Hello lovelies, I’ve been a wee bit MIA for a week or so since I’m getting back into the swing of being back in the swing of college. (That’s right, no?) Firstly, this cute little chap is Max. He’s my parents (and technically brothers) long haired daschund. He is a very very itchy dude.
So inlight of my family dog’s itchiness, this is sort of an ode to him through my own itchiness. Anyhoo, today I’m talking about something that’s actually a major bother to me every late spring/summer: Dyshidrotic Eczema. It’s gross, it hurts and I wish I didn’t have to deal with it.
What this nasty thing I’m talking about is form of eczema (here the skin cells basically take too long to renew themselves from what I understand in the most laymans terms) that manifests its nasty self in the form of teeny tiny little water blisters on my fingers. My baby soft mitts freak out when the weather gets warmer (myself too, keep me in autumn all year round and I’d be stoked) and once the itching starts theres no going back- soon my hands will be drier than the Sahara, peeling and cracking. I was diagnosed with Dyshidrotic Eczema at some point in my teens by a Dermatologist and since I was a teenager and stopped listening to everything my Doctor was telling me after my teenager brain wondered into a world of converse and All American Rejects singer crushing (Swing, Swing video am I right?) I’ve had to teach myself how to deal with sore, sad summer hands every year since I was around 14, I am very fortunate that I don’t have an acute case of Dyshidrotic Eczema and sometimes it’s milder than other depending on other factors.
Firstly, let me tell you how this actually presents itself: as seasons change and it becomes warmer, birds start tweeting and flowers pollenating but I start off by getting a strange throbbing feeling in my fingers, a few itchy fingers her and there which I always scratch because thats instinct even though I probably shouldn’t. Then the water blisters appear. Now two things can happen from here: either I’m gross and I ‘accidentally’ pop them making it more itchy cause more to appear or I catch myself in the act and try the route of avoiding popping the blisters. Now let me tell you these water blister hurt like a mofo. To the point where it actually hurts to bend my fingers. If it gets really bad or I am really stressed, even once the skin begins to feel like an elephants and peel, more of these vile things will appear. There’s a very strong correlation between Dyshidrotic Eczema and stress as well as allergies. When I was little I was allergic to everything and had to drink soy milk (which as pricey as it is now was waaayyy more back in back in ’89). So then there’s a phase where my finger skin is pealing and a bit dark and rough. Then I’m usually a bit happier because I know there’s an end to this madness.
What I’ve learned over my itchy handedness that helps it from being really horrific to see:
1. Avoid Sulphates.
When I worked in a pastry kitchen for my cousin in Canada, I was washing pans as well as my hands about a million times a day. My skin hated me but I wasn’t sure why. I liked to think that maybe my hands wouldn’t know it was Spring since I was indoors. Until recently where I worked at a much loved cosmetics store I realised during the countless demos that it might actually be the sulphates causing me to itch and have sore, irritated hands. Sulphates are found in nearly everything we use and you might find Sodium Laureth (or Laurel) Sulphate as the foaming agent in detergents and soaps. Even though I can’t avoid them completely, I try and have a look for pure glycerine soap (Rain is amazing) and use gloves when doing dishes now.
2. A good hand cream without any petroleum
Any petrol derived product does not need to be around skin let alone when it’s super itchy. Mineral oil is also a sneaky filler that’s derived from petroleum so keep an eye on those labels. I like to use Lush’s Handy Gurugu R120 because it’s loaded with calming ingredients such as Rosewater and Camomile Blue and for something more purse friendly that I can use a bit more often because it’s easy to keep in my bag, Woolworths Hand and Nail R49,95. It’s extremely soft and doesn’t contain anything particularly harsh for my skin; plus the packaging makes me feel like a lady. I currently have the Gardenia scent but I am looking very longingly at the White Tea scent next.
3. Stop Picking
This is actually the hardest thing in the world for me to do. It’s instant relief which turns into something wicked later.
It’s probably my new favourite find in terms of being sneezy (Max is too, FYI) which also has a good effect on my overall itchy hand situation.
5. Give yourself a good hands soak in oat milk once a week
Oat milk is known for it’s calming, softening and soothing properties. If you feel really fancy, pop a sprig of lavender in there too. Make some extra and keep it in the fridge in a squirt bottle so that when an itch attacks, attack it back with a soothing mist. Also, it’s nice to add something a bit lux into your weekly mani routine. You can also use this lovely concoction on your sweet pooches if they are feeling itchy or hot too. I like to spray their bellies with a bit of mist on hot days.
That’s pretty much all it is really aside from an approach I’ve managed over the last year when it come to handling stress: allow yourself even just half an hour to not think about the stressful task at hand- have a bath or a long shower- just unwind. Then you’ll be able to tackle what ever it is with a clear mind. And also you probably wont get an eczema flare up. So Max and I both have to take antihistamines, avoid harsh chemicals and stop itching.
Let me know if there’s anything else you can recommend or gentle hand creams or even if you do have eczema and what you’ve found works well for you.
Love and throbbing fingers*(which is why I wrote this. The heat combined with going back to college stress has had a few little monsters creep up on my middle finger that I wish I had a macro lens strong enough to take a pic of it’s progression but instead you get to see how cute my family dog is)