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I got yet another new Dx today: eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. Yippee.

Although I’ve had dry skin patches for years, this past winter was particularly stressful, and stress can trigger eczema outbreaks. For example, I had a dry patch on my left eyelid for the last couple of winters – annoying, but no big deal. This year, however, both eyelids were affected, with scaling skin that would flake off until my poor lids were raw, red, and the skin got leathery. Not cool.

I tried eye cream. It actually burned rather than soothing. I tried regular lotion. Nope. A&D ointment worked OK, but gave me Vaseline eyelids and the goo would always get on my glasses. Yuck. I also have a few other dry patches, some of which got really painfully itchy this last year. Dandruff (seborrheic eczema) which is otherwise just an occasional irritation got so bad that there were scabby patches that made my scalp hurt. While a little dandruff shampoo cleared that up eventually, it was by far the worst I’d ever experienced.

Eczema is one of those conditions where they don’t know what causes it, but they do know what makes it worse, like dry weather conditions (and stress). There may be ongoing symptoms but also outbreaks of more severe irritation. To my surprise, contact dermatitis is considered a form of eczema as well, and I’ve had that for years. Nickel makes my skin turn green with painfully itchy red bumps that drive me mad. It’s a good excuse for high-grade jewelry, as most stainless steel, silver, gold, and platinum are hypoallergenic.

The main treatments for eczema are preventative. Short showers that are not too hot, lotion immediately following bathing, and humidification in winters are all recommended. As for addressing outbreaks, I’m to use mild hydrocortisone cream, which I already discovered worked well for the super-itchy outbreak earlier this year. Sometimes steroidal creams are used for severe eczema, but I have it pretty mild and you can’t use anything strong (or with steroid content) on the eyelids because the skin is so delicate. So I’ve been instructed to use a thin layer of the hydrocortisone cream on my lids twice a day, and that should clear it up whenever there’s an outbreak.

Hey, it could be worse. In the grand scheme of things, this is just another minor nuisance.