While I wouldn’t even think to go so far as to consider myself bullied as a kid, I do remember a few instances (one or two started by my own brother! Thanks, Matt.) of being taunted and called, “Eggs on her legs”. I have no idea who started that one, (probably before mentioned brother) but on occasion it was my nickname.
Explaining to a bunch of 3rd or 4th graders that, no, I had eczema was near impossible. Explaining that as much as I would like clear, non-itchy skin, I would unintentionally scratch myself all day and night until I broke the skin into huge ugly blisters.
My parents tried it all, to their credit. I remember being slathered in Crisco, wrapped in plastic wrap, and running around the house before bed screaming, “I’m a sandwich!” because someone told them it would help. (I was super stealthy and peeled off the plastic wrap at night to itch, then would re wrap myself.) There were cold showers on hot nights, oatmeal baths, bottles of refrigerated aloe vera in brown glass bottles, weekly allergy shots, and steroid creams that would permanently leave me with spots where, to this day, I never tan.
As I grew older, I got a little more used to it. Tanning and salt water help, so the summers I spent diligently earning wrinkles with my friends in the sun weren’t for nothing, I suppose. I learned to avoid any and every scented body wash or lotion – my skin would burn and itch at any application. Sensitive skin, no perfume, no added whatever everything became my life, and cortisone creams are a lifeline.
In September of 2013 I found out we were expecting Ryan, which was awesome except my eczema flared up. It continued to flare on and off through nursing him, (regardless of the fact that I was off dairy and soy for much of that time – dairy is considered a big trigger for eczema sufferers) and when I became pregnant with this baby, I reached my breaking point. I now have days where bending my fingers hurts because they are so covered in eczema. Most nights I sleep with an ice pack to ease the hottest of spots, and Alex is constantly saying, “Stop itching!” whether from the dead of sleep or another room. Hormones can exacerbate eczema, and I think my body has been so overwhelmed with them for so long that it has just given up.
Here’s the thing about eczema – no one really cares that much about it. In most cases, it’s a condition that is seen in children and then is grown out of. In the vast majority of adult cases, it’s totally livable. Embarrassing, uncomfortable and annoying? Yes. Livable? Yes. It doesn’t cause chronic pain (unless you tear your skin open and then ow.) and it’s not disabling. But it usually is a sign of bigger problems.
While no one knows exactly what causes eczema (allergies are the number one cause, but no one knows exactly what causes one’s own body to attack itself, making you so itchy) there are many, many theories for what it would be. One of the most commonly accepted hypotheses is a compromised immune system (caused in your gastrointestinal system) is to blame. I’ve done a lot of reading lately about the causes and “cures” for eczema, and it seems most people agree that something is weakening your gut, not allowing it to heal, and in response your immune system is being a little overzealous and attacking itself. Because why not.
I’m tired of itching. I’m tired of scratching and spending hours at night trying not to think about it, or being embarrassed to wear shorts or short sleeves because I’m covered in scales and scratches. So much so, that I’m going pretty extreme (for me). I’m cutting out gluten.
This may be temporary, this may have to be forever. It may be the end all cure I’m looking for – which is has been for some people! – and it may just be a month of me being sad that I can’t fulfill allll of my pregnancy cravings. But to be honest, I think it’s going to work, at least a little. (My eczema got a LOT worse right after I started making fried rice daily. Soy sauce has wheat which = gluten. Insert tears.)
I plan on continuing to document this journey with my eczema and my battle to find my cure, so I hope you all are mildly interested. (in case you’re wondering, some of the next items to cut are grains, dairy, eggs, refined sugar…) I did take a few before pictures, but I’m FOR SURE not sharing those until I have something mildly pretty to show you, because gross. But I do hope I have some “after” photos to show you asap! Also, a big thanks to Amanda for letting me Think Out Loud!
So tell me – any experience with eczema? Ever gone gluten free? Any tips for how not to cry every night while dreaming of bread and pasta and hibachi? Leave it in the comments!
Amanda @ .running with spoons. says
I’ve suffered on and off from eczema for pretty much as long as I can remember as well, and while it’s gotten considerably better over the years and mostly localized itself to my hands, I can definitely relate to how annoying/embarrassing it can be… especially when you can’t figure out what your trigger is. I’ve found that dairy/eggs are a HUGE one for me, but I’m not entirely sure about gluten. I’m super interested to heal about your journey, though! And I -really- hope that it helps <3
That Jimmy Kimmel clip!!!! I die!!!! I am super interested in hearing about your journey!! I really, really, REALLY hope this works for you!!
