the SKINny girl

living with eczema, allergies and other skin issues

A Brief History

Skin issues have been THE main health issue of my life. The term sensitive skin doesn’t even come close to defining the largest organ of my body.

Hives were unpredictable. Itchy, mostly. Hot. The hives I had knew no boundaries — face, upper torso, arms, legs. You name it, it’s been there. I started getting these rashes when I was in elementary school. I think I had them until I was in junior high, but I can’t remember for sure.

The rashes looked like a map of the world — large countries with jagged borders and tiny islands.

Sometimes, I would press an ice cube down on one of the rashes and watch it quickly melt. I’d do the same thing with a cold coin, pressing it down, then flipping it over and feeling how hot it got.

I remember going to an allergy clinic and having an allergy test done on my back. I was told I was allergic to “everything” from cats to dust to mold. Pollen. Grass. Trees. The world. “You must be really itchy!” an allergy assistant joked. Ha.

We tried a diet that included eating only Kix cereal and other flavorless foods.

The rashes stopped around high school, only to be replaced by eczema.

I had them in the bends of my skin — the opposite sides of my elbows, behind my knees. They were itchy, but they weren’t too bad. I think I perpetuated the eczema but constantly touching the rash, but that’s the obsessive-compulsive in me.

At times, I would wear thick sweaters and jackets in the middle of a San Diego summer simply because I wanted to hide my disgusting, itchy, raw arms. “Aren’t you hot?” my classmates would ask. I’d shrug it off.

I remember going to a doctor who prescribed Predinisone to rid me of my skin problems. I think I initially went because my hives had erupted again. The steroids quickly eliminated the hives. I continued to take them. I started to eat a lot. I gained weight. My face puffed up.

I had no idea what was going on with my body but when I finally went to another doctor to see why I was gaining so much weight, I was told that I needed to stop taking the steroids, but I needed to taper off the pills. I also found out that the doctor who prescribed the Prednisone no longer practiced at the facility I was seen at.

I lost the weight. Half of the pictures in my senior yearbook show me with a full moon face. Half look like me. I remember one of my classmates asking me, “Wow, April. Breaking a hundred?” (I had always been a tiny, slim girl. I’m only 5’3″. She was commenting on my weight gain.) I thought it was really cruel. I told her I was on medication for a health condition. That shut her up.

I don’t remember having skin issues during college. Maybe they weren’t too problematic.

Post-college, I had a really bad eczema on the skin connecting my left foot to my ankle. It started small and grew larger. It was there for a couple of itchy years, years where, at first, I was embarassed and would wear nylons even in 90 degree heat. I slowly started not caring what others thought. Who cares if it looks gross to them? Doesn’t bother me. Maybe I liked scratching it? When someone asked what it was, I had no problem telling them what it was. I learned to sit so that my other ankle would cover my eczema ankle, and if someone saw it, I didn’t care.

My most recent eczema problems started last December. These have been the most severe: bleeding, open wounds, dry skin, inability to do everyday activities. The severity would not have been as big of a problem if the eczema were on my arm. This eczema was on my hands. First on my fingers (both sides), then my palms.

I’m optimistic about finding out what’s causing this. I’m more aware of my body than I have ever been before. This blog is going to help me be even more aware. I hope it helps you too.

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