While attending a birthday party over the weekend, I had the chance to talk with J (who I hadn't seen in way too long). It turns out she has eczema too, so we talked about it a little, and I realized that I actually didn't know that much about the condition besides the fact that I had it and it was making me pretty miserable sometimes. I've had various doctors tell me different things over the years, but the gist was that I had eczema, and here were some things I should do, here's a prescription, and if it gets worse, call us.
It was determined early on that I had sensitive skin, so the soaps and such we used around the house were usually purchased with that in mind, but I hadn't had any real skin problems that I can remember. It wasn't until my late teens/early 20's that the eczema manifested itself. It started with dry itchy patches, on my legs and then moved on to my toes and the soles of my feet. It became something I learned to cope with. The severity would come and go, but it was always there. Every couple of years when it would flare up, I'd go to a new dermatologist who would tell me the same thing the last one did, and then write me a prescription for a topical cream/ointment.
Today, I finally looked up eczema on wikipedia. It looks like I don't have just one type of eczema. I have three. One being the more common atopic eczema, which makes the inside of my elbows and the back of my knees itch like crazy during the summer. The other two are less common. Dyshidrosis eczema is what has plagued my fingers and toes for years, and is currently what's causing my hands to look pretty awful. Discoid eczema is the term for the dry itchy patches I get on my legs, usually during winter. None of them are contagious, some of them are hereditary. All of them require that I moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
So, now I have lots of information, but no groundbreaking remedies for my constant itching and scratching. Though some how knowing a little bit more makes me feel just a little bit better.