Matt's Eczema Healing: Methotrexate and Lifestyle Changes
The Editorial Team at AtopicDermatitis.net talked to Matt (@scratchy_matt) earlier this year about his struggle with hand eczema. We were ecstatic to hear that Matt's eczema has improved since we last talked.
Matt shares about the medication and lifestyle changes he believes have contributed to his healing.
It took several months to see results from Methotrexate
Editorial Team: Can you share a brief update on how you're doing since our last interview?
Matt: When I last spoke to you guys, I spoke of being on the drug, “Methotrexate”. When my last post was published on AtopicDermatitis.net in February 2020 (before it all went to custard), I had been on Methotrexate for 4 months.
I was fairly ignorant to the fact that the maximum effects of Methotrexate can take 5-6 months to achieve. By the time it came to my birthday this year (the 7th of April) my hands were nearly perfect.
I say nearly because I still get itchy on my body. My eczema started when I was 6 months old on the backs of my arms and legs, an extremely common place. I have not had a flare up since my birthday.
Medication and lifestyle changes that led to eczema healing
Editorial Team: What do you believe has led to your healing?
Matt: I think it’s broken down into two parts:
By the time I turned 21, I had been on Methotrexate for 6 months, and my eczema was practically gone. I say practically lightly here because I still have to take basic measures that I keep eczema at bay, this leads me perfectly into lifestyle changes.
I tried changing hundreds of different aspects of my lifestyle to try and help my eczema. I’m going to list the 3 things that I believe to be most helpful to my hands
1. Switching to soy milk. When I was a kid the first time I tried breast milk I broke out in an extreme rash. I’ve kinda theorized this is the reason I’ve never been a big fan of dairy products my whole life. I only really had milk in my coffee everyday (if I was tired twice a day). When I began having soy milk I simply cut out the main source of dairy I was getting into my system.
2. Magnesium every night before bed. If even for the fact you’ll have a good sleep Magnesium is an incredibly good mineral for you.
3. Replacing soap with Pinetarsol. I use pinetarsol whenever I shower. Pine tar has been used for over 2,000 years for its soothing and antiseptic properties. I can’t explain to you how many times Pinetarsol has saved my ass.
If I had a super bad flare out on my stomach (happened to me many times when my eczema was bad) I would take a long hot bath with Pinetarsol. I’d swear an angel had touched my soul because afterwards, you’d feel a million dollars.
Support from his partner, family and friends
Editorial Team: How has support from your partner and family helped during the healing process?
Matt: Significantly. My partner has always been a champion of my recovery which I really appreciate. Eczema made me pretty miserable sometimes, and she stuck by me every step of the road.
To tell you the impact of having practically no flare ups or bad skin would almost be impossible to put into words.
I’ve had many moments in the car with my partner, where we have been discussing how good my eczema and my hands are doing, and I have just burst into tears. Not sad tears though: happy tears.
Appointment reminders and simple check ins
My immediate family helped me immensely throughout my several years of “bad eczema”. If it wasn’t mum hassling me to make that next doctor's appointment, or a simple “how are you doing” from dad, it wouldn’t have been the same, thank you.
I’m extremely fortunate to live with four of my best friends and have done so for several years now. If it weren’t for my mates giving me the extra support if I was going through a particularly bad flare up, my life would have been incredibly tricky.
Try everything, even if you're not sure it will work
Editorial Team: What's your advice to someone who's still struggling right now?
Matt: I’ll repeat more of what I said in my initial post, you aren’t your skin condition. You are so so much more than this god awful condition that plagues 1-3% of American adults.
Try literally everything. If you aren’t sure if it will work, give it a crack anyway. I tried hundreds of ways to treat my hands (and went through several courses of medication) before I finally found what worked for me.
Never, ever give up. You're worth more than giving up.
Follow Matt’s healing journey on Instagram at @scratchy_matt!
Have you shared your eczema story with us?