Exam Stress = Eczema Flare-up =[

This post is about my current eczema, what I’m trying to do to help it and cope, how I’m feeling and what I am thinking about trying since I’m getting no relief and want some!

I’m currently entering my 2 week exam period and my skin is daily getting worse, literally each day the eczema slowly spreads, becomes more sore and itchy and it is so bad at times my face is feeling so stiff =[ I know it’s important to moisturise but I literally cannot do it as often as I need it right now! If you’re an eczema sufferer, you’ve been there. The times where you watch your skin get worse day by day and know a flare-ups inevitable without any prevention and you know just what that will be like (physically and mentally). My skin is so rough, dark off coloured and sore and nothing seems to help right now. I’m using shea butter as a moisturiser and though this doesn’t make me itch as bad it hasn’t relieved the eczema inflammation at all, rather just moisturises alone. For my face this is too rich, but even then it doesn’t rid of the dryness =/ The dryness is so bad, usually my skin does better in summer months too but obviously the stress is out weighing it this time sadly. I physically feel sore and mentally I feel like this is a huge distraction from my revision, but it can’t be helped without resorting to steroids which I don’t want to do. I know that if I went to a doctors right now that’s what they’d give me since I’m mid flare-up, not the help I’m looking for =[

To sum up, here is my current Eczema status:

  • Red face, neck elbow joints and sides of stomach – which when you’re indian just makes you look so dark!
  • Weeping upper lip, eyebrows, creases in neck and small patches on cheeks
  • DRY, rough skin on my face, neck which is looking so scaly =/ and totally off tone when compared to my eczema free hands!
  • Dry rough elbow joints, both sides!
  • Little red blister spots up my arms sometimes with white centres
  • Annoyingly itchy, raised stomach rash!
  • Spots on my thighs
The worst right now is my upper lip, I have what I call an eczema moustache! This is one of the worst parts as I cannot hide it and it is so noticeable, plus I can hardly open my mouth because the skin is so sore and taut (even when I moisturise since it is weepy!) so eating is troublesome at times! I’m wondering whether any of you have this? I feel so annoyed sometimes that the first place my eczema ever appeared and does now when I have a flare-up is my face. I feel that Facial eczema is so much harder to cope with because of the emotional side of people being able to see your eczema because you cannot hide it. I find myself talking to the floor not to faces, I find myself not looking ahead as I walk to the shop, I find myself not going out if I can help it just because it stresses me out that someone might see me like this. I know this is such bad thinking, but I can’t help it.

These are the times I wish I had a solution. Something that worked to calm down my flare ups without using steroids. Not using steroids means I suffer worse than I’d have to I guess if I did just give in and apply them, but I literally now do not think they are effective for my skin, the flare-up tends to outweigh the steroid and then it’s back to square one with the regret of harming my skin once more rather than helping long term. I’m not sure if this is just me either, but I find that the places I have used steroid cream (mainly my upper lip and eyebrow area on my face) tend to be the worst at flare-ups! I’m not sure if this is what a year’s worth of over steroid use does to the skin, but it sure isn’t great!

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to share my experiences as I coped with my eczema (especially my bad flare-ups!) as I know I’m not alone. And like I wrote on my About Me page, I want to prevent bad flare-ups because physically and mentally coping is just too hard at times when you have normal life events going on too. I know I will have to see this flare-up through, but I’m trying to see if any of the following work (which they probably aren’t since the rash is spreading):

  1. I’ve been drinking Rooibos tea recently. I did some research on it and it is supposed to be good for eczema since it is anti-inflammatory and I thought it is probably worth a try during a time I know I’ll be stressed out and more likely to have an outbreak. Here’s a link of one of the sites I looked at http://www.fmltea.com/Teainfo/Rooibos-tea%20.htm There are many though if you just type in ”rooibos tea and eczema” into google! As of yet though (Been drinking a few cups daily for a fortnight as recommended), I don’t think its helped. My skin is daily getting worse and seems to be getting more inflamed as the days pass too! Maybe 2 weeks isn’t enough to see the effects so I’ll continue drinking it to see if it helps!
  2. Drinking plenty of water: I drink about a litre of water a day (not inc in the teas etc)
  3. I’ve given up caffeine since I started to drink this tea but not sure if it helps
  4. Showering twice a day: Okay so I know this is supposed to drying to the skin, but when my skin is flaky and sometimes crusty (not nice I know!!) I get really irritated and itchy if I don’t shower twice a day, if I shower before bed I find that I get to sleep a lot better too. I can’t get up and not shower either because my facial eczema is all crusty and flaky and washing it just doesn’t clean it.  I make sure I moisturise well though!
Since a holiday ALWAYS does wonder for my eczema (I’ve never been on holiday to a hot place wihtout my eczema being hugely improved after the week is up) d, I am also contemplating using a sunbed. I know so bad for my skin!! But I’m not sure anyone but an eczema sufferer will understand that if that is my last resort to get some relief then I have to do it. I have exams and calmer skin would really be helpful right now, without steroids this has popped up into my head as the next thing to try. I’ll update you on it if I do go down that route!

