My weepy eczema is so bad I won’t have sex with the lights on, when I get bandaged up I look like a burns victim05/24/2021
A WOMAN who suffers from severe eczema has revealed the extend of her painful skin condition admitting that she often ends up in hospital "bandaged up like a burns patient".
Claire Harwood, from Melbourne, Australia, has suffered since she was a child, and despite being told she would grow out of it, it's only worsened with age.
Now in her thirties Claire said even her dating life suffers as she won't ever have sex with the lights on.
"It breaks down intimate relationships because of not wanting to be physically touched and not feeling good enough in an imaged-based world," she told 9Honey.
In her twenties, Claire lived in London for four years where her skin was finally free of flare ups.
She returned home to Melbourne, Australia after her relationship ended and was ready to start dating again – but that's when her eczema returned.
She said: "If we have sex, we'll have to turn the lights off."
By the time Claire turned 21 she had accepted that eczema was something she would have to live with, and has since tried extensive experimental treatment.
She was able to rule out food as a trigger after trying elimination diets and she also experimented with wearing different fabrics to see what irritated her skin.
On her worst days Claire will end up covered in blood from scratching so much and those exposed wounds will become infected.
Claire explained that her "worst flare up ever" turned into a skin and blood infection which put her in hospital.
WHAT IS ECZEMA?
Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked.
Atopic eczema (the most common form of the condition) is more common in children, often developing before their first birthday.
However, it may also develop for the first time in adults.
It's usually a long-term condition, although it can improve significantly, or even clear completely, in some children as they get older.
The exact cause of eczema is not known.
Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body.
It can affect any part of the body but it most often affects the hands, insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and the face and scalp in children.
There are many different treatments to help control eczema, including:
- self-care techniques, such as reducing scratching and avoiding triggers
- moisturising treatments used on a daily basis
- topical corticosteroids to reduce swelling, redness and itching during flare-ups
When the eczema hits, it's everywhere, starting behind her arms and legs and then all over.
Steroid cream helps relieve the pain somewhat, but as soon as she stops using it the eczema returns.
What's more, Claire revealed that "nails break down with eczema" so she once relied on a hairbrush to scratch her legs – and when that didn't work, she used a knife instead.
Although she tries to "talk herself out of" scratching because it makes her skin rash "worse," she admitted that it "feels so good" to get some sort of relief.
"When it comes to the physical pain you just get on with it and deal with it," she told the Australian publication, and said she now has "better ways of dealing with it".
In addition to spending four years in London, Claire also briefly moved to Perth, another city in Australia,and noticed her eczema had disappeared again, only to return upon moving home to Melbourne.
She suspects it has something to do with certain kind of grass strain that is only found in the southern states of Australia – although nothing has been confirmed.
Although the pain is sometimes unbearable, Claire said it's the "mental side of it" that she has struggled with the most.
She explained that she often feels "like a burden to family and friends", and occasionally feels "helpless."
Aggressive flare ups means she has to cancel plans last minute, and she's even lost jobs in the past for not turning up.
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Thankfully, Claire eventually found other sufferers through social mediaand was able to talk to them about the shared condition which has helped her accept it.
It's important to Claire that people understand eczema isn't just a skin rash – but it actually impacts all areas of her life.
Staying on top of her physical care has also helped her too – and that involves "bleach baths three times a week."
She also said "wet clothes under old pyjamas at night" helps sooth her irritated skin – as well as swapping all clothes and linens to cotton.
Claire even takes her own bedding to a friend's place if she stays the night because if she uses their bedding she will "wake up a mess."
But rather than hiding her skin like she used to, Claire is now confident enough to wear "dresses and t-shirts" – which she avoided in her twenties.
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