I am 42 and have suffered from eczema all my life, despite trying everything. When I was young, the condition affected my hands, arms, neck and the back of my legs. Now it’s my face and neck, and looks like sunburn. It can also make me feel as if I have flu: shivering one minute, hot the next. I’m a confident person but deep down I’ve had enough. Can you suggest anything?
Skin conditions can be hugely debilitating. The itching is hard enough but when the problem is so visible, it can affect self-confidence, relationships, even your work life. And in the case of many skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea, the skin may worsen with the stress and upset – a negative cycle that is incredibly difficult to break.
For this reason there are now hospital specialists focusing on psychological dermatology and the close interplay of skin conditions and mental health. This can be very successful, both to improve symptoms and feelings, but also coping with the daily aspects of the condition.
A patient seeks advice from Dr Ellie on how to treat eczema, file photograph
To access this, it’s vital that your GP and dermatologist know how distressing the condition is, and the impact on your quality of life. Skin conditions do wax and wane and go through worse periods. This may depend on the climate, accommodation and household irritants.
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Email DrEllie@mailonsunday.co.uk or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.
Dr Ellie can only answer in a general context and cannot respond to individual cases, or give personal replies.
If you have a health concern, always consult your own GP.
But they can also evolve with age, and further conditions may even occur simultaneously.
For example, it is possible to develop rosacea alongside eczema or seborrheic dermatitis: such conditions would not respond to eczema management but need a totally new treatment regime.
This would need fine-tuning by a dermatologist alongside eczema treatment for success. The key to debilitating long-term skin conditions is a consistent and systematic approach to trying treatments from a dermatologist that acknowledges the full extent of the problem.