Living with Eczema

SOMEONE manages Child’s Clothing – Eczema Trigger

Tiffany shares on clothing choice and care for her child
Tiffany shares on clothing choice and care for her child

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Tiffany to share how she manages her daughter’s eczema whenever she tries on new clothing. Tiffany is a mom of two and very active in social media, see her interesting Pinterest board here.

Marcie Mom: Hi TIffany, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! And I’m so excited about your aspect of life – trying new clothes, dressing our girls up! How did you discover that trying out new clothing is a trigger for your daughter? Is that the main trigger for her eczema?
Tiffany: When we try on new clothes, she breaks out into a rash on her face almost all the time! I think there is something in new fabrics that triggers the eczema. However, if I wash it first and then put it on her, there is no reaction.

Marcie Mom: Is your daughter’s eczema triggered by clothes that have yet to be washed (new clothes in store) or by certain materials used in the fabric?
Tiffany: I’ve been getting a mix but mostly 100% cotton clothing. I think it’s unwashed clothing that triggers it.

Marcie Mom: What care do you take to wash the new clothes? And did you get certain type of detergent or washing machine? Or have to sun it or not put it through the dryer?
Tiffany: I wash it with “unscented” detergent. I put it thru the washing machine and dryer. I have changed our family’s detergent all to the “unscented”

Marcie Mom: One final question – have you ever been tempted to just buy without letting your daughter try the clothes or request for hand-me-down to get around this trigger?
Tiffany: Yes, I have to buy without having her try it on but I would buy one in say a size 3T and then see if she fits after I’ve washed it. Then if she does, I can continue to buy without her trying on but I have to stick with the same brand.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Tiffany for your sharing! It’s very encouraging to see how everyone of us overcome eczema in our daily life, and nothing should stop us from our shopping lol!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE managed Moisturizing Eczema Child

Tina and her family, Tina shares on moisturizing for her daughter with eczema
Tina and her family, Tina shares on moisturizing for her daughter with eczema

This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Tina Santiago-Rodriguez, whose three-year-old daughter has had eczema since a year old and shares her journey in figuring out what to moisturize her child with. Tina is an award-winning writer at TrulyRichMom on her Catholic faith, homeschooling and parenting.

Marcie Mom: Hi Tina, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Can you share with us the severity of your daughter’s eczema and what triggers her eczema?
Tina: Hi Mei! Thanks for “having me over” here on your blog. My daughter’s eczema is most seen on her legs — usually the back of her upper thighs to behind her knees. The rashes, when they come out, are quite itchy. Usually, the eczema is triggered when she eats certain food like chicken and eggs, or when there are changes in weather or the environment.

Marcie Mom: As we discussed which aspect of life you’d like to share, what oils you’re using for your daughter seem to come to your mind first – why is that so? Is your daughter allergic to some skincare products you’ve used and that motivated you to find the right one for her?
Tina: I was actually looking for skincare products that were not “artificial” i.e. natural and made from organic, natural sources. She didn’t/doesn’t seem to be allergic to other skincare products but I wanted to use products that are as gentle and “safe” as possible, which is why I was led to use nature-based oils.

Marcie Mom: Many parents have sort of settled on the bath oil and moisturizer to use for their child, and everyone goes through a process of figuring it out (I’m sure ALL of us had, at one point or another, shelves full of different brands!). Do share with us your journey to figure out what works for your daughter.
Tina: Actually, we’re still on that journey to find out what works for her, haha! Seriously though, I’m still using different brands of nature-based oils to see which works best for her. I have, however, chosen to limit her baths to once a day if possible, so that her skin won’t dry out that much. Come to think of it, we SHOULD probably try to use bath oil in her bathing water — I’ve never tried that! I have tried bath salts that were claimed to be good for skin conditions like eczema when she was younger, but they didn’t seem to work for her. So, you could say we’re still figuring things out. Hopefully, we’ll be able to come up with a good skincare regimen for her.

Marcie Mom: One final question – is there a super oil that you’d absolute swear by, one that you’d bring if your family is off for a holiday?
Tina: Yes, I’d TOTALLY recommend Mommy Patch’s Argan oil, which is available on Multiply and has distributors not only in the Philippines but also in Singapore, Malaysia and India. I noticed that when I use it, even just a bit, my daughter’s eczema improves considerably even in a short time.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Tina for taking time to share your journey with moisturizing oils; while every parent will decide on something that works for their child, it’d certainly be amusing and heartwarming to read each other’s journey!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE manages TWO kids!

Jennifer shares on managing a second child when the first has eczema
Jennifer shares on managing a second child when the first has eczema

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Jennifer Roberge, whose eldest son Tristan has had eczema from three-month old and shares how she manages taking care of him while having another child. Jennifer is a blogger at It’s an Itchy Little World and a mompreneur who started her own company and online store The Eczema Company – she’s a return guest on my blog and you can read her first interview on her mompreneur journey here. Marcie Mom: Hi Jennifer, thanks for taking part in my 2013 blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Share with us a little on the severity of Tristan’s eczema when you were pregnant with your second child; was it tiring even before the second one was born?

Jennifer: During my pregnancy, Tristan (just shy of two years) had severe eczema behind his knees, around his midsection, around his ankles, wrists, and hands. It was dry, flaky, inflamed, and extremely itchy. My husband and I would lie awake with him at night trying to help him settle back down to sleep and try to forget the incredible, over powering urge to itch. So, we weren’t sleeping well to begin with – add to that the end of my pregnancy where sleep tends to evade mothers to be. They weren’t the easiest of times, that’s for sure. The eczema worsened after the baby was born, and continued to cover his body. Around three he was 90% covered, head-to-toe in eczema and resembled a burn victim. It was a difficult balancing act, trying to prevent my son from tearing up his fragile skin and managing an infant.

Marcie Mom: I know that Tristan has allergies too. Did you manage to figure out what’s triggering the majority of his eczema flares and his allergies before the birth of your second child? And did being able to manage somewhat his eczema helped in your decision to have a second child?

Jennifer: To be completely honest, when we decided to have a second child, Tristan’s skin was much less severe, so his condition didn’t really play much of a part in our decision. When things started to worsen during the pregnancy, my goal was to determine all of Tristan’s triggers and to get control over his eczema before the baby was born, but it didn’t happen that way. We hit rock bottom after the baby was born and when Tristan head-to-toe, severe eczema. No one in the house was sleeping, so we went for extreme methods and did a full elimination diet and saw results within days. It was nothing short of a miracle for our family.

Marcie Mom: Do share with us how you manage the breast-feeding, taking care of a new born, when Tristan I suppose do still need attention to his eczema and allergies? What was the toughest part?

