Treat your temples well this winter, ladies.
Winter is the time for festivities, cute scarves, and maybe a hot soup from your favorite spot. But for others, winter can also be the time we dread living in our skins. Eczema is a skin condition that 11.1% of women are affected by. Women are prone to eczema in higher numbers due to genetics, the fabric of our clothing, activities, and family history. It can go from a slight flare to wanting to pull the covers over your body and hide. At least, that was my experience when I first had a significant flare-up at 11 years old. But the journey of eczema is still a conversation that gets slighted when we talk about how it affects our daily lives. That is until I connected with our Director of Content, Donette Lowe, on her eczema journey. Below is a discussion she and I had about our history with eczema and how we learned to cope with and manage the symptoms over time. Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two from us!
GF: When did our bodies first develop eczema visibly? I remember mine was 11 years old, with eczema on my lower bottom, and I was crying at how ugly it was for me.
Donette: My first run-in was breaking out in really small itchy bumps between my fingers, and my mom told me that it was a sun allergy because my mom actually had a sun allergy where her skin was sensitive to the sun.
So I didn't think much of it, and then as an adult, I started having really severe hand pain, and my hands looked like they broke out into these bumps and blisters all over my fingers all over my and fingertips. I went to the doctor, who told me this is called dyshidrotic eczema. Telling me, it happens when you usually wear a lot of fragrances or get your hands wet a lot with washing dishes. I was literally walking around in gloves for a week and had to take oatmeal baths. It was terrible.
I never had the patches, my best friend gets the patches, and women specifically are prone, so I don’t get the discoloration. My skin is just notoriously dry, so I have a very involved skincare regime, and I have to wear rubber gloves when I do the dishes.
GF: Do you ever feel frustrated or embarrassed because you have to develop a rigorous regimen for yourself now?
Donette: I like my doing things with my hands, and I like actually getting dirty. I have to wear gloves now to do the dishes like a 50’s housewife, and with the gloves, I’m not able to get it clean the way I want. It is frustrating and along with being perpetually dry and itchy.
I get more embarrassed and feel more self-conscious about the dryness of my skin because it can be rough. It can get scaly. I remember when I was a teen, I would have my eczema condition on my hands not knowing I would be itching a lot. It would be itchy blisters just forming. I would do weird stuff, like rub my teeth on my finger a lot. When I would be in mid-conversation, I would rub my teeth on my fingers during a flare-up.
GF: What products did you learn worked for you, and the ones made you worse?
Donette: I don’t think I have any bad eczema products experience; I just don’t use them in particular. I am conscious of what's in them in the first place. I am big on what kind of fragrances, ingredients, and herbal elements. Like vitamin e, rose, and things soothing to the skin. Ever since I went cold turkey on not using non-natural products in 2009/2014, I really haven't had too much of an issue.
GF: What are some things you do/ tell yourself to keep your esteem elevated, knowing that eczema is a part of your skin journey?
Donette: I am big into my skincare routine. I have a three-step moisture routine when I get out of the shower. I have really learned to embrace the sensitivity of my skin. I know as women, Black women especially, are taught to tough it out, but no, I embrace it. Embracing the sensitivity, embracing purchasing products I like, embracing a ritual out of my skincare routine, so it feels luxurious.
Take care of your temple!
As many of us continue to learn who and how we accept the different features, quirks, and traits about ourselves, we can learn from Donette a very beautiful lesson, which is to embrace it. Eczema is not something we should fear or any skin condition; it’s about learning what our body needs and nourishing it so it can continue to thrive for us in return. Treat your temples well this winter, ladies.