My Hidden Battle With Eczema
Written by Cimoan Atkins
We hear stories of people affected by all kinds of skin conditions including vitiligo and lupus, and everything else in between.
But for those who suffer from eczema, there are no magazine spreads or proclamations that ‘we are beautiful too’.
I get it, eczema comes with flakes, cracking of the skin, blood, sores, dark marks and scars, not to mention the constant itching.
Keeping us moisturized and away from the public eye is the prescription. We are given harmful topical creams that none of us know the long term effects of. We are given manufactured and processed this and that to keep from getting dry and offending others.
Meanwhile we suffer in silence because nothing seems to be working. So we hide. No one really knows our pain. We had to figure it all out the hard way. Trial and error. From our stained greasy shirts in the winter to our product filled washroom cabinets, we are figuring it out.
My path to figuring it out led me to see how I could use food to naturally repair my body.
I went to countless family doctor visits, countless referrals to the dermatologist, evenings and weekends walking up and down the pharmacy aisle at the drugstore trying every product that specialized in eczema care or “skin renewal”. Nothing, I mean nothing, worked. Eczema covered almost 95% of my body. I was sick of the itching, the teasing, and the hiding. I had to figure out a way to get rid of this thing that I was constantly told will never go away.
With no products left to try that I had not already tried and failed, I turned to watching what I was eating. Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall eczema was the only constant in my life. It affected everything I did and wanted to do. Nope, no bathing suits, nope no shorts, nope no t-shirts, and definitely no to public spaces. I could not dare show my skin as I was made to feel that it was a plague.
Watching my food, I noticed changes. My eczema was starting to disappear. First my neck, then my arms, then my legs. This did not happen overnight but it was happening. I did not go from meat eater to vegetarian overnight either. I made small changes first and watched how my skin reacted. I started with eliminating eggs. After a few weeks, I started noticing changes in how my eczema appeared on my skin. I had less itching and bleeding. I then eliminated all dairy. No milk, no cheese, no butter, no yogurt. If it had dairy in it, I was not eating it. This was the biggest noticeable factor in my eczema. After eliminating dairy, my neck; the palms of my hands; my arms; my stomach; and my legs were healing and started clearing up.
After this huge improvement in my skin quality, I started paying more attention to how I was eating, how my food was prepared, and what I was putting on my skin. I became more body aware and health conscious. I started exercising, drinking lots of water, added a lot more vegetables to my daily diet, I eliminated meat completely, and used only natural oils like coconut and olive oil to clean and moisturize my skin. In taking better care of my skin, I dropped a significant amount of weight at the same time.
Today I am still a vegetarian. That is no meat, no fish, and no dairy. Food was and is my medicine. It is healing and cleaning my inside and it is reflective on the outside. I still have my scars from the years of itching, bleeding, and flaking. They are minor but I still have them. I see them as my battle scars and my badges of honour. They are reminders of the years of battling my eczema and the people that bullied me because of it. I still have my flare ups due to weather changes, dust or reactions to chemicals and household cleaners but my eczema can no longer get the best of me because I am figuring it out. I am figuring out my eczema and it is my mission to help others figure out.