Jennifer: Tristan needed constant supervision back then, not because he was only two, but because he’d scratch his skin raw if we left him alone for a minute. So, breast-feeding was extremely difficult. Tristan was very jealous and wasn’t a fan of my alone time with the baby during nursing, so when I was alone with the children, I’d cover Tristan’s hands with ScratchMeNot mittens and distract him with a book during nursing. Yes, I managed to learn how to read to him breast feeding! I also remember I relied on an infant wrap a lot during the first few months. I’d have my baby safely attached to me and I’d have free hands to help Tristan when he needed me. The wrap was essential back then. What was the hardest part of it all? When no one was sleeping – not the baby, not Tristan, not my husband or I. It’s one thing getting up to nurse throughout the night, but add to that frequent wakings and hours spent with an uncomfortable toddler that will do anything in his power to scratch until he draws blood.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what word of encouragement would you give to someone who just found out she is pregnant with a second child while the eldest has eczema?

Jennifer: Buy a good infant wrap or sling. Try to work on determining your child’s eczema triggers before the baby arrives – we waited too late. If your child wakes a lot during the night, try rotating nights with your partner. One night you take all the shifts with your restless child, the next time it’s your partner. And nap as often as you can to catch up on lack of sleep.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Jennifer for sharing your personal journey, it definitely strikes a chord with many moms out there!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE manages Bathing and After-Bath Skin Care

Read on Julie sharing how she manages bathing and after-bath skin care
Read on Julie sharing how she manages bathing and after-bath skin care

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Julie C., a married mom, who has had eczema since she was 5 years old and shares how she manages her baths and after-bath skin care. Marcie Mom: Hi Julie, thanks for agreeing to be part of this series! You were sharing with me that your eczema may not be apparent to many, had it been more severe in your childhood?

Julie: Yes, as a child I had very visible eczema patches on my face, arms, and legs. Not only was the eczema painful but the other kids teased me about it. My parents tried to help, but none of the remedies recommended by our doctors worked. Unfortunately, it continued into my teenage years and made it difficult to date. Today, I get lots of compliments about how beautiful my skin is.

Marcie Mom: Were there any difficulties you had managing your bath and the after-bath skin care? And how have you finally figured out a routine that works for your skin?

Julie: Yes, there were. Many soaps and shower gels would burn. Many lotions would burn and make things worse – especially on my face.

For bathing, I use a mild soap which is safe for the face too. If I am having a flare up, plain warm water works best for me until the flare up passes. Sometimes when I feel a flare up coming on, I am able to use a liquid antihistamine to stop it.

As an adult, I’ve come to realize my eczema definitely has environmental triggers; however, for me, stress is big a trigger too. To manage stress, I exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep.

Just by doing a little observation and research, I learned what my environmental eczema triggers are, how to avoid them, and what to do if I accidentally come in contact with them.

One big environmental trigger is clothing. People with eczema may want to avoid red clothing. The red dyes seem to be a trigger. Also, be careful about what you wash your clothes with. Your laundry detergent doesn’t ever completely rinse out of your clothing and it could be contributing to your flare ups. The same thing applies to liquid fabric softeners.

Certain foods can lead to flare ups too. For example, there is a certain brand of spaghetti sauce which causes flare ups for me and my niece.

Marcie Mom: What about cosmetics? Any allergies to any cosmetics and what do you do to minimize any potential eczema flares, especially on the face?

Julie: I don’t have a need for foundation, but I do wear lipstick and it can be hit and miss. Most of the pricier brands seems to be safe; however, I once got an eczema break out on my lips from a specific shade in a brand I frequently use!

Marcie Mom: One final question – do you have a favorite facial mask for your face?

Julie: My facial regimen is surprisingly simple.

No facial masks at this point. For washing I use: a mild soap, sometimes I only wash my face with plain warm water, and sometimes I use a rice scrub for sensitive skin to exfoliate. (Warning: Never exfoliate when you’re in the middle of a flare up!) I always use my hands to wash my face – never a cloth or a sponge. I do not dry my face either. After cleansing, while my face is still wet / damp, I apply a very mild moisturizing lotion or a dot of petroleum jelly.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Julie for taking time to share this with me, and many other ladies out there will surely be able to identify with your routine!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE managing Bedtime for Eczema Child

Lok kids
Mommy Lok shares on managing bedtime

This is a eries focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Vida Lok, whose 4 year-old son has had eczema since he was a few months old and shares how she manages bedtime for her son. Vida blogs at MommyLok on her three children and book reviews written by her daughter.

Marcie Mom: Hi Vida, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Can you share with us the severity of your son’s eczema and which are the triggers you’ve figured out?

Vida: Hi Marcie Mom!  My pleasure and thank you so much for blogging specifically about eczema.  I know this issue causes heartaches for many parents, including myself.  The worst of my son’s eczema is primarily focused on the hands, feet and neck area (up to the ears).  His skin can get so irritated that it causes bloody cracks all over his fingers and also at the bottom of his earlobe.  Many times, I wake up to find blood spots all over the pillow and bed sheets.  As for triggers, I haven’t determined what they are specifically though I would say it’s primarily weather-related.

Marcie Mom: Bedtime is the most difficult time to manage eczema for our children; the scratching intensifies when we just want to shut our eyes! Is your son sleeping well through the night, and what preparations do you take before, during sleep to minimize the scratching damage?

Vida:  At 4 years old, I was hoping that he would be sleeping on his own by now. However, he still wakes up (I’d say at least 6 nights out of the week) screaming in the middle of the night because he is so agitated.  It’s been a frustrating (and tiring) 4 years of this nightly routine.  Children just do not deserve this sort of torment!  Every day after his shower, we moisturize (mineral oil, creams and Vaseline) and then once again right before he sleeps.  However, like my daughter who has suffered through the same thing, all the moisturizers just seem to dry up upon contact to his skin.  It just does not seem to provide much relief.  We also use the humidifier since winter is so dry, but it hasn’t had much of an effect on his relief either.  The most effective preparation we have is to make sure that his fingernails are filed down every couple days to minimize the intensity of his scratching.

Marcie Mom: Many parents would love to figure out a way to get their children to sleep throughout, and for us, parents with eczema children – sleeping without scratching is already a dream come true! Is there a ‘magic’ trick that you’ve figured out, or anytime when your child slept without the scratching?

Vida: I really wish I could be that miracle mom and share the secrets of “curing” eczema for all the children who suffer from it.  However, sadly, I just have to wait for those occasional lucky nights where my son’s eczema is slightly better than the previous nights and he can sleep a bit more comfortably.

Marcie Mom: One final question – is it difficult to manage bedtime for your toddler, when you’ve another two children to take care of? How did you get them all to bed?

