I’m not sure what is more disturbing: that I’ve spent enough money on dermatologist visits and products in the past year that I could’ve gone to Santorini for two weeks--twice--or that I’ve kept all the receipts and evidence that allowed me to reach that conclusion.
I have eczema. It’s so bad that right now that I’ve been tempted to rip my skin off with my own fingers in hopes that the flesh underneath doesn’t itch as much. It was so bad a few years ago that the publisher of a magazine I was working for pulled me aside and asked if I was shooting up because “the scars on the inside of my elbows are disgusting.”
I’m not shooting up, you dumb fool. One, because I’m in Singapore, where I’d be hung by a noose if I happened to have, say, 5 grams of weed in my strappy pink purse. Two, I’m not paid enough to afford a pair of shoes at a sample sale, much less drugs.
I tell myself it’s not so bad. There are people who have it worst off than I do. But days like yesterday when my skin just wouldn’t stop itching no matter how many pills I pop or how pruned I am from baths, all I wanted to do was blind a stranger and set something on fire. (I have a lot of rage.)
On top of going to, like, a dozen dermatologists, all of whom have told me the same thing (one even told me I should just move out of the country), I also get suckered into buying numerous products that claim to miraculously cure eczema. Some help. Some definitely don’t.
I have about 30 creams, oils and oinments, all of which claim to relieve the itch or clear up the scars. These are the ones I swear by.
Let me first start by telling you how lucky you Americans are to have CVS in your life. And Duane Reade. And Target. I hyperventilate in US drugstores as I enter because it’s like a playground I never had as a kid, and I spend all my money on everything I see in there. A Maybelline/L’Oreal/Revlon mascara costs about $20 on average in Singapore, so you can imagine why I turn into Veruca Salt.
Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream is one of those products I found when I was visiting my boyfriend in LA and snuck off to CVS while he’s at work. It feels luxurious on the skin, and I pop the tube in the freezer for a bit before I put it on to make it feel even more comforting.
Mopiko Ointment is the bomb diggity. Mopiko is more popular for their green-capped ointment that relieves pain or itching from insect bites, but it’s their red-capped ointment of awesomeness that’s great for eczema sufferers. What I love most about it is that it contains menthol, which is very welcome when you’re itching out of your mind. The tingly sensation is heaven-sent and provides a much-needed distraction. Sometimes, I chill some fresh aloe vera, mix a little Mopiko into it, and slap it on my neck. It’s a middle finger to my itchy body.
I only very recently discovered Apivita Herbal Creams. The Hypericum version seems to calm my inflamed skin, and the Eucalyptus version I put on over the first cream creates the tingly sensation I love when eczema strikes. The Greek brand's products contain between 80- and 100-percent natural ingredients. They aren’t sold in North America, but they are absolutely worth purchasing from a European vendor on eBay.
QV Cream is one of those unscented, un-everything moisturizing creams you put on after the itchiness is all gone and you’re left with ugly, dry, patchy skin. The QV range is as comforting as my mom, so it’s something I always have stashed in my purse. (For the record, I don’t have my mom stashed in my purse.)
So, fellow eczema sufferers, pray tell: what do you do when you get itchy? I am willing to try anything once. (And trust me, I am. I swallowed a fruit bat’s heart once as a child because someone told my parents that would cure my asthma.)