We can all agree that summer is beautiful! The sun finally feels warm, the flowers are in full bloom and the days are wonderfully long. Unfortunately, when our skin is not considered ‘normal’ summer is not just sunshine and beer gardens. When you suffer from eczema, summer can bring many challenges. While you can support your skin with some amazing products how do you cope with the emotional challenges that are not often spoken about? Emily from @Emilybowenslife is an incredible ambassador of body positivity and has shared with us how she takes on the summer when you have eczema.
1.Tell us about you and your skin journey?
My name is Emily and I am 26 years old and live in Hampshire. I work for an IT and business consulting company within Marketing Operations and I also have an Instagram account where I share my life and in particular my on-going journey with my eczema. I have always had dry, sensitive and eczema prone skin since I can remember but since the age of 20 I have had an on and off journey with severe eczema. In April 2020 my skin took a turn for the worse and I started the worse flare so far and faced a year and a half of physical and mental trauma. I was covered head to toe in weeping eczema, I could hardly open my eyes and mouth, I could hardly move and I was in absolute discomfort. I didn’t sleep, struggled to see the positives and felt very lonely in the world of eczema. However, with the support of my family, friends, the online eczema community, dermatologists, amazing brands and products I started to heal and get both my physical and mental health better. Two years on from that flare I have gained a whole lot of friends in the same position as me, opportunities to work with the brands and products that helped me and best of all self-love.
2.Could you tell us about the worst flare up you’ve had and how you felt?
My most recent flare lasted a whole year and a half. On top of all the obvious physical pain it caused, I want to touch on the mental struggles it caused me. Firstly, it made me feel very alone, I didn’t really know anyone else with eczema that was as bad as mine. I definitely fell out of love with myself for a bit – I didn’t like looking in the mirror, I didn’t feel like myself, and I kept questioning ‘why me’? Looking back on all of this now it makes me so sad to think about how I felt both with the physical pain of eczema but also the mental knock on effect it had as well.
3.How can you make yourself feel better about your skin even in days when you feel most down?
I think the most important thing to have when you have a skin condition is to have a support network. Find people you can trust, who are there for you unconditionally and who you can be open with. When I was going through my flares, I always felt that on days where I could only give 20% my support network which consisted of my boyfriend, family and best friends would always give me the other 80% I needed. It is also so important to remember you are not alone (I wish I could scream that from the rooftops to everyone going through this), there are so many other people with skin conditions who are feeling the same as you, and it is so easy to feel alone in your small circle. Having my Instagram and speaking with like-minded people going through this same journey makes me feel better, and I love speaking to them about their tips and recommendations so I would definitely recommend that. Another thing I love to do is what I call an ‘eczema friendly’ activity whether that is arts and crafts, film night, baking, read a book or go on a long walk – basically anything I feel up for doing and it instantly takes my mind of my flare.
4.Tell us about the positive things that have come from suffering eczema?
It’s so funny that a couple of years ago I would have struggled to say anything positive about suffering from eczema, but honestly going through my latest flare has led to so many positive outcomes. Some of my best friends are people I have met because I was going through eczema, and I am so thankful that our paths crossed. I have a newfound self-love for myself and my skin. so I now make sure to schedule some me-time. I have learned to listen to my body and now I see my flares as a way of my body telling me I need to slow down, put myself first or that something needs adjusting. I have found a new love for understanding what products work for my skin type and trying skincare (make sure to always patch test)! To sum it up with my favourite quote, in order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.
5.With summer officially on, how does that make you feel about your skin and how do you remain body positive?
The thought of heat used to terrify me, for the last two years I would stay indoors, not go out in the sun and wear long sleeved clothes to protect myself and cover up my eczema. However, over the last two years I have learned that you have to love the skin you are in whether it is flaring or not. I am going on my first summer holiday in two years soon and as nervous as I am, I am excited to enjoy it! I will make sure I have all of my favourite products with me, I will make sure to wear SPF every day and will also make sure I have fun and embrace my body. I promise you now, that no one will notice your eczema except you, and why should you let that stop you enjoying yourself, life is too short!
6.Tell us your go tips
- Make sure to don’t overheat, as that can aggravate your eczema and cause heat rash.
- Wear clothes which allow your body to breathe like cotton, linen and jersey.
- Wear SPF – make sure that your skin is protected from the sun.
- If you get really hot in the night put a fan in your room, take the duvet out and use the sheet, and sometimes I even put my pillow in the freezer for 15 minutes before bed to make sure it is extra cool.
- If I am really itchy in the night, to avoid causing harm to my skin I sleep in cotton gloves so I do not rip apart my skin and also my hands can still breathe.
- Stay hydrated – it is so important to stay hydrated and drink lots of water.
- Your go to products/ must haves to survive the summer
- Salcura Bioskin Zeoderm Skin Repair Moisturiser – is the best after a shower or pool day, it rubs in so easily afterwards and is non-irrating and doesn’t sting at all!
- Salcura Bioskin Dermaspray Intensive – I think this is my favourite Salcura product. It is so refreshing and easy to apply. You can spray it all over your skin for a quick moisturise and you don’t even have to rub it in. I carry the smaller size round with me in my bag and in my pool bag to apply when my skin it feeling dry or itchy and would also help to cool you down.
- Salcura Bioskin Dermaserum – this is so good for sensitive faces. I like to apply this after a shower or first thing in the morning. It is really light, easy to apply to the skin and again does not sting at all when used on your face and around your eyes. It is also filled with so much goodness like all of the Salcura products.
- SPF wise I love the Avene factor 50 sun cream for dry and sensitive skin for my face and the La Roche Posay factor 30 sun cream.
- I always carry a handheld battery powered fan which is amazing for those hot days when you are out and about. I always make sure I am hydrated and take water out with me.