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  • B.Webster

A Holistic View of Eczema : Learning to Heal from Within

Sometimes it takes a major life change or health crises to begin listening to our bodies. We get busy, stressed, prioritize other things and somewhere along the way we lose sight of ourselves.

This is a personal story of my experience with eczema and gradual path to healing. It is a story of finding the root cause instead of treating symptoms.

And it is my constant reminder to listen and trust my own body (lest I unleash the eczema monster again).

"A chronic inflammatory skin condition, characterized by dry skin, with patches that are red and intensely itchy." - The Eczema Society of Canada

I used to think that eczema was a skin problem and could be managed with creams - an inconvenience rather than life-changing. It wasn’t until I lived with it for two years that I realized how it truly impacts your life: When your quality of sleep and ability to function on a day-to-day basis are threatened, how can you be expected to accomplish anything?

A neatly arranged child's closet showing books, toys and clothing.

At first, I considered eczema an outside plague, happening to me, rather than from within.

The First Two Years: Management Issues

In my early 30s, after the birth of my daughter, it seemed like one day eczema just snuck up on me – I ignored the early warning signs (a slight irritation along my shins for weeks prior) and I was surprised by our doctor’s diagnosis, assuming that eczema was more of a long-term condition begun in childhood. 1. My eczema first manifested on my legs and later began spreading to my hands. It became commonplace to awake several times in the night scratching my shins, often until they bled, and in the morning I would consider buying gloves, or better quality sheets. 2. At first, I assumed it was caused by something in my environment, so I made changes around the house (detergents, cleaning products, clothing). Anything that came in contact with my skin was scrutinized and substituted with a chemical-free, organic version. 3. I then sought out a naturopath who had me try an elimination diet and supplements. Sometimes, I felt there were small improvements, but I would always regress back to itching and redness.

During this time, I was offered suggestions from my doctor, family and friends to use certain creams, or add various products to baths. Some of the recommendations would temporarily soothe the itching and dryness, but they were Band-Aids rather than real solutions and I grew frustrated that no-one ever spoke of addressing the root of the problem.

Year Three: The Importance of Careful Observation

Though the changes I made to our household products and my diet were helpful, it became clear to me that diet and environment alone were not the full picture. I decided to keep a journal.

1. In the beginning, I was still convinced that diet was the main factor and concentrated on what I was eating and any reactions I had.

2. Once I began to include life events and stressors, I started to see patterns emerging. I noticed, for example, that after speaking to my mom on the phone, I had a severe flare-up of itching that I originally attributed to coconut ice cream; my life had become an emotional rollercoaster, heavily focused on my mom’s cancer diagnosis, financial issues and trying to juggle care for my daughter /part-time work/ day-to-day tasks...

The Breakthrough: In Treatment

To relieve some of the stress in my body and work through my emotional pain I tried a more holistic approach: Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex therapy (P-DTR): Neurological therapy to treat dysfunctional muscles, sensory nerve pathways and receptors.

Emotional Blueprint therapy: Reflexology, visualization and emotional release.

Incorporating stretching and gratitude into my morning routine.

Together, the treatments helped me overcome anxiety, release negative emotions and understand how to breathe more fully. Gradually, these changes, alongside increased exercise and a focus on daily self-care, allowed me to heal. I continued to keep a daily journal throughout this time (what I ate, how I felt, exercise, stressors, reactions to treatment) to pinpoint any flare-ups and watch for patterns. I also continued seeing a naturopath to ensure I had a professional guiding, advising and following me for supplement and diet choices.

For me, eczema was very much a manifestation of internal imbalances and in order to heal my skin, I needed to go much deeper than applying topical creams.

Hindsight is 20-20

I never would have believed the power and importance of little moments of quiet and gratitude to my overall health! Who knew taking a bath in the evening, reading a book before bed and taking half an hour on the yoga mat in the mornings were so integral to my mental and physical health.

1. The more time I have had to reflect on my eczema story and life without eczema, the more I realize just how strongly the mind and body are connected and how symbiotic their relationship is. 2. As I continue to emphasize self-care on a daily basis, I have also started to dig a little deeper into meditation, breathing exercises and being more present in my actions and words.

Further Reading:

Some books that I found useful to better establishing a connection with myself and my surroundings:

How To Breathe by Ashley Neese:

For beginners of breath-work or those seeking to hone their skills and work on specific emotions.

The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer:

For those wishing to dig deeper into their relationship with themselves (I recommend re-reading and taking it slow, it is a lot to take in).

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer:

For reconnecting with the Earth and changing your perspective.

Sometimes it takes a major trauma or event for us to ‘wake-up’ and listen to our bodies, so I try to check in every once in a while and ask mine how it’s doing, in the hopes of listening to its messages before they escalate to a tantrum!


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