Vida:  You can say it’s a bit difficult!  My two sons share a room so that causes a problem right there (they’re too tempted to play and talk all night!)  Though sometimes it helps because if my toddler sees my older son going to bed, it’s easier to convince him that he should be in bed, as well.  My daughter is 8 years old now so she’s a little easier to manage (and also because bribery is more effective on her!)  As with most kids, I’m sure, some nights are easier than others.  I try to spend as much time with them at nighttime (since I work during the day, bedtime is where I get to spend quality time with my children) so some nights they actually look forward to bedtime.  Those other nights?  If I’m repeating myself over and over again to them (“It’s bedtime, go to sleep!”), they’ll eventually settle down because they’re tired of hearing me be so annoying!

Marcie Mom: Thanks Vida for taking time to share your bedtime journey, I’m sure many many parents out there can identify with your sharing! and yes, bed time is quality time for me too!

Vida:  Thank YOU for allowing me to share!  And best of luck to all the parents out there.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE managed Childcare

Andrea shares on managing childcare for her child with eczema
Andrea shares on managing childcare for her child with eczema

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Andrea Thomas, whose daughter has eczema from 2 months old and shares how she manages finding childcare for her daughter. Andrea is the founder of ScratchMeNot mitten sleeves, and a return guest on my blog (you can read her mompreneur journey here.) Marcie Mom: Hi Andrea, thanks for taking part in my 2013 blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Despite the busyness of your thriving business! Share with us a little on the severity of your daughter’s eczema and at what level of manageability was her eczema at when you’re considering alternative childcare for her?

Andrea: Thank you for a chance to participate in this series! My daughter’s eczema started off with a few red patches on her elbows, knees and face at 2 months. It quickly spread to half of her face, scalp, calves, feet and arms. She was scratching at any chance she could get and I could not let her out of my sight.

Around 5 months old, I decided to stay home, instead of return to work so I could care for her. This was partially because I didn’t want to miss her baby milestones, but also because I was not sure a daycare would have the time to tend to her skin regimen. I took on the challenge to figure out what was causing her eczema. Her pediatrician & dermatologist both agreed that it was not  food allergies. I later figured out that she was allergic to a few foods that was the cause of her eczema. I figured this out through an elimination diet. From there, I was then able to reduce symptoms and itching. And if I wanted to place her in childcare, I could, knowing her eczema would be manageable.

Marcie Mom: What would you say are some options available to you when you’re considering childcare? Preschool/ babysitter/ au pair? And what made you decide on the one you’ve settled on?

Andrea: I was considering daycare because I wanted my daughter to be around children her age and enjoy a play and learn schedule away from mommy and daddy. I looked into several locations and choose a daycare within our church. It provided her with some consistency with teachers and staff, and they had a plan for anaphylactic emergencies that may arise from accidental food ingestion that requires immediate attention. They were also a Nut-Free facility, which was important to me because this is her most severe allergen. I also gave them a Food Allergy Action Plan and went over it with them step by step. When she started daycare, her eczema was under control so the staff would not have to attend to her itchy skin, only focus on her food allergies.

Marcie Mom: Do share with us what are the planning required before you entrust your daughter with eczema to another caregiver.

Andrea: When I was beginning to consider childcare, I had no idea where to start, what questions to ask or how allergies and eczema care was typically handled.  I did research online to determine how food allergies are typically handled within childcare, and came up with a list of questions of my own to ask. I found out there were procedures and forms, including the Food Allergy Action Plan which gives detailed instructions on when to use the Epi-Pens for allergies, how to designate which food allergies she has and anaphylactic emergencies. Some childcare services are willing to create procedures with you for additional needs such as a skin care regimen, daily medicine for eczema.

I also gave them a list of symptoms to look for if she comes across any foods that could trigger her eczema, as well as anaphylactic reactions. Since my daughter’s eczema was under control, the daycare staff did not have to apply her creams or provide daily medication. I was able to continue with my home skin care regimen. However, in the event my daughter began scratching, she wore protective clothing that her teacher could easily flip closed to prevent her scratching from damaging her skin. I made sure she also wore clothing to deter scratching, like onesies, long socks and jeans. Sometimes she scratched out of habit or self-soothing, not necessarily because she is itchy.

Marcie Mom: One final question – what communication tips would you give to another parent in the US?

Andrea: ASK QUESTIONS! As many as you need to feel comfortable leaving your child in with any childcare facility or person. Some of the staff have never dealt with allergies and reactions before, but know how to administer medicine or Epi-Pens. It’s important to talk to them as if they have never dealt with an allergic reaction or eczema before. This will allow you to be as detailed and thorough as possible. One more thing is to listen to your gut instincts, if you do not feel comfortable with staff, a daycare facility, nanny or babysitter, try another one. It’s important that both you and your child feel comfortable and safe!

Marcie Mom: Thank you Andrea for sharing your journey managing your girl’s eczema and finding the right childcare for her, am sure many parents can identify with this!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE managed Infant Feeding

Connie shares how she manages her daughter’s eczema & feeding.
Connie shares how she manages her daughter’s eczema & feeding.

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Connie, whose daughter has eczema since infant and shares how she manages feeding (infant). Connie blogs at rayconniebaby.

Marcie Mom: Hi Connie, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your daughter’s eczema, when did she first have it and what was the most difficult part of managing her eczema?

Connie: We first noticed this rash appearing on her cheeks when she was a few weeks old. We thought it was milk rash but it was confirmed by the doctor that it was not milk rash as he explained that eczema rash will appear dry and crusty and what appeared on my daughter’s face was exactly what the doctor had described. The most difficult part of it was that it recurs on every couple of days despite me using cool boiled water to cleanse her face after every feed.

Marcie Mom: I know that you had a difficult time figuring what milk works for her. For those of you in the same situation, you can refer to nutritionist Judy Converse’s interview here. So Connie, do share with us your journey – what makes you suspect milk as a trigger, and did you subsequently get confirmation from any doctor?

Connie: We didn’t suspect anything unusual as my elder son had a similar symptom (dry and crusty skin on the cheeks area). But for my daughter it seemed like her condition was worse and recovering time takes longer than compared to her brother. The doctor then confirmed her situation as eczema and strongly suggested that we switch her milk to either soy based or hydrolysed milk as an alternative and asked us to observed if her situation will get better. Our first choice for her switch was to soy, her skin condition did improve a little. Then we finally switched her to hydrolysed milk and the situation never comes back!

Marcie Mom: I know that I have stocked many types of brands and many types of milk, and I’m sure Connie and many other parents with eczema children went through the same issue. Do read nutritionist Judy Converse Q&A on ‘Just Milk, but Complicated’ here. Connie, did you eventually settle on a type of milk, say cow’s milk/ hydrolysed milk/ goat’s milk? (Rice milk is of inadequate nutrition, do avoid.)

Connie: Yes we did. We gave her hydrolsed milk and there is no turning back. Now at 13mths old, she is still on hydrolysed milk.

