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Summer and Eczema-Scarred Skin

Spring is ending, and summer is almost here. Warmer days are ahead of me, but do I dare wear shorts or even capris?

My asteatotic eczema

My legs show a lifetime of eczema flares. Now, in my senior years, asteatotic eczema has been added to those eczema scars and spider veins. My lower legs look exactly like the descriptions of asteatotic dermatitis: abnormally dry, red, and cracked. Often called eczema craquelé, the skin is crazed like my grandmother’s porcelain dishes.

One of our great community members reminded me of this when I read a comment she posted about her legs and feet looking like they were beaten and burned. I hope she understands she’s not alone. Many of us can relate.

My doctors have done all the tests to determine that I don’t have a nutritional deficiency at the root of this. It’s just my extremely dry skin. And atopic dermatitis.

I won't let it ruin my summer

Each summer, I tell myself I won’t let it bother me. Forget vanity; I’ll wear what is comfortable and appropriate for the weather. But each summer, I don’t. Except for this one time.

I wore capris last summer

Last summer, I determined I was going to wear capris in public, no matter what. With dressy, cute little sneakers as sandals open me up to flares from contact with weeds and grasses. Who notices the lower legs on older people anyway? Off I went to my favorite store and found the perfect pair.

The first and only time I wore my new capris outside was for a day trip with a longtime friend. On our way, we passed a store advertising a massive sale on sectional sofas. The kind with a chaise at one end. Something I had been thinking of buying for a while. There was nothing for it but to stop and check it out.

The chaise did me no favors

What a mistake! Not only did I discover that chaises are uncomfortable when you have arthritic joints, but they also point out every mark on the legs, like a spotlight drawing the eye to even the most minor flaw. The salesman tried to look like he hadn’t noticed. Or perhaps it was that I was just too self-conscious. My good friend said she hadn’t noticed before then. I think she was being kind.

This summer I'm focused on hydration

This year, I’ve been trying to spend more time caring for my legs. But there is not much new in treatment. Research gave me this: Skin hydration is the primary treatment for asteatotic eczema. Patients should use lotions with high oil content. High water lotions can worsen the drying of the skin. Emollients should be applied twice a day and immediately after bathing to maintain hydration. Topical steroid use should be in conjunction with emollients.1 I’ve done this, and I think it has helped with the itchiness, if not the appearance.

I did give up on the idea of a chaise-style sofa and purchased a lovely Scandinavian-style recliner. They even come in sizes for short people! I also think I’ve given up capris, although I saved those from last year. Maybe for a trip. My longer, flowing skirts are much more comfortable, at least mentally. How about you? Do you bare your legs?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The 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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