While, for some, the condition can clear up and disappear on its own, for many, the idiosyncratic (individual and unexplained) nature of the condition makes it almost impossible to identify exact causes and triggers.
And, though there are many treatments that may alleviate symptoms, there’s no known cure. Perhaps most exasperating, is what works for one person won’t work for everyone. Many sufferers find themselves in a wilderness of axing dairy, ditching gluten, experimenting with sunbeds, upping their water intake, switching their diet, binning fragranced body creams and consciously trying not to stress (all of which can create more anxiety).
Eczema is one of the most frustrating, complex and misunderstood skin conditions out there. Since mild versions can manifest as a faint rash or a patch of dry skin, eczema can frequently be discounted and minimised by those who don’t understand the true misery and spectrum of the condition.
“I saw an article this morning where a study showed that eczema was more debilitating than heart disease,” eczema warrior, Joanne from @imthe.pr wrote in a post. “Sounds crazy but take it from someone who’s gone through it; that statement sounds about right to me.” The misrepresentation of eczema as “just problematic skin” means “people who suffer with it can be dismissed as being superficial,” she said, “but it is the most painful and excruciating experience to go through. Everything is painful. Sleeping is impossible. Anxiety is on 100.”
It’s a uniquely isolating experience and one that Instagram’s eczema community are all too familiar with. “What happened? I ate clean. I slept almost 8 hours. I’m not as stressed as I was 5 days ago. I’m not on my period. So what happened?” one post from @mypersonalskinjournal reads.
That’s why, finding a community through hashtags like #eczemawarrior, #eczemaawareness, #eczemahelp and #eczemahealing can help you feel supported, enable you to discover treatments that have helped others and build awareness and acceptance.
“The more and more people open up and talk about what body positivity means to them the more bases are being covered,” says eczema sufferer and body positive influencer, Karina Irby. “More people are seeing it. More people are relating and more people are feeling accepted…The more that these traits and features are shared and normalised, and people are encouraged to be comfortable in letting their guard down… the world will be a better place.”