Marcie Mom: One final question – if you were to turn back the clock, would you have gone through the same steps you took to figure out the right infant milk for your daughter? (for me, I would have started with hydrolysed milk and then not stress over milk till she had her allergy test!)

Connie: Perhaps I would have started her with hydrolysed milk from newborn.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Connie for sharing your journey on infant milk feeding, am sure many can empathize with it!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE manages Eating Out with Child

Lisa shares on managing her son’s eczema when eating out
Lisa shares on managing her son’s eczema when eating out

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Lisa, who is sharing on managing her son’s eczema when eating out. Lisa blogs at and also LifeofaHappyMom

Marcie Mom: Hi Lisa, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema, what’s the severity and his triggers?

Lisa: My older son’s eczema was quite severe as a baby, covering over 90% of his body. It is relatively mild now, but it still shows on his face and behind his knees, and he still itches other places.

There is no question that foods trigger his eczema. His gut is irritated, allowing food to pass through undigested, which the body attacks, causing inflammation, similar to how it attacks pollen in people who have environmental allergies. Once when he refused to eat for two days straight, his eczema almost disappeared. Eczema is not the only reaction he has, however; certain foods like milk can cause hives almost instantly, and some foods cause mild asthma-like symptoms which only last a few minutes.

Marcie Mom: Since your son’s eczema is triggered by food, can you share how his eczema flared when in contact with various types of food?

Lisa: He is more or less sensitive to most foods, but he doesn’t react to most of them instantly; they have to be absorbed and then he will show some reaction over time, in the form of more itchy red patches, usually on his face, neck, and behind his knees. It used to be all over. Eczema is not the only reaction he has, however; certain foods like milk can cause hives almost instantly, and some foods cause mild asthma-like symptoms which only last a few minutes. Recently he was playing in some white flour (I have some for science experiments, and his sister, who has no allergies, was digging for “dinosaur” bones in it on a rainy day for a school science project); he was fine until he rubbed his face, and then his eyelids began to swell and his face to feel hot and puffy. I rushed him to the bathroom and rinsed his face and washed his hands, and the reaction eventually subsided. He also has been known to throw up when he ingests certain foods; he used to throw up apples in all forms (even juice), but now he does okay as long as he eats only organic apples, and even those not every day.

Marcie Mom: Since we never really know what goes into outside food, how did you manage eating out? Do you take precautions (like epipen) or is there a tried and trusted way you identify where to eat to be safe?

Lisa: Because my son is not noticeably reactive to trace elements in food (if he were, I’d need two blenders!), and because of his tendency to throw up when he ingests too much of most high allergens, I have never gotten an epipen. However, since the list of things he cannot have is so extensive (including not just all the common allergens, but potatoes, corn, and other staples of many allergic and GF eaters), for most of his life I simply packed him a lunch. I would inform the server that he had allergies and so we had brought his lunch, and we never had a problem. Even in buffets, I would just tell them that he was allergic to everything (and when he was in the “I hate vegetables” stage, there was nothing he could and would eat), and they didn’t charge me for his meal. At 2 or 3, he didn’t care that he was eating something different from the family–that was the story of his life anyhow.

I once learned the hard way that you cannot assume a food will be safe. Once I found myself at the Olive Garden without his lunch. I had taken the bus, and we were too hungry to wait to go home. I ordered the GF pasta just olive oil and salt instead of the sauce, and double grapes, since he couldn’t have any of the juices they had. That night he had a rough time, wheezing and waking frequently. I wrote them and asked what was in the pasta (thinking back, I remembered it being a little yellow, as though it had corn). Not only did it indeed have corn, but also cheese and some other things that he is allergic to. So I learned to ask more questions about anything that wasn’t in it’s natural form.

Last month I once again forgot to pack his lunch, but this time we were eating at a buffet that had a huge salad bar. Since he has decided he likes veggies, though, it turned out okay. He ate lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, olives, kidney beans for protein, and jello for dessert. If I had planned better, I would have had a little something with more carbs in it, like bread or pancakes, but at least he ate enough. He did seem to react a bit more to that meal than he does at home, but I figure it is because we eat most produce organic, and he does do better on organic foods. But once in a while is okay for us.

Marcie Mom: One final question – do you have a fave restaurant or chef that dishes yummy food for your child and you have complete trust in?

Lisa: Yes! That buffet I just shared about is Sweet Tomatoes. There are several of them here in the Portland, OR area, as well as in other places. Besides salad, they have baked potatoes, several varieties of soups, muffins, faccocia bread, and pasta, as well as several dessert options. My husband is mildly sensitive to gluten, and I’m avoiding it while breastfeeding our youngest (who also has eczema, mostly in reaction to gluten and food colors, though I know there are some other triggers, just not strong enough to identify yet), and we both are able to eat as much as we want there. This last time I had two servings of salads, and he had a salad and a baked potato. They have a list of items on a card on the table that are gluten-free, and you can ask to see the ingredient list for any item available. Of course, if all you eat is salad, you know exactly what goes into it, and they have vinegar and oil available in bottles next to the dressings so that you can use those if you aren’t sure about the dressings, or are worried about contamination. Join their Veg Club and you’ll get coupons every week and never have to pay full price–they’ll even let you show the email on your smart phone so you don’t have to print it!

We have also found that in a pinch, my son will fill up on white rice, so Chinese and Thai food are also an option–but we usually try to at least bring some veggies and protein. But since we became concerned about GMOs, we have been leery of tofu and soy sauce unless we can read the label, so most of those places are not options for us now.

In summary, my advice to anyone would be to know your triggers, talk to managers if you are unsure about anything, and don’t be afraid to bring food if you or your child has allergies, especially if they can lead to life-threatening reactions when exposed to trace bits.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Lisa for sharing your journey with eating out with your son; it does take a lot of care and I’m wishing all moms and dads out there to have happy meals despite!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and Better the Future

Amanda of NSGCCE shares on how patients who participate in studies contributes lots!
Amanda of NSGCCE shares on how patients who participate in studies contributes lots!

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Amanda, who is a return guest to my blog; a previous interview with her was on building a vibrant support group, something which Amanda had successfully done through her twitter efforts for Nottingham Support Group for Carers of Children with Eczema (NSGCCE). This interview is special in that it’s not about Amanda (who also has eczema), but about the many eczema patients she knows who have helped better the future for eczema sufferers through their participation in eczema studies.

Marcie Mom: Hi Amanda, thanks for participating in this blog series.  I understand that NSGCCE and Professor Hywel Williams are supportive of research studies on eczema. As with all studies, the more participants, the stronger the conclusion for the study. How do patients normally become aware of a study that they can possibly participate in?

