Eczema Memories: A Lifetime of Itching

When you think of your last vacation, do you think of lying on the beach, a margarita in one hand and a book in the other? If you have eczema or other skin conditions, some of your memories may not be so pleasant. Looking back on some of my otherwise most favorite vacations, I remember my eczema ruining the day (or days!).

Tough times in Turks and Caicos

When my husband Mike graduated from business school, his parents took us to a beautiful resort in Turks and Caicos. I remember gorgeous beaches, crystal clear water, and...itching. I recall laying in bed, “clawing,” as Mike would say, my arms and legs. I think of trying to pick clothes that wouldn’t further aggravate my lobster-red skin. I remember looking at my angry red skin against the pristine white blankets.

New York City nightmare

Living in northern New Jersey, not too far from the city, one night Mike took me to New York City to have dinner, see a Broadway show, and stay in a nice hotel. Oddly enough, I don’t even remember dinner or which show we saw. But I do remember tossing and turning in a luxurious bed, unable to sleep because my arms were so itchy, red, and inflamed. I remember slathering steroid cream on my arms and still being miserable.

Cruise ship blues

Before having kids, Mike and I used to go on cruises at least once a year. To me, nothing was more fun than exploring a cruise ship that would be our “home” for the next week. At the time, I worked 14-hour days on my feet at a chain pharmacy and looked forward to every vacation. I remember one cruise in particular - I think it was shellfish that somehow set me off. I’m usually not allergic to any specific foods (at least that’s what my allergy tests have always shown). I ended up at the cruise ship doctor for the first time. My eyes and lips blew up to twice their normal size, and my skin was red, inflamed, and itchy. I’m itchy just thinking about this one.

Always itchy

Do you ever think back to specific events, and all you remember is your skin condition? Having itchy, inflamed skin can put a damper on your life. It’s extra frustrating because, for me, it comes and goes a lot - although it would be even worse if it didn’t “go” at all! So I may go a few days or even weeks without feeling itchy, but then I realize I’m subconsciously scratching. In the middle of typing, I’ll stop and scratch my fingers. Every morning, almost without fail, I wake up with itchy palms. As I talk to my husband, he points out that I’m scratching my hands on the rough part of the doorway. Once, in a doctor’s office, a fellow patient said to me, “You’re going to win the lottery!” I had no idea what he was talking about. Puzzled, I laughed and asked why, and he said, “Your palms are itchy; that means you’re going to come into money!” I didn’t even realize I was scratching my itchy palms against my purse strap.

Am I the only one?

Does anyone else look back on specific memories and remember your skin condition more than anything else? Are you always itchy? How does your skin condition affect your daily life and your big moments?

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