Anyway, back to our eczema story....a few years ago, eczema was slowly taking control of my dad's life.
Some people think that itching is the worst part but what makes it so bad is that you just can't sleep.
Every night he would wake at least 3 times a night and find himself scratching away. He couldn't get back to sleep. After nights and nights of broken sleep, he was feeling fatigued and down and his mood was awful.
How did he get through those nights? He told me that some nights, he would take ice cold showers. kept cans of soda pop in the refrigerator. And in the wee hours of the morning, he would take the can out and use it to numb his skin with the cold. It helped him enough to fall back sleep but he would wake up again in another hour.
He tried going to doctors. His GP gave him some Prednisone. He took it for two weeks. The itching and scratching went away.
But a week later, the itching came back.
He went back to his GP again, who gave him more Prednisone. He took it again. The itching and scratching went away.
But again, seven days later, the itching and scratching came back.
It was becoming like a really, really bad version of Groundhog Day.
My dad went back to the GP (again). No more steroids this time and told him he needed to go see a specialist.
He went to a bunch of derms. They mostly gave him steroid creams - with names I can't really pronounce well like Desoximetasone, Triamicinolone, and Clobetasol.
The dermatologist did give him on one REALLY helpful piece of advice - bleach baths.
When I first heard it, I thought it was a bit weird. Why would anyone want to take a bath with bleach? I asked my dad this.
I found out that you need to dilute the bleach with lots of water to a level that is safe for your skin. Regular bleach is too strong but when you add enough water to the bleach, then it becomes something that is good for your skin. Apparently, it kills the bacteria kind of like when you go to the swimming pool and they dump chlorine into the pool to keep it clean.
The printed instructions from the derm said to use CLOROX BLEACH. So of course my dad uses GREAT VALUE BLEACH from Walmart instead. Gotta stretch those dollars...
The bleach baths helped. The itching got better after the bath and he could sleep better. Bleach can be really harsh on the skin though so he continued looking for something that could give him more than temporary relief.
He also began experimenting with different creams and moisturizers. He would apply right after his baths, and it made things better.
Then something happened to turn his eczema much much worse. My grandpa was very sick. And when he passed, my dad had his worst outbreak ever.
And that's when he made a decision to go on a very extreme diet.
When he asked his dermatologists about dieting, they had told him - don't worry about changing your diet. You can eat whatever you want. He had atopic dermatitis and no food allergies like peanut allergies or dairy allergies so that kind of made sense.
But it had gotten so bad. he was okay with trial and error if it made some sense. The first thing he read about was apple cider vinegar. He could drink some but it upset his stomach.
So he began to click link after link. He learned about leaky gut and then he decided to cut out EVERYTHING.
Definitely no more potato chips with the drink meal deal at Subway.
Gone gone gone!
In fact, his diet was only made of three things. Everyone in the family - aunts, uncles thought he was crazy. But he was really determined. He stuck with it for 60 days. And his skin began to get better. The itching was less. He slept better. The spots started to go away.
Then he started to add things back to his diet. Sometimes, it didn't work out too good. He tried eating 5-6 saltine crackers. It made him itch more. Other things were okay like steamed fish and apples.
Bit by bit, he got better. Eczema is not gone completely but it's very manageable. He still applies cream and moisturizer everyday after bath. And every once in a while, he'll use hydrocortisone cream.
And he evens has very small amounts of junk food on occasion (Gasp!) without a flare-up the next day.
Life is pretty good now. The steroids are gone. The sleepness nights are gone. The night-time waking is gone.
And his skin is much better too. Here are some pictures.They're kind of ugly (the pictures, not his skin) but that's because I'm not very good with taking photos with my cell phone and then slapping them together in Microsoft Paint.
Since my dad is retired now, he likes to go fishing with his old college buddies. He recently brought home a fish he caught for my mom to cook for dinner. When I say massive, it was HUGE. Needless to say, we only ate a part of it that night.
If you would like to learn more about the fish(my dad has pictures!) or get more free research, interviews, articles on living better with eczema, just type in your name and email below.