I’ve had my fair share of immune-related health issues growing up – asthma, environmental & food allergies. All it took was eczema to open up my eyes to what was really going on with me. I’ve told a high-level summary of my story to friends and family but I don’t think they knew how severe my condition was. I did a great job hiding it because it was hidden behind my clothing. I was very lucky.
Eczema first appeared on my fingers during my teenage years but it was only during the winter season. I attributed it to the dry air so I lathered up in lotion and used topical steroid cream when my skin would crack and bleed. It was never serious enough to be of concern.
A red patch first appeared on my left foot late in the summer of 2014 and soon started spreading up my leg. There was a lot going on in my life during that year – I was newly engaged, I had injured my toes which left me sedentary for several months, I started a new job, and I started teaching fitness classes again. I saw a dermatologist who prescribed a potent topical steroid cream which helped clear the inflammation. But several weeks later, it came back and started spreading again. After doing some research, I decided to go the holistic and natural route to healing. I wanted to find the root cause.
I embarked on elimination diets like Whole30 and sought the help of a clinical nutritionist who did Nutrition Response Testing (NRT) and tried my best to eliminate foods I was supposedly intolerant to. I had such a difficult time sticking to it. I was in denial and feared that I would not be able to eat these foods again. I was taking multiple supplements daily, food journaling, and switched to natural products. I went to get all sorts of Asian bodywork done (Acupuncture, Tui Na, Moxibustion, etc.) and saw a Naturopath as well. I would still flare up and then have periods of calm skin. Just when I thought I had found a trigger, something would come up that would make me second guess. It was a frustrating time.
I had an aha moment when I took a week off from work. I spent several days visiting a friend in another state and decided I was not going to worry about my diet and just have a great time. I was amazed to find that my skin didn’t flare up at all that week. When I got back home, my skin was inflamed again. That’s when I started looking into stress as a potential trigger.
My life revolved around the condition of my skin. I was consumed by the process of natural healing. I wanted to heal and I wanted to heal fast. When the rashes started spreading up my arms and across my chest, that’s when I started to really worry. The last thing I wanted was for it to spread to my face. I knew I had to do something.
I was unhappy at my job. I had embarked on a new career but I lacked confidence. What would I do next? I had no clue and was starting to feel vulnerable. But the one thing I knew was that I needed a break. I needed a break from everything that was going on in my life. I made the courageous decision to leave my job to take several months off to relax and find myself again. And you know what happened?
My skin started to heal!
It was miraculous. Within a month, my skin was healed over 70% of my body. I couldn’t believe it. From there I decided to stop everything else – the dieting, supplements, food journaling, body treatments, etc. Over a year later, my skin is still clear except for some stubborn patches on my ankles. I’m not worried about those because it’s such a minor issue now. I consider this a success!
My instinct was right that stress was the trigger. But I wasn’t sure if that was the root cause. Either way, the work didn’t stop there. I had to dig deeper into why the stress was there in the first place and how to work through them so I’ll know how to better manage it in the future. This was where I discovered the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, which also led me to where I am today as an Eating Psychology Coach.
I’m one of many unique cases of how I was able to heal my skin by listening and trusting my mind and body. There’s so much information out there that it can feel overwhelming and confusing. If you’ve been there yourself, you know that what works for one person may not work for another. We’re all different! We have to be patient and experiment. This is why scientists and doctors still can’t truly determine the exact cause of it. Eczema is such a complicated condition because I believe it’s a deeper life message or story that needs to be uncovered and worked through. That’s one of my missions as an Eating Psychology Coach.
For those of you who are reading this right now and are struggling with eczema or know someone who is, please know that this too shall pass and that you/they will heal! <3