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An illustrated portrait of Scratchy Matt.

Instagram Interview: @scratchy_matt

The Editorial Team at AtopicDermatitis.net is highlighting people in the eczema community and their healing journeys in a series of Instagram Interviews. We talked to Matt (@scratchy_matt) about hand eczema, his healing goals and how music helps him cope.

Matt’s eczema story

I had eczema on and off is a kid in the usual areas: crevasses of the arms and legs. I was treated with steroids and sent on my merry way! My skin was in pitch perfect condition until three years ago.

I’ve dealt with eczema for so long that I have no real specific memory of when it started to get “bad”. I do however remember sitting at work thinking “man this has been itchy for far too long now I should probably go to the doctor“.

From there, things only started to get worse and worse.

Itchy, painful sleepless nights

There were countless nights where I sat up wide eyed in bed trying with every single fiber of my being not to itch. Eventually, I’d give in and scratch the ever living hell out of my hands for several hours before I’d fall asleep. I’d wake up the next morning and my hands would be in so much pain I could hardly move them. This process repeated itself over and over again. It really starts to mess with your thinking after a while.

I was eventually referred to a specialist who put me on the immune suppressant Cyclosporine (annoys me that there are three different spellings of that drug!). That worked for a year until I was weaned off. I’m now on Methotrexate which I’m hoping to go off next time I see the specialist as I don’t think it’s working for me.

Hand eczema impacts every aspect my life

Editorial Team: How has eczema impacted your hands? How does hand eczema impact your quality of life?
Matt: It impacts pretty much every aspect of my life unfortunately. I can’t wash the dishes without gloves on. I don’t enjoy showers anymore as I know the moment that lukewarm water (I used to adore a hot shower) hits my hands, I’m going to feel nothing but pain because of all the micro abrasions from my skin splitting.

I can’t really go swimming anymore as I get paranoid about my hands being underwater for too long.

Can’t remember my life without eczema

The saddest thing about my eczema is I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t have it. While it’s only been 3 years, I can’t remember not having to moisturize, to make sure my cotton gloves are all clean. It’s rather depressing really.

Manageable, comfortable skin would be nice

Editorial Team: Do you have any treatment or healing goals? What are they?
Matt: I’ve been a cynic all my life and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon 😀 Of course I would love to wake up tomorrow morning and have beautiful clear skin but I know that the chances of that happening are extremely slim.

At the moment, I’m trying to get to a stage where my skin is manageable.

Fortunate to have access to medications

I’m extremely lucky to live in a country (New Zealand) where we have a fantastic public house system. For all the drugs that get “subsided” (you basically pay 5 dollars for the script from a doctor) via a company called Pharmac.

I’m hoping within the next few years that Pharmac will choose to fund Dupixent as I have read and heard amazing things from those that have gone on it. Until then, I just want to be at a stage where I’m “comfortable” with my hands as I know asking for a cure is simply not possible.

Music gets me through bad skin days

Editorial Team: How does music help you cope with eczema?
Matt: What a great question! I started DJ’ing around 5 years ago and I’ve found if I’m having a super bad day due to my skin, there is nothing better than to jump on the decks and try and “escape” the dark hole in my mind of feeling sorry for myself. I love really aggressive techno.

Eczema is not who we are

Editorial Team: Anything else you’d like to add?
Matt: To everyone that’s reading this with eczema: Eczema isn’t you.

You’re a unique person made up of millions of different incredible things, eczema is not your personality. Love yourself for who you are, not this absolute b*tch of a skin condition ❤️

Follow Matt’s healing journey on Instagram at @scratchy_matt!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AtopicDermatitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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