Eczema is malicious, annoying, persistent, and nearly impossible to defeat. But this animal can be tamed! And even better news: you can most likely manage it yourself with over-the-counter creams and without a long to wait visit an expensive dermatologist.
My eczema first reared its ugly head when I was in preschool. It was prominent behind my knees and where my arms bend, which is common for children with eczema. As I got older, it only got worse. It spread to patches on my neck, my legs, and the worst spots (in my opinion), my hands and eyes.
In the winter, it was bad because of the dry air; in the summer, it was worse because of the heat. It’s particularly merciless in the spring when all the worst allergens are in full bloom. I guess fall is my safe haven. Unfortunately, I live in the deep south, where it is mostly hot, humid, sticky, and filled with allergens dispersing into the air most of the year. Fall only lasts about one month here, so what to do about this obstinate eczema the other eleven months out of the year?
With 27 years of trial testing behind me, I can confidently tell you the best and cheapest ways to tame that pesky beast that refuses to be defeated.
There are several kinds of eczemas, and each one has it’s own horrific set of side effects. I am hashtag blessed with two of these gruesome side effects. The first is dyshidrotic dermatitis. This generally affects the hands and feet — in my case, only the hands. It is ferocious and causes bumpy, itchy patches of skin on your hands and fingers that can often turn to blisters and later give way to dried-up, scaly patches of skin.
There are a lot of things aside from treatment that you can do to lower the persistence of these outbreaks. Some of them include keeping your hands VERY moisturized. Try to stay away from perfumed hand lotions and go for something more intensive and generic.
Another is making sure to stay away from harsh chemicals such as cleaning supplies, anywhere from bleach to something as mild as dish soap, as it dries out your skin. It’s a good idea to immediately cleanse and moisturize after any household cleaning chemicals come into contact with areas of skin that are a common irritant for you.
The magical moisturizing, taming cream combination for this particular strand of eczema (it works on most other types as well) is a half-and-half combination of Eucerin Original Healing Rich Lotion and Cortizone 10 Intensive Healing Lotion. (You can use any type of cortizone cream as they all contain hydrocortisone, but I prefer the one that is specifically for eczema).
I’m telling you guys, this is the dream team. I was having incessant bumps and blisters on my hands at all times, and using these creams combined has really kept it in check. It rarely flares up, and when it does, it’s because I got lax in applying. I like to do it first thing in the morning and right before I go to sleep. If my hands are especially dry that day, I’ll apply throughout the day when necessary.
Now, in those rare weeks when my eczema is clear and my hands are as smooth as a baby’s behind, I adore Aveeno Stress Relief Moisturizing Lotion. It is perfumed with a calming lavender and chamomile blend, but it very intensively moisturizes my hands all night long. It has a great consistency that absorbs into your hands nicely, unlike the Eucerin, which will leave your hands feeling greasy for a little while after application.
This Aveeno lotion is my little special treat when I want my hands to feel pretty again, and, of course, it’s dermatologist-recommended (in general, and also by my dermatologist).
Moving on to another exciting type of eczema that I have personal affliction of: eyelid dermatitis, or eyelid eczema. And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. Miserable. This can happen from your eye coming into contact with any irritant that sets off your eczema or just by simple irritation such as regular allergy symptoms like itchy, watery eyes or makeup that causes irritation.
Now, this is a very sensitive area, so I do believe in asking your doctor or dermatologist their opinion, but my dermatologist has about a six-month waiting period and I just can’t suffer that long. So, on this one, I did call my actual doctor. Luckily, he’s a wonderful man who gives all of his patients his cell and home number and is genuinely pleased to be of service to all, so I didn’t even have to go in for a visit. I just texted him and told him I needed something catered to defeating the evil eczema on my eyelids, and his recommendation has worked every time.
It is just a very simple low dosage of steroid cream (Triamcinolone Acetonide Cream 0.1%). He did call it in, as you will most likely need a prescription for this if your eczema gets really out of hand like mine does. I’m talking red, swollen, itchy, flaky eyelids. It’s not cute no matter how you spin it. And you can’t put makeup on it to cover it up because that just makes it angrier and redder.
If you don’t have an amazing on-call doctor like me, though, I can safely recommend the greatest face moisturizer for sensitive skin that I have been using for over a decade: CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion. It’s odorless, non-greasy, and serves not only to moisturize all day, but also as a great tool to blend and hold your makeup on that soft face of yours all day long. It is beyond gentle. I could rub it in my eyes and they would be fine (but don’t try that just in case I’m wrong).
There are two types of body washes that I recommend for dry, itchy skin, no matter what the cause: Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash, and Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash. Again, the Eucerin is a little oily, so be sure you don’t go slipping in the tub, because that’s a serious warning on the Amazon reviews of this product. Because of my tendencies toward injury, I use the Aveeno and, while odorless, it still leaves you feeling very clean and nourished.
Last but not least, Vaseline. Seriously, guys, this stuff can do anything. Vaseline and coconut oil are two of the greatest things. (But that’s a whole different article.) Not only is Vaseline great for getting eye makeup off, but it’s really good for your lashes. I keep some by my bed and dab a little on my eyes and my lips before sleeping. It just protects your skin while you sleep, and I find that very comforting.
Do you deal with eczema? What’s worked best for you?