Behind the Smile: My Battle With Dyshidrotic Eczema (Part 1)

Dyshidrotic eczema. Let me start this post by saying: if you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip this post altogether as I am sharing some real and raw photos of my journey. And trust me: it ain’t pretty! 😔

But I’m sharing this because as hard as it’s been for me, I know there are thousands of more people who are going through the same thing. Actually, I’ve been working up the nerve to share this post since last year. My journey with dyshidrotic eczema has been nothing short of challenging.

Then again in March when I had a really bad breakout. And then I found out October was Eczema Awareness Month so that was going to be when I shared. Well…here we are in November. 👀

There’s so much to share about this journey that I’m making this a two-part post. And I will say that a major part in my lack of content here on the blog this year was because of this hindrance.

This pic was taken at an event I was an ambassador for. I literally had to pay attention to how I held my phone or spoke because my hands were so bad.

Why I waited so long to share

Ultimately it boiled down to insecurity. But in the grand scheme of things, I felt like it wasn’t as important as some things that other people were going through. Or heck, other more important matters in the world.

I had friends with way more serious health challenges. I had friends who lost loved ones. I lost some friends. And because I didn’t know anyone else going through this, I tried to downplay the impact it was having on my own life. But the truth is, I was miserable more often times than not…regardless of how I pressed through.

This photoshoot took place during one of my absolute worst flare-ups. I could not wait for it to be over with. 😔

My husband is the only one who saw me crying in pain night after night. My kids witnessed me being uncomfortable to the point I couldn’t hold their hands because of it. I skipped out on events and gatherings because of it. I am typically the person who is always happy and optimistic. But behind my smile, there was a lot of pain that I was dealing with.

I also barely saw anyone that looked like me.

When my hands started changing

August 2016 started out as an amazing month! We had just moved into our new house after watching it go up over the previous 8 months. I was prepping for my second year as Blogger Ambassador for Ubiquitous.

I remember washing my hair with a new product I couldn’t wait to try out. I had planned this cute hairstyle for the event (this was before I got my sisterlocks). Later that day, I noticed some tiny bumps on the palm of one of my hands. When it didn’t disappear after a couple of days, I got a little nervous and was wondering if I had had an allergic reaction to the products I’d used.

I noticed it was starting to spread a little bit. So I did what most people do: I immediately started self-diagnosing through WebMD (duh 🙄). I just knew that maybe I had caught poison ivy after taking my kids to a picnic around the same time I had tried the new product.

But when the breakout started to get worse instead of better with poison ivy remedies, I went back to the drawing board. I searched and searched and finally, I came across something that looked like what I had. Never in my entire life did I even know there were levels to this eczema thing. As a sufferer of eczema, I thought it was all the same thing. WRONG!

What is dyshidrotic eczema?

With the help of these internet streets, I was able to diagnose myself with dyshidrotic eczema. By the time I did, I already had a doctors appointment scheduled with a nearby dermatologist. All I needed was to get whatever magic cream they were going to prescribe and poof, it would be gone and I could get back to living!

That was two years ago. And guess what? I did not get any type of relief from what they had prescribed me. I also didn’t like that it had steroids and could potentially change the color of my skin over time. #NoThankYou

And let me tell you. It SUCKS. It freaking sucks! This cannot be compared to traditional eczema because it is in a class all on its own. I know because I’ve had traditional eczema off and on for years as well.

According to the National Eczema Association, Dyshidrotic eczema is a common form of eczema that causes small, intensely itchy blisters on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet.

This is a photo of what it typically looks like as it starts to heal (in between breakouts)

Oh and “intensely itchy” means it feels like someone is taking razor blades and scraping them into the palm of each of my hands when a breakout happens. It has gotten so bad at times that the shooting pain has woken me out of my sleep. 😟😥

How dyshidrotic eczema has impacted my life

I never heard of there being a type of eczema that could be so detrimental that it actually impacts your everyday livelihood. That is, until I was the one who it was impacting.

That is until I couldn’t do everyday things without being in pain. Things like washing my hands, taking a shower or getting dressed. Things like typing on my laptop, holding my kids’ hands or really, holding anything in my hands.

I had to start wearing three layers of gloves to take a shower. And many times, when it was too painful to even put any pressure on my hands (even to hold something or make a fist), I had to ask my hubby for assistance.

This photo was taken in August 2017 after we finished our photoshoot. It looks like and felt like my hands had been burnt.

Not only is it painful and uncomfortable, but it’s also embarrassing. Unlike traditional eczema that occasionally makes an appearance on my arm or leg, I can’t cover up dyshidrotic eczema. It’s out there in the open. I talk with my hands a lot. So it’s not something I can easily camouflage.

I had to change the way I communicated. I had to change my lifestyle.

In my next post, I’ll be sharing exactly what changes I made. In addition, I’ll share how I’ve found relief as well as the products I’m using on a daily basis. If you know someone who suffers, please pass this along to them.

Got questions? Feel free to ask in the comments.

Click here to check out Part 2 of my story where I share my progress and the products I’m using to keep it under control.

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  • lisa
    June 13, 2019 at 2:03 PM

    Hey im lisa…please help me. im a single mom battling this SAME thing and im losing my mind!! please i just need relif i need help

  • Allen Davis
    June 3, 2020 at 1:06 PM

    I caught the eczema (sarcasm). It seems that the liquid soap is dicontinued, what other liquid soaps do you use?

    • Christine St.Vil
      June 4, 2020 at 7:59 PM

      Hi Allen,
      Sorry to hear that! I actually still purchase both the liquid and bar soap in this article off of Amazon. You may have to search for another seller maybe? But literally just got a bottle this week. It takes a little longer and I hope they don’t discontinue it.

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