I once had eczema, but it wasn’t chronic. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with it for so long Morgan, and I’ll be praying that God uses the gluten free to heal the skin troubles! 🙂
Gluten-free girl right here!! [raises hand annoyingly]. I’ve never struggled with eczema, but I do sympathize with you as I have battled plenty of other crap. Insomnia for one, was the biggest one for me. I’m talking an average of 3-4 hours of sleep for my entire high school and college life. Ya – it sucked. Then there’s the PMS pain. So much pain that even on birth control I still spend days in bed curled in a fetal position. Also – no fun. BUT all that has changed since going gluten-free and it is AMAZING. I’m not going to say it will work for everyone since every person is different, but I say you have nothing to lose!
Sarah @ Seriously Lovely says
I’ve never had eczema, but I’ve struggled with other health issues and trying every possible thing to clear them up, so I feel for you! Just in case you didn’t already know this, they do make gluten-free soy sauce–I think it’s called tamari. I haven’t been gf for awhile, but I remember using it when I was and I thought it tasted exactly the same. So don’t give up on your fried rice!
I just found your blog but I’m definitely interested to follow your journey. I don’t need to eat gluten free but I enjoy reading about how it has helped others.
Amy @ Elephant Eats says
Ugh, that totally sucks, Morgan 🙁 I’m so sorry. As someone that also has sensitive skin, I totally feel for you. Thankfully I don’t have eczema, but I get itchy rashes often and it’s often hard to figure out what gave it to me. I hope your gluten-free diet works, AND that you find some tasty gluten alternatives! Have you heard of Bragg’s Aminos as a soy sauce alternative? I can’t speak first hand, but I’ve heard they taste the same!
I’m super interested to see how this works for you. I am all for experimenting with your diet to find what works for you. I did the low FODMAP diet, but didn’t get the results I wanted, so I am currently researching more options.
I do hope you find a fix!
Also, someone showed that Jimmy Kimmel clip in one of my nutrition classes- love it!
Susie @ SuzLyfe says
So I just got tested for Celiac (and the result was negative), but I have had some skin issues on and off for the past year or so, which is making me question if I have some sort of sensitivity that I don’t know about. Problem is, I don’t know of any change to my diet to trigger it! I hope that you find some answers!
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
I totally feel your pain!! In two weeks Im getting tested soon for Celiac and all of my symptoms suck! One of the major issues are actual red blisters on my face!!! No amount of makeup can cover them and theyre also painful. when they flare up i want to stay in my house and not make contact with humans. not possible when i have to work though! I can totally relate to sensitive skin and skin issues and being self conscious. i really hope this helps you…i may be joining you soon!
I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through all this :[ I’ve had skin problems (dermatitis, psoriasis) constantly throughout my life and it sucks. Have you heard of the Candida Diet?
After one particular rough patch of skin problems, I gave it a try for about a month and noticed a huge difference. It’s such a tough way to eat though and I couldn’t stick to it 100% but I definitely follow it 75% of the time now because of how it helped.
I hope that you get some relief soon!
I had childhood psoriasis growing up and I remember trying EVERY treatment under the sun. What actually worked the best was the chlorine from our pool and emu oil. Literally oil made from emu bones. I never tried making changes with my diet, maybe that would have helped. I ate fruits and veggies, but I also ate TONS of processed junk. Oh well, live and learn 🙂
In a weird way, I would hope going gluten free doesn’t work so then you can try something else and still have the gluten yummies 😉
alexandra @ my urban family says
I don’t have eczema but my brother and dad both do. I know they were both teased when they were little as well – kids can be so mean! I wish I had some advice – I just know that sugar seems to trigger it more for them – but I don’t think they’ve really found a solution yet either.
Ginger Wroot says
The Jimmy Kimmell video is funny but probably is truly representative of just how uneducated people are, even those who say they are on gluten-free diets, about gluten and what it is.My daughter visiting from college told me she was shocked to overhear so many different college students saying they were eating gluten-free, when actually they meant grain-free, low-carb, or low-calorie, and obviously had no clue what gluten-free means. I have no idea how in the world can you eat gluten free if you don’t even understand what gluten is or where it comes from.Thanks so much for an excellent post!
Meagan McCrane says
I had terrible eczema for 1 year all over my body and took steroids and creams like crazy. My dad would have to rub it all over my back.. I was MISERABLE and embarrassed!!! 🙁
I went off gluten after going to a naturopath doctor and went off dairy. He said I had to go cold turkey for 3 weeks to see if it made a difference. THREE WEEKS he said. I was cured in 3 days. Not joking. Cold turkey though. Because gluten stays in your system for 3 weeks!! I am free from eczema, headaches, stomachaches and so much more because of ZERO GLUTEN AND DAIRY!!!! Hope this helps!! <3
So sorry you have to go through all this. I have Eczema as well, but not as bad as you, and so do my kiddos. I am interested to see how things turn out for you. Good luck finding your cure. 🙂