flare, I’m now more stressed because my skin is flared, and the cycle just continues. It took such an emotional toll on me that once I graduated from college, I took an entire year just to try to get back to being my normal self.
One of the biggest helps to me was a groundbreaking biologic. While some individuals have side effects from this medication, my results were amazing. I would attribute the low frequency of my flares to this medicine.
I also am now seeking out a therapist to just learn how to cope and deal with the stresses of life and find better ways to manage them. What is guaranteed is that there will always be something in life that will stress you out, but how do you respond to those triggers? It’s something that I am working on every single day. I can say that I’m much better at dealing with these issues today than I was 4 years ago.
Looking for more eczema info? Join our Eczema Resources Group on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Science Photo Library via Getty Images
Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.
Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.