10 things my eczema flare ups have taught me

I have atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) and that means that there is often a high chance I will flare “out of the blue”. Now I have sensitives and triggers, but they can change over time and it can make managing eczema unpredictable at times. Even though people may think it can be totally predictable I’d beg to differ. As you might know from reading my blog, I began to have great success controlling my eczema in 2014 and until last year flares were very minor. I seriously thought that was it (unfortunately not…). Following the most recent flare up, here are some reflections on what I have learnt.

1 A flare up can be traumatic – I used to wonder whether I was being dramatic saying this but a traumatic event is one which is “deeply disturbing or distressing” and a flare up can be just that for me.  If my skin begins to flare and spiral beyond a minor flare, I suddenly recall memories of my lowest points of flare ups and the whole experience becomes traumatic – fearing the worst, dreading I’ll re-face some of the worst times in my life and feeling entirely overwhelmed. The idea of the eczema being at its worst is an ordeal in itself, and waking up every morning to see it getting worse is traumatic. Acknowledging and accepting this makes the emotional experience more normal for me.

2. This is a chronic, long term condition – When my flare ups went “dormant”, I began to think that my eczema was gone, but I learnt very quickly that it can flare years later. Atopic eczema is a life long condition – we just might have a number of years free of it, but I have to accept this is life long. Managing the eczema is a life long lifestyle change, not just saved for flare ups!

3. Its exhausting – Flare ups take a lot of emotional energy to manage and its downright exhausting.  That means when I flare, I have learnt I need to be aware that my emotional energy will get taken up and I will be tired. I won’t have the focus for lots of things as I’m tired. Accepting this has made life so much easier – not forcing myself to do everything if my body doesn’t feel up to it. Its okay to say no, to sleep for longer and just be tired.

4. Less is more – So when i flared this time around, I panicked. I began taking Vitamin D3, Probiotics, B12, using lots of new skincare products until a few days later when I told myself I need to calm down and just breathe! Funnily enough, the less I threw at my eczema the better it seemed to get. The more I threw at it, the more it seemed to fight back. Lesson learnt – Less is definitely more! My routine – dead sea salt baths every other day, a facial oil and pure potions healing salve. Nothing more, nothing less. I showered daily but with no products, I used the alternate day Dead Sea salts as my bathing.

5. This is more than physical – Managing flares for me is not all physical. No cream will fix it alone. I wish it did, but for me it definitely doesn’t. I follow my skincare routine of course, but I also ensure I think about how I am managing the emotional side – the dead sea salt baths are a great way to do both. Just 20 minutes to breathe and be. Atopic eczema for me is exacerbated by stress so the stress caused by the flare needs to also be taken care of. I think about my current stresses and what I can do to just reduce that.

6. Eczema reminds me to look after myself – Life gets hectic at times, similar to above stress can take over. Sometimes I think my eczema is a reminder that I need to slow down and just look after myself. When I flare I look after myself more – I ensure I am eating well (not strictly but just more good foods), I practise mindfulness, I exercise, I make time for sleep – and my eczema heals. Coincidence? I think not. It really is a combination of physical and emotional management for me.

7. I can’t let eczema stop me from living – In the past, I would hide away when my eczema flared, however, the impact on my mood was negative and it would make going out harder. Since emotional stress can exacerbate the eczema, ensuring my mood is good is key. During this flare I ensured I didn’t say no to social occasions or events solely based on the eczema (unless it was related like going swimming) and continued to go out. And the result? Not once did I regret going out, I had fun and the mood boost is a good thing!

8. A network of support can do wonders – I follow many people on Instagram with eczema. Being able to express how I feel, being honest and having the support from those similar to me is so powerful during my worst moments. It makes me remember the flare up is only temporary. Don’t neglect those who you feel you can turn to through a flare up. Social support can be immensely powerful!

9. I am strong – As you will know, eczema is not a walk in the park. It is tough, and managing without steroids for me also means no quick fixes. Managing the ordeals of flare ups has taught me how strong I am. To go through flare ups over and over and remain resilient is a strength to embrace, don’t forget that! Accepting that my body is scarred from my journey and battling against local norms of perfection takes a strong person. Remembering this is important.

10. The Eczema will heal – Every time I have flared, l have healed. This latest flare up has taught me to be more okay with this and accept that when I flare I will heal and the flare is just short-term. I forgot this at the beginning of the flare, panicked and thought the worst, but eventually I did begin to do just take a step back and accept I will heal. (The meditation helped with this). And what do you know? My eczema healed. Don;t lose faith in the body’s ability to heal itself!


What have you learnt from your flare ups? Has it changed the way you manage them?

3 Responses to “10 things my eczema flare ups have taught me”
  1. Great post. (try) Not to stress about it has been the biggest thing for me. Also until last year I didn;t really appreciate the emotional toll it takes.

    Liked by 1 person

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