Amanda: That is such a good question, Mei.  If a researcher wants you, or your child, to be the subject of a trial, they should approach you with sufficient information (which generally has been approved by an Ethics Board) so that you will know what they are testing, what the alternative treatments in the trial might be, how long the trial is, how you can leave the trial early if you need to, and what the potential problems of participating might be for you. 

The other way of taking part in a trial is to take on a shaping role for the trial.  You might be invited to give the patient perspective on the design of the trial, you may be a co-applicant for the trial or you may join the management team which ensures the research follows its plan and monitors for problems. Quite honestly this side of participation has less of an obvious route.  It is, however, essential that patients help shape research – to ensure that it is going to be appropriate and meaningful for our future eczema treatment.

We all know that everyone with eczema finds that the eczema affects us in different ways different combination of triggers, different ways of life, different places the eczema affects, different skins which react in different ways.  And, yes, colour matters.  Research needs to reflect this diversity: get involved! So be proactive – speak to your dermatologist, join a patient group like that of the Centre of Evidenced Based Dermatology. 

Marcie Mom: For research studies to be effective, I’m sure variables have to be controlled and managed. What is the role of involvement of eczema patients in planning and developing the study?

Amanda: As a patient, you will be in an advisory position and will not be expected to do the work – but there will be a time commitment for periodic telephone conferences or meetings, over the length of the project.  The kind of questions you will be considering will be: are the outcomes meaningful, is the commitment from subjects realistic, is the patient information appropriate?  It is your chance to make this research really useful.

Marcie Mom: I suppose that certain actions need to be taken by the patient throughout the length of the study in order to collate the results. What are some difficulties that parents would have to deal with, in order to ensure that they are complying with the actions required?

Amanda: The difficulties for research subjects will vary depending on the trial of course.  But obvious concerns would be the length of the trial, whether the child has been allocated to a placebo (non-active intervention), inconvenience of testing (the test may be done some way from the child’s home, or may be done during school time for instance), the child’s eczema may flare or become unmanageable, family life may make it awkward to participate, perhaps the child might not so-operate (for instance if they need to use a stinging topical treatment or a horrid tasting medicine) – the list could be endless.  This is where a patient being involved in the design of the trial will make a huge difference by flagging up potential problems and trying to minimize them.

Marcie Mom: One final question – is there a study that has better-ed the life for eczema patients?

Amanda: Most research is building on research that has been done before, Gradually research moves us forward to a better place.  There is no doubt that I would rather have eczema now than 50 years ago because there is so much more known about eczema. And, of course, there is often a huge time lag between publication of results and implementation of findings.  Have a look at the GREAT database where there are some very interesting trials.

To my mind the eczema research priority setting partnership was one of the most interesting things done in recent years to attempt to prioritise what is really important to find out for eczema treatment in the future.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Amanda for taking time to share this important aspect of eczema study with us and I’m sure parents reading this will be more open to helping out in a future study!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and managed Allergies, Asthma and Make-up

Tristan Joseph shares on managing eczema, with asthma, allergies and make-up
Tristan Joseph shares on managing eczema, with asthma, allergies and make-up

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Tristan Joseph, who has eczema since her childhood and shares how she manages her make-up. Tristan is a support volunteer with The Eczema Society of Canada and also blogs at AtopicGirl on allergies, asthma and eczema.

Marcie Mom: Hi Tristan, thanks for taking part in my 2013 blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! How long have you had eczema, and did your allergies and asthma come at about the same time?

Tristan: I have pretty much always had eczema. A few days after my birth, my mom used a baby shampoo on me and my entire body broke out in rashes. My asthma, food and environmental allergies came about nine years later. To make it even more complicated my food allergies took a full eight years to really develop and some of the foods I was told that I was allergic to…well, I may not be allergic to them at all. I know I’m allergic to dairy, eggs, cashews, pistachios and I have a severe intolerance to shrimp. My environmental allergies also developed as I grew up. Spring is not my favourite season and I have pet allergies.

Marcie Mom: What are the triggers for your eczema? And are those triggers same as that for your allergies and asthma?

Tristan: Complicated answer again. My eczema is not triggered by my food allergies. I can have an anaphylactic reaction and my skin is just fine. Of course, if an allergen comes into contact with my skin, I break out in that specific area. I am extremely allergic to petroleum and its derivatives which are in a lot of dermatological products; so, that’s hard to avoid, but I manage. However, my asthma can be triggered by environmental allergens, like pet dander and pollen. Second- and third-hand cigarette smoke are major triggers for my asthma.

Marcie Mom: Is there any ingredient in makeup or skincare that triggers your eczema? And have you taken a patch test? For more information on allergy testing, do refer to interview with Dr Verallo-Rowell and Q&A with Dr Liew.

Tristan: I have to be very careful to stay away from petroleum. It’s in a lot of skin care and make-up products. However, I’ve found a make-up line that doesn’t use petroleum or mineral oil. I also have to make sure to avoid dairy, eggs and nuts in skin care and make-up. I’m always on the lookout for words like “lecithin” and “albumen”. Sometimes lecithin can be from soy, but it’s derived from egg as well.

As for patch testing, I always patch test new products and never use anything new if I have a big event coming up right away. I have recurring eye eczema; so, I’m careful about eye shadows, eye liners and mascaras. I also make sure to wash my make-up brushes weekly. The last thing I need is to apply make-up with a bacteria-ridden brush. As is the case for everyone, I throw out old make-up.

Marcie Mom: One final question – on bad days when you’ve allergies, asthma and eczema flares at the same time, what would be the top three actions you would take to calm the conditions

Tristan: All three? Yipes. It has happened and I basically go into my Plan Bs. What that means is that from day-to-day, I use Plan A – whatever I need to do on a daily basis to maintain my health. However, when Plan A doesn’t cut it for some reason – exposure to an allergy trigger – then I go to Plan B. That could mean taking more anti-histamines, increasing the dose of my maintenance inhaler (both as advised by my immunologist) and taking more time to get my skin under control – a bath, heavier moisturizers and cold compresses for inflammation. My Plan B is something I’ve developed through trial and error and with the advice of medical professionals.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Tristan for sharing your personal journey, on eczema, asthma, allergy and makeup. I love how systematic and in-control you are 🙂

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and managed Beach Holidays

Selena shares on beach holidays with her child with eczema!
Selena shares on beach holidays with her child with eczema!

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Selena Bluntzer, whose 4-year-old daughter has had eczema since she was 3 months old and share how she manages beach holidays with her family. Selena blogs at on her daughter’s multiple food allergies, asthma and eczema.

Marcie Mom: Hi Selena, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Can you share with us the severity of your daughter’s eczema and what are her triggers?

