Living with Atopic Dermatitis: A Journey of Moisturizers and Avoiding Springtime Misery

My Journey with Atopic Dermatitis A Day in the Life

My Life with Atopic Dermatitis

By Jamie Hickey, as told to Kara Mayer Robinson

Oh, atopic dermatitis (AD), you sneaky little skin condition. You’ve been with me since forever, but it wasn’t until I hit 18 years old and joined the Marines that a doctor finally put a name to your itchy antics.

Back in the day, when insecurity was my middle name, AD had me wrapped around its finger. Short sleeves? Forget about it. Shorts? Nope, not a chance. Pool? Shirts on at all times, my friends. I even bailed on plans just to avoid the embarrassment. My mood was at the mercy of this irritating condition.

But now, in my fabulous 40s, I’ve mastered the art of not giving a hoot about what people think. Comfort is the name of the game when it comes to choosing my wardrobe. AD’s got no power over my mood anymore, unless it decides to throw an epic itch-fest that I just can’t control.

Managing this lifelong companion has been a wild ride filled with trial and error. But fear not, my fellow AD adventurers, for I have gathered some wisdom to share with you.

Daily Rituals: Shower Saga and the Art of Moisturizing

Picture this: it’s a typical morning, and I arise from my slumber. The first thing on my agenda is a cool shower. Hot showers? Oh, they’re a big no-no. They only fan the flames of inflammation and send AD into a full-blown party mode. So, cool showers it is.

Once I’m all squeaky clean (well, at least relatively squeaky), it’s time for the moisturizing extravaganza. My arms and legs are the VIPs in this moisturizing marathon. They get the royal treatment. I slather on that lotion like I’m painting a masterpiece.

But wait, there’s more! Hydration is the key to success, my friends. I chug a gallon of water every blessed day. You see, when I neglect my hydration, my skin decides to go all lizard mode and AD raises its fiery head. So drink up, folks!

Now, here’s a pro-tip for you: keep a survival kit with you at all times, especially during the summer. In mine, I’ve got lotion, itch cream, hydrocortisone cream, and allergy pills. It’s like having my own personal AD battle kit. Gotta be prepared, right?

Ah, springtime. The season of blossoming flowers, fresh air, and…worsening AD. Thanks, pollen, for being a real buzzkill. It’s like mother nature decided to gift me with a double whammy. Misery loves pollen, I guess.

Treatment: Where Weird Remedies Go to Die

My AD loves to set up camp behind my knees and on my arms, particularly my elbows. But surprise, surprise, it has recently decided to make an appearance in my eyebrows. Go figure.

Ah, the quest for the perfect treatment. It has led me down many a rabbit hole. I’ve dabbled in medical-grade lotions, taken oatmeal baths, swallowed oral allergy medication, waged war with anti-itch creams, soaked in warm baths, and even succumbed to the late-night infomercial remedies (spoiler alert: they never work).

Through all these adventures, I’ve discovered my holy grail – the mighty hydrocortisone steroid cream. It’s my secret weapon against inflammation. It douses the flames, soothes the itch, and speeds up the healing process. With a flare-up, I slap on the steroid cream and pray for the best. If it hasn’t bid adieu after a week of daily application, it’s time to call in reinforcements from my dermatologist’s office.

But wait, there’s more! Remember that bet I mentioned earlier? Well, when I hit my late 20s, a friend and I made a wager to see who could shed the most pounds. Lo and behold, as I switched to a healthier diet and waved goodbye to alcohol, my flare-ups and everyday rashes waved goodbye as well. Turns out, what I put in my body matters more than all the lotions and potions combined.

So, au revoir, alcohol. Farewell, greasy processed foods. These changes have worked wonders for me. Nothing beats a whole-foods diet and a teetotaler lifestyle when it comes to combating AD. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, I won that bet. Victory tastes so sweet!)

My journey to skin enlightenment didn’t stop there. Once I realized that certain hair products made AD flare up on my precious eyebrows, I made the bold choice to embrace a bald head. Yes, folks, I shaved it all off in the name of cooler AD-free days. Who needs hair when you can have itch-free brows, right?

Knowledge is power, my friends. I know my triggers, and I avoid them like the plague. Heat, dehydration, greasy or processed foods, alcohol, and spring allergies – these are the foes I defeat on a regular basis.

Getting Over the Hurdles: Discipline, Stress, and a Few Precious Wins

Discipline, oh how I struggle with thee. One slip-up, one indulgence in greasy or processed foods, and my skin rebels, punishing me for weeks on end. But as the years have rolled by, I’ve grown wiser. I’ve become a master of staying on track, because AD, you shall not defeat me!

Stress, my dear old friend, you always come knocking on my door. And guess what? You and AD seem to have some twisted relationship. Every time stress and anxiety take center stage, AD decides to follow suit. But fear not, for I have armed myself with the tools to tame these beasts. My doctor’s prescribed mood stabilizers, and life experience has taught me that my well-being and that of my family come first. Worry and anxiety, take a back seat!

Every day with AD is like solving a puzzle (with a bit of frustration, of course). But hey, I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned the tricks of the trade and how to navigate the ups and downs. Living well with AD is an ongoing adventure, my friends.

So, to my fellow AD warriors, remember – cool showers, moisturize like a boss, drink your water, prepare for battle with your portable AD survival kit, and most importantly, know thy triggers. AD may be a lifelong companion, but with a dose of humor and a touch of resilience, we can write our own story of not just survival, but triumph!

Source: Jamie Hickey, Philadelphia.

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