I have to admit holidays are also a time of relaxing, I don’t have anything to worry about so this may be another reason why my eczema improves. I’m a worryer I cannot help but stress, currently about my exams and for me this is a huge problem for my eczema. Proper stress management I can imagine would be great for me! I tried to do meditation for awhile and I feel that now I should take time out of my hectic revision period to just relax and meditate, but I don’t feel that I have the time! My eczema is already distracting me too much away from my work that I don’t feel I can afford to relax when I have exams. I guess it’s a viscous cycle and sometimes I feel like I should prioritise my time better (I faff around a lot!!) so that I can spend time on me without feeling guilty.

– Perhaps I need to find the time to relax and see if this has an effect. Since I do not have any known triggers like foods or allergies, I truly do believe my eczema is stress related so using stress relieving techniques is something I definitely need to try! Perhaps yoga, mediation, even just taking out 30 minutes of the day to just have ‘me time’

Reflection: I find that when my skin is like this I reflect on a lot of things. I feel so low thinking that noone understands how much impact this skin problem can have, feel so low that I find it hard to live normally when it is this bad as it is the main thing on my mind and let my eczema take over.

I realise at times like this, that eczema is my life. 

But I haven’t given up hope! It’s been better, but it has also been worse. I am going to continue to find ways to help myself. I have realised that I mainly try very passive things to help myself (i.e. try different creams, teas etc) instead of actively changing things (i.e. adding in mediation, time for me, exercise, things which involve physical participation!!) and I feel that I need to start taking a more active role in my hope of better skin as for all I know this can really help.

Future Active  Goals (ones I believe that I will find it easier to incorporate into my lifestyle once uni has finished which isn’t so long off so it maybe a while before I start doing these!)

  • Exercise on a regular basis: I am really bad at making sure I get enough (if any!) exercise and since it helps get rid of toxins through sweating and boosts circulation it could potentially be important in reducing my eczema symptoms.
  • Have Me Time: Spend more time just doing something I enjoy rather than have to do, I feel like I hardly do this right now and believe it is something I wish I did have time for!
  • Eat better!: okay, so since I don’t have any food allergies I basically eat anything I want, processed and junk foods included! I believe that I need to start eating more healthier, not in a dieting way but in a way way which is just part of a healthier lifestyle. Eating all of these processed/ junk foods cannot be doing any good to my body and I do believe eczema is caused by my internal balance so it is something I should definitely work on! To make it easier, perhaps making fruit and vegetable smoothies could help get my 5 a day in!
Sorry for the long post! I feel that I write them just to get my thoughts down at times as I find it really helps clear my mind! I just wanted to share my experiences with others who feel the same.
11 Responses to “Exam Stress = Eczema Flare-up =[”
  1. Kiley Rachai says:

    Try CeraVe moisturizing wash and then immediate after use the moistuizer. That’s the only thing that gives me any relief on my upperlip, I used to use petroleum jelly and aquaphor but ended up having a reaction to that…. I know how exhausting it is, how ugly you feel and like there is no answer no help…but we need to find something there has to be something out there…. people just don’t understand how it effects us. So far I’ve tried a lot of things natural, unnatural prescribed and nothing keeps it gone nothing cures it. Adult eczema is an issue so let’s win the war instead of letting eczema win by making us insecure and stressed getting no sleep and no relief….


  2. ashley says:

    Story of my life! I’ve suffered from eczema since childhood, thank god that it has settled down drastically now that im 20. About 4 years ago, I had an outbreak of ache rosacea, all over my entire face. I was so devastated and so depressed that i couldn’t even go to school for weeks. I went to the dermatologist and they gave me topical creams and antibiotics for it, and within a week, my outbreak was gone and it seems to me that after the meds i took, it had treated my eczema for the longest time but then there were times that i had reoccurring rashes on my upper lip, where it begins to flake and become inflamed.. during that time i didn’t know so i would use vasaline, or carmex to try and treat it. But no, it stayed for a couple of years… Now I’ve found probably the best thing that has helped me soo much, that i barely get eczema on my lip now! and its ALBOLENE CREAM, it has seriously become my holy grail. It treated my eczema on my lip, and kept it away for the longest time that i thought it cured it. Apparently i have the rash on my upper lip right now, due to being such a girl and wanting to try new facial scrubs/exfoliant (NEVER AGAIN!) that it triggered my eczema, I also use hydrocortizone cream too, but that seems to make my eczema extremely flaky, and having that tight feeling on the boarder of my lip and skin, making me just sit there in peel it off because its so irritating and embarrassing. So i just switched to abolene, i really hoped you guys who are suffering try it, because it has completely changed my life!