Selena: I would characterize my daughter’s eczema as mild to moderate.  It’s contained to mostly her hands, yet it flares on her legs, arms and torso, when she ingests an aggravating trigger (food or medication).  In the past, she has had some more severe bouts with staph infections, but things are better, now.  It has definitely improved with age and/or the fact that we’ve learned to control her triggers.  Her biggest triggers are her multiple food allergies.  She is also affected by the weather and I also believe stress affects her, as well.

Marcie Mom: Let’s talk holidays! Is a beach holiday something your family does often? And did you have any worries about how your daughter’s eczema and asthma would change on a beach holiday?

Selena: We live about 3 hours from the beach.  We’ve taken our daughter to the beach 3 times and she is 4 years old.  The first time we took her, we didn’t know about her food allergies, and didn’t know very much about managing her eczema.  We were certainly wondering how the change in environment would affect things.  After learning of her food allergies and asthma, we also needed to figure out how to pack for such a trip.

Marcie Mom: Share with us the preparations that you need to take, from planning the length of car drive, how often to stop and moisturize (or just do so in the car), what to pack – for her skin, and change of clothes? (I always pack three sets of clothes for a day holiday, to keep my daughter fresh and not trigger eczema flare.)

Selena: I guess I will cover our latest trip, for which we were probably the best prepared.  We typically plan to leave very early in the morning, stay one night and leave the following afternoon.  Since we’re dealing with food allergies, eczema and asthma, we always have to pack for all 3 conditions.

For the food allergy issue, we had to pack enough food to feed her for the duration of the trip.  She has multiple food allergies and we cannot count on being able to find safe foods when we travel, nor do we take the risk of letting her eat at restaurants.  We packed her favorite shelf-stable goodies and some perishable items in a large cooler, packed with plenty of ice.  (One time, we stopped for gas and were stranded for a couple of hours when our car battery died.  Most tow trucks do NOT have a place for a child car seat, and it took a while before someone could get our battery “jumped”, so we could get to the shop for a replacement.  It’s always good to have extra allergy-safe snacks on hand, because we can’t just pick up anything at the convenience store, with my daughter’s multiple food allergies.)  We had to pack her antihistamines and epinephrine auto-injectors (EAIs).  We took multiple sets of EAIs with us, because we did not know how far away emergency help would be, should it be needed.  I bought a waterproof carrier so we could take them down to the waterfront.

For her asthma, we packed her rescue inhaler (she was not on a daily medication, at the time), her nebulizer and medications.  We also had a power inverter so we could run the nebulizer inside the car, in case we needed to stop for any unexpected, sudden asthma attacks and were not near an electrical outlet (

For her eczema, we packed her ointments, lotions, allergy-safe sunblock, SunSmarties UPF clothing, including water shoes to protect her feet from the hot sand and a hat to protect her scalp (, and hydrocortisone and steroid ointments, for any serious outbreaks/spots.  For the car trip, I dressed her in thin, light clothing, and did the moisturizing before getting in the car.  The drive is just under 3 hours, so we only needed to do so once.  We changed clothes after every activity, and I basically packed two outfits for every activity/part of the day, in case she needed a fresh set.

For our next trip, I plan to take a freshly washed set of sheets with us, for lining the hotel bed.  She didn’t seem irritated by the sheets, or anything, but it just seems like a good idea, since you never know about bed bugs and such.

Marcie Mom: One final question – how did your daughter like the beach and did she swim in the beach water and play with the sand?

Selena: She loved it!  She loved playing in the water and didn’t want to get out, when it was time to go inside.  She really enjoyed digging in the sand and making sand castles.  I was worried, at first, about how that would affect her skin, but it turned out that it was like having a sea salt scrub spa treatment!  Her skin looked amazing at the end of our trip!  I thought she might have been troubled by the high salt content in her open splits on her fingers, but she was having too much fun to even care and never said a thing about it!  I was really impressed.  Now, I will say that I had to prep her skin with lots of Aquaphor ointment, beforehand, to protect it, because we went out once without it and it did get irritated, but as long as I remembered to do that each time, her skin came out looking renewed and fresh.  My husband and I have discussed taking more frequent trips to the beach, just based on the wonderful effect the beach had on her skin, aside from the enormous amount of fun she had!

Marcie Mom: Thanks Selena for taking time to share your journey on your daughter’s eczema and beach holiday. There are many beaches in Malaysia and Singaporean and Malaysian parents reading this may be motivated to take up your tips and head down to a beach!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and managed Outdoor Fun for Child

Joan Ong shares on outdoor sports for son
Joan Ong shares on outdoor sports for son

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Joan Ong, to share how she manages her son’s eczema while encouraging him to take part in outdoor sports. I first learnt of Joan’s son’s eczema when her business partner contacted me about Rise and Shine expo. Joan is one of the founding members of Rise and Shine expo, with over 12 years’ experience in event management.

Marcie Mom: Hi Joan, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! As you know, my blog has always featured expert advice, but in 2013, I just feel like encouraging my readers through sharing journeys of real persons who had to manage eczema in their daily life. Let’s start with you sharing a little of your son’s eczema, was there a most severe time in his life and what are the triggers for his eczema?

Joan: Both my husband and me have mild eczema problem and I personally have asthma. As eczema is linked to asthma, it is very likely that my son’s condition is hereditary.

I don’t think my son’s condition is considered serious as compared to many kids out there but it is bad enough to make us running from doctor to doctor and paying lots of medical fees to try to get him cured. When he has flare up, his feet and hands will go very red and itchy. He will also have ring-like rashes on his face and other parts of his body.

It really makes us very sad to see our little baby’s beautiful skin covered up with eczema and the saddest thing is that all doctors will tell you that eczema cannot be cured.

Marcie Mom: My daughter’s eczema is triggered by sweat and heat, but we both know how important exercise is (read that kids are supposed to exercise for 2-3 hours a day) and how much fun they’d miss out if they didn’t do sports (or simply, have fun) outdoors. Does your son likes outdoor sports, and is there one activity he really loves, and does it lead to any eczema flares thereafter?

Joan: My son loves water and we regularly bring him out for swimming. One tip we got from a doctor is to use lots of sunblock on him so that there is a protective layer. After which, shower him in bath oil and put lots of moisturizer on him. It has seemed to work so far.

Marcie Mom: One of the activities that my daughter loves is swimming (aka playing in the pool), which we started her at 7-month old when her doctor. I make sure to run to the shower after her swim, shower her and moisturize.

Joan, is there any routine that you practice after your son finishes his outdoor play?

Joan: We will normally time his outdoor play just before his shower and after which, the whole moisturizing routine will kick in. And if we see that he starts to flare up, we will immediately apply medical cream on him to prevent the condition will from turning worse. And this really has proven effective so far.

Marcie Mom: One final question – when would you not let your son do outdoors sports, say (a) he seems a little scratchy, (b) there’s more eczema rashes or (c) when his eczema flaring? And the real last question, do you also do outdoor sports with him? LoL do remember to apply sunscreen, for the whole family!

