A man looks at his hands, covered in eczema, in horror.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I woke up this morning to the itch and pain in my right hand again, or should I say still. My left is bearable. Straightening my fingers causes another crack in the skin, even though I've worn cotton gloves over cortisone all night. Trying to decide if I dare go on this morning's walk. I knew it would require my walking stick as I need it to help with my footing when we are in a place with rough, uneven ground and tree roots that jump out and trip the unsuspecting among us. I also knew I would end up using it in my right hand no matter how much I tried to remember to use my left, resulting in another bleeding crack.

Why has my eczema gotten worse?

My eczema is worse than it has been in several years for no obvious reason. I am trying more carefully than ever to avoid even the most minor of my known eczema triggers. The pollen count is moderate; I haven't eaten anything I know or even suspect might be a trigger. I use the Neil Med nasal rinse to flush out even the tiniest bit of pollen almost every time I come home. But I have had this extreme flare on my hands and face for easily the last month. No matter what I do this time, that flare is always there, much worse on my right hand, which leads me to believe it could be more contact than anything else. I do know stress is a factor, and it has been a stressful time. My detective skills are getting a workout.

What is the good, the bad, and the ugly?

With due respect to Clint Eastwood, I called this article "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" for a reason. The bad is eczema, and the ugly is my hands. But I was having difficulty finding any good. Until I realized that the good is that I'm still here, and I still choose to participate in whatever life offers, no matter how irritated and unpleasant my skin looks and feels while doing it. But this particular walk will have to wait. I can do most of my other walks, and the women in my walking group are so accustomed to my eczema that they don't notice.

What do I do for my hands?

I have again reached the stage where I have to wear gloves before doing anything, whether that's cutting veggies or folding sheets. I buy white cotton gloves by the dozen and nitrile ones by the box. Yesterday I was the crazy lady in the grocery store wearing white gloves while choosing some fruit and even when picking up packaged goods. I did get more than a few odd looks, but I don't pay attention to them anymore.

How will I manage on my trip?

With a long-delayed vacation on the horizon, I know it will be more difficult to control my food triggers, but I'm hoping the environmental ones will be less — a visit to Alaska. Pollen season should be finished there, with any luck. I have just over a week before departure, and I've crossed my fingers as much as I can, hopefully enough to be clear of this episode before I go. Wish me luck.

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