My experience with hand eczema

Amy is Pai’s Communications & Connections Manager, and animal lover, organisation guru and amateur Kristin Wiig impersonator.  

Amy is one of many sensitive skinned souls who experiences eczema. Here she shares her experience and advice.

I have to start with a confession. My job at Pai requires me to understand sensitive skin and give recommendations based on that understanding. However a recent resurfacing of eczema across both my hands really showed me that there’s still so much I have to learn. Not only about the physical condition and what can trigger it, but also how it can make you feel.

I’ve had eczema since I was a child. My eczema comes in waves – just when I think to myself that I haven’t had it for a while, the next day I’ll be scratching at the inside of my index finger. I went through most of my adult years without any signs of it. It wasn’t until one Spring in my late twenties when it showed up in the most irritating of places – my eyelids.

That’s actually how I came across Pai. After weeks of asking shop assistants and trying lots of different products to no avail, I started to do my own research so that I could have a better understanding of what I should be looking for on ingredients lists.

That’s when I read this blog post about how seasonal changes and allergies can be a trigger. Immediately I felt better because it spoke about exactly what I was experiencing and with my new found knowledge I was in a much better position to start taking back control.

 A problem shared is a problem halved…

A couple of years on and I found myself working in the Marketing team. So when my next flare up on my hands started, I felt that I was equipped with enough knowledge to handle it myself.

Turns out that wasn’t the case. In trying to get to the bottom of it on my own (its very much in my character to not ask for help, to my real detriment) I let it get so bad that by the time I asked someone for help my hands were in a really bad way. Performing basic daily tasks, like typing, were painful, physical touching like shaking hands was unthinkable and sleeping comfortably was a write-off.

Sarah was horrified that I hadn’t come to her sooner.

Eventually, I knew I needed to ask for some advice, and after a regular marketing meeting with Sarah, I decided to show her my eczema. I should say at this point that Sarah was horrified that I hadn’t come to her sooner. She’s extremely open and always makes time to speak to people, especially if they’re experiencing challenges with their skin.

She took a quick look and then surprisingly didn’t really ask me anything about my skin. She asked me how I was feeling. To which I’m not too proud to say I almost burst into tears. I was feeling rotten. It had got me really down. And, I know it sounds ridiculous, but the worst of it for me was that I had recently been married and not being able to wear my engagement and wedding rings was really upsetting me. I’m also a rather tactile person and often gesture and touch people, which I definitely couldn’t do as I didn’t want to draw any attention to my hands.

But what came next was something I had never heard of before.

She then asked me about things in my lifestyle – this is the stuff I thought I knew. I’d been eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, getting a good amount of exercise, I wasn’t particularly stressed. But what came next was something I had never heard of before. “Have you been eating oats?” Sarah said. “Oats?!” was my reply, “yes they’re great for eczema”. I’d been eating granola every day. Little did I know that they were my number 1 trigger.

Sarah explained that topically oats can be a fantastic calming agent. But if ingested, can cause real issues. I cut them out the very next day and sure enough, my eczema started to dry up almost immediately. Sarah asked me to keep her updated and told me that it wouldn’t necessarily be an overnight fix.

No matter who you are or what you do (even if you’re supposed to know this stuff like me) it’s ok to ask for help…

What came next was extreme dryness – a vast improvement on the rawness I’d been experiencing previously. At that point, all my hands needed was moisture, moisture, moisture. I used our Instant Therapy Hand Cream every couple of hours throughout the day for about 5 days. It’s the only hand cream I’ve ever come across that doesn’t require a 10 minute dry-off period after you apply it. I could pop it on and get straight back to my emails.

Lo and behold in a matter of days it was practically gone and I could put my rings back on. And shake as many peoples’ hands to my heart’s content, whether they wanted to or not.

Thinking about it positively, it’s helped me better understand what it feels like to be at a loss as to what to do about your skin, which really helps me in my job. And to know that no matter who you are or what you do (even if you’re supposed to know this stuff like me) it’s ok to ask for help. There are people here with fountains of knowledge – Sarah, obviously but also our brilliant Customer Experience team.

If any of this sounds even remotely familiar to you, I highly recommend not keeping it to yourself. You can always talk to someone at Pai like I did. A problem shared is a problem halved, or in my case solved.

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