  3. JL says:

    Try Beau Lee’s Bedew moisturizing oil. It is an all natural oil loaded with fruit extracts and vitamin C. It has a great orangey smell and it cures dry skin patches better than prescription creams. The pump bottle is great and it last for hundreds of uses. My four year old has dry skin patches behind his ears. We were putting rx steroid cream on it and I could tell he was wired after each application – steroids rev you up. Now that we found this oil we put it behind his ears once a week or so and it keeps his skin smooth and healthy. And he loves that he smells like mommy. I put the oil all over my body after a shower. I even use it as my daily facial moisturizer. I have been using it for a few months and now I am getting compliments on my glowing skin. A few people even asked me if I was pregnant because I have a glow! Great stuff!! Here is the link


  4. Hi, I suffer from facial eczema too. It tends to flare up all around my mouth, sides of my face and on my brows, when I am stressed or have been working really long hours. I get conscious of it too, so I know how you feel. I try not to let it affect my social life though. I find meditation really helps and also drinking fresh fruit and veg smoothies and lots of water daily! Plus lots of sleeeeeep 🙂


  5. aly says:

    i totally feel you. you are the first person i have met that understands the pain of an eczema “moustache”. it is a red painful nightmare that people just STARE at and we would stop at nothing short of begging the already inflamed-taut skin on our upper lip from cracking/splitting to leave cracks of raw skin that hurt so bad and scare people away. i’m also a uni student so i dont have very expensive ointments, the only thing i can do is to clean my face, put on a little steroid cream and salve it over with a thick layer of vaseline/QV cream and try to get to sleep like that. it’s really uncomfortable and you have to keep resisting the urge to wipe off that oily film of moisturiser, but it does help alot. definitely wouldnt cure it like a miracle [ that we need so badly. like give us a break pls, most people worry abt looking pretty, but we have to worry whether we can look Normal tomorrow. sigh =( ], but at least it stands the best chance of reducing the “splitting cracks” on the upper lip.


    • Hi Aly,

      I hope you have got some relief! I currently have had a flare-up and my upper lip eczematache is back =[…its the worst place for eczema sometimes, I feel my whole face looks taut and sore because that is so sore =[….how is your eczema doing?


  6. Jasmine says:

    I have the same problem with my upper lip too! It weeps and leaves a crusty feeling in the morning and it seems to come in cycles. I notice now when my upper lip skin becomes taunt it peels off! The entire skin from above my lip. Now it is spreading to my bottom lip. I am running out of options and becoming embarrassed. I don’t know what else to do. I am also getting married this June and I am afraid of my upper lip…and its going to ruin my day.


    • Hi Jasmine,

      How did your wedding go? Congratulations! I really hope your eczema did not ruin your day!!

      I feel the upper lip eczema is by far the most frustrating in sense of feeling self conscious because it cant be hidden. =[. I find that overnight it crusts over then when I shower it comes off but is bright red and during the day recrusts over if that makes sense! I can never manage to get rid of it!


  7. val says:

    Try EFA’s, Essential Fatty Acids. It’s helped my a lot, in just a few days. My face and neck were stiff and dry,dry,dry. I began taking Evening Primrose oil and Flax seed oil and it’s gotten much better, from the inside out, so to speak….and don’t forget the vitamin D, that’s why we get better in hot climates. It’s all of that lovely vitamin D from the sun. I take at least 4000 i.u. a day. I know it’s a pain, but you need more than a litres of water each day. You need at least 2 liters and you must cut down on sugar and wheat products if you can. This will work if you pay attention to your body. I know it feels as though it’s betrayed you but love it, even if it seems it doesn’t love you. Good luck.


  8. Catriona Sutherland says:

    This just about summarises my life right now. Trying to study for exams but all I end up doing is sitting down and scratching instead! At the moment I’m trying homeopathy treatment for eczema and I’ve been told to stop using steroids – which means my skin’s inflamed all over. yuk. I get an eczema moustache as well, not as badly as I used to but it’s definitely the most annoying place to have it.
    What you said about the sun beds makes sense by the way! You can get phototherapy treatment for eczema which is opposed to be really good for it. (Didn’t work for me but it’s really effective for some people). 🙂


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