Over the years, I discovered one thread is woven through many discussions of eczema: emotional wellness. Stress and anxiety can be as effective triggers of an eczema flare as fragrances, and other environmental factors. When the skin doctors once asked if I felt stressed, anxious, or depressed I answered, no.
Now I answer, who in their right mind doesn’t!
And given today’s times, the docs now laugh and nod.
But I can’t blame the wounded old world for this persistent, annoying, embarrassing, and expensive issue eczema is. No, senior citizenship, heredity and maybe allergies coalesced, forming a potential bonfire, and stress can be like a stupid match.
After all this time, I am not used to the new normal. Although eczema has been a way to meet new doctors, filling my day timer with lots of notes and scribbles.
It flares and subsides, but never disappears. Surely, it is not the worst of thorns, but it is a prickly one. Some days when the eczema flares, it robs me of patience, and more than a little hope; not to mention charm!
I am not alone: Eczema Facts.
Fellow sufferers have helped, offering their coping experiences. Doctors, too, suggest possible remedies, prescribing medicines, mostly steroid creams. Yes, steroid shots are great – Oh! I felt great! But they are not a cure.
When the dermatologists and allergists give conflicting suggestions, I am glad for other professional offices at the Internet, where I have gained equally from WebMD, the People’s Pharmacy and the Mayo Clinic’s suggestions.
Since 2012, I’ve collected quite a repository of “cures.” Because some days they work and other months they don’t, I am reluctant to toss any whose expiration date is recognizable.
To date, I’ve discovered nothing to make this annoying companion stay gone for good. I just want it gone – but it ain’t going. However, I’ve discovered a few tricks: ideas that reduce stress, too, when I remember what they are.
Do not scratch the itch . . . (oh right—easier said than done!)
Likewise when I start to feel stress build (or anxiety knock) – remember: don’t invite it in for a chat. (Almost as hard a suggestion as not scratching!) Scratching exacerbates eczema the way stressing depletes my energy, wit, and charm. (Matthew 6:27)
Stressing is not a super power! Not scratching an itch is!
Anyway, it’s not like anybody is asking me how solve the stressful problems the news reports. Which is another stressor . . .
Apply a cold compress on the itchy skin.
The command Chill! isn’t in Scripture, but many invitations to rest in God are. A cold compress to my skin is as restorative as this favorite invitation:
This is what the Lord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls . . . (Jeremiah 6:16)
Keep the skin clean, and moisturized. (See Eczema Treatment)
I can’t ignore the health problems eczema brings if I am to be a good steward of this aging body. Just as I need to follow good orderly directions for tending my skin, I need spiritual guidance because my soul can be as itchy as the stupid eczema! Psalm139:23-24 is both a reliable soul cleanser and moisturizer.
I am not quite over the awkwardness of wearing white cotton gloves to protect my skin; it’s a stressor. They seem to telegraph, “unclean.” Maybe because white gloves are really hard to keep clean!
However, friends are used to it, and strangers may think I am just a germaphob. (I am, kind of.) Or, they may think I am a cute old lady just on my way to a tea party. Or, maybe they don’t even see me!
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
How about YOU, dear reader? What life lessons is good stewardship of YOUR tent teaching you?
You might like: Getting Out of the Bubble. The author is a dear!