One of the great features of having a WordPress website is that you can see which search terms lead people to your website. The search terms are a helpful way to find out what interests readers. I wrote a post in July 2018 about how I was using a topical beeswax salve to manage my eczema. (Click here if you haven’t read the original post.) That post must have resonated with people because every month people are finding my site because of that post. Here is the update on how things are going for me and my skin 16 months later. Eczema knocked me on my butt in 2018. I think I had mild eczema for years and didn’t know it. As long as I can remember I have had a few patches of skin that were dry and itchy, and I just attributed it to other things. In the spring of 2018, something triggered my immune system to go into hyper drive and attack my skin. By late summer, a large percentage of my skin including most of my torso was inflamed. When most of your skin is inflamed and itchy, it is pretty difficult to concentrate on anything else. Heat and perspiration made everything worse too. Summer is not a good season for eczema. By September, I was a heaping hot mess of inflamed skin. Three different topical steroids didn’t help. I contracted a skin infection that was thankfully cured by a topical antibiotic. My doctor prescribed an oral steroid to control the inflammation, and that was a disaster. After the first dose, I had a violent reaction that left me severely dehydrated with a debilitating migraine and a bathroom in need of a cleaning with bleach. On top of all this, the eczema flares would leave me feeling tired, achy and unmotivated. I went from an active person that is known for my ability to “get stuff done” to a person who didn’t want to get off the couch. I didn’t even want to work with the bees! I changed soaps, laundry detergent, and shampoo. Nothing helped.
By late fall, my dermatologist prescribed a very high power topical steroid and instructed me to use it in higher doses than the manufacturer recommended. I consulted my pharmacist husband because I was concerned about the serious side effects associated with the drug. Steroid cream thins your skin. This medication must have been premium because it cost ~$300 for a small tube. You know it is bad when you go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription and before they give it to you the pharmacy tech says, “You know how much this costs, right?” I did not know. How would I? They never tell you until they fill the prescription. It’s like a weird, twisted game the retail pharmacies, drug companies and insurance companies play with you. They should keep a chair by the counter so you can sit down when they tell you the price. With insurance it was $92, which I was willing to pay if it helped. After applying copious amounts of the stuff, I was able to get rid of the acute inflammation. I was happy for the relief, but this was not a sustainable solution to my eczema problem. Even if you forget about the high price tag of the medication, the drug comes with some very serious warnings including a warning that it should not be used long term for the treatment of eczema.
I took drastic action to eliminate environmental triggers including getting a new mattress and box springs just in case there was dust or pollen lurking in the old bedding. I got rid of our living room couch for the same reason. I now only wear cotton clothing because non-cotton clothing makes me itch. I have some lovely sweaters that are headed to the consignment shop because just looking at them makes me feel itchy.
I am now able to control my eczema solely with the use of Burt’s Bees hand salve. I apply the salve to all my skin’s hot spots in the morning and right before I go to bed. The downside to this is that it can leave grease marks on your clothes, so I usually wear old cotton T-shirts under my regular outfits. I also have this herbal smell about me all the time. (People who don’t know me probably think I work in a store that sells incense, crystals and dream catchers.) If I never waiver from this regimen, I can avoid having to use steroid creams. Eczema is a constant companion, but it is now just an annoying presence instead of debilitating malady.
One of the members of our bee club makes her own lotions with her beeswax. She said that she has customers with eczema that claim her lotions are the only ones they are able to use. I’m not a medical doctor, so I am not telling anyone what they should do to treat their eczema. I also don’t work for Burt’s Bees, so I am not promoting their brand. I just know beeswax based salve is the most effective thing I have tried to manage my eczema on a long term, daily basis. It is cheaper than conventional medications and doesn’t have the side effects.
I prefer to write about bees and not about me and my skin. I’m making the exception since maybe my experience can help someone else who is suffering from eczema. You are not going to die from eczema, but it can seriously impact your quality of life. Maybe the bees will help you find relief too.