Joan: When his eczema is flaring, we will definitely not engage him in any outdoor sports that will cause him to sweat. There are many activities for children indoor with aircon and hence, we have lots of choices to get him active and engage in play in a social setting without the heat and the sweat.

And yes, my husband and me always do outdoor activities with him just and it is great bonding time!

Marcie Mom: Thanks Joan for taking time to share your journey with your son’s eczema and managing outdoor sports and play.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and managed her Teenage years


Annie Fox, M.Ed., shares how she managed her eczema during her teenage years
Annie Fox, M.Ed., shares how she managed her eczema during her teenage years

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Annie Fox, M.Ed., to share how she managed her eczema during her teenage years. Annie is an internationally respected educator, award-winning author and a trusted online adviser, specializing in helping teens become people of good character who’ve got the social courage to do the right thing online and off. She also shares tips on improve self-confidence for teens here.

Marcie Mom: Hi Annie, thank you so much for for taking part in my blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’, a series which I hope will encourage many others with eczema who have similar struggles with various aspects of life. You had eczema from 3 years old to teenage years, can you share with us how severe your eczema was during the teen years?

Annie: Because it’s been quite a few years since I suffered from eczema, I really have to think back. And I appreciate the opportunity to revisit this time in my life through your questions. I remember feeling very self-conscious during the summer when everyone was wearing shorts and sleeveless tops. (I had eczema behind my knees and on my arms. Sometimes it would flare up on my neck.) During my teen years there was always that thought, before I chose something to wear “How can I hide this?” I also tried to use a “cover-up make up” which irritates the skin and usually makes things worse. I remember during my piano lessons, trying to hide from my teacher, the eczema on the backs of my hands by pulling my sweater sleeves down over my hands.

Marcie Mom: Teenage years are difficult for most people, for the adjustments they have to make during high school years. Dermatologists have told me that self-esteem is a concern for teenagers with eczema. As you are also helping teens, can you help parents to understand what are the pressures facing a teenager, and a teenager with eczema?

Annie: As a teen I was very aware that my mom was probably as self-conscious about my eczema as I was. She often told me, “Don’t scratch!” I can still hear her saying that after all these years! LOL. She didn’t understand how itchy the condition can make you feel and that the scratching, for me, was often an unconscious response. I’d be scratching my arm and I wouldn’t even be aware I was doing it. Until she reminded me… again and again. It’s not helpful for parents to be watching their teens so closely. Teens are often self-critical enough. They do not benefit from having yet another “critic” on their case. Stress has been found to have a connection with inflammation. For that reason alone, it would be extremely beneficial for parents to do whatever they can to add to the calmness in the family rather than add to the stress your teens are feeling about their appearance and whether they “measure up” to their peers or to your standards for them. Be compassionate. If your teen’s eczema is a problem for you (because you’re embarrassed, etc.) then you, the parent, ought to get some support in dealing with your anxiety about the condition. That way, you can be most helpful as a support person for your teen.

Marcie Mom: I’ve worked on a Teen Eczema series in this blog with dermatologist Dr Lynn, who has explained how puberty affects our skin, the common skin conditions for a teenager and how sports and skincare/shaving affects eczema. Annie, how did you manage your eczema during your teen years and did the additional skincare effort/routine/prevention create social/ emotional issues?

Annie: None of the prescribed skincare efforts helped for me. Fortunately I have a very outgoing personality and I, as mentioned, I was adept at “hiding” my eczema. I doubt that very many of my friends in high school even knew that I had it. The emotional part of it (which was the major piece) was something I “managed” through my creativity. I wrote poetry and prose. I composed music. I did a lot of theater in middle and high school. All of these avenues allowed me to step outside of myself and were very helpful whenever I felt sorry for myself because of the eczema.

Marcie Mom: One final question – how would you advice a teenager with eczema to manage the social/emotional side of eczema, and communicating with his/her friends about it?

Annie: I think today’s social climate makes it easier for teens to be real with each other. Think about it, everyone has something that makes him/her different. And as a culture we tend to be more open and accepting of those differences than we were when I was a teen. Today it’s not unusual for a teen to say to his/her peers: “I am gay.” Or “I have ADHD.” Or “I have Aspergers.” Or any of a hundred conditions/syndromes. Being straight up honest with friends is the best way to manage stress and anxiety. Then you can just be yourself and not hide.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Annie for taking time to share your journey with us, teenage years are so difficult even for those without eczema and those with eczema would certainly appreciate your advice.

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and manages Occupation as Massage Therapist

Massage Therapist - Paola Bassanese
Massage Therapist – Paola Bassanese

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Paola Bassanese, who has had eczema since her childhood years and whose work as a massage therapist requires frequent hand-washing. Paola is the founder of Energya, an award-winning massage therapy practice based in Central London.

Marcie Mom: Hi Paola, thanks for taking part in my new blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’ and for returning to my blog (the first interview with you was on massage for eczema). Let’s start with you sharing the severity of your eczema, whether it particularly affects your hands and what would trigger your eczema flares?

Paola: Hi Mei, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experience. My eczema is somewhat stress related and can also be triggered by external factors like contact with irritating substances, cold weather and wrong food choices. My eczema is often contact dermatisis and it appears solely on my hands causing cracking in the skin and bleeding.

The random fashion of my eczema flare ups make it difficult to prevent the reoccurence of eczema so my key strategy is to keep stress at bay. This is particularly important because if I am stressed and get eczema I can’t work and being self-employed I need to stay healthy to be able to treat my clients and to run  my business.

My worst eczema flare ups were when I worked in offices and my hands were bleeding and painful when I tried to type or move my fingers. In my first year as a massage therapist when I set up my practice after leaving a well paid office job my stress levels were very high and I had to manage my condition while trying to gain clients. Saying it was a difficult time is an understatement!

Marcie Mom: I haven’t had many massages before, and I think even for those who do, we may not be aware of the chemicals that we come into contact with, and therefore, a massage therapist would also be in contact with. Can you share some of these chemicals in the more common types of massages and whether they cause eczema rashes for you?

Paola: Chemicals don’t tend to be used in the massage industry in general and scent-free natural oils are often used. During the consultation form with a new client the therapist asks if there’s any allergies and will act accordingly. However, in salon and spas offering for example manicures and pedicures therapists are in daily contact with chemicals.

Aromatherapy oils (which I don’t use because of my eczema) can irritate the skin even if they are organic. These oils contain natural chemicals so when they come into contact with the skin they can cause reactions even after years of safe use.

Marcie Mom: Definitely there’s a lot of hand-washing and sanitizing involved in your work, how has it affected you?

Paola: I have become more aware of the types of soaps and detergents I use. I have to wash my hands constantly between clients and I only use mild soaps that don’t strip the skin from its own protection barrier. I then moisturise with creams I have tested that don’t give me an allergic or comedogenic reaction; however every so often I need to change the cream I use as over time I become either over-sensitive or it stops being effective.

Marcie Mom: One final question – you made amazing progress, and was awarded by the Chamber of Commerce for running your business in UK and raising the profile of your Italy hometown, Trieste. You must have known from the onset of your massage therapist career that hand-washing would be an issue, yet you persisted and even set up your own practice and won numerous awards. How did you manage this part of your job, and what advice would you give to others who have eczema and want to pursue an occupation they love (say massage therapist, nursing, dentist) that requires hand-washing?

Paola: Thank you Mei for the compliment. Well, looking back at my life I would say that my worst cases of eczema happened when I felt extremely stressed and did not have control over my work environment. So in that sense it doesn’t matter what job I was doing or what country I was in: it was all to do with mental attitude. Yes, of course contact with allergens and chemicals triggered some reactions but I was at my worst when I felt that my life was going nowhere and I needed more positive challenges and projects.

I would advise anyone who suffers from eczema and chooses a profession that requires frequent hand-washing to look at all these factors:

– Nutrition. Do you have any food allergies or sensitivities? Can you make some changes to your diet to reduce the intake of inflammatory foods?

– Stress. How stressed are you and what can you do to reduce your stress levels? Take time for yoruself and practice forms of relaxation like yoga and meditation

– Products. Do your research and look for cleaning products that are tested against allergies and apply barrier cream when you can.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Paola for taking time to share your journey with us, managing eczema and an occupation that has frequent hand-washing, and going on to be so successful in massage therapy is indeed inspiring!

Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and managed Make-up

Erica Cheung, NYU student who has written for Huffington Post shares her make-up, beauty journey.
Erica Cheung, NYU student who has written for Huffington Post shares her make-up, beauty journey.

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Erica Cheung, who has eczema for three years and shares how she manages her make-up. I first learnt of Erica’s eczema while reading her story on Huffington Post. Erica writes for Huffington Post and a senior at NYU. 

Marcie Mom: Hi Erica, thanks for being the first guest for this new series ‘Someone has Eczema’! This blog has been focusing on expert advice for two years, and now I think it’s time to spotlight on individuals coping with eczema as our readers are already knowledgeable in eczema. How long have you had eczema, and has it affected you more during a certain stage of your life?

Erica: I’ve had eczema for three years since I was a sophomore in college. At first, I wasn’t sure what was happening to me but I couldn’t take hot showers anymore without feeling itchy and I started noticing red patches of skin on my neck. Developing eczema in my early years of college was tough not only because it was uncomfortable and unattractive, it added to the stresses I already had as a hardworking student/intern/part-time employee. I researched online about my condition and although I learned a lot about eczema, I really felt like I was one of a handful of people suffering with this condition. This is why I’m so excited about your series ‘Someone has Eczema’!

Marcie Mom: I see in this post that the Huffington Post loves your beauty wisdom. I’m someone who hasn’t put on makeup more than ten times, and one of them was on my marriage! So, can you share your make-up tips (like when you change your brush and what else? I’m clueless in this!)

Erica: As a style/beauty blogger, I love experimenting with makeup and nail polish (especially on holidays!) which is why I was really bummed when I developed eczema and realized that most of the makeup I was using irritated my skin and eyes. My advice when negotiating makeup and eczema is to find a beauty regimen that suits your skin. It really starts with having happy skin. I make sure to use a moisturizer that uses natural ingredients and is highly moisturizing but also calming. My skin is extremely dry and sensitive. It’s always great to ask your dermatologist what skin products he/she recommends and it’s very important to know what suits your skin type. I always recommend Lush’s products because they’re all natural and handmade, so it is easy to know what exactly you’re putting on your skin.

Once your skin is calm and ready for makeup, the next step is to find a good foundation. Again, I always look for natural makeup lines that use as many non-synthetic materials as possible. Two good makeup lines to look into are Tarte and Bare Essentials. Always let the person at the makeup shop know that you have eczema and that you’re looking for makeup that is nourishing and natural and that also doesn’t clump up and get cakey. Cakey foundation is our enemy.

In terms of eye makeup, I learned the hard way that mascara and black eyeliner are the two most irritating products someone with eczema can use. That is, of course, if you’re using products made from harsh ingredients like coal or synthetic formulas. I use Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes and it works like a charm without irritating my tear ducts (it also makes my lashes look amazing!) I’ve also found that Lush’s Emotional Brilliance makeup line is absolutely fantastic for eyeliner choices because they’re all-natural and can easily be washed off with water.

The only other makeup advice I can give is to make sure to remove makeup at night and use a soothing night moisturizer. In terms of scalp problems, I had a hard time finding products to soothe my scalp. Eventually what helped was taking Evening Primrose Oil and trying my hardest not to scratch. Also, natural shampoos seemed to soothe my scalp way more than other shampoos with chemicals in them (again Lush has an amazing selection). If you have any other questions about specific issues or advice please email me

Marcie Mom: For those with facial eczema, do refer to Dr Lynn Chiam’s advice on various types of rashes on face and rashes around the mouth and lips.

Erica, what is your skin care routine for your face? Do you moisturize and do you apply any topical treatment creams on any part of your face?

Erica: I briefly mention this above. I use skin care treatments with all natural ingredients. I wash my face in the morning with water and twice a week I use a light exfoliator from Burt’s Bees. I then use a moisturizer called Celestial for sensitive skin from Lush. I only apply topical treatment creams when I flare up. If I am flaring up, I try not to put anything on my face and apply treatment creams until the flare passes (I also take a antihistamine and drink green tea). I don’t use toners because they tend to dry my skin up too much.

Marcie Mom: One final question – on the dreaded day of eczema flare, and should you fall on a day that you think you ought to have makeup on, what do you do?

Erica: I would take a strong antihistamine (I take Allegra) and then wash my face with no exfoliator at all. I would then apply my trusty moisturizer (its very important to find a moisturizer that you love that soothes your face no matter what) and go with a more natural look. Choose a bold lip (pinks, reds, oranges) and apply neutral eye shadow colors (which contain less synthetic ingredients to begin with). Curl your eyelashes but apply no mascara and go with a light eyebrow pencil. The bold brow and lip with draw attention away from the rest of your face and the eye shadow with give you an elegant but natural look. I would finish off by applying topical creams when needed and waiting for the flare to pass to apply foundation and mascara.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Erica for being my first guest and sharing your personal journey, with makeup and eczema – your sharing confirms I’m right to start this series, I’d never be able to advice anyone on make-up! (Maybe I ought to try make-up someday too, sounds fun!)